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THE 'HOW TO' GUIDE...

Perfect timing

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Most luxury watch buyers know precisely what they are getting into with each new acquisition. But if you're a first-timer, here's what to watch out for.

It goes without saying that a high-end expensive watch should be made from the best quality materials but it is also a good idea to ensure that the metals used are inherently valuable.

Take, for instance, a luxury watch that is 18k gold versus titanium. Which one is going to have more value in the abstract? Not only that, it is a good idea to investigate how extensively precious metals have been used. Parts of the case? All of the case? Are the hands and hour markers gold? At $20, 000 and up, you should expect to see a fair amount of precious metals used in the construction and execution of the watch. The most common metals are, of course, the various colors of gold (yellow, rose, pink, red, white, etc. . . ) as well as platinum. Silver is rarely used for cases, but a bit more commonly used for traditional looking watchdials. It also goes without saying that precious stones are a desirable component given the style and variety of the watch.

ALL THAT GLITTERS


The first thing to look at is the origin of the stones. The two options are natural or manufactured. Natural stones are the most valuable. You then want to look at the quality and amount of stones. A few very clear stones with good color are going to be worth more than a large array of cheaper stones. Ask for the total carat amount and where the stones came from. You don't need precious jewels to make a high-end luxury watch, but if you want them, do your homework.

EXCLUSIVE CLUB


The best watch makers design and construct their movements inhouse even if they don't make other components of the watches. You'll find that the top house such as Patek Philippe, Audemars Piguet, Jaeger-LeCoultre, A. Lange & Sohne, among others, make their own movements. This ensures that you can be part of the exclusive club of people who have timepieces with "in-house manufacture made movements" (bragging + snob rights).

SEAL OF GENEVA


This seal is a certification of quality and origin. The seal is applied directly on the movements of specific watches that satisfy the stringent rules as applied by Swiss law. The Seal of Geneva is placed on certain watches that have movements which are mostly created and assembled within the canton of Geneva in Switzerland. The movements must also have various technical and decoration requirements in addition to their place of origin. Only a handful of watch makers have movements with the Seal. Just because a watch does not have the Seal does not make it bad, but those that do enjoy the Seal of Geneva are almost always impressive high luxury timepieces.

HOURS OF WORK


A question you should always ask a watch retailer is, "how long does it take to make this watch?" They should know the answer, and be proud of it. High-end watches are handmade and assembled by master watchmakers. Sometimes a team of people will be involved in making the watch, or a single watch maker could toil for as long as a year or more on a single watch. The longer it takes to make a watch, the more refinement and decoration will be found on it. But there are exceptions. Rolex for example uses complex robotics and departments to make watches so it takes just a few days to make a watch, while a less industrialized brand can take several months.

THE FRILLS AND THRILLS


High-end watches don't just have beautiful mechanical movements, they have complex movements. A watch costing in excess of $20, 000 should often do more than just tell the time, or it should tell the time in a special way. Other complications affect how accurate a watch is or how interesting the movement is to look at while in operation (i. e. various types of tourbillon escapements ). Other common complications in high-end watches are perpetual calendars, rattrapante chronographs, sonneries, fusee and chains, moon phases, and multiple time zones along with world timers. Be cognizant of what complications the watch you are looking at has. When looking at higher-end watches you might want to ensure that the complications you are interested in aren't available at lower prices to help secure the value of your purchase decision.

LIMITED EDITION


The best luxuries come in small quantities. So look for limited edition or highly limited production watches. Ask how many of a particular model have been made and whether or not there are 1, 000 or 100, 000 out there.

PRICEY AND PRICELESS


There are certain brands that commonly have their most exclusive models increase in value (such as Patek Phillipe and Rolex), but certain other watchmodels or brands may also have this same quality. It is very difficult to gauge whether a watch will increase in value (unless it is a rare Patek Philippe watch that is going to be difficult to get in the first place), but do your best to follow the above guidelines and you might find yourself with an investment grade timepiece. In the end, you aren't buying a watch for value alone (fashion and function are at issue), but it would be at least nice to know your acquisition retains value.


Adams is a watch expert. He blogs on www. ablogtoread. com.

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