An overview of buying a valuable watch for the younger (or simply the learning) Gentleman.
What do you look for in a luxury timepiece?
A: Well, what do you look for in a car? In a suit? In a potential spouse?
Ah, therein lies the rub. It’s inherently personal, dependent on your preferences, and varies widely from person to person. Thankfully it’s nowhere near as complicated as relationships, and there are but a few major considerations to get started.
If this is your first timepiece, and you’ve been living with your cell phone or your Timex for the past few years, cast aside any preconceptions about what this is. If you’re starting a professional job (i.e. any post-MBA, JD or other graduate degree type career), creating the right impression may start with shoes and a suit, but it ends with the watch.
We would then apply the three F’s…
1. Form (or Style)
Some say form follows function, and as the son of an architect, I normally would agree. But in this case, form leads function. What impression are you looking to give? How do you want to appear? Vanity would not exist in an ideal world, but many of us judge based upon some element of appearance.
- Are you older or younger? Material may lend itself to one group or another. For example, gold or brown leather is typically associated with an older man, but a sleek black watch face and a steel strap might more often be seen on a younger man.
- What will you match it with? Remember that a super flashy watch with diamonds and bling might clash with your crappy jeans or off-color suit. So try to remember basic rules of color matching: a darker band will probably blend in better with darker suits or clothes. (Though some of us would argue that a leather band is too casual for a suit) Try matching the color of the face to your wardrobe as well.
2. Function (or Usage)
Function (aka usage): Attempting to look more impressive than you are? Trying to show clients or prospective clients that you know how to handle important decisions or commitments of hard earned money? Or perhaps you just think it makes you look older or more dashing. Whatever the reason for why you’re buying it, you should have one.
- You don’t need a luxury watch to tell the time. That’s kind of like buying a Porsche to get from point A to point B. You can do it more efficiently in a Prius, but if your goal is engine power, great handling, and a statement, a Porsche does those better. So consider when you want to wear this. In the office, at the club, or in the gym perhaps?
3. Fit (You)
By now you’ve hopefully realized that you need a watch, you want a watch, and most importantly, you can afford said watch. The rest of the fit comes from going to a high end timepiece shop and spending quality time with the product itself.
- Strap: Steel, black leather, brown leather, alligator skin, two-toned, wide, narrow… a lot of buzzwords and images come to mind. Sometimes you have a choice of band, other times it’s already pre-selected for you.
- Features: Do you need a date or calendar feature? Stopwatch? Golden numbers or a white gold bezel? This is all just the cherry on top.
- Cost: Don’t act all big just cause you want to look the part. Can you afford it? If so then you’ve got a rare opportunity that many could never have – be mindful of what you have.
- Long Term usage: Are you planning to keep this for a long time? Most times the answer is yes, so resale value or the ability for the watch to maintain its value can be important. This may be heavily influenced by where you live. For example, a Rolex in the United States may hold its value or even appreciate over time because it’s well known. The same cannot be said for IWC watches, even though some of their pieces may exceed Rolex in terms of cost.
So now you’ve got yourself some strong answers to take with you to a watch store. In Zurich, home of the world’s best watchmakers, you’d do well to go to Bahnhofstrasse (the major shopping district) and walk into the Bucherer store or one of the many shops on the street. In any major American city, a Tourneau or a prominent local watch and jewelry shop will serve your needs well.