Luxury Watch Buying Tips


Watches have always been an interest of mine, they are one of the few accessories that any man can wear that makes a statement, and if bought right is a sound investment. While we all have personal preferences for brands and styles of watches, I wanted to sit down with an industry leader to get his take on the market, trends, and what new watch shoppers should look for when buying their first luxury watch. Jared Silver is President of Stephen Silver Fine Jewelry, one of the premier jewelers and timepiece dealers in the San Francisco Bay Area. It is show season so it was great he could take the time to answer some questions for us.


TGR: 
What would you say is a good entry point in the world of luxury watches?

JS: 
First of all, I think you can enjoy any watch no matter the price. I recently bought a fun, sub-$1,000 piece, because I loved the design and the attitude it exuded. When people start to get serious about watches they begin by looking at mechanical watches, often from a brand with some history, and all the better if they make more of the watch themselves. Real luxury watches that we carry are rarities. They are exceptionally well crafted, made in small numbers and completely original in design and mechanics. The people who buy them are fascinated by these qualities, even obsessed by them, and this is the true sign of a luxury timepiece rather than price, although many are quite expensive.


TGR:  
If you were buying a watch with a $500 | $1,500 | $5,000 | $10,000 budget which watch would you suggest as a watch that will hold its value and age well?

JS: 
I always believe you should buy the watch which resonates most with you, whether you are most interested in its mechanics, its aesthetic, or the watchmaker’s heritage. Buy the watch you love now. You’ll find that it’s possible to trade in or resell a watch down the line if you are ready to upgrade to a higher end luxury timepiece. For those buying with resale in mind, I personally believe that independent watch brands offer some of the best investment potentials. Small independent watchmakers are infinitely creative, and, they only produce limited quantities. Like a fine work of art, the excellence and rarity of these timepieces means that they are likely to hold and grow in value in the years to come. Whatever your budget and preference, from big brands to independent makers, you can find a luxury watch to start your collection from a diverse field of watchmakers and price points, such as:

  • The $500 to $1500 price bracket is where the fashion watch segment starts to overlap with the entry-level luxury watch category. At this level, you will see a lot of quartz movements and some automatic movements. Buy a mass-produced Swiss-made automatic watch from a Swatch Group brand like Longines or Hamilton to get the best value for your money, perhaps something like the Longines Conquest V.H.P., which retails for around $1,000 and is one of the most accurate quartz wrist watches in the world.  You might also consider buying pre-owned at this level if you’re looking for a specific brand that would otherwise be out of reach.

  • The $1,500 to $5,000 entry level price bracket spans from well-known luxury watch brands like Tudor to nice brands like Bell and Ross. At this price point, I recommend the Bell & Ross BR V2-92 HERITAGE automatic watch, which has a great vintage-inspired look and an automatic movement and retails for $2,900.

  • At $5,000 to $10,000, you have your choice of luxury watches from Hermès, Bremont, Grand Seiko, and Zenith, Chopard, IWC, Omega, and more. At this price point, I recommend the Hermès Carré H with an anthracite dial in stainless steel, a sleek yet sporty luxury watch which retails for $7,225.  

  • $10,000 and up opens the playing field to most of the great watch brands and encompasses companies like Hublot, Blancpain, HYT, Ressence, and Vacheron Constantin. At this price point, I recommend the Ressence Type 1.3²RS in Ruthenium and Silver, which retails for $20,600. 

  •  Above $40,000 is territory for more serious collectors. In this range, you can access ultra-exclusive brands, like Greubel Forsey, BOVET, Laurent Ferrier, MB&F, De Bethune, Richard Mille, or Urwerk. You can also start to delve in more complicated models like tourbillons and perpetual calendars. Consider the MB&F Legacy Machine No.1 Final Edition, a highly limited watch with an unmistakable and compelling design for $79,000. 



TGR: 
Everyone knows Rolex but what lesser known brands should be considered?

JS: 
When you buy a brand like Rolex, Seiko, Patek Philippe, or Tag Heuer, you know you’ll see it on someone else’s wrist at some point because these brands produce wristwatches in the tens, sometimes hundreds of thousands. When you buy a timepiece like an MB&F or an Urwerk, you’ll not only have something visibly different and more interesting, you’ll be part of a very exclusive group of “in-the-know” watch aficionados.

If you’re looking to invest in a higher end luxury timepiece that is truly rare, look to a heritage watchmaker like BOVET, whose production is often strictly limited to less than 60 timepieces per model worldwide. Designers and watchmakers like Laurent Ferrier and Kari Voutilainen are very small, hands-on shops, so you can be sure that their limited-edition pieces will hold their value over time. The level of craft and artistry which these specialized brands can produce at the workbench can never be matched by mass producers.


TGR: 
When buying a used watch, what should buyers look for to avoid getting scammed?
Should they visit a professional to verify its authenticity? 

JS: 
The secondary market for pre-owned timepieces is getting very interesting right now as dealers offer more transparency and guarantees to enhance their reputation. In some cases watches have been refurbished and warrantied directly by the manufacturer, ensuring that shoppers can get an authentic watch from a brand they’ve always loved, like Audemars Piguet, Rolex, or Cartier, for significantly less initial investment. Check with your local retailer to see if they have a pre-owned selection that has been house-verified, or you can contact our team at Stephen Silver Fine Jewelry anytime. We source and ship timepieces all over the world for our international network of customers.


TGR
What kind of cleaning and maintenance schedule should be kept to keep a watch in its best condition?

JS: 
When you buy a new timepiece, it will come with a warranty and user’s guide. Flip through it and make note of what the manufacturer recommends. Most automatic timepieces need service every few years, mostly to renew the oils lubricating their constantly moving pinions and gears. Most manufacturers require you to go through them to do so. If you go to an outside repair person, the warranty may be invalidated, not to mention that an unskilled repair person might inadvertently compromise the timepiece’s water-resistance. You may need to send the timepiece off for a week or two, but your trusted retailer can assist, or you can go direct to the brand. Just be sure to keep your original paperwork and receipt for proof of purchase.


TGR: 
What are the current trends with straps/bracelets?

JS: 
Straps are still hot right now, and I’m seeing a lot of vintage-inspired/distressed finishes and tones of blue, tobacco, brown, and gray. Rubber straps are here to stay, but they are getting less bulky and more streamlined, finished with sophisticated textures like cross-hatching. Whether you opt for rubber, nylon, or alligator, you can complement a colorful dial with an equally colorful strap. Bracelets will always be a staple, and people who live in hot climates often prefer bracelets to straps because they are easier to clean.


About Jared Silver: 

Jared Silver, President of Stephen Silver Fine Jewelry, grew up in the business and has been an active member of the company’s board of directors since 2012. Jared combines well-practiced business acumen with a strong appetite for gemology and horology. Jared's instinct for watches started in early adolescence as he developed a passion for craftsmanship and technology. Envisioning an expansion of his father’s business into retail and the watch business, Jared created the business plan for the popular Rosewood Sand Hill Hotel watch and jewelry boutique, and the store has been an independent watch destination since its opening in 2013. 

Prior to joining Stephen Silver, Jared worked as a strategy consultant for EY (Ernst & Young), where he helped to build that company’s Strategy and Innovation practice. Following years of serving many high profile-clients, Jared draws on his broad experience to develop the growth agenda for Stephen Silver and curate the customer experience of the future. As the house continues to grow and build heritage, Jared will create a vision for the marriage of digital and old-world handmade objects. For more information, visit http://shsilver.com/


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