05/10/2023
 6 minutes

What to Consider When Buying a Watch

By Sebastian Swart
ONP-375-Einsteiger-2-1

Are you planning to buy a new watch? Whether it’s your first time delving into the luxury watch world, or you already know your way around the market, there are a few things you should consider before buying a high-quality timepiece online. After all, you definitely don’t want to be disappointed when you finally unbox your holy grail. We’re looking at everything you should consider, from design and function to price point and brand.

Do you only want to buy from a professional dealer, or are you willing to consider offers from private sellers as well? It’s important to know where the watch is coming from, so be selective and critical of sellers. Once you’ve settled that matter, it’s time for payment and shipping. Don’t go into this part of the process blind, either: there are further details and logistics to consider, here, too, especially if you’re buying from abroad.

Bereits vor dem Kauf sollten sich Käufer wichtige Fragen selbst beantworten können
Buyers need to ask themselves some essential questions before buying a watch.

In this article, we’re giving you crucial advice that will help you when buying your next luxury watch.

  • Does the watch meet my needs?
  • Dealer vs. Private Seller
  • New vs. Pre-Owned
  • Payment and Delivery
  • Too good to be true?

Does the watch meet my needs?

Diving watch or pilot’s watch? Chronograph or three-hand watch? Dress watch or tool watch? For seasoned collectors, these terms are run-of-the-mill and require no further explanation. If you’ve only just begun searching for your watch, you should first give some thought as to what the right design and watch type is for you. Only then should you decide on a specific brand and model.

Sure, some people buy a watch solely on the basis of its appearance and prestige, but where’s the logic in buying a Rolex GMT-Master II if you have no need for a second time zone, or don’t really know how it works? You’ll want to enjoy your watch for many years to come, so you should at least understand how its complications work and get some use out of them.

Komplikationen sind zwar interessant, werden im Allteg jedoch oft nicht benötigt
While complications are interesting, they’re rarely used on a daily basis.

Materials

Next, you’ll need to decide on the material you would like the watch case and band to be. Stainless steel, gold, and platinum are some of the most popular materials used for luxury watches. So, ask yourself: What do I imagine on my wrist?

Sizing

Before clicking the buy button, take some time to really think about how big you want your watch to be. Many buyers operate according to the “size does matter” principle and buy the largest watch possible, while others gravitate toward the other extreme in the name of modesty. Of course, you can wear whatever size watch you like, but a 45-mm block of metal on the wrist of a lanky teenager will look just as bizarre as a 32-mm watch on the wrist of a man the size of Sylvester Stallone.

Grab a tape measure and measure the circumference of your wrist where you’d usually wear a watch, as well as a little further up. Keep in mind that it’s not necessarily only the watch’s diameter that will decide whether it fits well on your wrist, the lug-to-lug measurement also plays a decisive role. As a rule of thumb, the lugs of the watch should not stick out beyond your wrist.

37 mm müssen nicht klein wirken - Die Tudor Black Bay 54 beweist dies
The Tudor Black Bay 54 demonstrates that a 37-mm diameter can still offer great wrist presence.

Does the watch suit your style?

Naturally, a watch is also an accessory that can accentuate your personal style or help you make an impression. For example, if you’re heading to an important meeting, a refined dress watch is much more appropriate than a timepiece sparkling with colorful gemstones. On the other hand, a tool watch like a diving watch or a chronograph gives its wearer a much sportier vibe than a plain three-hand watch. The right watch can also exude a certain prestige – food for thought!

Remember, your personal taste and style might change. In that spirit, it might not be a bad idea to turn to one of the classics. While these models aren’t exactly unique, they have proven over decades that they’re not influenced by fashion trends, and that’s a great asset.

Is the watch in my budget?

There’s no getting around it: the price tag is a decisive factor when buying a luxury watch. If you’re new to the hobby, we recommend setting a firm and realistic budget. This is the best way to avoid financial blunders and buyer’s remorse.

While we’re on the subject: Just because a watch is expensive does not mean that you’ll fall in love with it. More affordable watches can offer premium quality and unique designs that stand out from the monotony of the masses.

Seiko ist das Paradebeispiel für Preis und Leistung
Seiko offers great value for money.

Professional Dealer vs. Private Seller

You don’t have to buy your watch from a professional dealer. There are plenty of offers from private sellers out there. Trust is a huge factor. Make sure you get a good idea of who you’re buying from. Look for reviews and testimonials, ask questions about the watch, and request high-resolution photos, so you can scrutinize the timepiece in detail. Any discrepancies will come to light quite quickly.

Dealers and Private Sellers: Pros and Cons

Pros Cons
Professional Dealers · Legal right to a warranty

· 14-day return policy

· Reliable and experienced

· Usually higher prices than private sellers

· Long waiting lists for certain models

Private Sellers · Lower prices compared to retailers

· No waiting lists

· Often offer one-of-a-kind or collector’s items

· No obligation to provide a warranty

· No return policy

New vs. Pre-Owned

So, you’ve done the heavy lifting and picked your model. The next question: new or pre-owned? For beginners, new, unworn watches are usually the safer bet. These watches generally work perfectly and often even come with a manufacturer’s warranty. In exchange, you’ll pay significantly more than you would for a pre-owned copy of the same reference.

But it’s not just a lower price point that makes used watches attractive, they’re also readily available. Even discontinued models can be found on the secondary market. What’s more, an experienced watch will have developed a unique patina, which gives the timepiece a truly individual flair.

Regardless of whether you opt for a new or pre-owned luxury watch, there are a couple of rules to follow. Always buy a full set when you can, i.e., the watch plus its original box and all the corresponding paperwork. If you decide to sell your watch further down the road, you’ll be glad you did. The value of a full set is much higher than the value of the watch alone.

If you buy a new watch from a private seller, make sure you also get the original receipt so that you can claim under the manufacturer’s warranty if necessary. If you’re buying a pre-owned watch, ask for service documents to ensure that the watch has been regularly and professionally serviced.

Box und Papiere wirken sich positiv auf den Wert der Uhr aus
The original box and papers can raise the value of a watch.

Payment and Delivery

You have everything else checked off and are ready to place your order. Wait! Discuss the payment and shipping terms with the seller beforehand. For example, always insist on sufficient insurance for the shipment – e.g., via a cash-in-transit service. Get a binding quote for the shipping costs. Do your homework and check whether customs or import taxes may be due. That way, you can avoid watching a bargain become a money pit.

You should also weigh your options when it comes to payment options. Reputable sellers always offer secure payment methods. A good example is the Chrono24 Buyer Protection. This service keeps your money safe in an escrow account until you’ve held the watch in your hands and are 100% satisfied. You can even use this grace period to visit a watchmaker and have them confirm the watch’s authenticity.

If the seller insists that you pay in advance, or demands you to meet them somewhere with a wad of cash, stay away.

Too good to be true?

We all love a bargain, but some offers are just too good to be true. So when searching for your dream watch, read up on its current market value. Tools like the Chrono24 Watch Collection are great: The Watch Collection not only gives you the current average market price, but also provides you with a good overview of how your watch has performed financially in the past.

If you come across an offer that’s miles below the watch’s market value, there’s definitely a catch, and you should steer clear.

Summary

Buying a luxury watch is not rocket science. If you stick to the advice given in this article and apply a little common sense, there’s nothing standing in the way of you and your dream watch!


About the Author

Sebastian Swart

I've been using Chrono24 for years to buy and sell watches, as well as for research purposes. I've had an infatuation with watches for as long as I can remember. As a …

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