8 Things To Know Before Buying a Watch According to Collectors 2021

8 Things To Know Before Buying a Watch According to Collectors 2021

Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis in a he iconic 1962 Cartier Tank watch. (Photo: Getty) Nathalie Atkinson discovers how to move forward with starting a watch collection.

Are you thinking about buying a watch? As a beautiful object and as a metaphor, the wristwatch may be the ultimate heirloom. It witnesses both the mundane moments and the milestones in our daily lives, and its design is an intimate expression of taste.

Collecting watches is like embarking on a lifelong adventure; both vintage and new models, either of which can be rare, appreciate with changing trends – as do historically important timepieces or those with a celebrity pedigree. For example, the iconic 1962 Cartier Tank watch that belonged to Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis was sold for over $500,000 to Kim Kardashian West at a Christie’s auction in 2017.

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8 Things To Know Before Buying a Watch According to Collectors 2021

Here are eight things watch collectors Dan Tanenbaum, Jeremy Ong, Pedro Mendes and Kat Shoulders and Katlen Schmid say you need to know before buying a watch.

1. Do your research

To talk shop about watch specs, learn the lingo pertaining to shape, finishing and balance as well as engineering: Think case size, thickness and crown, and know a tourbillon from a minute repeater. And bone up on a piece’s background. “Know the history behind it, get it checked out and don’t hesitate to pay a premium with a dealer,” says Dan Tanenbaum. “It’ll give you peace of mind and give the watch credibility.”

2. Know your size – 8 Things To Know Before Buying a Watch According to Collectors

Familiarize yourself with dimensions that work best for you. Kat shoulders, of the horology podcast Tenn & Two, advises that most vintage men’s watches from the ’30s and ’40s are particularly suited to women’s wrist proportions. Know thicknesses and dimensions, because brands like Rolex list case sizes (for example, 34 mm, 36 mm and 41 mm) as opposed to “women’s” or “men’s” on the label.

3. Get a few tools, and store watches properly for protection

A loupe and watchmaking repair tools like fine screwdrivers, a spring bar tool (for changing the strap without scratching the case) and a case opener are essential; try precision-made Swiss brand Bergeon’s wares. Make sure to budget for the fact that in order to maintain their mechanical movements, higher-end and vintage watches should be professionally serviced about every five years. Toronto podcast producer and writer Pedro Mendes stores his watches in display boxes so he can appreciate them while keeping them clean, free of dust and away from the sun’s damaging rays.

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4. Buying a watch is best done in person

Unless you’re dealing with a reputable auction house or an horology dealer, vet significant vintage purchases (anything in the five figures) in person – especially with harder-to-find grails. Collector Jeremy Ong once flew to Manila to inspect a private seller’s Universal Genève Tri-Compax 222102 from the ’60s (a rare variant model nicknamed “the Evil Clapton”) before buying it.

5. Combine your interests

“If they include water or outdoor activities, there’s a whole genre of dive and field watches,” says Mendes. “And if they’re art deco or jazz, there are whole streams of watches that come out of that design aesthetic. For me, it’s satisfying to make those connections.”

6. Join a community to satisfy your curiosity

“I’ve met collectors from all walks of life, all bonded together by a common hobby,” Ong says of joining Instagram to share collection photos. “It gets your name out there, and I’ve made a bunch of new watch friends and also attained some pretty amazing pieces.” While gatherings like RedBar Group have gone virtual for now, Mendes suggests seeking them out once COVID restrictions let up. In pre-pandemic times, podcast Tenn & Two’s Katlen Schmidt loved these personal connections. “More than the watches, the neat thing about this and any hobby is the people,” she says. “You make so many friendships.”

7. Know when to let go – 8 Things To Know Before Buying a Watch According to Collectors

Trial and error is part of collecting. As you grow more confident, you can swap and sell watches you’re less interested in to fund other pieces and trade up. “I think it’s always changing,” says Schmidt. “You can never say it’s your watch collection until the end of time.” Adds Shoulders: “I went through a major flipping phase – watches coming in and going out. I don’t regret it. I think I learned a lot about myself.”

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8. Be patient – 8 Things To Know Before Buying a Watch According to Collectors

“You should never be in a rush, like ‘I have to get this tomorrow’ or ‘It’s my husband’s 50th birthday in a week,’” advises Tanenbaum, especially with hard-to-find models. “If you’re not in a hurry for it, you’ll get a great example – that’s true with the collecting of anything.”

A version of this article originally appeared in the Winter issue of FASHION magazine. 

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Watch Buying Guide: What to Know Before Buying a Watch Online

  • Decide on Your Budget. When it comes to watches, you can spend as much as you want. …
  • Take a Look at the Materials. …
  • Pay Attention to the Movement. …
  • Consider the Brand. …
  • Choose Design. …
  • Think About the Function. …
  • Buy from Someone You Trust. …
  • Use Your Knowledge from This Watch Buying Guide.

How do you know what size watch to get?

You’ll need to measure your wrist. If your wrist is 6 to 7 inches in circumference, you should typically go with 38mm, 40mm and 42mm watch cases. If your wrist circumference is 7.5 to 8 inches, you should be looking at 44mm to 46mm watch cases.

8 Things To Know Before Buying a Watch According to Collectors
8 Things To Know Before Buying a Watch According to Collectors

How do you choose a watch that suits you?

One of the factors to consider in choosing a watch is how well proportioned the watch is to your wrist and hand. If it’s too big for your wrist, it will stand out and look garish; too small and it will look like you‘re wearing a lady’s timepiece.

The Best Affordable Watch Brands For Men

  • Tissot. This Swatch Group alumnus is pretty much the benchmark when it comes to both choice and bang for your buck. …
  • Seiko. …
  • Casio. …
  • G-Shock. …
  • Timex. …
  • Swatch. …
  • Triwa. …
  • Skagen.

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