As a fashion writer, I’ve developed a deep appreciation for watches and jewelry, and the stories behind them.
I’ve spoken to industry experts and picked their brains for tips and trends, but it doesn’t compare with the experience of handling, and if you’re lucky enough, buying these wearable commodities.
Things like waitlists and the process of buying vintage were all new to me before I started purchasing my own luxury watches in the last few years.
Here are four things I learned while building my watch collection.
You can’t always get what you want
Luxury brands are making it harder to part with our money, but not for the reasons you might think.
Whether it’s Hermès with its Birkin handbags and notorious no-guarantee waitlist, or Rolex with another indefinite waitlist, you might need to wait your turn even after making peace with the hefty price tags.
Earlier this year, I went into my local Rolex retailer in Scotland. One of the watches I enquired about, a left-handed GMT-Master II, was a new and rare design, but I wanted to try my luck.
I was surprised to find out that regardless of how rare a watch might be, Rolex, along with other luxury brands like Audemars Piguet and Patek Philippe, no longer sells watches on the spot, as reported by The New York Times.
Most luxury watch houses now require you to make a wishlist, which means sitting down with a team member in the boutique and selecting the piece you’d be interested in purchasing.
Because I wasn’t a repeat Rolex purchaser, I was told I wouldn’t be eligible to get access to these super rare pieces. The reason wasn’t spelled out to me, but I understood that there are levels to the Rolex game, and I was still a beginner.
Instead, I was given options of more modestly priced pieces to put on my wishlist. I was told that when a watch on my list became available, I’d be informed and given a strict 48-hour window to pay for and collect the watch.
When the phone call came a few months later about a watch becoming available, I was no longer interested in the piece I had inquired about, which in hindsight, saved me a lot of money.
Some brands are more approachable than others in my experience
One of my favorite watch brands is Cartier. It has more modestly priced pieces compared to other luxury brands, but still comes with a long heritage of watchmaking.
Cartier is also one of few brands which has pieces in stock, meaning if you see a watch you like, it likely has one to sell you.
When it comes to building a waitlist, in my experience, some watch brands can be more difficult to navigate.
Maybe it’s because I’m younger than a typical luxury watch customer, but in the past, I’ve been quizzed about my profession and the watches I already own. My guess is this was to gauge whether I can actually afford to buy more.
Regardless of the reason, it put me off purchasing in boutiques, and instead, I’ve now turned my attention to buying pieces on the secondary market.
Buy a watch that fits your lifestyle
I love wrist-spotting what celebrities are wearing on Instagram pages like Dimepiece, a curated watch news account with more than 47,000 followers. But what celebrities wear and what regular people wear can be very different.
Initially, I was drawn to big, flashy watches with gold and intricate detailing which can be spotted from a mile off, but I never ended up really wearing them.
I noticed that wearing something lightweight and minimal fit better with my daily routine and work life. I often travel alone for work and commute on public transport, so wearing a bold watch doesn’t feel safe to me, and doesn’t fit with my simpler aesthetic.
Vintage watches can be a great way to get more bang for your buck
My most recent purchase was an Omega gold quartz watch. I’m unclear on its exact information because it came with no receipt or “papers,” which contain information on the style name and production year – a common occurrence when purchasing vintage watches.
I purchased the piece in an online UK auction on The Saleroom, a collection of legitimate auctions all over the world, which cost me £200, or around $250, including taxes and buyer’s premium, a percentage you pay on top of the hammer price. Once it was shipped to me, I spent £10, or around $12, at a local jeweler to have the battery replaced.
I wasn’t expecting much because though Omega is still a leading luxury watch brand, the price didn’t necessarily match up – the cheapest ladies’ watch on the Omega website is currently $2,600 and vintage watches can still come with a high price tag.
This watch is now my favorite that I own, and also the least expensive. It might be the buzz of a good bargain or the thrill of the hunt, but I suspect it won’t be my last vintage watch.
I’ve learned a lot of it is down to luck – a quiet day at the auction house means you’ll likely get a better deal than a busier one.
The catalogue containing the items to be sold is released weeks before the auction date, which gives ample time to do your own research on what’s available.
I’d also recommend setting a maximum hammer price for yourself beforehand, including the buyer’s premium and taxes, as you’ll only have a matter of seconds to decide during the auction.
There are thousands of watches on the secondary market, so you’re more likely to find one that’s a good fit for you with a price to match.
Source : BusinessInsider