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What to Know About Watches

For some, a timepiece is their only everyday accessory. That makes it utterly important. The best way to buy is to choose a watch that not only looks beautiful, but will hold its value for years to come. Below, Portero explains the most important criteria for timepiece shopping and gives you the know-how to make the most informed decision on your next purchase. 

Starter Glossary:

Movement: 
The essential parts that make up a watch or clock’s function. This includes the springs and regulating elements that record time accurately. A skeleton watch (that features a see-through case) allows the wearer to see the movement at all times. 

Case: 
This is the container that holds the watch parts; basically the outer shell of a timepiece. 

Complication: 
Any feature above and beyond the expected display of hours, minutes and seconds. 

Chronograph: 
A watch feature that contains two separate time-telling systems. A Chronograph indicates the time of day as well as registers or graphically records time intervals just as a stopwatch function.

Quartz: 
This type of movement is regulated by a quartz crystal and powered by a battery. Although it is very accurate, it isn’t as desirable as a mechanical movement. 

Automatic: 
Using an 18th Century Swiss invention, this type of watch is wound using the motion of the wearer’s arm. 

Time for a Tune-Up:

Just like any other piece of machinery, watches require maintenance and repair to stay in top shape. High-end watches should be cleaned and re-oiled every three to five years. Not merely a simple shine, this process involves completely dismantling your watch to clean each individual component. Note: If you often wear your watch in the water, check your watch each year. 

Tourneau has the largest factory authorized independent service center in the United States, and you can simply ship your watch to them for something as simple as a battery replacement or as complicated as a total overhaul. Expect to wait up to two months for your watch to come back good as new. Tourneau.com 

If you own a vintage timepiece made more than 30 years ago, be particularly careful about replacing original parts. Often times removing a rusted band or scuffed face could cause your watch to depreciate in value. 

Go Exclusive:

Worried about recouping your watch’s value? Choosing a limited edition or rare model will give you a better chance of making your money back if you sell in the future. Many high-end brands create small batches (from 1 to 100) of handcrafted timepieces that are numbered and marked. Make sure that you hang on to all of the paperwork and documentation that shows your watch to be the real thing.

Why Metal Matters:

Generally, the heirarchy of metals (in order of most to least expensive) is platinum, white gold, rose gold, yellow gold and stainless steel. Expect to pay far more for a watch made entirely of precious metals than one with a leather or man-made band. But beware: There are vintage watches, like some steel chronographs made in the 1940s, that are very rare and thus very valuable.

Instant Heirlooms: Buying Brands with Staying Power

If you’re looking for a smart investment, here is Portero’s power list of the brands and models that have retained great value over time. All of these watches have proven to defy trends and will no doubt stand the test of time. 

Men:

(Sampling of investment watches in no particular order.) 

Cartier Roadster 
The Roadster is a watch that exhibits a sense of Power and Performance inspired by the world of automotive design. A modern classic.

Estimated Purchase price: $3,500 (Basic Models) - $27,000 (Gold chronograph). 

View all Cartier Roadster Men's Watches
Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Control 
Expected to keep reliable time for at least two generations (really!), this series of watches was created specifically to keep perfect time. 

Estimated Purchase Price Range: $3,500 (basic model in stainless steel) - $15,000 (complications and materials) 

View all Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Control Men's Watches
Rolex Oyster Perpetual Submariner 
One of the most popular timepieces with professional divers for over 50 years, this Rolex developed the use of the uni-directional bezel for tracking time while submerged. 

Estimated Purchase Price Range: $2,500 (No date stainless steel) - $15,000 (Solid Gold) 

View all Rolex Oyster Perpetual Submariner Men's Watches
Patek Philippe Calatrava 
First created by Patek Philippe in 1932, the Calatrava Collection is still considered the most popular and well recognized collection produced by the brand.

Estimated Purchase Price Range: $3,500 (Vintage) - $20,000 (Modern models) 

View All Patek Philippe Calatrava Men's Watches
IWC Portuguese 
Based on an IWC original design from the 1930s, the Portuguese Chrono-Automatic transforms the look of the traditional chronograph by using two sub dials that are a direct result of the exclusive IWC under-dial mechanism. 

Estimated Purchase Price Range: $ 4,500 (Stainless steel) - $25,000 (Limited Edition Platinum)

View All IWC Portuguese Men's Watches
Panerai Luminor Power Reserve 
Panerai has for over a century produced small batch quantities of highly prized mechanical watches. Limited production is still the rule and all models are always in demand. 

Estimated Purchase Price Range: $3,000 (Hand wound stainless steel) - $75,000 (Rare vintage, and Limited Editions)

View All Panerai Luminor Power Reserve Men's Watches
FIND IT FOR ME - If you don't see the model you are looking for, we can find it for you.

Women:

(Sampling of investment watches in no particular order.) 

Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso 
Created in 1931, this watch with a face that flips over to reveal another side is one of the brand’s most popular styles. 

Estimated Purchase Price Range: $2,000 (Basic Model) - $25,000 (Complications and Materials/Diamonds) 

View All Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Women's Watches
Cartier Tank 
Even our First Lady approves! Created in 1917 by Louis Cartier in honor of the allied tank forces of World War I, the Tank model is the most recognizable watch within the Cartier collection and was worn by Michelle Obama in her official White House portrait. 

Estimated Purchase Price Range: $500 (Stainless steel/ Gold plated)- $25,000 (Gold & Diamonds) 

View All Cartier Tank Women's Watches
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak
Although created as a sport watch in 1972, the octagonal case and visible screws have now become a chic aesthetic for everyday wear. 

Estimated Purchase Price Range: $4,000 (Basic models) - $60,000 (Gold and diamonds) 

View All Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Women's Watches
Rolex Oyster Perpetual Datejust 
First introduced by Rolex in 1945, the Oyster Perpetual Datejust is the first timepiece credited with showcasing the date with an easy to read magnified lens.

Estimated Purchase Price Range: $2,000 (Basic Models) - $10,000 (Gold and diamonds) 

View All Rolex Oyster Perpetual Datejust Women's Watches
Chanel J-12
Launched in 2000, the J12 brought high technology (Ceramics) and high fashion together in a stunning array of models. A truly universal watch. 

Estimated Purchase Price Range: $3,000 (Basic models) - $30,000 + (Complications and jewels) 

View All Chanel J-12 Women's Watches
FIND IT FOR ME - If you don't see the model you are looking for, we can find it for you.