The Top 3 Things Should Know Before Buying Your First Luxury Watch

Buying your first luxury watch is a rite of passage in every person’s life and a purchase that should be considered carefully. The problem is - with so many brands and complications to choose from - selecting the right timepiece for your lifestyle can seem like a burden more than an adventure. A watch should be seen as a personal accessory, one that accommodates your budget, taste and how you want to appear to the rest of the world. Lucky for you, we’ve pulled together our top 3 tips on how to get started in the world of haute horology. 

Tip #1: Know What Kind of Movement You Want

A movement, sometimes referred to as a calibre or caliber, is the motor that propels the hands around a dial and powers additional complications like days, dates, annual calendars, chronographs, and many more. There are a range of movements to choose from, ranging from automatic watches that wind themselves through kinetic energy, to one-off tourbillons, which extract their energy from a rotational motion. However, the two movements you should look at when buying your first watch are quartz and mechanical.

Breitling's Colt Skyracer houses a Caliber 74 SuperQuartz movement.

Quartz Movements

Quartz timepieces are often chosen by enthusiasts for their superior accuracy and reliability. This type of movement contains a small battery that channels an electrical pulse through a piece of quartz, which acts as an oscillator, causing it to vibrate 32,768 times per second. These vibrations are counted by the circuit and converted into a single pulse which moves watch hands each second, minute or hour of the day.

Quartz watches tend to be lower maintenance than mechanical movements because they are made up of less moving parts and use a battery as their main power source. They are usually more durable than watches and are an excellent choice for those who prefer to wear their watches from the office to the gym. The most popular Quartz movements are ETA calibres which were designed together by several Swiss manufacturers: Valjoux, Peseux, and Lemania. If you have your eye on a quartz timepiece and it doesn’t have an movement made by the brand, chances are it has an ETA calibre on the inside.

Omega's Speedmaster Moonwatch is powered by the mechanical Calibre 1861.

Mechanical Movements

Rather than relying on a battery, mechanical watches are powered by winding a spring, called a "mainspring". This spring transfers energy through a number of other springs and gears that allow the watch to tell time. Mechanical watch owners appreciate the level of meticulous engineering required to make a series of springs and gears work together to be 99.98% accurate. While mechanical movements aren’t as precise as quartz movements or the clock on your cell phone, they are only off by a few seconds a year.

The biggest difference between a quartz and a mechanical movement is that a well-cared for mechanical watch can last you a lifetime and even the lifetime of your next generation. Mechanical wristwatches are made for marking a significant event, like a marriage or a retirement, because they can serve as a reminder for a very long time.

Tip #2: Know Which Complications Are Must-Haves For You

A complication is any function that exists in addition to telling time on a timepiece. They can range from the very simple day or date displays to extremely rare combinations of stopwatches, subdials, retrogrades and windows. In 2015, Vacheron Constantin released the Reference 57260 - the world’s most complicated mechanical watch ever made with a grand total of 57 complications. In fact, there are hundreds of complications to choose from for your watch. In addition to time, features such as the date, day of the week, calendar, timezone, chronograph (also referred to as a stopwatch) are some of the most sought after features in luxury watches.

The Hamilton Intra-Matic 68 has a date complication, a chronograph and a tachymeter scale.

One thing to note is that the more complicated a watch’s interworkings, the less durable it can be over time. The last thing you want when buying your first watch is to constantly have to service or repair it. If it suits your lifestyle, we'd recommend a thin, sophisticated watch that does something in a thoughtful way as your first luxury watch. Stick with the tried and true timepieces and then expand your collection with more complicated works of horology later.

Tip #3: Make Sure to Regularly Service Your Watch (Not Just When It Isn’t Working)

Even though most luxury timepieces are built to last more than a lifetime, watches are subject to everyday dings, magnetization and contact with water. It's a good idea to visit an authorized repair shop every year or two for a quick look (and battery change if it’s a quartz timepiece). Also, remember to schedule a full service at least every five years or as your watch's manufacturer suggests. When serviced, your watch will be thoroughly examined, tested for water resistance, cleaned and lubricated and returned ready to take whatever you put it though over the next five years.

We look at it like going to get your oil changed. If you let the car go too long without changing the oil, it will breakdown but if make regular appointments, your car will continue to run smoothly as it did from the start. Taking a watch apart, re-oiling it, and cleaning it will prevent parts from wearing. The reason the used market is hot right now is because not all owners take care of their investments properly.

Ready to buy your first watch? Or maybe you have a few more questions?

Feel free to come into a Schwarzschild location in Richmond or Charlottesville and find the right luxury timepiece for your lifestyle. All of the staff can discuss the pros and cons of each brand, collection and piece!

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