Truly luxury watches are an investment: alongside the thousands of pounds they cost, there is also the servicing and maintenance that they require to ensure they continue to run in perfect order. However, a luxury watch is also a masterpiece of engineering, and as such can last the wearer their entire life and, in some cases, be an investment for their future. LUXlife Staff Writer Hannah Stevenson shares an insight into how to buy the perfect luxury timepiece to suit your individual needs.

Purchasing the ideal luxury watch can be difficult, with so many brands, styles and price-points to choose from. 

When initially exploring your options, it is important to consider the sort of watch you are looking for, what your interests are, and what you will use it for, as Patek Philippe’s UK Managing Director for the UK, Mark Hearn explains.

In general, when someone is looking for fine or prestige watches to buy, which is a different definition from luxury watches in my opinion, they are after classic signature designs. Depending on their interest, for example in complications, a combination of a watch with exclusive technical features and having the highest quality can be a key factor when selecting the best timepiece for them”.

Whilst fine watches are a stunning piece of technology to wear on your wrist, for many a luxury watch with all its style and sophistication is the way forward.  Renowned luxury watch maker Seiko believe that finding what suits you is by far more important than any other factor when choosing a luxury watch.

“Buy what you love – we all dress differently and have difference preferences.  With the availability of information nowadays, people will be more impressed by a well thought-out or unique piece, such as a Grand Seiko Spring Drive. Do your research – this is a very broad category.  It’s important to research the brand, the quality of the product, check watch forums and feedback from independent people. “Don’t buy specifically as an investment, but check if there is a pre-owned market for the brand if you are concerned for future re-sell.”

There is a myriad of styles to choose from, with factors including material, strap type and face shape all available for you to explore. Whilst it is tempting to get bogged down in style details, the expert team at Prestige Pawnbrokers of Channel 4’s Posh Pawn agree that trends and fashion should not play a key part in choosing your watch: this is a long-term investment for you, and should be driven by other factors.

“Don’t be a sucker for fads. ‘Fashion is a flat circle.’ Big watches were in, & then it was the slender dress watch & now it is the sports models that are holding their worth- no doubt the trusty pocket watch is due a revival. Although the rarity of a watch is no guarantee that it will appreciate in value, certain Limited Edition models will not depreciate, nor will a watch with added provenance, such as Paul Newman’s Daytona or a Pre-A Luminor. Other variables affecting the value of a watch, for the purists amongst Watch Collectors, include minor details such as specific serial numbers etc. no. 1/1000, for example.”

Once you’ve selected your watch style, there are a range of factors to consider, whether you are buying a new or vintage watch, as Joseph McKenzie, Co-Founder of Xupes.com discuses.

“Factors that affect the value of luxury watches range from brand to brand, but there are general aspects that apply across the board. Arguably the most important of these is condition.“Condition is the first thing a person notices about a watch, so it makes sense that it can have a large effect on the overall value. Assuming that the watch is mechanically sound, the most obvious things to look for are scratches and dents. Signs of regular wear and tear are to be expected and can be refurbished by a qualified watchmaker, but larger dents or marks are much harder to repair and will negatively affect the value of the piece. Other signs of poor condition include water damage, which can affect a watch both aesthetically and mechanically, and non-manufacturer replacement parts. Evidence of either of these would have a negative effect on the value of a watch.

“Treat buying a pre-owned watch like you would any other significant purchase. Ask the age of the watch, the type of model it is, how many were made, where has it come from, it’s overall condition – ask lots of questions. If the seller is a genuine watch expert they will be happy to answer these questions. A trusted expert will advise on any refurbishment that needs doing, or may even do it for you before you purchase it, which offers reassurance that your second-hand watch will perform like new.

“When you buy a second hand watch you’re not just buying a timepiece, you’re buying a little slice of history, the heritage behind the brand, a piece of the period in which the watch was made etc, but the most important thing is how much you like it.”

Whether your watch is new or vintage, an important factor to consider when purchasing it is servicing. Every luxury watch needs to be serviced, and the ease with which you will be able to have this carried out will depend on a variety of factors, including the popularity of the brand and the style of watch mechanism you select. Paul Brady MBHI, WOSTEP Grad from Prestige Time Services Ltd, which specialises in watch servicing and is an Omega Service Centre and Rolex Accredited Workshop, discusses the importance of servicing a luxury watch and how to go about doing so.

“You have been enjoying your luxury watch for a few years so it’s time to consider having it serviced. It’s the same for every type of watch, be it a mechanical or battery operated quartz watch. We normally refer our customers to their owner’s manual for servicing guidelines, but as a rule it’s normally between 3 to 5 years. You have to consider that your watch has been running continually day and night for many years, so it needs to be maintained. The seals start to become brittle and affect water resistance and the oils inside the mechanism start to congeal and the timekeeping is affected. Mechanical automatic watches fail to run for long once taken off and battery operated watches start going through batteries. All these are common signs that your watch needs servicing.

“Typical service prices range from £350 to £700 depending on what type of watch you have and how complex it is. The more complications a watch has, the higher the servicing cost. It’s mainly based on the amount of time a watchmaker spends on a particular movement.

“You have two options; you can send it back to the manufacturer directly through a stockist or to a good quality independent Swiss trained watchmaker. Always look for the WOSTEP qualification and see what brand accreditations they may hold. If you can’t see pictures of the watchmaker’s workshop or examples of their work on social media, stay clear as it could be a third party website.

“Having your watch serviced is not quick; expect to be without your watch for approximately 8 weeks. This is of course an average, but expect the manufacturer and a good quality independent watchmaker to be busy.”

Ultimately, the decision is entirely yours, but the most important factor to consider when buying a luxury watch is what you want out of it. Take your time to undertake research and ensure that you select the perfect timepiece to complete your wardrobe.