A DEFINITIVE GUIDE TO BUYING A LUXURY WATCH IN INDIA
Congratulations, you’ve worked hard and achieved ample success to invest in a luxury timepiece that will chronicle your success to the world. Social status and bragging rights aside, a luxury timepiece is also an emotional construct as it will be worn by you for decades to come and most likely passed down as a family heirloom.
They say a man is judged primarily by three pieces of attire on him － his belt, his shoes, and his watch. For a woman a classy, elegant, and exquisite timepiece is far valuable to make heads turn than any other ornament on her.
So how do you decipher which luxury timepiece is the ‘perfect’ fit for you? Especially when you are buying in India and Asia as a whole － the side of the globe notorious for dubious fakes and cheap imitations.
We’re here to ensure your rite of passage into the elite segment of society is guided by sound knowledge and expert advice. Our century-plus years of expertise as timekeepers and solicitors of the finest timepieces allows for us to steer you towards the timepiece that feels it was crafted just for you.
The Luxury Watch
Let’s get the obvious out of the way, if you’re looking at a watch under INR 20,000/- it would hardly classify as a ‘luxury’ watch. Agreed, it is no paltry sum of money, however it pales in comparison to the status symbol engraved on your wrist when you flaunt an INR 1,00,000/- and above timepiece.
So the luxury watches that we will provide a definitive purchasing guide to fall above the INR 1,00,000/- bracket, with some timepieces easily crossing the INR 7,00,000/- price tag.
You have to understand, an item is of esteemed value only when it is recognized by others to be of esteemed value. An individual purchasing a Rolls Royce isn’t investing crores for the machinery (as advanced and magnificent as it may be), he/she is buying in to the exclusive club. And this idea of a society of exclusivity is what Rolls Royce is brilliant at promoting and delivering upon. A luxury timepiece is no different.
A connoisseur of watches will instantly recognize an exclusive designer timepiece on your wrist and subconsciously attach a status symbol to your image. That’s right, you don’t even have to try!
So enough of the build up, let’s get right to how you can get one of these objects of great grandeur on your wrist.
01.1. Stainless Steel
For a luxury watch a steel grade of 316L should be the bare minimum. 316L steel contains a molybdenum element that gives it a high resistance towards corrosion, allows for it to be molded in to complex and intricate shapes, enables it to withstand extreme hot and cold temperatures, is scratch resistant, and doesn’t rust.
A lower quality watch would consist of a 304 grade of steel, while watches on the other end such as those offered by Rolex offer a 904L grade of steel.
At a similar price point to the 316L grade steel you may procure a titanium based watch. Apart from the slightly more polished look titanium has the added benefit of being even more durable and lightweight than its 316L steel counterpart. It also provides added scratch resistance.
While it is the gold standard (pun intended) for both men and women, if coupled with a design that doesn’t suit your form and style, gold watches can risk coming off as excessively flashy. So tread carefully when it comes to gold.
On the other side of the hue spectrum, one may opt for white gold or rose gold, both very attractive options and massively trending at the moment.
While it may not be on the top of your mind during the purchase, gold watches do have the added benefit of liquidity.
What could be better than gold? Well, platinum! Platinum is a precious metal that does not corrode or lose color. They also exude a very premium finish, a true mark of luxury and style. Do keep in mind though, platinum is more dense that gold, so these watches can tend to be pretty heavy.
If you are chalking up upwards of INR 1,00,000/- for a luxury watch, it is justified to expect a good degree of metal used to construct the watch. By that we mean hands and hour markers made of gold, dial elements made of gold, etc.
Ensure that the case of the watch is as tightly assembled as possible. True luxury watches are built out of a single construction with the least number of moving parts.
Mechanical watches require the crown of the watch to be wound frequently to keep the machinery working. These types of watches may speed up or slow down time by approximately 10 seconds daily, so they may not be the most accurate devices to depict time. However there is a certain vintage feel to these watches and they are popular among collectors.
Quartz is the most common type of movement mechanism in modern day watches. A quartz crystal, powered by a battery, is oscillated at the right frequency to measure time. A battery change is usually required once every two years.
Automatic watches are much alike mechanical watches in that they require winding. However they wind themselves automatically through energy generated from the movements of the wearer. The ability to auto-wind without the need for a battery is making automatic watches a preferred choice among watch buyers. They however are more expensive than their quartz counterparts and require winding at least once a month as they tend to slow down or speed up.
Watch movements are usually manufactured in Japan or Switzerland. A mark of quality is the ‘Seal of Geneva’ which is engraved on watches whose movements are created within the canton of Geneva. You may want to look out for this.
If owning the best luxury has to offer is a prerequisite, they you may consider a watch brand that crafts their movements in-house. Watch design houses such as Jaeger-LeCoultre and Patek Philippe manufacture their own movements, which almost always deliver upon some degree of complex movements. This makes your watch a true ‘designer’ piece.
The watch face in low to mid end watches are generally mineral glass that has been treated to provide added strength. Premium watches on the other hand are crafted with either acrylic or sapphire crystal.
03.1. Acrylic Crystal
Luxury watches that are designed for intense use by individuals of athletic backgrounds generally have their faces crafted with acrylic crystal as it is highly durable. These compounds however are susceptible to scratches.
03.2. Sapphire Crystal
Sapphire crystals are extremely resistant to scratches. To put that statement in to context, one of the only materials that can scratch sapphire crystals are diamonds. They are constructed using colorless synthetic sapphire and are far more costlier than other crystal materials, thus factoring in to the high price tag of luxury watches. The only drawback of sapphire crystals are that they shatter on extreme impact, as opposed to breaking.
