What to Look Out For When Buying a Luxury Watch

IMAGE Amar Daved

Thinking about purchasing a luxury wristwatch? You’re right on time: fine timepieces have never been more exciting, fashionable, and accessible. That's especially true in regards to the booming certified pre-owned market, where platforms like Crown & Caliber are ensuring that buyers at nearly every price point are spoiled for choice. 

Picking the right watch can feel a little daunting, but knowledge and some careful thought go a long way. Here’s everything to know when you’re considering buying a high-end watch.

The Mechanics

Unlike a quartz watch, which runs on replaceable batteries, most luxury watches are mechanically operated, running on an intricate system of springs and cogs that require regular adjustments and servicing—and usually not at a cheap price. These manufacture movements demand a premium because they’re made and assembled in-house by the watch brand’s master craftsman, often entirely by hand.

Although more expensive to maintain, if cared for properly, a mechanical watch can last decades, even centuries, serving as both a trademark of your personal style and a family heirloom for generations to come.


The Materials

Luxury watches come in a variety of materials. Stainless steel offers good value, versatility, and can take a beating, which is ideal if you like the aesthetic of worn-looking watches. Titanium has similar properties but is more lightweight (it's also hypoallergenic, which is ideal for guys with sensitive skin). Gold is the old standby—white for a subtle flash, yellow or rose for a bolder look. All of these metals will show nicks and scuffs from regular use, developing a unique patina over time. 

Ceramic is a modern scratch-resistant material that's becoming increasingly popular among progressive luxury watchmakers, offering an always-crisp, fresh-from-the-box appearance. 

Regardless of the case composition, you can almost always change out the strap. Mixing it up with different materials—handsome calfskin, exotic stingray, rugged NATO nylon—is part of the fun.

The Maker

When buying a luxury watch, it's important to go with a reputable brand that's celebrated for its pristine craftsmanship. Everyone knows the high-end Swiss watchmakers, such as Rolex, TAG Heuer, Omega, and Breitling; wearing an iconic piece from one of these heritage brands conveys your tastes without explanation. 

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Picking a less common model or a distinctive special edition, or even opting for a French or Italian alternative such as Cartier or Panerai, might court curiosity. 

Whichever route you choose, you'll pay a premium if you buy a brand new watch from a boutique. Purchasing a watch through a pre-owned dealer like Crown & Caliber allows you to access a curated selection of second-hand luxury watches from trusted brands you know (and a few you might not), all under warranty, just as they would be if you bought directly from the brand. As far as bang-for-buck goes, pre-owned is tough to beat.

The Features

Watches are accompanied by a bevy of unique features that can suit an individual's tastes and lifestyle. GMT and world timers, which display multiple time zones, are perfect for frequent flyers. Chronographs are used as a stopwatch combined with a display watch, appealing to racers, scuba divers, and runners. There are dedicated anti-magnetic designs for engineers and medical technicians. 


Some luxury watches even have integrated distress beacons. That’s not to mention moon-phases, tourbillons, and dozens of other complications that aren’t as practical (but look damn cool). The designs are often steeped in both real world and specialized application, whether that’s traveling, motor racing, mountaineering, deep-sea diving, or simply indulging leisure for its own sake. 

The right watch can elevate your outfit, but it can also state you priorities, passions, and aspirations. You can tell a lot about a man by the watch he wears.

This story originally appeared on Esquire.com. Minor edits have been made by the Esquiremag.ph editors.

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