There comes a time in every gentleman’s life when he starts to value time — he values it so much, in fact, that he wants to wear it as a gorgeous piece on his wrist. At this point, it is time to start a watch collection.
This should be done carefully. A gentleman should conduct his research before selecting his first watch. It is a deduction that requires an understanding of not only what is out there, but also of one’s own personal style.
And of course, one’s own financial limitations.
“Unless you’re spending $US5,000 to $US10,000 you’re not going to have an investment-grade watch,” says Benjamin Clymer, editor of men’s watch site, Hodinkee. “Just make sure you buy something that you love … Really do your homework. … There’s nothing worse than realising you don’t have the watch that you think you have.”
Now here’s what you can have. You must decide if you would like your watch to be automatic or manual (meaning you’ll have to wind it). You must decide if you would like to purchase a vintage watch (from, say, eBay or a flea market) or a new watch.
After that, there are still almost too many options, so here are some things to keep in mind.
“Like so many other things in men’s dress, it is best to keep your watch pretty simple and restrained,” says Justin Jeffers of men’s style blog, The Fine Young Gentleman. “Not restrained in the sense that you shouldn’t wear a $US25,000 watch … But restrained in the sense that a man shouldn’t wear some oversized, over iced or over styled watch (or anything else) on his wrist. … A watch should not be so big that your shirt cuff cannot fit over it. There are few things more gaudy than a huge watch face staring you in the face from someone else’s wrist. It takes attention away from the things that matter (like the wearer’s face) and puts it where it doesn’t matter (the wearer’s wrist).”
Now let’s say you’re starting out at a fairly low price point (under $US500). What should you get?
Consider going vintage; it’s more work but it’s also more rewarding. Clymer recommends purchasing an old Omega brand.
You’ll want to make sure the vintage piece you buy has as much of its old parts intact as possible, especially with things you can see, like the dial or the face. You want your watch to look old — like it’s been passed down from generation to generation.
“The dream watch for a vintage watch collector is a watch that has never been serviced or messed with at all,” says Clymer.
If you want a new watch, things are a little different.
“To get a really mechanical watch [under $US500] you’re going to want to look at Seiko,” said Clymer.
You could also check out Pulsar, Timex, Citizen, Daniel Wellington, Bulova, Shinola, ESQ, Luminox, and Tissot. There’s a debate raging in the men’s watch world about whether or not you should buy from a company that creates items other than watches (like, say, a Burberry) — but it’s bloody, and Business Insider is staying out of it.
What’s more important is that you take care of your watch.
“Keep your watch away from super magnets (large speakers, buckyballs, etc). Although unlikely, it could move pieces inside,” says Kirk Miller, nation editor at men’s lifestyle newsletter, InsideHook. “Extreme temperature changes, shouldn’t be a problem, but again be careful. Expansion and contraction do funny things to watch insides. Leave your watch in the locker when going into the sauna.”
And take care of how you use your watch, as well.
“Do not wear a sports or digital watch with a suit. It’s like putting VW wheels on an Audi,” says Jeffers.
All this said, you’re going to have to service your watch. Especially if you buy something high end or vintage. If your watch is new, you can take it to the manufacturer. If it’s vintage, make sure to go to someone who understands what you want, and won’t Frankenstein your watch with new parts you don’t want.
If you do all that, your watch could last forever.
If you're into vintage pieces, you can get a 1950s Omega like this one for less than $US500 on eBay.
Straps, it should be noted, can and should be interchangeable. Hodinkee sells straps, and for about $US5 you can buy a little doo-hickee that allows you to change them yourself.
'Many of these (under $US500) brands have watches that look similar to well known luxury brand watches, however, they cost a fraction of the price and their accuracy is as good as any watch. It is just a matter of browsing ... and finding a watch that works with your style,' says FYG's Justin Jeffers.
This is a Tissot, which is a Swiss brand, but Inside Hook's Miller says you shouldn't be afraid to buy American brands like Shinola and Martinero.
If you want to go up a price point into the low thousands, Hodinkee's Clymer recommends going for brands like Tag Heuer (pictured) or a vintage Omega Speedmaster.
Now for your lesson in luxury (we're talking in the 10s of thousands of dollars here). There are a few watch brands every gentleman interested in watches should know about, like A. Lange and Sohns ...
Then of course you have your vintage Rolexes and Cartiers, Grand Seiko, Van Cleef & Arpels and Philippe Dufour, who only makes 12 watches a year.
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