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Want to buy a luxury watch? Read these 7 Pro tips first

PERHAPS YOU HAVE reached a milestone – a new job, an anniversary, a first pregnancy. Maybe you have stumbled upon a watch enthusiast’s Instagram feed and are intrigued. Maybe you just looked down at your bare wrist and thought, “Something’s missing.” Whatever the reason, you have decided to buy a watch. A nice one. Not an Apple Watch or a Swatch – not that there is anything wrong with them – but something that requires a significant budget and commitment. But where do I start?

To make a bad looking joke, it is more complicated than you might think.

“There are so many facets to buying a watch,” said Paul Boutros, head of watches at auction house Phillips. “Whether you choose vintage or modern, it may seem like you need to figure out how to climb Mount Everest when you start.”


‘There are many facets to buying a watch. It seems like you need to figure out how to climb Everest when you start. ‘

Mr. Boutros recommends deciding on a brand, then a model – both choices that require serious research. Reliability is crucial, but understanding what each timer is is also important. If you are projecting an unlikely mix of the outdoors and sophistication – or wish you did, a luxury dive or sports watch may be for you. If you are a glamorous type who is back on the gala circuit, a watch dripping in diamonds can prove to be the most “functional”. If your personal brand is timelessly elegant, the Cartier Tank collection is your alley. Omega’s Speedmaster, “marks you as someone who likes watches,” said Adam Craniotes, co-founder of RedBar, a watch enthusiast platform, even though it does not have the hype of a Rolex Daytona or Submariner. Speedmaster was the watch used on the man’s first trip to the moon, immortalized in Ron Howard’s 1995 film “Apollo 13”, and is now favored by President Biden. In the end, your watch will be a matter of individual preference, and the Hodinkee website, a popular watch lover’s platform, is a great place to gather important information during your search.

But even if you choose a time from tippy-top tier of heritage Swiss watch houses – such as Rolex, Audemars Piguet, Patek Philippe, Omega, Vacheron Constantin – you can not always continue without understanding how the isolated horological world works. For example, you can not just roll into an authorized dealer (AD) and go out with the most popular models, which include Rolex Submariner and Daytona, Patek Philippe Nautilus and Audemars Piguet Royal Oak. A combination of hype-economy and Swiss supplies has made these sports watches in stainless steel the ultimate luxury flex, almost impossible to get first-hand. Waiting lists are epic and are reserved for those related to the house or AD. “If you have not bought a story with them, just put down your name. They do not put you on the list, “said Mr. Craniotes. The demand for these enviable watches has increased in the secondary market (resale).

THE BIG TIME Five classic watches worth a splurge. From left: Reverso Tribute Nonantième, $ 40,500, jaeger-lecoultre.com; Datejust 36, $ 8,550, rolex.com; Tank Louis, $ 10,700, cartier.com; Calatrava, $ 40,810, patek.com; Royal Oak ‘Jumbo’ Extra-Thin, $ 105,400, audemarspiguet.com.


Suzanne Saroff for The Wall Street Journal; Sitting Editor: Jessica Gibbs

The list price of the Nautilus 5711, a basic (but in-demand) three-hand watch with date function and stainless steel case – no precious metals – is about $ 30,000, “a lot of money, let’s be honest,” said Mr. Kraniotes. “If you want to buy one tomorrow, you can expect to pay close to $ 100,000, and that’s in the secondary market … you can not get one through a retailer.”


What are you looking for in the next watch? Join the conversation below.

The secondary market consists of outlets such as eBay and Crown & Caliber, an online platform where individuals and retailers can buy and sell luxury watches. Then there is the gray market – for example, the Diamond District on 47th Street in Manhattan, which in some respects functions as an old-fashioned bazaar full of unspoken rules (think “Uncut Gems”). Of course, it is possible to find a fantastic time there, but it is also difficult territory for beginners to navigate, so watch insiders recommend that only watch insiders turn gray.

When it comes to surveillance tips, this is just the beginning. For example, it is important to be familiar with leading auction houses such as Phillips; hot new watch brands, such as Ming, which was launched in 2017 out of Kuala Lumpur; and hot independent brands, such as FP Journe, named after founder François-Paul Journe, who has earned a reputation as a mercury maestro.

Sure, there is a lot to learn – but we have collected a cheat sheet. Here are seven tips to help you find your next top listing.


Errata Carmona

Be realistic about your eternal clock

“If in doubt, definitely do not buy it,” said Cara Barrett, former editor of Hodinkee and founder of Parchie, a children’s watch company she plans to launch this summer. “It’s like a pair of shoes that are a little too small. You will never use them. ”

To confidently decide which watch is best for you, Mrs. Barrett suggests asking yourself some questions, such as “What’s your budget?”, “Do you want it every day?” and “Are you active?” These questions seem simple, but thoughtful answers will help narrow your search. And being able to pass on your needs to salespeople will also help them guide you.

Mrs Barrett also recommends assessing your professional environment before you buy – ie do you work in an office, and if so, what is the culture like? “It will [dictate] how flashy [or] how not flashy you want to be, ”she said.

