How To Buy The Perfect Watch For That Special Someone
“A gentleman’s choice of timepiece says as much about him as does his Saville Row suit.” – Ian Fleming
A watch says more about the person than most things. Its least important function is telling the time, so picking a watch can be one of the most complex.
Having a watch is more than just telling the time. Being gifted a great watch can be like a rite of passage for a person. A moment in time when people start to take them seriously - most of all, themselves.
A serious timepiece shows a serious person. Someone who means business in whatever they are doing. Whether it’s Steve McQueen or Paul Newman, Tom Brady or Tiger Woods, these icons all made sure they had a significant watch. It says something about them that words cannot. A smartphone can tell the time, but a watch can tell something much more.
Read our guide on how to buy a luxury watch as a gift and find the perfect timepiece for that special someone.
Know the wearer’s style
Every type of watch indicates something about the wearer. It is crucial that when you get this person their timepiece, you cannot mistake their personality for the type. Getting a sporty, outdoors type of stylish dress watch just won’t work. Not only will the watch not survive their lifestyle, but the relationship also may not recover from the misappropriation.
Types of watches range from field and racing to diving and pilot. Each one is built to accommodate a different wearer, so buying them the ‘correct’ type will not only show you understand them on a personal level but will also allow the watch to be used in its correct function.
- Field - Originally made for army officers who needed to coordinate attacks at night whilst remaining a classy and respectable watch. A Field Watch holds that ruggedness whilst being a stylish military watch. Perfect for a leader who is an example to their team, a gritty worker who isn’t afraid to roll their sleeves up.
- Chronograph - These highly accurate watches were a huge innovation for sports. Before the chronograph, runners could not measure their exact time during laps - it was impossible to be precise. This is why this watch is perfect for the decisive individual. Someone who is measured, on time and always striving to be better both physically and professionally.
- Pilot - One of the most stylish types, these watches were at the forefront of the aviation world. The first real ‘computers’ on board planes, these watches helped pilots navigate and gave them visibility. This watch suits the resourceful, tech-laden individual who is too contemporary for the garish modern ‘smart’ watch.
- Dress - The king of elegance. This watch is more of a piece of jewellery than accessory, something more modern that came during a time when style began to creep over function. This watch is usually simplistic, sleek and complementary. Perfect for someone who always dresses their best regardless of whether it is the boardroom or the pub.
- Diving - This watch came to the forefront in 1962 after Sean Connery’s James Bond in Dr. No wore a Rolex Submariner. Since then, this watch has become a lifestyle symbol for those who will live on the edge. The diving watch does what it says on the tin - it is equipped with features aimed at helping nautical enthusiasts survive. If someone is charming, unassuming, unpredictable and a ‘troubleshooter’ of sorts, it is likely you will see a diving watch on their wrist.
- Racing - Drivers at the top level have always been renowned for their composure, precision and accuracy. Sir Malcolm Campbell is one of the best racers to ever drive at Daytona, breaking the land speed record four times. He did so wearing a Rolex Oyster - they capitalised on this in clever fashion, creating the Rolex Daytona, which became one of the most recognisable and iconic watches ever.
Buying a watch is more than just getting someone a fancy accessory to wear in their work meetings - in a lot of cases, it can become a possession of great personal affection and value.
When buying this special someone a watch, understanding how much it could be worth in the future should be a consideration.
Recognising the material as to whether it is a noble metal (silver, platinum and gold), titanium or carbon fibre.
Checking for a watch's scarcity, price trends and core materials (gold for example) can give you an idea of how the value will go. If you find the right blend of the aforementioned, you could be buying a timepiece that could be a steady investment.
Know what makes them tick
Don’t be that person that walks into a jeweller's and doesn’t understand the difference between Quartz and automatic.
Quartz, powered by a battery, is incredibly accurate and is better for telling the time. However, it is widely seen as inferior to a handmade watch - a lot of the well-regarded watchmakers steer away from Quartz.
Most of the high end watchmakers stick to automatic make - this takes much more time and craftsmanship to make. The mechanism of your watch will affect the price - Quartz watches will cost less due to needing a battery whilst a mechanical, self-winding watch will be on the higher end.
(Pep Guardiola’s choice of watch is suited to his hectic lifestyle of being the manager of one of the best football teams in the world)
Understand the brands
Having a general understanding of the biggest watch brands will help you finalise your choice - picking the best is like asking someone on the street who the best football team is, you will always get a different opinion.
Rolex is the most well-known luxury watch brand. They soared in status during the late 1980s ‘yuppie’ culture, a fast-growing movement of young, affluent executives who wanted to show off their rise in status.
Everyone loves a Rolex, but amongst those in the know, there are finer watches out there. Historic brands such as Patek Philippe, Audemars Piguet, and Cartier are respected by horologists all around the world for the brilliance of their design and technical features.
Success can sometimes spoil quality, so a lot of the lesser known names have retained a sense of identity over the years - if you are primarily after quality and not in the favour of public opinion, this will be your route.
(Christian Bale’s Patrick Bateman in American Psycho encapsulates the ‘yuppie’ executive culture in the late 80s - they helped bring Rolex into mainstream fashion)
Be a smart buyer
At this point, you should know how a watch works, the type of watch you want to buy and what brands this falls under. Now you need a budget to allow you to hone on the select timepieces you can buy.
Whilst you may be forced to exclude Audemars Piguet and Rolex from your selection, the watches you can buy will look and function just as well.
Understanding why some watches cost £200 and others £10,000 is key - things like the maker, materials and mechanism all affect the price. Buying an automatic watch is essentially a quality stamp on the watch. It shows it has come from a long line of quality watchmakers and has been crafted in an artistic process.
Don’t overcomplicate the complications
Some watches have an incredible amount of features and settings. Using an annual calendar, winding the watch up or adjusting the chronograph takes knowledge of horology. So knowing the type of person should make you lean towards more or less complications on a watch.
Is the person a watch geek who loves using little features and available gadgetry? Or are they a minimalist who would prefer their watch to be a statement alone? It will be a huge waste of money to buy a timepiece with intricate features only for them not to be used and vice-versa, so take heed on a watch's complications.
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