Take time to consider before you buy. Think about it. Anticipate the moment and savour the prospect of ownership just as you would that first sip of a fine wine.
Moreover, a good watch is a serious investment. Choose wisely and it will reward you, not only as you admire the aesthetics of workmanship and craftsmanship with a pleasure that will grow, but if you wish for further reward, you may find that over the years as your appreciation grows, it appreciates in value.
The Four “C’s”
Be the connoisseur. Consider its finer points, focus on the detail. If you were purchasing a diamond the guiding mantra would be the four “Cs”; carat, cut, clarity, and colour.
You are not involved with carat weight but the jewels, precious stones which may be incorporated in the design; valuable metals, gold in all its shadings, silver, platinum and scarce elements; exquisite leathers and rich materials, all selected for their special qualities, their appeal to the eye, their rarity.
Men are still judged by the cut of their suit, the quality of the stitching, the crispness of collar and cuffs, even in the age of casual dressing, so it will be with your watch. Pay attention to the fineness of the detail, the craftsman’s skill employed in the seeking of perfection, in its shaping, in its design. The cut may also be the shape you prefer: conventional round, oval, square, rectangular or tonneau.
Next, there is the clarity. Look at the face. This will be where you fix your gaze constantly. Reflect carefully on which style of numbering you favour. You don’t want to struggle to read it but the numerals should be proportionate to the face, fitting the nature and form of the design. If you spend more than a moment viewing the time it should be because you do not want to give it a cursory glance but because checking the time is an instance of pure pleasure. Delight in all it offers.
Colour is increasingly coming into play in many aspects of watch design with different colours of dial, of varied materials, echoing those early time-pieces with their richly enamelled faces in brilliant hues, enhanced with pearls and jewels made for and associated with the Oriental and Chinese markets in the 1800s and early 1900s. The use of vivid, vibrant colours and patterns now extends also to watch straps. Are you a colourful character?
What sort of a car do you drive? What sort of dog do you walk? What sports do you engage in or interest you? This is your persona. One individual is the BMW man going for some style but favouring good engineering, another prefers a vintage styling like the gentleman who arrived in a pre-war Bentley to our village barbecue. My son has a Mercedes sports car for weekends, dreams of a Bentley with a Breitling in the dashboard and drives a BMW for work, but when the snow and ice appears, borrows my Skoda Yeti! There is a make of watch which encompasses your ideal, identify your brand congruent with your personality and there you will find the one you want.
Your watch should sit easily with you, match your tastes and be in tune with your preferences and personality.
Proceeding from you as a person, what is your style? Are you the well cut suit or the cashmere casual dresser? Do you favour bold or discrete? Focus on all elements.
Get close and personal
Many a man has been led astray by a pretty face so consider the inner workings as well as the outward appearance and look at the reverse. A well made strap or bracelet enhances the whole. Select leisurely, taking time to view, hold it, place it on your wrist, and fall in love with it. Often the watch in the magazine, in the window or display case looks different on your wrist and away from the shop lights. Try it on. Go to the door and look at it in daylight. Does it look too big or maybe too small? Does it feel right? Savour the choosing; enjoy the experience of handling and trying on different types, styles and makes. This is not a task to be undertaken when you are concerned with anything else, but with a singular focus and unhurriedly. Consider all the special options and review in context. When are you going to wear it, in what circumstances? Are there practical issues such as the depth you can dive whilst sporting it or is it to be an adornment? There are watches for all seasons, all occasions, all sports and all life-styles.
Your purchase may entrance you so that like Sir Jackie Stewart you have one sleeve made shorter on your shirt so that your and others’ view of your timepiece is not impinged.
Do your homework.
Read as much as you can. Find out all you can.
Visit web sites.
Call in and browse in jewellers and watch retailers. Talk to the experts.
You may consider buying second hand but be careful. Never buy a watch without its box and full documentation. You need to have its full history. If the watch you seek is no longer being made and you cannot source one resting with a retailer, then pre-owned is the only answer. Then you need to be scrupulous in your examination of both it and its accompanying paperwork. If it is rare or scarce, you may find that its price has risen above the original list.
Whether buying new or pre-owned go to a reputable dealer, preferably of long-standing. They will be knowledgeable and able to advise you. If they cannot answer your questions to your satisfaction go elsewhere. The reputable dealer will help you in your selection but should not pressure you for a sale. The seller should be your companion in your search for your special watch. Realise that for popular models you may have to go on a waiting list until one is available. This is not a negative. It means that driven by demand the price of your watch is likely to rise and its residual value maybe enhanced. The anticipation of the wait can only add to the pleasure of ownership.
Whatever watch you choose, may the relationship be along and happy one.
About the Author
Dr Edwina Davies is a historian and retired academic who has published many articles.
A Cumbrian by birth, she lives in a country idyll in South Lakes and been known to make the odd purchase at her local Jeweller; George Banks, Bowness.
In particular she has a strong interest in European History and will be contributing further articles in the future for Escapement.uk.com.