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How to Buy a Luxury Watch: A Complete Guide

Michael Fried
Michael Fried

Buying a luxury watch is an exciting endeavor. Not only are luxury watches a quintessential status symbol, they are fascinating little machines. They can function in extreme environments, looking amazing while they do it. 

We want this momentous occasion to be pleasant. So we put together an easy, step-by-step guide to buying an amazing luxury watch. Let’s get started. 

men's luxury watches

Selecting Watch Movements

Before you step foot into a boutique, you’ll want to know the basics of what you’re after in a watch. The movements, also known as “caliber” is what makes your watch work. 

The 3 most popular types of watch movements are mechanical, automatic, and quartz. 

Automatic

An automatic watch is similar to a mechanical watch except you don’t have to wind it yourself. The watch has even higher intricacies within it which wind the watch for you. 

Most luxury watches on the market use automatic movements to keep themselves ticking. For example, this fashionable Rolex Submariner 16613 Oyster Perpetual powers itself. 

Mechanical

A mechanical watch is the type you manually wind by hand. This is the oldest way of giving energy to a watch, used for centuries. 

No routine battery changes is a plus of these watches. However, these mechanical watches need a tune-up every few years to keep the parts moving properly. Many vintage watches use this type of movement.

Quartz

The least complex of the watch movements uses a battery and a quartz crystal to keep the accurate time. While the battery keeps the watch moving, the quartz crystal keeps the second hand ticking at the rate it’s supposed to. 

Quartz watches keep time more accurately than the other movements. They have less inner intricacies to go ary. 

The initial cost of a quartz watch is usually more affordable than the other calibers. 

MovementProsCons
AutomaticSign of prestigeClassic style without hassleExpensiveExpensive repairs
MechanicalHistorically buffHigh maintenanceExpensive
QuartzMost accurate timeBattery exchangesLess nostalgic allure

You are the only one who can decide which watch movement suits you best.

We are here to support you at any time during your process. We love watch-shopping and can help you love it too. 

Choosing Watch Materials

The most popular choices for watch materials are stainless steel, gold, and titanium. Let’s take a look at each.

Stainless Steel

Many people choose stainless steel for their watch material with good reason. It is a durable metal and lightweight. 

There are two types of finishings for stainless steel watches: brush or polish. A brush finish gives the surface a worn look. A polished finish is shiny. 

We love this Rolex Datejust 16014 Stainless Steel Jubilee and its elegant dial. 

Rolex Submariner 16610T Stainless steel
Rolex Submariner 16610T Stainless steel

Gold

The most classic metal used for watches is gold. Gold can cause allergic skin reactions and is at risk for corrosion. That being said, it’s hard to beat the classy hue in this Rolex President Day-Date 18038 Gold.

Rolex President Day 18k Yellow Gold
Rolex President Day-Date 18038 18K Yellow Gold

Titanium

While watches have been gold for centuries, titanium was first introduced to the market in the 1970s. Titanium is durable and lighter on the wrist than stainless steel or gold. It’s resistant to corrosion too. 

This Omega Seamaster Diver 300M 007 Edition has a unique titanium bracelet and case. 

Rolex Sea-Dweller Ceramic Bezel in Titanium
Rolex Sea-Dweller Ceramic Bezel in Titanium

Choosing a Budget

It’s smart to know your budget before you go into a store. There are 3 levels of pricepoints for luxury watches.

Entry Level Luxury Watches cost between $1,000-$5,000. For example, this Oris Aquis Date Stainless Steel Band has a chic design and a comfortable price tag at $1,195. 

Mid Level Luxury Watches cost between $5,000-$10,000. The Grand Seiko Elegance Collection Stainless Steel symbolizes the season of spring in Japan. A pre-owned version in great condition costs $5,295.

High Level Luxury Watches cost between $10,000 up to hundreds of thousands of dollars. This Rolex Submariner 126613LN Black Dial is a handsome piece in this pricepoint, coming at $18,595 pre-owned.

Considering Watch Complications or Features

Complications (also known as “features”) are the special tricks your watch does, besides the basic trick of telling the time. It’s good to know what you want before shopping. 

We put together a list of the most common watch features to make it easy for you to decide what you need. 

