Buying a luxury watch, especially for the first time, can be a challenging task for anyone. There are numerous and varied reasons for this.
For starters, watches are complex (and complicated) little devices. One needs to have lots of technical knowhow in order to be in a position to choose the right one. It doesn’t help that there are a myriad of brands and options out there, each of them seemingly as attractive as the last.
Other reasons are tied to the fact that modern horology isn’t just about knowing the time but also about fashion. The watch must therefore complement your style as well as reflect your personality. When you add price consideration as well as choice of straps, casebacks, case material, functions, dial types etc, purchasing a watch can turn into a nightmarish conundrum.
The best thing, therefore, before heading out to the watch store or boutique, is for one to do some research. While you may still need to clarify a few things with the seller, you’d be better off asking yourself the following first:
#1 - Why do you need a watch?
Is it because you want to be able to keep time or because you just need to spruce up your fashion?
If it is for the former reason, is it just for time or do you need other functions such as calendar, moon phases and chronograph? Such a watch may have less emphasis on the use of prestigious materials, such as gold and diamonds, and more on the incorporation of these extra functions (complications). It helps if such a timepiece has a highly legible dial that offers you detailed information at a glance.
If you’re looking to up your wrist game and add that luxurious finishing touch to your attire, the focus shifts from how many functions the watch has to how it looks on you. Watches have always been an important element of fashion, and it is vital to choose one that dovetails well with your wear. If you find it difficult to match one watch with all of your outfits, you may have to get two or more.
Finding a watch that offers a cross between utility and luxury is a delicate but not impossible task. All in all, a good watch epitomizes confidence and style, and no detail, however minor, should be ignored.
#2 - What type of movement?
Another fundamental ask when you’re looking for a watch or your next watch is type of movement. The usual options are mechanical (automatic/manual) or quartz.
Quartz and automatic remain the most popular choices because of the advantages they offer over hand-wound (manual) timepieces. They eliminate the need to wind the watch by hand and are long-lasting as well as easier to maintain.
When it comes down to quartz vs. automatic, it all depends on personal taste. Go for quartz if you want a highly accurate watch that runs on batteries. If you’d want a watch that winds automatically without the need of a battery, choose automatic.
Beyond automatic/quartz/manual, if you’re an advanced or enthusiast type of user, you may want to do research on the caliber/name of movement that powers the watch. There are some famous, time-tested, proprietary movements out there, and some of them are used under license by multiple manufacturers/brands.
#3 - Brand-new or second-hand?
This is a vital consideration once you’ve honed in on the specific brand and model that you want. Will you get a pre-owned watch or a brand new one straight out of the box?
Used watch dealers are mistrusted for the same reason as used car salesmen - most are not credible. If you look hard enough, though, you may still be able to land a good deal on a used timepiece (provided you don’t seek a deal that’s too sweet).
The advantage of going the brand-new route is obvious. The watch will generally give you more mileage and you’ll get it via a more legit transaction that offers peace of mind. The drawback is obvious too - getting a new top-brand watch usually involves breaking the wallet if not the bank.
Fortunately, there is a third option. There are a number of up-and-coming brands out there that offer the same quality as top brands but at reasonable prices. Davosa stands out in that regard.
#4 - Are there lower-priced alternatives?
Being a luxury item, it is always possible that you’ll find the watch with the features you want but not at the price you’d like. When this happens, extend your research into competitor brands with similar models and see if you can land a better quotation.
If sacrificing a minor feature or function allows you to save significantly, consider it. This often means switching to a different model.
Ideally, have seven or eight models that provide the feature set you desire, and then use price to shorten the list as much as possible. Afterwards, take the trimmed-down list to the retailers and see what options they have.
Brand choice is once again a vital consideration. The USA luxury watch market has seen the entry of enterprising Swiss brands like Davosa that offer top-quality, high tech products at “non-Swiss-watch” prices. They are a good bet if you want more value for your money.
#5 - How is the watch serviced?
Like cars and vacuum cleaners, watches are also machines that need regular servicing to run optimally.
Servicing watches if a joyful task for horology enthusiasts but not every user qualifies as such. It is therefore imperative to know how easy it would be to service a particular model before selecting it for your next wrist bling.
If you’re not one for taking matters into your own hands, then do some research into how much it costs to have the watch serviced by a trained professional. Some retailers offer free servicing as part of their after-sales package, something that offers potential buyers great peace of mind.
The quartz vs. mechanical watch debate rages on and on and will probably persist for the foreseeable future. What watch do you want: an automatic, manual or quartz watch?
The simple truth is, none of them are bad. Choosing between them is a matter of personal preference more than anything else.
Mechanical timepieces were a huge hit in the early part of the 20th century before the quartz craze of the 70s. Now, after being able to capture some of the advantages that were initially thought to be exclusive to their mechanical counterparts, most analogue watch movements today are quartz watch movements. In short, quartz is back and here to stay.
Here is a rundown of some of the advantages that a quartz watch may afford you.
Quartz watch accuracy is exceptional
A non-certified modern quartz watch has an accuracy of about 99.9998%. A certified one is 99.9999% accurate.
To put this into perspective, a non-certified quartz watch will lose only around a second per day while a certified one generally won’t lose any. A vintage mechanical watch can lose up to 60 seconds a day, and a modern one between 3-5 seconds.
