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Jewelry Buyer’s Guide: Buying a Luxury Watch

From the expertly crafted movements to the fine detailing of each dial and case, luxury timepieces are more than just expensive watches. They’re works of art that showcase a watchmaker’s talents and make for treasured heirlooms to pass on to your loved ones. Luxury watches also show off your sense of style and appreciation for quality. Whether you’re shopping for a luxury watch for yourself or to give as a gift, it helps to know how to sort through the wide range of brands, styles, and price points. These things to look for in a luxury watch are also helpful guidelines for how to buy a watch online.

Brand

Choosing a watch by brand can be a great way to find a wise investment. Investigate the company to learn more about its reputation and the quality of the timepieces it produces. There’s a reason names like Rolex, Patek Philippe, Audemars Piguet, and Breguet remain top choices for luxury watch buyers. These established companies have solid reputations for producing reliable, precise timepieces.

Other luxury watch brands include Vacheron Constantin, Blancpain, Chopard, IWC Schaffhausen, Ulysse Nardin, Jaeger-LeCoultre, and Panerai. Just remember that the company’s documented history in the industry is more important than name recognition, and it’s possible the right watch for you carries a label you may not immediately know.

Construction

A luxury watch should feel substantial in your hands and on your wrist. The best watches use as much real, solid metal as possible. Look for a timepiece made from solid pieces of metal instead of folded metal on the watch case and bracelet links. It’s also important to check out the watch’s crystal — the transparent cover over its face — and make sure it’s sapphire crystal instead of mineral crystal. One final consideration about the watch’s construction is its water resistance rating. Most watches in this category are water resistant so you can wear them on a rainy day without worrying about damage.

Budget

Although some people consider their watch collections an investment, the value of most watches depreciates over time — and with some, it doesn’t waver much. Some people worry so much about damaging the watch, which definitely lowers its value, they keep it hidden in a box all the time. This defeats the purpose of owning a watch you love. You don’t have to wear it every day, but you should enjoy your purchase.
Before you start shopping, set a budget that works for you. Prices for luxury watches range from less than $1,000 to well over $1 million, so you can certainly find something that fits your price range and still provides enough peace of mind to wear your watch as much as possible.

Movement

One way luxury timepieces differ from factory-produced designs is the type of mechanism used to power the watches. Most luxury watches have mechanical movements crafted by expert watchmakers. Manual movements require regular winding to keep the watch running optimally, and automatic movements power themselves as you move your wrist naturally throughout the day. Swiss watchmakers enjoy a reputation for producing some of the finest watch movements in the world, but Japanese watchmakers also make fine movements for their brands.

As you investigate brands, find out whether the watch company makes the movements in-house or purchases them from a third party to adapt to its specific watches. The most valued luxury watches feature proprietary movements created by master watchmakers and designed specifically for use in their timepieces.

Size and Weight

Think like Goldilocks; your watch should fit just right on your wrist, not be too big or too small. The widths of men’s watches typically range from 34mm to 50mm in diameter, and a watch with a diameter between 34mm to 40mm is an excellent size for most men. Women’s watches usually have diameters between 23mm and 29mm.

Although there are a few rules for choosing the right case diameter for the width of your wrist, it’s more important you find one that looks good to you and makes you feel confident when you wear it. If the watch is too big, it can dwarf your wrist, but a watch that’s too small may be difficult to read when you need to check the time.

Complications

When it comes to watches, getting complicated is a good thing. In addition to basic timekeeping, high-end watches have complications, which are special features you can choose that give the accessory some personality and make it more enjoyable to wear. These bells and whistles range from basic date displays and perpetual calendars to time zone displays and chronographs. Some watchmakers include solar time displays, star charts, and even moon phases in their pieces.

One popular complication is a tourbillon that keeps the escapement and balance assembly moving at all times so gravitational forces don’t affect the watch’s performance. Decide which complications are most important to you and look for the timepieces that have them along with decent dial illumination so you can see them in any light.

The most important thing to remember when you’re shopping for a luxury watch is there’s no universally perfect watch, but there’s likely one that’s perfect for you. If you’re wondering how to buy a watch online, there are several elements to consider. Take your time, learn about the different watchmakers and their bodies of work, and browse the listings on EBTH to find the one you can enjoy looking at, wearing, and passing on to future generations.

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