Tag: watch collecting

You Keep Paying for Luxury Watches

watch parts So, you’ve saved up your money to buy that Rolex you’ve always wanted.  Or perhaps it’s an Oris or a Tissot.  It doesn’t matter.  You’ve wanted it for years and it costs thousands and you’ve saved the money.

You buy it, and fork over that hard-earned cash.  Now you have it.  It’s paid for.  You’ve spent a fortune, but aside from perhaps a bit of additional insurance on it you don’t have any other ongoing expenses with it, right?

Wrong.  If you’ve purchased a high end luxury mechanical watch, you will be spending money on it regularly for the rest of your life.  Not only that, but the money you spend on that watch could work out to hundreds of dollars per year, depending on the brand.

“How is that?,” you ask.  Mechanical watches are mechanical devices.  Parts move.  Parts break.  Parts wear out.  Parts get dust and dirt and grime in them and on them, and those things can prevent the watch from keeping accurate time, or from being able to keep time at all.

Most luxury watchmakers recommend that you have your mechanical watches serviced at regular intervals.  “Serviced” means that you’re going to put the watch in a box, mail it back to the manufacturer so that they can work on it at their factory, and wait for them to send you a bill.

That bill could easily be $500 or more, and you might need to do that as often as every two years, depending on the model.

Why so expensive?  There are a number of reasons.  When you send a luxury watch in for service, a trained technician will disassemble it and carefully examine the movement to see if there are any worn or damaged parts.  If so, they will need to be replaced.

Those parts may or may not be on hand, depending on the make and model of the watch.  If they aren’t available, the company may have to fabricate new ones.  Regardless, there’s going to be a bill for the new parts.  After that, the movement will need to be thoroughly cleaned and adjusted for accuracy.  Finally, after the watch has been put back together, it will need to be cleaned and polished on the outside.

When you get it back, it will likely work and look like new.  Those are good things.  But you’ll have to repeat the process again in a couple of years.

Friction is the enemy, and mechanical watches have moving parts.  Some of them move millions of times in a year.  Jewels in the movement are intended to reduce friction, but physics is physics, and everything has friction.

A few companies are introducing new movements with composite parts that are intended to reduce friction.  But a watch that will never require regular service is just a dream.  If you want to own a mechanical watch, you’re going to have to accept that it will require regular maintenance.

On the plus side, a well-maintained high end watch will work well for decades.  On the downside, it comes with a recurring bill that you’re just going to have to pay as part of the price of owning an amazing piece of technology.

Two-Tone Watches are Back!

New two-tone Audemars Piguet
New two-tone Audemars Piguet

They say that what goes around comes around and when it comes to anything related to fashion, that’s often the case.  No, we’re not expecting to see bell bottom trousers return anytime soon, though we can’t rule out their return at some point in the future.

Just as children’s names cycle every few generations, so do fashion designs.  Things become popular, people buy them, people grow tired of them, they go out of style and something else is “in” for a while.  Then, the cycle repeats, as people get tired of that, and want something new.

Eventually, you run out of new things to offer, so you dust off something old that they haven’t seen in a while, and you present it as new.  Then they get excited and buy it.  Of course, when this happens, the people who do remember them from the first time around will scold you and point out that the “new” thing you’re buying isn’t really new, but that’s how fashion works.

That’s why we’re seeing two-tone watches again.

Two-tone watches were introduced at this year’s Baselworld exhibition and a number of watchmakers are beginning to offer these models, which are seen by younger buyers as being edgy and more daring.

In recent years, makers have opted for a single color model, which might be all yellow gold, or all platinum, or all white gold, or all stainless steel.  New models are now combining one metal with another or one of various other materials (composite; carbon fiber, or ceramic) to give a busier look to their wares.

One advantage is that a watch that’s made of part steel and part yellow gold is more affordable than one that’s all gold, yet it has the distinction of offering a different look and one that’s now eye-catching, given that two-tone watches have been absent from the marketplace for quite a while.

Of course, they’re still available on the second hand market, and even in high end models, it’s not too hard to find, say, a two-tone Rolex from the 1980s.  They’re out there, but as the trend continues, even the second hand market is likely to dry up in the near future.  Plus, as styles change and more people start to embrace the two-tone look, those vintage models that have up until recently been bargains are going to start getting a bit more expensive.

A vintage two-tone Rolex
A vintage two-tone Rolex

Regardless of your taste, if you’re looking for something that’s a bit different today, you might want to look at a two tone watch.  We wouldn’t recommend waiting, however, as by this time next year, everyone is likely to be wearing two tone watches.  At that point, you’ll likely be starting to look for something new and different.

At that point, watchmakers will come up with something new.  Or they’ll dust off something old, give it a new name, and present it to you as something you haven’t seen before.  Or at least, haven’t seen since the 1990s.

That’s the way fashion works.  What’s here today is gone tomorrow…and back again in a couple of decades.  What goes around comes around, and it works that way with watches, too.