5 Tips For Buying a New Watch

When I am writing for FratelloWatches, I tend to forget that not everyone is a watch nut or has an in-depth knowledge about watches or watch manufacturers. Of course, this is not mandatory when buying a new watch, but let me at least give you some hints and tips when you are buying a new watch for the first time. Feel free to contribute your own tips and experiences in the comments section.

Let’s assume that you already have set your mind on a certain brand and model and are ready to buy. Keep the next five tips in your mind when you are about to purchase that beautiful timekeeper.

1. Ask about After Sales Service


Like a car, a watch needs maintenance. Or – also like a car – a watch can break. Mechanical watches are (partly) made and assembled by human hands, so things might have gone wrong in the process. Also, dropping a watch or bumping it into a door effects a mechanical watch more than it does a quartz watch. So at some point you will need to have the watch serviced or repaired. Ask the watch dealer if he has a service center or whether the watch will need to go back to the manufacturer. A trip to the watch manufacturer might take longer, but consider it a spa for wristwatches. Also important: ask how long an overhaul or repair will take. It might also be wise to go to some watch forums and search for service times. Some brands will keep your watch for months and I’m not talking watches packed with complications here. Unfortunately, I am talking from my own experience. Nothing is worse than having to return your watch for repair and have to do without it for months. Last but not least, ask about the cost of service overhauls. Some of the watch manufacturers are quite transparent and list the cost of service overhauls on their website. Make sure to get some insight into these costs; I get emails and phone calls from people who were very disappointed to learn that these are as expensive, or more expensive, than the periodic service of their car.

2. Negotiate

Authorized dealers in a conventional brick and mortar shop strictly use the official price tags on their watches. However, there should always be room to negotiate about the price. Make sure you are informed about the average price of a watch before you enter the store and start to negotiate. Also, don’t compare apples and oranges. Prices you see quoted on the Internet might be for gray-market watches sold by dealers who are not authorized retailers. They have different rules about warranties, service and repairs. In any case, feel free to negotiate. If you are not comfortable with the discount that is being offered, try somewhere else. You can also try to negotiate to get an extra strap or a watch winder etc.

3. Additional costs

I already covered the costs of servicing or repairing your watch. However, if you buy a watch with a leather strap, you will probably have to replace it sooner than the periodic service intervals. Make sure you ask about the price of an OEM replacement strap for your watch. Prices vary from a few (tens of) dollars to hundreds of dollars for a leather strap, depending on the materials used. Also be aware that watches tend to become more expensive each year  (the annual price hikes sometimes make you wonder why you don’t get these annual increases each year from your employer). So do prices for accessories like straps and clasps. In any case, this should not be a deal breaker, as you can get very nice straps from third parties as well.

4. Build a relationship with your dealer


So, you bought a new watch at a nice retailer who gave you a discount and made you comfortable with his in-house service center for future service or repairs. Cherish this retailer from now on. He (or she) will do the same with you. Ask if they are organizing any watch events and if you can be on their mailing list. The thing is, this won’t be your last watch. Buying a mechanical watch can be the start of an addiction. Having a good relationship with a watch retailer and watchmaker is very important from now on. Not only for negotiating prices in the future, but also to get updates on new collections, new brands and perhaps even the chance to visit the manufacturer of your new watch. A number of authorized dealers take extra steps to please their customers and to show that they offer added value as opposed to non-authorized dealers who offer larger discounts but little service.

5. Will you become a watch flipper?

OK. You have your watch for a few months now and came to the conclusion that you:

  • really want that other watch with that neat moon-phase complication the retailer showed you;
  • don’t like the blue dial anymore and want a watch with a black dial;
  • want an automatic movement instead of hand-wound movement, as you tend to forget to wind it every other morning;
  • feel that you should have bought brand X instead of brand Y;
  • don’t like mechanical watches.

There are, of course, more options on that list, but the point is that you should get informed about the resale value of your watch before buying it. So actually, this should be Tip 1 instead of 5. I always compare it with buying cars (although these tend to be worse investments). Take the example of the Italian car manufacturer Alfa Romeo. They create beautifully designed sports cars and have a lot of fans (called Alfisti). However, they drop in value big time as soon as you leave the showroom. You really, really, really have to like these cars in order to be at peace with the depreciation. Same goes more or less for watches. If you are buying one of the iconic watches (Submariner, Nautilus, Speedmaster Pro, Royal Oak, Navitimer), you should be fine. But if you are buying a model from a small factory that no one has ever heard of, make sure you are at peace with the fact that it will take a long time to sell and that you will take a hit on the price you are going to get for it.