  • Perpetual calendar is the next level of your watch telling you the date. The watch has all the months and years pre-programmed so it knows which months have 31 days, even leap years. 
  • Chronograph measures how much time has elapsed, similar to a stopwatch. It was originally used for astronomical equipment until people started using it for horse races and sports car races. 
  • Tachymeter is often paired with a chronometer. Instead of a stopwatch, the tachymeter measures speed, or the elapsed time over a certain distance. Note that they can only measure distances up to a kilometer. 
  • Timezones (also known as Dual Time) and GMT (Greenwich Mean Time) are both features that allow you to see the time in 2 locations in the world. The difference is that Dual Time functions on a 12-hour scale and GMT functions on a 24-hour scale. 
  • Moon phase is appreciated by both scientists and non-scientists. The function shows which part of the moon is visible from Earth. It’s often called the most beautiful watch features. 
  • Power reserve indicator is a practical complication. Simply put, it tells you when your watch needs to be wound. 
  • Minute repeater makes sounds that tell you what time it is. For example, it may beep twice when it’s 2:00. The primary purpose is to alleviate you from having to glance down at your watch. Your ears can tell you the time. 
  • Tourbillon counters the effects of gravity on the small pieces of a watch. It’s a wonder to view and a sign of a watch’s prestige. 
examples of watch complications
Moonphase (left), all 24 time zones in one watch (middle), chronograph & tachymeter (right)

Choose Your Watch Strap

While there are many types of watch straps out there, the 3 most popular materials are metal, leather and rubber. 

Leather

Leather is the most versatile material choice with a range of colors and finishes. It’ll wear more quickly than other materials but it ages gracefully. 

Metal Strap

This strap is also known as a bracelet. Whichever type of metal you choose, make sure the strap fits your wrist. A loose fitting bracelet weakens the links.

Rubber Strap

If you are going to wear your watch on a scuba dive, this is an essential choice. Its popularity is going beyond functional diving into fashion. 

Bund Strap

A bund strap is the protective leather backing sandwiched between the wrist and the watch. It gives a brawny look. 

Rubber watch strap vs. Leather watch strap
Rubber watch strap (left) vs. Leather watch strap (middle) vs. Metal watch strap (right)

Where to Buy Luxury Watches

Bob’s Watches is our favorite place to buy luxury watches. Their quality and expertise are amazing. Their watches are previously owned yet in impeccable condition. You can have the authentic product (a Rolex for example) at a lower cost. Even if your watch budget is below $5,000, you’ll have plenty to chose from. Plus they include a free buyer’s protection plan. They consistently score well with consumers and are number 1 on this Insider review

In a nutshell, we love Bob’s Watches for the following:

  • Free Buyer’s Protection Plan
  • Authentic product
  • Best pricing
  • Pre-owned watches at better price
  • Knowledgeable sales reps

As of December 2022, Rolex has started a certified pre-owned program that guarantees that the second-hand Rolex watch you buy is authentic.

Things to Consider while Buying Luxury Watches

When it comes to luxury watches, brand matters. Buying a reputable brand ensures you’re receiving high-quality materials and engineering in your watch. There is a reason everyone knows the high-end Swiss watch brands like Rolex, Omega and Breitling. 

If you buy a brand new watch from these brands, you’ll pay a premium. Buying your watch through a pre-owned dealer gives you access to the brands you trust, all under warranty, for a better price. 

By reading this article you’re already doing some of your own research. Continue forward with these in mind:

  • Authenticity 
  • Quality
  • Price Comparison 
  • Features
  • Service and Maintenance
  • Insurance

Frequently Asked Questions

What watch brands are luxury? 

Thereis many of them, but here are some of the best-known luxury watch brands: Rolex, Omega, Tudor, Oris, Cartier, Breitling, Panerai, Tissot, Patek Phillipe, Longines and others.

What is the most luxurious brand of watch? 

Of course there is debate on which brand is the most luxurious but Patek Philippe consistently tops the list of best watch brand in the world. 

What is considered a luxury watch brand?

Luxury watch brands use the best materials in their creation, not to mention the most extensive effort in engineering. They are truly works of art. 

What is the difference between automatic and quartz watches?

The difference between automatic and quartz watches lies in the mechanism powering the time. Automatic watches have all the inner workings of the original, mechanical watches, yet they wind themselves. Quartz watches use batteries and quartz crystal to keep themselves ticking. 

Conclusion

Now that you’ve done some research, you’re ahead of the game on finding a great luxury watch. For an easy checklist, here’s the choices you’ll need to make before buying your watch:

  • Type of Movement
  • Watch Materials
  • Budget
  • Complications/Features
  • Watch Strap

As always, we’d love to partner with you on your search for the perfect luxury watch. Contact us anytime.

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