Watch Buying Guide: Mid-Range Luxury Watches
The first decision every watcher-buyer has to make is what price range they will target. For those looking for pure utility, they can spend under $50 on a basic quartz or digital watch. For collectors and enthusiasts, these affordable options don’t cut it and they opt for pieces in the mid-luxury category ($1,000-10,000 roughly).
This is an excellent pocket of the watch market, as it features incredible pieces from established brands, but doesn’t come with exorbitant price tags. Below, we explain exactly how to shop in this prestigious price range.
What This Range Has to Offer
One of the biggest misconceptions in the watch world is that high prices are the result of marketing schemes. While advertising, celebrity endorsements, and brand mystique do play a role in pricing, the primary drivers of cost are tangible. The following are the most crucial of those factors.
Materials – The most common material that affordable and luxury watches are made from is steel. Don’t think that materials are all the same, though. Instead, there are different grades of steel that are higher quality and are more likely to keep their shine. Additionally, some watches are made from precious metals and expensive ceramic, which offer much more than cheap steel.
Ruggedness – One of the most alluring aspects of expensive watches is that they often work in extreme conditions, such as being deep underwater. The reason for this capability is their construction, which is particularly excellent. When you opt for luxury, you are generally choosing from timepieces that are very rugged and built to last.
Movement Type – One of the most recognizable differences between this price range and affordable pieces is movement type. The vast majority of low-priced watches feature a simple quartz movement, while luxury watches have complicated mechanical movements. For the most devoted watch enthusiasts, a mechanical movement is required. Quartz gets the job done, but is not as sought after by collectors.
Movement Quality – As you might imagine, not all movements are equal. Some of the cheaper ones lose or gain seconds every day, which means resetting your watch often. Additionally, affordable automatic (self-winding mechanical) watches frequently malfunction and stop working after a short period of ownership. When you target luxury brands, you get high-quality movements that are accurate and built to last.
How to Choose the Perfect Piece
Though a multitude of factors go into choosing the right watch, starting with the following three will narrow your search significantly.
Price – If you’re interested in mid-tier luxury, you have already chosen a price range of roughly $1,000-10,000. This is quite an extensive range, though, so you may want to be more specific. Are you looking for something in the low thousands, or are you more interested in a price near ten thousand? This is the first question you need to ask yourself because it will do a great job of bringing the market into focus.
Watch Style – The five primary watch styles are diving, dress, aviation, driving, and minimalist. Once you figure out your price range, you can look towards these different styles and decide which is right for you. If you take part in diving, flying or driving, choosing the matching genre of watch is a great idea. Still, don’t get locked into the mindset of matching interests to watch style. If you do not take part in those activities, but enjoy their style and feel free to purchase one of them.
Watch Brands – If shopping by style is not your preference, you can choose a brand instead. While there are many brands in this space, there are much fewer companies than there are individual watches. If you can select which timepiece manufacturer appeals to you the most, you can narrow your options down and choose from a much smaller pool.
There are thousands of brands trying to make a play in mid-range luxury, but a choice few have managed to separate themselves from the competition. To make your shopping process more straightforward, we have divided them into two tiers. The first features brands that are priced from around $1,000-5,000. The second go for more like $5,000-10,000.
Group #1 – In this category, you are getting exceptional pieces at somewhat affordable prices. These watches almost always have mechanical movements, excellent materials, and solid craftsmanship, making them an excellent buy. The top brands that fit into this group are Longines, Oris, Tag Heuer, Omega, Breitling and Tudor. Though some of these companies will offer watches above $5,000, the majority can be had for cheaper.
Group #2 – In this range, you get every bit of the quality of group #1, but now with even better craftsmanship. What that will mean for you is a longer lasting and more accurate piece. Our favorite brands from this group are Rolex, Jaeger Lecoultre, Zenith, Blancpain and Panerai. Of all of them, Rolex has the most respected name, but you really can’t go wrong with any of them.
Now that you know the ins and outs of the mid-range luxury price range, you can go shopping for your next piece with confidence. As long as you follow this guide, you are sure to be satisfied with your purchase. Good luck!