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Luxury Watch Buying Guide

Luxury Watch Buying Guide – By Giselle Anne Hunter

Buying a luxury watch takes time and care. First you must define what you mean by “luxury”. This is not merely a matter of cost because like anything of true value, cost is the least important factor. A luxury watch is an investment, something that is built to last a lifetime, if not generations. It is something you can bequeath to the next generation should you desire to do so.

The Materials

So what determines a watch of this quality? There are many elements to a luxury watch, not least of which are the materials from which it is constructed. Superior luxury watches will generally consist of materials such as gold, platinum or titanium. The highest quality watches will be assembled and finished by hand, rather than by machine. The materials of the watch face must be durable and resistant to damage. Fine luxury watches will have a synthetic sapphire crystal for the watch face. It’s one of the world’s hardest substances – only a diamond is harder and it’s virtually scratch resistant.

The Manufacturer

The pedigree of the manufacturer is also important. Some manufaturers will produce large quantities of watches and reserve a few models for limited edition or a small series. The important thing is to do your research and work out your specific requirements. Do you want a watch that many other people will also possess or do you want one that will be more exclusive.

Some of the most well known manufacturers of luxury timepieces are: Audemars Piguet, Patek PhilippeRolex, BreitlingZenith, Cartier, Ulysse Nardin, Baume & MercierGirard Perregaux, Hublot, IWC, Jaeger-LeCoutre, Longines, Omega, Perrelet, Tag Heuer, U-Boat, PaneraiMaurice Lacroix and Montblanc.

The Movement

Another element to consider is the watch movement. A Swiss movement will feature in the majority of luxury watches and is considered exemplary. Be aware however that movements can be highly customized and and many manufacturers of fine watches will tailor the movement to their own exacting specifications. Key things to look for in your luxury watch are a high grade quartz movement, if you wish your watch to be powered by quartz crystal. An additional aspect of accuracy is a chronometer. A chronometer is an especially accurate watch (one with a deviation of no more than 5 seconds a day for mechanical movements). Chronometers are usually supplied with an official certificate from an independent testing office, such as the COSC (the official Swiss Chronometer Testing Institute).

The Complications

What are the features and functions (complications) you require in the watch? Outside of telling the time, what will you need the watch to do? Do you need a sports or diving watch that can withstand water pressure to a certain depth? If you have particular needs for making specific timings, you may wish to consider a chronograph, a tachymeter or a split second chronograph. A tourbillon will add that extra level of confidence in the accuracy of the watch. Do you need to know whether it’s day or night time in different timezones or do you need to know the exact time in another timezone or timezones at all times? In this case a day/night indicator or a dual timer would be of use.

Do you fly planes or helicopters? Perhaps a flyback chronograph originally developed for use in aviation will fit into your watch repertoire. Do your require something a litte more out of the ordinary such as a retrograde display or a minute repeater? Or how about a moonphase complication or perpetual calendar that can accomodate not only changes in the lengths of each month but takes into account leap years. You can even see how much power your manually wound watch has in reserve via a power reserve indicator.

Examine all of these areas when looking for your particular watch and do explore our glossary to help clarify your understanding.

The Aesthetics

Of course the other important aspects are the aesthetics of the watch. Does it need to look traditional and conservative, vintage, highly technical, masculine or feminine; or distinctive and unconventional?

Collectors and Connoisseurs

Finally are you a collector or a connoisseur? Will one watch alone fulfil your luxury watch desires? Can one watch define every facet of your personality, personal style and life? That is a question only you can answer. If you collect purely for the sake of collecting then you will certainly know the price of the watch, however the connoisseur will have an emotional engagement with the watch and will know its true value. If you love luxury watches I encourage you to be  both a collector and a connoisseur.

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