The good thing is, like cars, that the market for pre-owned watches is huge. You can either try to trade it at your retailer (or he can perhaps direct you to someone who is willing to buy your watch) or sell it yourself through one of the watch market platforms or ‘sales corners’ at watch forums.








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  1. Beautiful collections of watches .. Nice blog thanks for sharing with us.

    • Sergio

      Watch Central located in Grand Central Terminal. Has been around a long time with great reputation. (212)685-1689

  2. Slcharles

    I read your daily articles and don’t remember you, or anyone else, writing any articles related to the “very soft” pre-owned watch market. This condition has existed for the last 2 or 3 years.

  3. Great Points! I would also add: Buy a watch because it suits the purpose you want one for; ie dive watch, dress watch etc. Check the warantee. If you collect watches your new purchase may not get alot of wrist time in one year. It also reflects the quality of the watch and manufacturer.Shop on line and be patient it can save you mucho.

  4. Those are great tips. However the fifth tip does not relate to me. I could never sell my Navatimer Longines or Omega snoopy watches

  5. Great Article. I have been collecting them for many years and your 5 points cover all tne points that one should bear in mind when buying a brand new watch. Well done!

  6. daz clay

    Bought oris small second managed to get two hundred quid knocked off retail by asking for best price,always be prepared to walk.they will always cave for cash

  7. Lori Thomas

    I don’t know what folks are talking about with negotiation. I like Rolex and Omega and I have visited ADs of both brands on my travels and these guys don’t/won’t negotiate. If you are an AD of one of those brands and want a customer ready to buy on a good deal contact me. I won’t hold my breath.

    • Skip Cuevas

      True, there are a few brands who do not permit ADs to negotiate, Rolex, Omega, PP,
      are ones that I know of…doesn’t negate advice on the hunderd of so other Swiss/German brands. Pretty much all other brands can be negotiated…I have done so for up to 25% on Ball, Eterna, Frederick Constant, Raymond Weil, Tissot and others. For Rolex, top brick and mortar sellers of used always good. One here in SF Bay area actually gives two year warrantee on watches given a beaituful overhaul inside and out. Look like new.

  8. Michael

    Great article. I would add that it’s important to but the watch that suits you and you feel comfortable with. I would largely ignore the limited edition statements from dealers. If it was a hot watch it would be unlikely to be in the window or readily available. Don’t get swayed by the sales pitch if it’s not right for you find a brand or model that is. I love the aquatimer but it’s just too small for me and I know I would end up trading or selling it pretty quickly. If you buy a watch you love, the end value becomes less of an issue, because you won’t sell it. ive taken quite a few friends through the buying journey, like anything the more knowledge and options you give yourself the better your negotiation. Thanks again for the great article.

  9. Richard Toth

    Also very important to know and/or negotiate is a larger band or additional links. Most watches tend to come with average size bands up to about 8″. I for one have an 8-1/2 wrist and inevitably need an XL band or additional links which come at a significant expense and add no resale value.

  10. Anybody have any experience with buying thru online retailer authentic watches?

  11. Robinoz

    I have found that searching for an AD online pays off. I got a Seiko Prospex with an RRP of $740 (AUD) in a local shop for $563 from an AD in Sydney.

    These days it pays to shop around.

  12. Robert C

    Wott ?!
    No Blue Book listing of the price paid by the dealer?
    No year end sales incentives to dealerships by Swatch Group?
    I doubt businesses would continue to sell luxury watches if they made very little markup, but it would appear that I may still need is an insider to know the price paid for a watch by the dealer.
    Dunno how effective wheeling and dealing may be when the stock market is up, but there is always one last resort if one can be patient and has some good fortune:
    check back the next time the economy takes a dump.

    It works for the big fellas, why not the little bloke? ;)

  13. Robert Epsen

    I would add only one point to this great advice: Be sure to keep the box, papers and other items that come with your watch. These can add value (and authentication) if you should decide to sell your watch someday.

    • Tom Parisi

      Excellent point Robert. My wife tossed a box containing my papers for my Omega SeaMaster and extra bracelet links.

  14. Great advice! I would add that boutiques typically have a great display of the brand’s models, but you aren’t going to get any bargains there. You’ll often pay the full retail price.

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