Other useful rules of thumb: Go with a watch from a Swiss heritage house and buy from a reputable dealer (if not from the house directly) to ensure you have recourse and service options. And always try it first.

Make friends on your chosen ad

Despite having a name that remembers duty free shopping, Watches of Switzerland is one of the best ADs, along with Wempe. The sellers of these international stores are extremely knowledgeable, can guide you towards alternatives to the largest houses’ most in-demand models and learn about fancy complications such as perpetual calendars. The watch industry is a relationship business permeated by tradition and personal exchange with champagne and such. Be friendly with your salespeople in a big ad – it can be as simple as staying in touch after buying your watch or popping in from time to time to see new models. They can help you navigate waiting lists (especially the aforementioned epics) and other watch-world esoterica.

Do not be intimidated by Watch Auctions

Any notion of auctions as an elitist event for the super-rich is “a misunderstanding,” Mr. Boutros said. He noted that most Phillips auctions are open to the public and do not require tickets for personal attendance. And at some auctions, he said opening bids can start as low as $ 500. Phillips sources worthy watches at almost every price point. “We often seek the best of the best from the cheaper models we would personally buy ourselves,” said Mr. Boutros. The first step to buying a watch at auction is to know when the auctions are – information that is readily available online. There are two seasons for Phillips live auctions, spring and fall, with live events held in Geneva and Hong Kong in May, June and November and a special sale once a year in New York in early December. The clocks go on tour in the management, so that potential customers can see them, deal with them, get a sense of their condition and ask questions. All watches are extremely controlled, so customers can be calm.

How an economic principle called the “snobbery effect” allows watchmakers to charge sky-high prices

If you trade hunting, you will probably be screwed

Do not look for a deal. Do not hit the gray market. If you are buying on eBay or from a secondary retailer, you need to Google the model and reference number and see what established retailers charge. Fake watches are not common, but models that have been damaged, serviced or repaired with new parts (which can impair the value) are. Examine the seller and check that the watch is in that person’s possession. Mr. Craniotes suggests requesting a picture of the clock with today’s newspaper (extreme, but also effective). “Any legitimate seller will expect this and will not insult you for getting them to jump through a few extra hangers,” he said. “The second you get a funny feeling or if the person does not respond the way you want, go away. It’s another watch for you. ”

Replace things with your other watch

Congratulations. You have your daily staple, and it’s time to branch out. The goal, Ms. Barrett said, is to create “different categories in your collection” while sticking to your aesthetics. Maybe it means investing in a dress watch, such as a Bulgari Serpenti or a Patek Philippe Twenty ~ 4 with diamonds. Or maybe it’s a gold watch with an alligator strap that can be replaced with one in patent leather or calfskin to change the mood. Do not be afraid to have fun with your choice around two.


Errata Carmona

To impress Watch People, become a Watch Person. Or buy a Hot Watch.

If you want look for the clock, get on level. Fall into the rabbit hole, Alice. Enjoy exploring the array of complications – incredible composites of small gears that are the essence of timing. Studying famous world famous people like Aurel Bacs, who founded Phillips in Association with Bacs & Russo with his wife, Livia Russo. It will take some time to become indoctrinated.

Alternatively, you can take a shortcut. Mr. Craniotes recommends buying a watch from FP Journe, “the current beloved of India,” whose prices start at around $ 16,000. Or you can search the resale market for limited editions – especially those with intricate background stories you can tell in small talk. In this regard, the Omega Speedmaster Silver Snoopy Apollo 13 45th Anniversary Edition is especially desirable. It honors the Apollo 13 mission’s 45th anniversary and depicts Snoopy and a thought bubble declaring, “Mistakes are not an option,” a line attributed to Gene Kranz, Apollo 13’s flight director.

The funny thing is, he never said that. Ed Harris did when he played Kranz in the 1995 film. But Kranz loved it so much that he titled the memoir “Mistakes are not an option.” Snoopy’s dial-como is a reference to Silver Snoopy, an award NASA provides for outstanding performance that contributes to aircraft safety and mission success. NASA astronauts on the Apollo 13 mission all received an Omega Speedmaster Professional Chronograph, and it helped save the crew after an oxygen tank burst and jeopardized their mission. The list price for 2015 was $ 7,350. Today it costs you around $ 50,000 – if you find one. Only 1,970 were made, a nod to the year of the mission (and another fun treat for chitchat).

It never hurts to think about resale

Even if you plan to set the clock down to your grandchildren, you need to keep the options open. With that in mind, you can hang on to the original authentication papers and box. These will provide significant value when you resell. Particularly sought-after watches from houses such as Patek Philippe, Audemars Piguet and Rolex can have resale values ​​that far exceed the list prices. You can sell a luxury watch on eBay or to Crown & Caliber or with popular online shipping stores like TheRealReal. The site will suggest a list price, which you can accept or reject. If you use eBay, you need to google to find the average cost of resale. You can also exchange your watch for an ad, get something new and pay the difference – like a car and at about the same price.

The Wall Street Journal is not compensated by retailers listed in the articles as outlets for products. Listed retailers are often not the only outlets.

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