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The First-time Buyer’s Guide To Luxury Watches | The Watch Hut

Published: 23-06-2017

woman wearing a watch and carrying a handbag

First-time buyers know that a luxury watch is a worthwhile investment, but it's important to understand the key features of premium watches so you can ensure you get the most for your money.

From choosing a type of movement to learning what 'complications' are, you can pick the perfect piece by understanding everything that plays into the price tag attached to a luxury watch. Read on for everything you need to know about buying your first premium watch.

Watch movement

Men's Muhle Glashutte Robert Muhle Kleine Auf Ab Manufacture Mechanical Watch

The type of movement a watch uses is one of the most important factors in determining its level of luxury.

  • Mechanical movement

Typically used in the most exclusive luxury watches, mechanical watches are powered by a mainspring that must be wound manually. The minute-hand on a mechanical watch sweeps smoothly around the watch face, instead of ticking.

Though not as accurate as modern technology, mechanical watches are seen to embody the intricacy and craftsmanship of the watchmaking tradition.

Ideal for: Those who have a large budget and want a watch that epitomises the heritage of watchmaking.

  • Automatic movement

Though also reliant upon a mainspring, automatic watches are powered by the movement of your hand and don't need to be wound (unless you take it off). Like mechanical watches, the minute hand moves steadily in a sweeping motion, rather than ticking in intervals.

Though slightly less luxurious than mechanical watches, they're still regarded as a premium option.

Ideal for: Those who have a mid-high budget and want a watch that doesn't need to be wound but still showcases traditional engineering,

  • Quartz movement

Quartz watches run on electricity from a small battery, which prompts the minute hand to tick along. The technology means they're more accurate than automatic and mechanical watches.

The most popular form of movement, quartz watches tend to be more affordable, though some luxury brands offer high-end quartz watches.

Ideal for: Those who prioritise accuracy and convenience, and perhaps have a lower budget.

Complications

Ladies' Raymond Weil Nabucco Brit Awards 2014 Limited Edition Titanium Automatic Chronograph Diamond Watch

Complications are the additional features a watch has, beyond the telling the time. Common complications are:

  • Chronograph: A mini, independent system that works as a stopwatch. At the least, a chronograph includes stop, start, and reset functionality. More complex models can be paired with a tachymeter, allowing you to measure things like speed and distance.
  • Moonphase: A display on the watch shows the phase of the moon, changing as the moon orbits the earth. Some moonphases simply show where the moon is in its 29-day cycle, while others feature an artistic illustration that mimics the moon as it changes.
  • Calendar: The date, month, and year can be displayed in a variety of ways, from simple numbers that change at midnight to a collection of sub-dials displayed across the face.
  • Power reserve: Some automatic and mechanical watches will feature a power reserve dial, which indicates how much energy the watch has before it needs to be wound.
  • Time zone: For those who travel often, or are just curious about what time it is across the world, certain watches can display an additional time zone, while others will show 'world time' across all 24 time zones.

Depending on your lifestyle and personal taste, the additional features you want your watch to include will vary. Typically, the more complications a watch has, the more expensive it is - especially if it has manual or automatic movement.

If you have a lower budget and want a watch with several additional features, look out for premium models that use quartz movement.

Brand and manufacturing

Men's Frederique Constant Slim Line Manufacture Moonphase Automatic Watch

Brand reputation and quality of manufacturing often go hand-in-hand in the luxury watch world. As a rule, the more that a watch is built 'in-house', with minimal outsourcing of materials and labour, the more valuable it is. Brands with a long heritage of watchmaking are often the most sought-after.

  • Swiss made watches

Switzerland has a long watchmaking heritage and high expectations for quality craftsmanship and in-house engineering. Because of this, Swiss made watches tend to be the most exclusive mechanical and automatic watches on the market. Check out our guide to buying a luxury Swiss watch to learn more.

Some of the top Swiss made watch brands include Oris, Maurice Lacroix, Glycine, Davosa, Alpina, Frederique Constant, Victorinox, Certina, Tissot, Eterna, and Ebel

  • Japanese watches

When it comes to quartz movement, Japanese brands have developed some of the most innovative modern technology, meaning they've steadily built a reputation for creating high-calibre, luxury watches.

Some of the top Japanese made brands include Seiko, Citizen, and Casio G-Shock

  • World watch brands

While Swiss and Japanese brands tend to be among the best-known luxury watch makers, there are companies across the world that have established a reputation for creating quality, premium timepieces.

Some of the top world brands include American brands Ball and Hamilton (American-Swiss hybrid), German brands Mühle, Junghans, and MeisterSinger, and UK brand Storm

The right style

Ladies Maurice Lacroix Les Classiques Tradition Automatic Watch

Beyond finding a high-quality luxury watch, it's important to buy one that you love the look of. Each brand will have a different style, but watches tend to fall into a few main categories:

  • Dress watch: A classic design with a leather strap and simple face, featuring minimal complications (perhaps a moonphase or the date). Often made of gold or silver.
  • Field watch: A hardy, masculine-looking watch with a simple face and clear numbering. Often made of steel or other resilient metal.
  • Dive watch: A highly water resistant (at least 100m), robust watch with a rotating bezel designed to help keep track of how long the wearer has been under water. Made of waterproof materials such as stainless steel or titanium (and rubber or silicone for lower-grade watches).
  • Pilot watch: One of the most versatile styles, but often featuring a classic design that's more casual than a dress watch, with an easy-to-read face that usually includes the date and a chronograph.
  • Racing/driving watch: Typically a fashionable watch made from hardy materials and either a metal or leather strap. Has a large dial that features at least a chronograph.

The best way to find the right watch for you is to explore the options. From vintage-inspired designs to ultra-modern styling, there are countless models that showcase different and wonderful aspects of luxury watch craftsmanship and history.

Browse our full range of men's and women's watches to find the perfect match for you.