Buyer’s Guide to Fine Wristwatches

Buyer’s Guide to Fine Wristwatches

Buyer’s Guide to Fine Wristwatches

Man has always been fascinated with time; ever since ancient civilizations began marking time by watching the sun, the moon, and the stars. The Pyramids, Stonehenge, the Mayan pyramids – these great monuments; and thousands just like them, were built around the concept of time.

As craftsmen and artisans began to design elegant pieces that were worn, first around the neck, then on the wrists, prestige, and elegance became associated with the fine timekeeping pieces that were created.  Precision timepieces valued for their significance in travel and communication.

Finely crafted timepieces are now perceived more like jewelry and accessories rather than timekeepers.

Since the dawn of time – Fine Wristwatches History

man has marked time, be it a sundial, flowing waters, hourglasses, or watching the sun and moon. Early Egyptians have been credited with the development of marking time and in Italy, monks built audible clocks with bells to announce prayer time. Since the Dawn of Time

16th Century Tudor, England

The first watches were actually clocks worn around the neck. The first pocket watches were introduced in the 16th century and were popularized in the 17th century due to their improved accuracy.

17th Century England

Queen Anne offered a huge reward of 20,000 pounds to anyone who invented something that would calculate longitude accurately. John Harrison, a self-taught watchmaker worked for more than ten years to create 4 versions of the Harrison Marine Chronometer. His chronometer went through several trials and eventually was accepted by the Queen, earning him the 20,000 pounds.

19th Century

Patek Philippe invented the wristwatch and was popular with women up until WWI. Men used pocket watches. During the war, it was decidedly simpler to glance at a wristwatch than fumble for a pocket watch. And the army let the men keep their military issue watches. Men started sporting their wristwatches soon thereafter.

20th Century

Louis Cartier designed the first man’s wristwatch in 1904. Aviation pioneer Alberto Santos-Dumont requested Cartier to design him a wristwatch; so that he would have both hands free – this became the blueprint for all watches. During WWI, it became evident that the wristwatches were very advan`eous.

Over the next two decades, new features were developed and added to wristwatches, i.e. calendars, lunar phases, etc. TAG Heuer was the first to innovate a stopwatch/wristwatch in the same casing. In 1923, John Harwood developed a self-winding mechanism. In 1926, Rolex introduced a water-resistant wristwatch and  Tissotthe anti-magnetic design. New materials, such as durable plastic crystals were being developed for the bezel, replacing the fragile glass.

Since the Dawn of Time

The automatic watch that no longer needed winding, as well as the quartz watch introduced in the late1920’s. For the first time in 1970, Japan introduced a new type of watch that leaped years ahead; it was computerized, kept track of time, the date, the day of the week and more.

Where once watches considered fashion accessories, they have now become collectibles due to technology.

Since the Dawn of Time – Watch Trivia

What exactly does “Swiss Made” mean? Amongst other criteria, it requires that at least 50% of the components of the movement should be manufactured in Switzerland.

How much should you spend In Wristwatches?

Don’t try to justify spending a lot of money on a wristwatch; an inexpensive quartz watch will look great and is quite accurate; there is no need to pay more. The value of a watch is what you perceive it to be. If you desire a collectible timekeeper that has mechanical in nature, a casing quality detailing, precious metals, or designer hallmarks; these are values that you perceive as important – you have vested your emotions. Any watch over $200 is purely more jewelry.

Mechanical vs. Quartz Wristwatches

Quartz is far more accurate. Mechanical watch enthusiasts see the benefits and pleasures of ownership that others may not.

There are several ways to do many things in life; the process you choose may produce more satisfaction or gratification, depending on you. So too it goes with watches.  Although quartz far more accurate than a mechanical piece, unless it is of the highest caliber; it clearly becomes a matter of personal preference. The personal interaction with a classic mechanical watch is what some people value; newer timepieces require little or no interaction – they are boring.

There are many interesting components to compare on mechanical pieces; for example, the finishing, the movements, types of certifications, adjustment level, performance and other obscurities of mechanical watches.

If all you need is something that is efficient, choose quartz. If looking for something more interesting and more intricate, go mechanical.

Why mechanical Wristwatches cost more? 

Mechanical watches cost significantly more than quartz models. In some instances, depending on the manufacturer; you may have the option of quartz or mechanical movement in the same model. Here are some of the basic reasons for cost differences:

  • Manufacturing cost –Quality quartz is only slightly cheaper than mechanical. The cost of the movement accounts for < 5% of the cost
  • Warranty Service: Warranty claims for quartz watches
  • Distribution: Mechanical movement watches don’t sell as quickly
  • Exclusivity: You pay a premium for precious  stones and metals, precision mechanical parts, etc

What are “Collectible” Wristwatches?

There is a wide misconception that if something is label ledas “collectible” it is a good investment; however, that is the furthest thing from the truth. The collectability craze began in the ’70s when buyers of nostalgia surfaced, creating a gold-rush way of thinking.

A whole new breed of people created; who spent incredible amounts of money buying stuff, both old and new; in hopes that some of would become valuable in the future. Sellers associate the term “collectible” with just about anything–knowing; that people would mindlessly attach greater value without question.

NEVER buy something because someone tells you it is collectible. Buy what appeals to you regardless. The bottom line is: It is only collectible if an individual collects it.

Buying from an Authorized Dealer

Whether you prefer to go shop online or at the mall, your best option is to make the most informed choice.

The advantages of buying fine wristwatches from an authorized dealer

  • Authorized dealers obligated to the manufacturer; that means if you encounter a problem with a purchase that the dealer has not solved; you have the option of contacting the manufacturer to assist you with your claim
  • Some authorized dealers are adding extended warranties in addition to the manufacturer’s factory warranty
  • Factory warranties honored by all authorized dealers as well as the manufacturer’s service center.
  • Authorized dealers have the ability to special order accessories
  • You can mail order directly from an authorized dealer-they can resize the wristband before it ships

Some disadvantages when dealing with an authorized dealer

  • Highly variable in knowledge, courtesy, and willingness to negotiate
  • Staffed by salespeople with only basic sales experience
  • If you do not look well-off. may not take you seriously as a customer
  • Multiple dealers in your area; will need to shop multiple locations to negotiate your best deal or find the item you want
  • No dealers in your area
  • Difficult to locate an authorized dealers
  • Inconvenient hours of operation.
  • Limited inventory
  • Excessively handling of merchandise, causing fading, scratches, etc. No boxes available
  • Limited accessories inventory
  • May not carry all-new models

Gauging Internet Reviews and Postings

Most issues isolated incidents and something went awry for any number of reasons. In spite of the fact that high-end merchandise has more stringent manufacturing guidelines, things can, and do, wrong at times.

Additionally, first-time luxury and mechanical watch owners may have unreasonable expectations or misunderstandings about the limits of these fine timepieces. Oftentimes, the reviews and bad publicity may come from concerns; rather than actually relating to real defects or issues with the watch.

Consider the number of complaints over the number of years- any brand will have some reported problems.  Given the moderately small number of claims; these typically addressed within the warranty period. These watch manufacturers enjoy an excellent success rate.

Unfortunately, some unhappy customers post anti-company reviews to harass the company–often out of vengeance. Their campaigns rarely pay off. It has also been known that some individuals cannot be pacified and continue their posting long after the issue resolved.

Keep in mind that for every unhappy customer, there are thousands of satisfied clients.