While we’ve all owned our own fair share of watches, or perhaps picked up a few as birthday or Christmas gifts, have you ever owned a proper watch?Luxury watches are a step above your average timepiece, showing that you’ve gone that extra mile.Watches have long been considered more of a statement rather than an actual practical tool anyway, seeing as we can all just tell the time from our phones these days.
Unfortunately, the world of luxury watches can feel a little bit of a foreign world from the outside, but fear not as we’ve put together this quick guide to buying your first one!
There are a couple of technical details that it’s helpful to clear up before diving into the world of luxury watches.The first is to define what a ‘movement’ is. Movements are also known as calibres and are the mechanisms which make the watch tick, literally.
Movements are either quartz or automatic. Quartz movements use oscillators, powered by a battery and regulated by a piece of quartz.
These are the most popular type of movement as they’re cheap to produce and extremely accurate, while automatic movements actually use the wrist movement of the wearer to wind the watch, and while quartz movements are actually more accurate, it’s automatics that are more sought after.
So why is this? We asked Kendal and Manchester based jewellers, Wave Jewellery, who said: “It’s difficult to explain, but the fact is that buying a luxury watch is less about functionality and more about making a statement.“It’s kind of similar to how vinyl records are having a resurgence, even though it’s much easier to just download music.
“For example, automatic watch lovers will wax lyrical about how the second hand smoothly glides around the face rather than how they tick on a quartz one. It’s a small detail, but you’d be surprised how much stock people place in it!”
Finally, it’s worth noting that because they work off your wrist movements, automatic watches will eventually stop if they’re off your wrist for around 48 hours, at which point they’ll need rewinding.For more information on how automatic and quartz watches work, check out this post from Torgoen watchmaker.
Types of watch
We’re going to take a brief look at three of the main types of luxury watch:
These watches are designed with extreme conditions in mind (deep sea ones to be precise), and as such, they are among the more durable luxury watches.Another telling feature of the diving watch is a unidirectional bezel which sits on top of the casing and tells the user how much ‘immersion time’ they have left!Overall they’re a good all-round and versatile watch, so perhaps a good one to begin with.
Dress watches are the most understated but classy of the luxury watch world, stripped back from all unnecessary bells and whistles.They’re usually made from a precious metal and a leather strap and are thin so they can be tucked away under a cuff.Simple, elegant and stylish, these watches are best for the most formal of occasions.
Initially designed (as the name suggests) for pilots, aviator watches have a ‘bezel and slide rule’ which convey a lot of information which was used in the past for pilots then electronic navigation wasn’t available.These pieces usually have black faces and luminous dials and numbers to make them easy to read in the dark.
Making the purchase
Once you’ve decided which kind of watch you’re after, it’s time to look into making that purchase.Obviously, the price will be a big factor in your choice, and if you’re only wanting to spend a few hundred pounds at most then you’ll probably be best opting for a simple quartz piece, although you may still be able to find a decent automatic.
There’s really no upper price limit on luxury watches and you might be surprised at just how much some of them could set you back.
A couple of other things to bear in mind when making your decision:
- Many watches feature ‘complications’, these are just extra hands and dials such as stopwatch features and alternate time zone hands. The need for these is fairly debatable, but it’s up to you if you’d rather have them or not.
- While metal straps look good on chunkier watches, leather is the classic option and is preferred for more formal affairs.
- While we’ve said accuracy isn’t all that important in luxury watches, a good automatic watch should only lose around 30 seconds a week.
Now you’ve got a bit of a better idea of what luxury watches have to offer, get out there and explore the market for yourself!