The Three Worst Mistakes Watch Buyers Make

One of the worst mistakes watch buyers make: they buy the wrong watch. Ah, but what’s the “right” watch and what’s the “wrong” watch? Let’s make this easy. The wrong watch is a watch that you end up wishing you hadn’t bought. Here’s how that happens . . .

1. Buying a watch based on brand

A brand is mental shorthand. It’s extremely useful for people who don’t have a great deal of expertise about a product or service, and don’t have the time or inclination to get it.

Mistakes Watch Buyers Make: buying based on brand

Does the average Rolex buyer know what makes a Rolex Daytona “better” than an Omega Speedmaster? All they know is that Rolex stands for quality and prestige, as evidenced by its advertising, website, point-of-sale and “common knowledge.” And that Omega has some hot spokesmodels.

Heresy I know, but watches that cost about the same offer roughly the same quality. Unless you’re buying a particular brand to own a piece of that brand’s history and tradition, free yourself to shop the watch, not the brand.

Buying based on brand is easily one of the worst mistakes watch buyers make. Insteaad, find a style, movement and price you like. Keep shopping until you find it again in some other brand. Read consumer reviews, let the haters cool your horological ardor, then sleep on it.

Then buy the watch that “speaks” to you, rather than buying into brand snobbery. You’ll have a better chance of owning a timepiece that fits your long-term horological needs and desires.

2. Buying a watch you can’t afford

Watch buyers at a certain level are prone to falling in love with a timepiece (don’t ask me how I know). They convince themselves that this is it. The one. The only one. The one they must have. Until the next one.

Yes there is that. If you’re not a one-a-done watch buyer – easily determined by checking if you own more than one – the chances are high that the really expensive watch that you swear with be The Last Watch You’ll Ever Own, The One That’s Worth It, won’t be.

Mistakes Watch Buyers Make: spending too much money

You could well find yourself bereft of the funds needed to continue the horological hunt. Or go on vacation. Or pay the rent. Or buy groceries.

To avoid breaking the bank, the best thing to do is . . . wait for it . . .wait for it. Shop around and buy a watch you can afford. Because there are LOTS of watches worth owning that don’t cost a Vacheron arm or a Patek leg.

Console yourself with the fact that you’re buying a watch that’s as good as high-priced horology, at its price point, in its own way. Congratulate yourself on your taste.

Mistakes watch buyers make: buying a bad vintage watch

3. Buying a vintage watch

Unless you do a great deal of research, unless you know an absolutely trustworthy vintage watch dealer who has the make and model expertise you lack (e.g., omegaenthusiast.com), resist the urge to buy a vintage watch.

I get it. Vintage watches are wonderful. They’re a piece of history; horology from another time and place. Vintage watches proclaim your taste in a way that no modern piece could. They’re heirlooms! And . .

They break. Of course they do. They’re old.

Truth be told, vintage watches cost a bomb to repair, and there’s no warranty to alleviate the financial hit. It’s not just money; you need a specialist to fix a vintage watch, a watchmaker who may or may not have the parts to do so.

Not to mention the time your vintage watch will spend away from your wrist. Months and months. Only to hear — and this happens — that your vintage watch isn’t what you thought it was. It’s been poorly polished, repaired with cheap parts or stuffed with the guts of something else entirely.

There’s a Zen expression: that which you own, owns you. That’s true for vintage watches — and every other timepiece. So take your time. Don’t be seduced by brands and buy the right modern watch at a price you can afford.

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