The hefty price tags can make the commitment even more unnerving as most would insist that purchasing such a high end timepiece is a considered investment. Fear not, as we have compiled a list to guide you through the threshold of haut de gammehorology. There is no right or wrong answer to many of the questions you will be faced with when it comes to your first purchase. The final decision should always suit your preference, personality and style.
There was a time when simply owning a watch was like having your own personal spaceship, but even today when watches can cost less than a newspaper, they still hold a special place. And because we live in a highly competitive, individualistic age, the watch exists in a perfect environment to mutate and evolve into a bewildering garden of varieties.
On the other hand, a wristwatch has its strengths over a phone. For one thing, a watch is discreet. At business or social events where pulling out a phone to check the time would be boorish, a quick glance at a watch won’t even be noticed. In addition, you don’t have to dig around for a watch. It won’t vanish into a pocket or handbag, and you can’t mislay something easily when its strapped to your wrist.
Okay, but which watch to buy? How hard can it be to pick one? There are only 1.2 billion of them made each year, so the choice should be simple. However, it’s anything but. If the world of watches was an ecosystem, it would be one defined by an insane mutation rate. Every year, all manner of makes, models, marks, and variants are released that are aimed at a bewildering number of markets and sub-markets. Worse, the categories tend to blur due to the fact that fashion plays to large a part in watch design and many models borrow ideas from others.
Even purely technological categories can meld into one another. For example, there are digital movements and there are mechanical movements, but then there are hybrid digital mechanical movements. There are also digital displays, analog displays, and digital/analog displays. Then there’s … you get the idea.
This blending has become even more marked by the introduction of gender-neutral watches that bridge the gap between traditional men’s and women’s watches as women adopt more masculine styles. In fact, the world of watches is so surprisingly large that if you try to make up your mind by studying all the watches available before making your decision, you won’t buy a timepiece for many years.
The much better way is to ask yourself what you want out of it. Is it just something that tells time? Is it a fashion accessory? A status symbol? Is it supposed to tell the world something about you? Do you want it for work? Sport? Play? Is accuracy important? What about functions? Durability? And, of course, price.
In a sense, the best way to look for a watch is to look at yourself. Are you the sort of person who would be happy with a $10,000 Omega? Would you be comfortable with a massive sportwatch designed to survive a hammer blow? Or would you prefer something elegant and delicate? Or do you want one to show that you’ve gone up in the world?
Of course, there are some very basic rules to help. You don’t wear a Mickey Mouse watch with a power business suit, a garish orange sports watch with a dinner jacket, or a diamond-studded dress watch with yoga pants. Beyond that, let’s look at some of the options in general terms, starting with the basic types of wristwatches
Set Your Budget
The financial aspect of purchasing a luxury watch should be at the forefront of the decision making process. Many enthusiasts begin their journey with luxury watches for the appeal of turning a profit as much as for the love of horology. For a long-term outlook, quality is key so quite frankly — buy the best that you can afford to part with. If you are feeling tentative then entry-level luxury watches like the TAG Heuer Monaco or the IWC Portofino are solid starting blocks, classic timepieces that will not leave you feeling like you have burnt a hole in your pocket.
Keep in mind that the cost of your timepiece also includes the metals and gems that it is composed with. Most forget this simple evaluation when ascertaining the projected appreciation of a luxury watch.
The Mecca of luxury watchmaking is Switzerland and inevitably your gaze will be lured to brands proudly parading the ‘Swiss Made’ seal of approval. The Swiss have long been recognised as the standard of quality craftsmanship and innovative engineering. Many first time buyers feel comfortable browsing upon the all-too familiar names of Rolex, Omega or Patek Philippe.
Recognition value and heritage means that Swiss timepieces are usually the safe bet. They are great options for initiates as they will never go out of fashion but do not blindly throw yourself at any old model. Consider certain iconic lines that come with a proven longevity like the Omega Seamaster.
The saturation in the luxury market of the ‘safe’ Swiss brands means there’s a lack of uniqueness for someone who wants to stand apart from the crowd. Other countries such as Great Britain and Germany offer equally great timekeeping instruments and should not be discounted when on the hunt for a virgin purchase.
Robert Loomes and Montblanc are no less revered in the industry than their Swiss counterparts. In fact, with historic British brands like Arnold & Son now under Swiss guardianship (La Joux-Perret) and Graham production facilities in La Chaux-de-Fonds, British horology is making massive comeback in luxury timekeeping. For first time buyers, products that have Swiss craftsmanship coupled with traditional British designs are not at all a bad bet.
Your style is your statement
The easiest and most enjoyable part of getting your watch is finding something that suits your own particular style. If you don’t feel comfortable with the way the watch looks and feels on you then it does not belong on your wrist. The more discerning buyer may want their highly prized timepieces to offer more than just telling time and a simple dress watch will not suffice.
Naturally sports watches contain useful added features you may want to consider.Breitling has long-been associated with aviation, whilst Omega’s the choice for hardened divers. If a fast car gets you revved up, then choose a luxury watch that states this enthusiasm. For example, the Rolex Daytona is a long running series in professional racing and a solid entry-level luxury timepiece.
Know your machine
It will take time to get to grips with certain terminology like ‘tourbillon’ and ‘chronometer’ but they will become part of your lingo soon enough. Before making a purchase, however, be well-informed on what makes one tick. For instance, most luxury watches are mechanical as opposed to quartz (battery powered.) This is simply due to a prized appreciation of engineering and design.
Haute horology is sometimes measured by the number of complications within an individual timepiece — the more complications, the more difficult to construct. Complications can include, a perpetual calendar or a minute repeater. You should also be aware of the watches ‘movements’ (or calibre.)