Why should I read this?
Okay, the first read of this title and topic is — wow, this is incredibly snobby and vain — but, stick with me on the concept! There are several reasons why every successful person should own a quality wristwatch. As a bonus, I will also include options for both men’s and women’s watches (or you can choose whichever you like) to suit your specific needs and aesthetic tastes.
This article will provide options to fit nearly any budget and lifestyle requirements and link to Chrono24 searches with the highlighted pieces. Please, keep in mind that the watch market is quite competitive, and prices are unusually high, as of writing this article during October 2022. My typical recommendation is to buy pre-owned watches from a reputable dealer — either in-person or online. Most brands will depreciate much like a car will, with the exception of a few “grail” brands (keep reading to see these brands).
Here are four reasons why you should buy a quality wristwatch:
- Owning a quality wristwatch is a practical decision. Not only does the watch create a statement and show off your personal flair, but it also has a very practical use — telling the time! We are very busy people with many things going on, and nothing is more useful than being able to glance down and get the time. Want to move on a tired meeting or conversation? Gaze down at your new luxury watch and people will start to notice that you’re in-demand and highly efficient!
- A quality watch won’t become outdated when technology advances. Unlike smartwatches, traditional wristwatches do not get outdated, break as easily, or become incompatible with your phone or lifestyle. By the time you replace your smartwatch a few times in 10 years, you could likely afford one nice traditional luxury watch! These are “throw-away” consumer items, which add to pollution in the environment, and are just plain nasty to look at on the wrist aesthetically. I can rant on about this topic for hours, but will spare you! Plus, you already own a smartphone, so why do you need a smartwatch?
- You’ve worked hard, why not look distinguished? Nice clothing and a fancy car are simple consumer purchases, and everyone is already doing it. Why not set yourself apart from all of the aspirational types? Only people with some refinement and attention to detail will notice your new fine timepiece. It will also make you feel a little bit special in any social situation. Dress for success! It is a tired saying, but it does carry some truths.
- You can find a watch that suits your personality! There are thousands of different models, dial colors, bracelets, or strap combinations you can choose from to match your aesthetic tastes and lifestyle. Many watches allow the owner to swap out the bracelet or strap for other color options, fit your activities as they come, or add some flair to your outfit.
Now that you’ve decided to splash some cash on a luxury watch, here are some insider tips to consider:
- Buy preowned over new. Unless it’s one of the following brands or watches — Rolex, Patek Philippe, or the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak. Watches depreciate immediately after the sale and are depreciating assets, much like an automobile.
- What is your lifestyle and what do you do professionally and personally? Do you work a desk job, are you a traveler, do you do light-duty manual work, do you go onsite to construction sites, do you like outdoor activities, do you live an active lifestyle? All of these questions are relevant to making your decision. Most people will purchase one watch and be contented — and I recommend this for most people — so choosing the right piece is absolutely critical.
- What is your maximum budget? Just like purchasing a fine bottle of Bordeaux, you’re better off stretching your budget to a point where it hurts, but you’re not going to put yourself at risk over the acquisition. I’m going to flat out advocate spending the extra money for a 39mm or larger case size Rolex for men; or a Rolex sports piece for a lady paired with a Cartier Tank (ladies watches are considerably less expensive then men’s). What does this mean in dollars — well, at least $8,000 including tax. Remember, you’re purchasing once and then you’re set for the rest of your life. You’re not a collector, and you want to know you’re spending your money wisely. Don’t skimp on this purchase!
- You want pointers on which watches to buy. Scroll down — I’ve made this very simple for you!
Taking the plunge!
Now that we’ve covered some of the basics of why you should purchase a quality wristwatch, we’ll get into specific models which will suit your lifestyle for the long term. At the point of writing this article, I have personally owned over 40 premium luxury watches, worth a retail value of over $300,000. I have purchased and resold all of these watches myself, and currently own a collection of 13 pieces, with a market value of $95,000 as of writing this article.
Top Ten Men’s Luxury Watches to Consider:
- Rolex Datejust — Starting at $5,000 — Choose the 36mm model for reasonable price and for a classic fit. I personally wear a Datejust II at 41mm — which is a great option for a modern fit, and perfect for a man with a larger wrist. I would advocate for purchasing a 41mm Datejust and spending the premium for 75 percent of men. It could be your only watch for the rest of your life — it’s a Rolex, and it’s timeless! It could very well be the most iconic watch ever to be designed.
- Rolex GMT Master II — Starting at $10,000 — Are you an avid traveler or are you looking for the one watch to do everything you need because you have an active lifestyle? The GMT Master II is the perfect choice for several reasons, including dual time zone functionality, date, water resistance, and rotating timing bezel. You may also consider the Rolex Explorer II if this watch seems appealing, but want a more affordable price.
- Rolex Oyster Perpetual — Starting at $7,000 — Choose one of the 39mm or 41mm models for a modern and solid aesthetic. The Rolex Oyster Perpetual is a tried-and-true classic watch that will work for all occasions for all men. If you’re looking for a smaller piece at 36mm, only purchase a new example, or choose the 36mm Datejust. Older, smaller Oyster Perpetual models are often tired and look dated for modern men. I would avoid any Oyster Perpetual dated prior the 2015 39mm release for a plethora of reasons.
