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Double-check the watch for authenticity before you pay up. Photo: Priyanka Parashar/Mint
Double-check the watch for authenticity before you pay up. Photo: Priyanka Parashar/Mint

Your guide to buying a premium watch

A checklist, however mundane and manifest, always helps

So you’ve seen the ad, trawled the Web, read the watch columns, saved the money and zeroed in on the retailing outlet.

Congratulations. But there is nothing we hate in this column more than people being ripped off by unscrupulous purveyors of fine timepieces. So before you reach into your wallet, make sure you’ve worked through this premium watch-buyer’s checklist. Some pointers may seem obvious but work through them anyway. Let us not forget that some of the most trained surgeons in the world continue to leave cutlery inside patients. A checklist, however mundane and manifest, always helps.

Is it Quartz or mechanical?

Nothing hurts me more than seeing friends fork out serious money for a Quartz watch, just because the brand has a reputation for making great mechanical pieces. But these things happen. What does not help is that some brands make Quartz and mechanical models of the same collection—often indistinguishable at first glance. The prices differ too. Many swoop upon the cheaper Quartz, not knowing they are buying a different, not necessarily inferior alternative to a good mechanical piece. Stop. Think. Prioritize. Do you want the brand? Or the engineering marvel of a mechanical watch?

Who made the movement?

Look, let us be fair. Mass-manufactured, third-party supplied movements get a bad rap for no reason. In fact suppliers such as ETA and Ronda are splendid chaps who make very capable movements at very low prices. If it weren’t for their low costs, many mid-priced brands would have gone out of business ages ago. Still it makes no sense to spend, say, 3 lakh on a “premium" Swiss watch, when inside the watch ticks a mass-produced movement you could buy off eBay for less than a couple of hundred dollars. Would you buy a Lexus with a Toyota engine because it is cheaper?

Mind you, the alternatives can be expensive. Few companies make good in-house movements, and usually they are pricey. But at least you know that you are paying good money for a somewhat exclusive product.

Which year is this model from?

If you read this column, you may be aware that your correspondent visits two major watch trade fairs in Switzerland every year. That’s because most brands launch new pieces, upgrades and modifications at least once every 12 months. Some do it even more frequently. There is a constant churn in the inventory of models held by retailers—a factor that can confuse a buyer.

 Dying to buy that Rolex Explorer II you saw on your managing director’s wrist? Great. But which year was that piece from? The 2010 Explorer II may look very different from the 2008 or 2012. Double-check. You don’t want to be foisted with a 2012 piece rotting away in the warehouse in 2014. Especially at 2014 prices.

Is this a special edition nobody wants?

These things happen. Watch brands make special edition pieces nobody in the world wants to touch with a barge pole. Then they float around the world seeking gullible buyers. Don’t be the guy with the watch with a giraffe sticking out of it because it was a “Save the African Fauna" special from 2013.

Please. Don’t be that guy.

Also, if you’re thinking of the purchase as an investment, remember that not all special editions are precious in themselves. Some really are just blah.

When was it imported?

This is important at a time when currency exchange rates fluctuate wildly. You don’t want to pay top rupee for a product imported when the rupee was stronger, but being sold when the INR is crawling across the floor. Not all retailers will share this information. But it is a good bargaining chip.

How fresh is it?

Finally, double-check that the watch you are about to buy is authentic and unused. Especially if you’re buying one from a smaller retailer or an individual. It is not uncommon in the informal market for serviced, used watches to be packaged as new.

Also, it may be worthwhile to spend a few moments on the brand’s website to look for signs of authenticity and brand signatures. Just to make sure you don’t get milked with a fake.

In fact, in general, it is good to make two trips to the store before you finalize a piece. First, to zero in on a model and the second, to buy it. In between, go back home, calm down, set aside that wallet, and read up as much as you can.

There is always time.

Also Read | Sidin’s previous Lounge columns

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