How to Buy Your First Luxury Watch – A Practical Guide

You’ve finally decided that you want to make that leap – from a consumer watch to that coveted luxury watch. But coveting the watch is one thing, buying it is another. This is a serious purchase, one that is not meant to be rushed.

After all, for many people, buying a luxury watch is an emotional purchase that will be worn for decades, perhaps even a lifetime, and then handed on to the next generation. It is a universally accepted symbol of status.

Which is why it is imperative to arm yourself with information, know exactly what you want and ensure that you aren’t ripped off.

If you are about to embark on the luxury watch scene then keep reading as we cover what you need to know before you make your first luxury watch purchase.

What is a Luxury Watch?

Luxury Watch

Watches come in all prices, sizes and styles but these can be classified into four main categories based on price:

  1. Watches under $300 – These are consumer watches or fashion watches which are functional and aesthetic but not necessarily something you are invested in.
  2. Watches from $300 to $1000 – These are good quality watches that are a cut above consumer watches and are made of fine materials.
  3. Watches from $1000 to $10,000 – These are luxury watches. They are made of excellent materials, have high quality workmanship and are branded. These are often heirloom watches.
  4. Over $10,000 – These are known as ultra-luxury watches and are the Ferrari’s and Lamborghini’s of the watch world. They are prestigious and for many, owning one is a goal to aspire to. These too are heirloom watches and are sometimes nicknamed ‘grail watches’.

What drives the price points of these watches? The prices are linked to the materials used, the exclusivity of the watch, the brand name, and the prestige that comes with that name.

What to Know About Luxury Watches

breitling superocean watch
Men’s Breitling Superocean luxury watch. See it here.

It’s important to do brand research and find a brand that aligns with your values and needs. For example, while Rolex is one of the top luxury watch brands, some may find that it isn’t exclusive enough as most people purchase a Rolex as their first luxury watch.

On the other hand, that may be the very reason you wish to purchase a Rolex. The brand should be well-known and respected, which you should be able to wear with confidence and trust.

Once you have decided on the brand, hone in on the model, the color and metal type. Read reviews and check for that watch online and if possible, in store to compare price points.

Brand New or Prior-Owned?

circa 2000 gents rolex oyster perpetual watch
Pre-owned Rolex Oyster Perpetual luxury watch. See it here.

This one comes down to a matter of opinion and value. Like a brand new car that drops in value by around 10% to 20% the moment you drive it out of the showroom, so too do most luxury watches.

Some would argue that your first luxury watch should be brand new in order to truly make it yours. You want to be the very first person to wear that particular watch. However, others take a more practical viewpoint, noting that a prior-owned watch is a great way to save some money while still having a fantastic item.

Both options have their pros and cons. If the difference in price is slight, then opting for the brand new watch seems like a good idea. However, if you are able to save several hundred dollars, that may be a priority for you.

Buy From a Reputed Seller

breitling AB012012 BB01 navitimer chronograph luxury watch
Breitling Men’s Navitimer Chronograph luxury watch. See it here.

Whether you purchase online or in store, purchasing from a reputable seller is critical. There are many luxury watch fakes on the market that are identical in appearance to the real deal making it very difficult to tell fake from genuine.

One way to do this is to check the Better Business Bureau rating of the retailer which should be at least over a B+. The reputation of the business is important so check reviews and the services offered by the retailer.

The most important factor is to ensure that you have buyer protection. The after sales policies should be solid and clearly outlined and there should be a warranty on your purchase.

This brings us to the all-important question: Should I purchase my luxury watch from Amazon?

Amazon has a great range of luxury watches, sold by licensed dealers and private sellers, spanning prices ranging from $1000 to $220,000! Do your due diligence before you purchase, checking the reviews and the vendor’s reputation in the arena of selling quality watches.

We also recommend checking on Etsy, for vintage and prior-owned luxury watches.

Another site to look into is Watchbox, which is highly respected and sells an impressive range of prior owned and new luxury watches.

Our recommendation? For your first watch, you can save yourself a lot of headaches by purchasing from an authorized dealer.

How to Identify a Fake Watch

tag heuer automatic stainless leather luxury watch
TAG Heuer Men’s ‘Monaco’ Swiss luxury watch. See it here.

If you are purchasing a fake luxury watch (replica watches) knowingly, then that’s a decision that you are consciously making. However, having a replica defeats the purpose of owning an authentic watch. It doesn’t bring with it the feeling of prestige that comes when you slip on the real deal.

As we mentioned above, there are many fake watches on the market that are identical in appearance to the original watch. It is a thriving industry that rakes in billions every year and often, even experts cannot tell these apart.

One of the main giveaways when it comes to identifying replicas is the lower quality of the materials used. Replicas often use cheap, low quality materials. Authentic watches use fine materials such as genuine gold, platinum, 316 L (or better) stainless steel, diamonds, gemstones, sapphire crystal and genuine leather.

Another point to consider is the price. If the price of the watch you’re looking at is below the market value of that particular model, there is a high chance it is fake. You know what they say: If it is too good to be true, it probably is.

There is also what is known as the Frankenstein watch. As the name implies (harking back to Frankenstein’s monster which was made by putting together different parts), these watches are a combination of genuine and fake parts fused together. These straddle the line between real and fake and can be much harder to authenticate.

Again, by purchasing from an authorized dealer, you can avoid these issues.

Picking Your Budget

The price point you choose depends on your budget and whether you plan to purchase more luxury watches down the line.

If this is going to be ‘the one and only’ then you might want to buy a more expensive item. It will be your once in a lifetime purchase, so some might argue, why not pull out all the stops for this one?

However, if you plan on expanding your watch collection, it is generally a good idea to buy a watch on the lower end of the price spectrum for your first one. As you learn more about the luxury watch market and your taste in watches change and advance over time, you can invest more in more expensive watches down the line.

Wrapping Up

Enjoy shopping for your first luxury watch. After all, like a car or first overseas travel, this too is akin to a rite of passage. Want to learn more about how to buy a watch? Check out our detailed guide.

Dani Rhys

Dani Rhys has worked as a writer and editor for over 15 years in the jewelry niche. She holds a Masters degree in Linguistics and Education. She has always been interested in expression through fashion and accessories, and her extensive experience in the field has made her a respected voice in jewelry trends and education. As the chief editor of Jewelry Shopping Guide, she not only leads the content strategy but also shares her insights through engaging articles. Her passion for storytelling is reflected in every piece she curates, exploring the intricate relationship between jewelry and personal identity.

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