I learned a valuable lesson about buying watches from a shop in Hong Kong.
While on a business trip to China, I got pulled into a back room and was offered five luxury watches for a steal.
They were counterfeit luxury watches. They looked really nice and I was tempted by the brand names on the watches – Breitling, Louis Vuitton, Rolex. And against my better judgement, I violated all the sensible watch-buying rules ever written and paid $100 for each watch.
I have never worn those watches.
I wasted $500 that day – please learn from my mistakes in this article so you can make a smart buying decision when purchasing a watch.
You see, a quality watch isn’t just a tool that shows time. A man’s watch is a sign of taste, where you are in life, and it’s something that shouldn’t be “faked." And let me be clear, any man can buy a great watch at a very affordable price.
Whether you’re looking for accuracy of time, a fashion accessory, or something you want to leave your grandkids – here are my five tips that will help you purchase the right timepiece.
1. Educate yourself on classic watch styles
To make a sensible and practical wristwatch purchase – you have to go out there and learn more about watches. There is a whole industry built around horology – the science of making timepieces.
For centuries watchmakers have honed their craft to create complicated pieces of mechanism that are built to outlive the person wearing them.
Numerous websites and blogs offer the latest news on wristwatch designs. You can even browse through brand specific websites to see what makes watches like Rolex, Breitling, Seiko, Vacheron Constantin or Patek Philippe tick. Lifestyle journals also offer advice on selecting timepieces of men, check The Gentleman’s Gazette, ABlogToWatch, and Art of Manliness.
Get excited about watches and you’ll then find the time to discover why so many men love them!
Get to know a local watchmaker or jeweler – they are storehouses of knowledge and are always willing to talk about different wristwatch options. The salesperson at your local watch store will be more than willing to recommend watches to suit your lifestyle.
Magazines like GQ and Esquire publish regular features on watches and advertise new and classic models.
If you prefer to use an app, check out Watchville.
2. Understand the true value of a watch
One of the first criteria that comes up in a watch purchase is price. However, it is more important to consider the value of a watch before discussing pricing.
A simple formula to assess the value of a watch:
(Frequency Of Use * The Feelings Associated With Wearing It)/ The Price Of The Watch
Price is not the most important thing. Although most of have a specific budget in mind, it is better to spend a little extra to buy a quality watch.
Remember the fake watches I bought in Hong Kong? They represent no value to me because I don’t wear them.
On the other hand, I now wear a brand in The Fifth Watches that, although less famous than many, feels and looks great on my wrist. Their watches are a well-made classic design, Bauhaus to be exact and work well with my personal style.
Although they have a short history I love The Fifth Watches story as an Australian family run business looking to disrupt the industry with fun watches that are affordable. I find I wear my new watch everyday – already I’ve gotten my money’s worth and the value is high. That’s what you want to strive for in any watch you purchase, wear it, love it, and reduce the cost per wear to pennies!
3. Watches & buyer protection
Be careful when purchasing watches online.
Check the reputation of both the dealer and company first. If they’re new, make sure they have testimonials and/or a strong social media presence where they are engaging with customers and following up with questions.
Make sure to find a manufacturer who is willing to ensure quality will exchange watches that have been damaged in shipping or have manufacturing defects.
You are also more likely to get standard issue warranties to cover repairs from certified dealers or when you buy from the manufacture themselves.
4. The economics of watch pricing
The different grades of watches vary in the craftsmanship, quality of materials used, and amount of labor involved.
Timepieces under $250 – Consumer Watches
These are considered fashion watches that you can purchase to wear with an outfit. You are not going to feel too bad if they break after a couple of years. Although watches in this category are not meant to be heirloom pieces, you can find some great deals here and a well made watch at this price point can last decades.
Under $1,000 – Brand & Enthusiast Watches
This is a good price range for men with disposable income looking to purchase their first statement quality watch.
Of all the ranges – this is the one that has the widest variety of quality levels and you can find deals or get ripped off. I advise you not buying your first watch at this price point as you’ll want to have tested a few at lower price points to ensure you’re going to get your money’s worth and enjoyment from a watch at this level.
Think of watches at this level as a gateway to the next price point!
$1,000 – $10,000 – Luxury Watches
This is the bracket of well known names. You get what you pay for here and once you start to spend this type of money you need to know more about watches than 99% of men or else you’re getting ripped off.
Luxury watches by definition, are exclusive items and signal to certain people your ability to afford them.
Over $10,000 – Ultra Luxury Watches
At this level it’s not uncommon for diamonds, gold and other precious stones to be on the watch face.
Many of the of these watches are not available for public sale, and are controlled and only made available to select clientele. Most of these exclusive watches carry a rich heritage of exquisite craftsmanship and exceptional quality.
Watches as an investment?
All the more power to you if you can afford a 10K watch, but in general watches are not an investment. It is unlikely that you will retrieve the money spent on it when trying to sell under duress. It’s like buying a Harley Davidson motorcycle, it’s only worth what a buyer will pay for it.
5. Find enjoyment in wearing your watch
A good quality watch is an expression of your individualism. Only buy a watch that your are going to enjoy and love wearing.
Choose it yourself because it should reflect your personality. Unlike other items that men traditionally buy to express themselves, such as cars, a wristwatch is on constant display.
Watches are practical purchases that can be worn for decades. A fine wristwatch can signify a milestone or an achievement like graduating from college or getting your first job.
It stays on your hand as a reminder of what you have achieved.
Watches are not just a functional piece – you need to enjoy wearing it too.
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