Timepieces

12 Things Every Watch Buyer Should Know

From warranties to insurance to tuneups, experts dish advice for any first-time luxury timepiece buyer.
Ryann Cooley

This story first appeared in the inaugural Watches supplement to The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

BUY INSURANCE: Add supplemental coverage to your homeowners policy. Invest in a top-of-theline safe; German company Dottling makes some of the best.

GO TO THE SOURCE: Service your watch with its maker. “If you’ve bought a watch from a respectable brand, they will fix it no matter how old it is,” says watch writer Michael Clerizo.

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PERFORM MAINTENANCE: Luxury watches “are complicated machines,” says Westime founder John Simonian. Get a tuneup, which can run $750 to $1,000, every three to seven years.

CONSIDER RESALE VALUE: Classic watches from respected brands such as Rolex, Longines, Cartier and Patek Philippe are more likely to hold or increase in value through the years.

UNDERSTAND THE ERAS: Most antiques are pre-20th century pocket watches; vintage began post-World War I with wristwatches; modern means mid-’80s to the present.

LISTEN TO YOUR HEART: Choosing a watch you’ll wear the rest of your life “is an incredibly personal decision, and emotion should be a huge factor,” says Simonian.

VET VINTAGE WATCHES: Buy from a member of a group like the International Watch & Jewelry Guild and get documentation of provenance.

GET A WARRANTY: Just like a car, “a watch is more valuable if accompanied by papers from the first sale,” says Clerizo, author of Masters of Contemporary Watchmaking.

ASK FOR A CONDITION REPORT: “Many auction houses will provide a ‘condition report,’ which indicates whether any repairs are necessary,” says Clerizo of buying vintage.

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PICK YOUR CASE METAL: “Case metals go in and out of fashion. Right now, pink gold is on a high,” says Clerizo, who adds that stainless steel is the least expensive way to start a collection.

RESEARCH THE SELLER: Revolution editor Jack Forster says of buying vintage: “Get references, ask for an inspection, period. And remember: If it’s too good to be true, it probably is.”

HAVE A POINT OF VIEW: “Watch collecting is an expression of your taste,” says watch writer Laurie Kahle. “Try sticking to chronographs, certain eras or brands that say something about you.”