How to Choose a Watch

Rolex Daytona Yellow Gold Ceramic Bezel Rubber Strap Watch 116518

Buying a watch, especially if it’s your first purchase, can leave you with overwhelm and self-doubt. It’s a huge market with lots of choices, and questions abound: What brand should I get? Am I being overcharged? Is it authentic?

Because watch taste is very personal, it’s hard to recommend a specific watch for a person to purchase. What we aim instead is to help you find a watch that fits your lifestyle and needs.

In this guide, we run down 10 steps that can help you in choosing your first watch or your next.


Rolex Daytona Yellow Gold and Everose Gold Oysterflex Models
Rolex Daytona Yellow Gold and Everose Gold Oysterflex Models

1) Ask yourself why you want a watch.

Watches were never worn to simply tell the time. They always help others determine a few things about you, and in today’s world of mass produced items, give you a well-crafted piece that will last years.

Are you looking for a watch you can pass on to your son? Is your watch something that you will wear daily or will you save it for special occasions? Your primary motivations for getting a watch will help you narrow down the type of watch to get, regardless of budget.

See The Best Watches for Every Social Situationbr


Omega Speedmaster MoonWatch Sedna Gold Watches
Omega Speedmaster MoonWatch Sedna Gold Watches

2) Determine your budget. 

It’s most practical to establish your budget first before considering other factors – this is the main aspect that will narrow the options down to a manageable number.The very lowest end mechanical Swiss watch costs $1,000 at the very least. Entry-level ones will set you back $2,000-4,000. While mid-range ones will cost $5,000-10,000. For high-end luxury watches, the sky is the limit.

Determine the best watch for your lifestyle.

Watch types run the gamut from different materials, sizes, colors and designs but they can be categorized in a few major categories: dress or classic watches, sport watches, vintage watches, GMT watches, and even highly complicated watches.

We believe that watches should be worn and enjoyed as much as you can, so we suggest assessing your daily activities. If you work in an office or go to formal events, go for dress watches. If you’re often outdoors or traveling, go for a specific sport watch such as a diver, aviation, racer or GMT watch.

See Entry Level Luxury: Starter Watches for Your Collection


Rolex Sky-Dweller Steel White Gold Watch, Cartier Roadster Large Steel Watch, Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Nick Faldo Rose Gold Watch
Rolex Sky-Dweller Steel White Gold Watch, Cartier Roadster Large Steel Watch, Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Nick Faldo Rose Gold Watch

4) Also consider the following factors:

Movement – Also called the “calibre”, the movement is basically what makes the watch go. There are three kinds: mechanical, automatic, and quartz.

Mechanical – the mainspring is wound by hand. Best for those who love vintage and have a good memory. Mechanical watches are the most collectible

Automatic – a self-winding watch. Its mechanism has a semi-circular rotor which pivots when its worn and the wearer is in motion. Typically the most expensive because of the technical expertise involved.

Quartz – utilizes a battery as its primary power source, electrifying a crystal watch to create vibrations. It is the cheapest option among the three, but also aren’t as desirable to watch collectors because they lack the technical craftsmanship compared to mechanical timepieces.

Complications – Can the watch tell you anything else other than the hour, minutes and seconds? That’s a complication. These are special functions designed to simplify your life. Examples are date and calendar windows, GMT and multiple time zones, and power reserve functions.

Size – There are no textbook definitions of how large or small a watch should be, as trends in watch sizes also change with time. In general, slimmer watches are viewed as more formal (as they fit under the cuff) while thicker watches are more sporty or utilitarian.

5) Ask yourself if this is going to be your only watch, or the first of many. 

A first-time buyer is better off buying something classic in design – one that looks good with a suit or his weekend clothes. That way, the watch will last through outfit changes.If you’re keen on building a collection, you may choose to have a theme (vintage? diver? All Rolex?) or different pieces for different occasions. It pays to start with a timeless design and say, with no regrets, “This is the watch that started it all.”


6) Start scouting for watches, beginning with well-known brands.

Iconic and well-known brands and models make for a good and safe, first splurge. If the brand has been around for long, it means it has a proven track record for quality. They are also easier to repair and service.If your budget is for fashion brands, there are also a number of off-the-radar brands that are of good quality. Non-Swiss brands that have made a name internationally include Glashutte (German) and Bell & Ross (French).

7) Check the condition of the watch.

For second-hand watches in particular, a watch’s condition is prized over nearly everything else. Often, people think that a second-hand watch means it has scratches and dents, and while it may be true for some, there are certainly second-hand pieces that are in perfect condition, and even unworn. The less polishing and the more original parts remain in your watch, the greater its value.


Rolex GMT Master II Black Brown Root Beer Rose Gold Mens Watch 126715
Rolex GMT Master II Black Brown Root Beer Rose Gold Mens Watch 126715


8) Don’t think your watch as a financial investment.

While your watch may be in good condition and high value, it will always cost less than its original value the moment you wear it. There’s no guarantee your watch will appreciate in value – this is the exception rather than the rule. So it’s really best to buy a watch for personal enjoyment.

Nonetheless, always keep your watch in tiptop shape in case you would like to sell it. Keep the original box and papers. Its papers will verify its origins and authenticity, which adds value at resale

9) Do your due diligence.

Online retail has really changed the game – not only has it made it easier to buy a watch, but also easier for fakes to enter the market. A reputable and legitimate watch dealer should have solid presence online, as well as testimonials from previous buyers. More importantly, it should be able to provide a guarantee of authenticity and warranties on the watch. Lastly, it should be able to buy your timepiece back from you in the future.


Omega Aqua Terra Blue Dial, Rolex GMT-Master II Batman 116710, Breitling Superocean 44 Outerknown Green Dial Steel Watch A17367
Omega Aqua Terra Blue Dial, Rolex GMT-Master II Batman 116710, Breitling Superocean 44 Outerknown Green Dial Steel Watch A17367

10) Don’t settle.

All the steps above will take some time and we advise that you take no rush in buying your watch. It’s a valuable investment that will last years (if not generations!) and will serve as a marker of your personal history. If you are not 100% sure of your options, keep looking.

Most importantly, buy what you truly like and the best you can afford.

3 Watches Under $5000 - Rolex, Omega & Cartier | SwissWatchExpo

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