- IWC Pilot Chronograph — Starting at $2,500 — The “Mercedes-Benz” of this list. The IWC Pilot Chronograph hails from Schaffhausen, Switzerland — the German-speaking region of Swiss watchmaking. This is possibly the best value on this list. If I were shopping an IWC Pilot, I’d spend a bit more for the luxurious and sporty steel bracelet option.
- Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso — Starting at $6,000 — Start with the modern Classique model or Medium model, for a smaller wrist or a vintage aesthetic, but for a larger wrist or more sporty aesthetic, choose the 976 model. Most men will find the less expensive Reverso models too small and dated looking on the wrist. This is the perfect watch for more formal occasions, or the man looking for an iconic, haute horology watch that has a more leisurely lifestyle. I would not recommend this watch for outdoor activities. Most of the modern Reverso watches undertake the 1,000-Hour Master Control quality test, where the movement is tested for 1,000 consecutive hours to ensure absolute top quality. This is the most stringent quality control test in the watch industry!
- Patek Philippe Calatrava — Starting at $20,000 — Don’t skimp out on an “inexpensive” Patek. You’ll want to go for at least a 36mm case size, which starts at around $20,000 on the open market. If you can purchase one new from a boutique (very limited access, due to demand), it would be worth it and immediately valued at a premium. Patek Philippe is the ultimate luxury watch, for the man looking to pass something of substantial value down to his progeny. Pinky finger out while wearing your Patek! Bonus tip — if you’re looking for a similar piece aesthetically, cross-shop A. Lange & Söhne.
- Omega Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch — Starting at $3,250 — Huston, we have a problem! This is the iconic watch that was certified for space exploration by NASA, issued during the Apollo missions, and has been worn by the most noteworthy celebs, such as George Clooney and Tom Hanks. The movement is iconic and based off of the original 351 that landed on the moon! You cannot go wrong with a Speedmaster Professional and it can be customized with leather straps, cloth straps, NATO straps, and rubber straps.
- Grand Seiko Heritage Models — Starting at $1,500 — The best bang-per-buck choice on the list. Grand Seiko not only provides a fine, sporty watch with high-quality movements, you’re also getting some hand finishing, too. The case and other components are often Zaratsu polished (black polishing in Swiss/German watchmaking) — this luxurious finishing is typically reserved for small components in the highest-end Swiss timepieces. Grand Seiko is the hidden gem of this list. True watch nerds will also give you a nod of respect for choosing this unique option.
- Panerai Luminor — Starting at $3,000 — The Panerai Luminor is the perfect choice for someone that is in a professional role where they are hands-on, enjoy an active lifestyle, travel, and wants a fine luxury watch that makes a statement. I own the 43mm 8-Day Luminor model and wear it the most out of all of my watches. It is great for most occasions and situations. You can easily dress it up with a leather strap to wear in more formal settings. The Luminor is an icon watch with roots spanning back over 75 years to the Italian military.
- Audemars Piguet Royal Oak — Starting at $18,000 (Offshore model) — If you’re looking for the ultimate all-around watch, and have the budget, the AP Royal Oak is an excellent option. For a classic steel model, expect to spend at least $38,000 on the open market for a larger size 15300 or 15400 model. This is one of the most iconic watches of all time and was designed by Gerald Genta — the most renowned watchmaker of all time.
Top Five Ladies Luxury Watches to Consider:
- Cartier Tank — Starting at $1,300 — Angelina Jolie, Michelle Obama, Princess Diana, and Jackie Kennedy — just some of the names of famous women who chose the Cartier Tank as their go-to watch. If I were to recommend an elegant and stylish watch for the ladies, this would have to be the top contender! One thing to note is that you should not wear this watch around water — it isn’t suited to a more active lifestyle. It would be best to purchase a Rolex or Omega Constellation as a backup for day-to-day use. The Cartier Tank is a dress watch!
- Rolex Datejust — Starting at $2,500 —
- Rolex Oyster — Starting at $2,000 — The best lady’s watch if you want something to wear on a daily basis and something with high prestige. This watch is perfect — simple, elegant and can be worn with any outfit, on any occasion. You can swim with it, you can go to a gala with it, and you can rest assured your money is safe as houses! The amount of dial, bracelet, and metal combinations is truly staggering — you can choose the perfect Oyster for every occasion.
- Jaeger-Lecoultre Reverso — Starting at $2,250 — The most luxurious and fine watch on the lady’s list! The great thing about the Reverso is that you can purchase many of the men’s models (because they wear a small) and get a great bargain for the best watchmaking quality. Jaeger-Lecoultre is one of, it not the finest timepiece manufacturers of all history! The list of celebrities and dignitaries wearing Jaeger-Lecoultre is staggering!
- Omega Constellation — Starting at $700 — A timeless design paired with exceptional value! This is a perfect watch for the younger lady looking to accessorize their wardrobe with a functional and practical watch, as well as the established professional businesswoman looking for exceptional value. You can wear this watch with any outfit, anywhere. It is a sports watch, so you can travel, hike and swim without any worries about damaging it! Bonus tip for the ladies (this applies to every single watch in existence, but I put this here for you since the guys aren’t reading) make sure to have your watch pressure tested every 10-15 years to make sure the seals are still keeping out water.