5 Things to Consider Before Purchasing Your First Luxury Timepiece

Published 9 June 2022

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Fine timepieces are all about the details, so it can feel like a lot of pressure to get the details right when you purchase your first luxury timepiece. To help make the process simpler, we’ve come up with five factors to help point you in the right direction. 

01.

Size matters

Size is one of the first factors to consider when narrowing down your selection. It might not seem like a lot, but a millimetre can make a massive difference when it comes to finding the right watch. Take, for example, watches from IWC’s Pilot’s collection. The Big Pilot is a genuinely iconic piece, with a stand-out look and dial design that defines the genre. But, as the name implies, it is big. In its original incarnation, it measures 46.2mm across, and that doesn’t include the large diamond-shaped crown. For many, this is too much watch. Thankfully, the distinctive pilot’s style is available in a range of sizes, for example, the Big Pilot’s 43, which offers that plus-sized pilot aesthetic in a more manageable 43mm. 

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Bronze case and nostalgic details, all in a 43mm package.

Diameter is the most common watch measurement, but it’s only part of the picture. The length of the watch from top to bottom (often called lug-to-lug) and the height of a watch on your wrist are also vital factors in working out if a watch works for you.

02.

What’s it made of?

When your father or grandfather bought a watch, they likely only had to choose between steel, gold or a combination of the two. Today, it’s a little more complex with a range of high tech materials like ceramic and carbon fibre being used in watchmaking, along with titanium, bronze and other metals. Aside from the obvious fact that these materials look very different, there are other factors to consider. Gold, for example, is relatively soft and scratches easily, making it not suitable for a hard-wearing work watch. On the other end of the spectrum, ceramic, which comes in a range of colours and finishes, is lightweight and virtually scratch-proof, resulting in a watch that looks new for longer.  

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Made from Carbotech, a carbon fibre composite material, this Panerai Luminor is as tough as it is light.

03.

The beating heart

With any luxury timepiece, what’s inside is just as important as the outside, and can be just as varied. Fundamentally there are three main types of mechanism — called movements — that power a watch. Quartz is powered by a battery and offers highly accurate, low maintenance timekeeping and a distinctive ticking second hand. Mechanical movements come in automatic or hand-wound versions. The timekeeping parts are the same in both, but an automatic will generate energy from a weighted oscillating mass (or rotor) that moves every time you move your arm. A hand-wound watch requires a little more human intervention to keep running, in the form of winding the crown every few days. Which type of movement is right for you depends largely on your needs. If you want a watch you’ll ‘set and forget’, quartz might be best. Or if you think you’d enjoy a watch with a regular ritual, look at a manual winding.  

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Powered by a quartz calibre, the Piaget Possession dazzles in all the right places.

04.

It’s complicated

If you thought that watches were just for telling the time, we’d like to introduce you to complications. In watchmaking, a complication is anything a watch does beyond telling the hours, minutes and seconds. From something as simple and ubiquitous as a date window, through to watches that can accurately tell you the day, month and year (including leap years), as well as the current phase of the moon, thanks to an incredibly complex mechanism. The question to ask before purchasing is, do you want this sort of complexity on your watch? If you love the idea of all this intricate functionality, that’s great, but if it sounds like unnecessary clutter on the dial, perhaps it’s best to keep it simple.  

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IWC’s Portugieser Perpetual Calendar offers a masterclass in complicated watchmaking.

05.

Who is it for?

While all these individual elements are important, it’s far more important to consider them together and think about who the watch is for and how it will be worn. Is the watch being purchased to mark a milestone? Will it be worn every day? Does it need to look good with a suit, or is a more casual approach the way to go? All these questions shape what the perfect watch will look like for you, be that a Panerai or a Patek Philippe. Of course, if you need a little guidance, don’t hesitate to contact a member of the Kennedy team. 

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Looking for an elegant watch for every day? Try the Panthère de Cartier.

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