12 Things Every Watch Buyer Should Know

Beyond the Sea
Ryann Cooley

You don’t have to scuba to appreciate a dive watch’s rugged, sporty sensibility. While these models are designed to be worn with neoprene at extreme depths, they’re just as splashy at street level paired with jeans. Clockwise from top left: Ulysse Nardin’s limited-edition Blue Sea, Linde Werdelin’s roughly polished titanium Oktopus II, Girard-Perregaux’s Sea Hawk 1000 Meters Big Blue, Breitling’s Superocean Chronograph M2000 and Graham’s Chronofighter Oversize Prodive.

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

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.”