Over the course of a month, the lost seconds can pile up and become significant.
People might peg you for a lunatic for wanting your watch to be accurate to the minute, but what if you’re broadcaster, an astronomer or a global navigator? Is an accurate watch too much to ask even if you’re just an average person living a typical life?
Quartz watches are more accurate than any mechanical watch, whether automatic or manual. However, regardless of the type, always go with reputable brands to ensure your watch is at least accurate enough for everyday/normal use.
Quartz can also be complicated
The world’s most complicated timepieces are mechanical - no argument about that. But quartz has caught up, and now modern quartz watches can offer the same sophisticated, aristocratic look as manual or automatic watches.
Take Davosa’s Nautic Star Chrono line for instance. For the considerably affordable price range of under $500, you get a durable, polished stainless steel watch whose dial shows not only hours, minutes and seconds but also chronograph and date.
Since the movement is quartz, the chronograph is usually more accurate than that of a mechanical watch and measures up to one-tenth of a second. In the end, you have a beautiful dial whose 12-hour, 30-minute and 60-second counters give it a stylish, elaborate look similar to that of a pilot’s cockpit.
Some others, like the sports versions, feature a tachymeter scale and even allow you to compute the speed of travel in kilometres per hour.
Quartz is slim, sleek and stylish
Quartz watch movements, since they don’t have the mainspring that powers mechanical movements, are usually very thin - sometimes even thinner than a millimetre. This has allowed manufacturers to come up with light, elegant yet powerful timepieces.
This is again a matter of personal choice. The modern minimalist watch is a style borrowed from the popular pocket-watch design of the 1800s. The duty of such a watch is just one - to tell you the time while looking fabulous and subtly tucking under the sleeve of your designer suit’s jacket.
You can still have a large quartz watch with a large case and dial but whose thickness is no more than a centimetre. If this is your style, then quartz is your best bet.
No winding, minimal maintenance
If you’re not one for winding your watch every now and then, a quartz watch is a great option. As long as the watch’s battery has power, you can rest assured that you’ll always have the time.
Automatic mechanical watches are the next best thing since they don’t have to be wound by hand. However, since they rely on arm movements to generate power, the watch may stop if left unused for a long period of time.
Quartz timepieces are almost maintenance-free, especially compared to manual mechanical watches. The battery usually lasts two years or even three on some modern models. As long as you replace the battery when needed, you won’t have to keep re-setting the time.
We may be in an age full of innovations but automatic watches are still the in-thing for many people. They were the in-thing before the 1970s when quartz took over, and in recent times they’ve returned as snazzy fashion pieces.
Manual or battery-operated watches are good too, but there are advantages that only an automatic timepiece can offer. We’re gonna run down the major ones here.
First things first, though: what are automatic watches?
If you’re not one for checking time on your mobile handheld - be that a huge 10-inch tablet or a four-inch iPhone SE - you’re gonna have a watch. A watch can be automatic, manual or quartz (think batteries). Both manual and automatic watches have to be wound but, as the names suggest, one self-winds while the other is, well, manual.
That’s why an auto watch is also called a self-winding watch. Rather than having to do it yourself, these novel watches rely on the movements made by your arm to generate the power needed to run them. As long the wearer is alive and animated, they run. Pretty cool, huh?
It’s only in horology where the word complication has a positive connotation. A complicated watch has more features, and is therefore considered more exclusive and luxurious.
Most of the world’s most complicated watches are mechanical watches, and automatic watches are mechanical. If you like a watch to be able to give you more than just the time then an auto watch is a good bet. Some of their extra features are pretty unique too.
Davosa’s 200m Apnea Diver watch is an excellent example. Not only does it feature a beautiful and durable stainless steel build but also its dial offers a very novel feature for diving enthusiasts. The dial uses brilliant, internationally recognised color codes to help the diver breathe well while under water.
Yet another stylish feature exclusive to mechanical watches, a group that automatic watches are a part of. The second's hand on many auto timepieces moves in a continuous, smooth motion, giving the watch a sophisticated and elegant feel. The hand almost glides around the dial.
Still, for those who prefer the traditional style, some modern autos feature additional gears that enable them to tick once each second.
Self-winding watches last long
Automatic timepieces can run for decades. In fact, those that are serviced professionally every four to five years can last more than half a century!
The important thing is to make sure the parts are cleaned and oiled every number of years. For many collectors and enthusiasts, picking up a screw-driver set and fine-tuning their beloved watch is a fulfilling hobby. Those who are less handy prefer to take them to a professional for a relatively small fee.
Also, auto watches are easy to bring back to life if left unused for long. Most restart once the parts are re-oiled and the watch is given a good shake.
That unique, aristocratic feel
Watch connoisseurs will tell you that timepieces are not just for telling time. A good watch will accentuate the sharp look of a nice suit in a way that no other jewellery can.
Automatic watches today are coveted for the same reason as restored VW Beetles - vintage glamour. They were great before the quartz surge of the 1970s and now they’ve stolen the show again. If you love vintage stuff, they’re a must-have.
Automatic watches with a see-through case back take it up a notch. Watch with wonderment as the gears move and tick in perfect symphony to drive your device. They never stop. The beauty of it is eternal.