04.1. Strap Bands
If you’re the athletic type then a strap watch with interchangeable bands may be the preferred choice. A rubber or nylon strap can provide for added durability and their high water resistance can ensure no damage from water or sweat.
For a more classier look opt for materials such as leather or alligator skin.
04.2. Bracelet bands
Metal segments are connected together to form the band, the material usually being the same as that of the case. They are easier to adjust for size, as bands can be easily added or removed making the fit loose or tight respectively. Metal bands are usually preferred by men, however that shouldn’t limit your selection as other band types may also help you pull of a formal and classy look.
04.3. Bangle bands
As the name suggests, bangle bands are much alike an actual bangle. These types of watches are complimentary to a woman’s jewelry and precisely what is needed to add that touch of sophistication during a formal event.
Perpetual calendars, chronographs, moon phases, multiple time zones, world calendars, chains, and fusee assemblies are common add-ons found in modern day watches. A lot of these features aren’t available in low-end watches, so a good mix of features can surely help your watch stand out.
Luminant is another feature to look out for in a premium watch. A sign of low quality is having to keep the watch facing a bright light for a minute to have it glow only for a few minutes thereafter. Luminance is where watches from Japan have an edge over watches from Switzerland. That however may change as just one company in the world manufactures watches using tritium gas tubes that allows the watches to glow for over three decades, and they are based in Switzerland.
06. Locking mechanism
Low-end watches feature a single clasp locking mechanism, which locks in a single click. These are prone to failures and the watch band abruptly opening. Premium watches feature at least two or three locking clasps. The first lock is via the ‘click’ mechanism, with the second lock coming from the metal flap locking over it. The third lock is usually a push-button lock.
Precious stones bring an entirely different level of grandeur to a luxury watch. While the color and number of stones on a watch is a matter of personal preference, one should generally check if the stone is natural or synthetic.
01.1. Natural Stones
They are procured directly from the earth through mining techniques and are cut and polished to give them its natural feel. Natural stones are the clear choice as they are higher in value and on a subconscious level allow you to value your watch more.
01.2. Synthetic Stones
The term ‘synthetic’ is a misnomer, as these stones aren’t exactly manufactured but rather grown in a laboratory. Various colors of sapphire are the most common synthetic stones seen on watches, apart from diamonds and mother of pearl.
Whichever stone you opt for, ensure they have a clear color and symmetrical cuts. It is also worth mentioning that a few high quality stones are far better than a cluster of cheaper stones.
The notion generally is that a large watch is a statement of confidence. Our suggestion however would be to try a watch on and decide for yourself if the watch suits your wrist and personality type. If the watch looks like the lid of a jar more than a style statement it may not be the right size for you.
Before getting in to brands, consider the style of the watch you desire (this will also help you narrow down the brands you wish to explore further). Look at the watch you fell in love with at first sight again. Does it make you feel the same way? Compare it against other watches. Do you still desire it just as much? If so then you’ve found the timepiece for you, but if not then do explore further.
If you find yourself perplexed by a sea of luxury watch brands and styles, here’s a little tip that may help you narrow down your selection. Look for limited editions. Even if the style isn’t a perfect fit, the exclusivity of owning something that is made in a limited number is sure to make you stand out from the crowd. Make sure to ask the retailer if there are a 100, 1,000, or 10,000 pieces of a watch made. The more the quantity produced, the lower it’s exclusivity appeal and value will be.
We’re finally here, brands! Clearly there is no shortage of luxury brands in the timepiece space, so how do you decide which brand to go for? This is after all a monumental purchase.
The answer actually isn’t very difficult. You first look in to all the elements we mentioned before, this itself will narrow down your selection. If you’re not much of a watch connoisseur then stick with known brands such as Rolex, Rado, Breitling, Omega, Citizen, Tag Heuer, Hublot, Patek Philippe, Audemars Piguet, Cartier, Jaeger-LeCoultre, and Ulysse Nardin to name a few. If you have a keen eye for a designer watch then look in to the brands we just mentioned along with recognized designer brands such as IWC Schaffhausen, Panerai, Vacheron Constantin, Blancpain, and Louis Moinet.
You may also look in to whether the brand hand-makes and self-assembles their watches. This increases its value considerably, as it is treated more as a work of art rather than a mass produced product. It also guarantees you the uniqueness of being the only individual to own that particular timepiece, as no two works of art are exactly identical.
Also research if a brand uses exotic materials in their builds. Patek Philippe and Ulysse Nardin for example use silicium which does not require lubrication and hence greatly increases the accuracy of the watch’s movement.
It is also worth mentioning that a lot of watch buyers do not go for obvious choices such as Rolex, Rado, or Omega as the choice for their first luxury watch. The reason simply is that they acknowledge that most first time luxury watch buyers go straight for these particular brands, so it makes it difficult for them to stand out among the elite. That being said, owning a Rolex, Rado, or Omega automatically guarantees you a stamp of success.
This is the part that is nearly as important as selecting the timepiece itself － selecting a retailer to buy your luxury timepiece from. You don’t want to put down a considerable amount of money, only to find out that your watch is an imitation piece.
Selecting a retailer is all about research and trust. Lookup authorised retailers online, check their Google reviews, ask your family and friends where they purchased their timepieces and what was their experience, look in to the after sale services the retailer provides, and find out how many stores they have across India. C.T. Pundole & Sons is a 110 year old 5th generation-run luxury watch store chain, and are authorised retailers across 66 brands of which 20 count under the luxury segment.
Contact C.T. Pundole’s Watch Experts for personalised recommendations, on +917350003250 or write to email@example.com.