Mention the phrase ‘luxury watch’ to someone with the vaguest interest in watches, and there’s a good chance that Rolex, Breitling or Tag Heuer will be part of the sentence that comes next, followed shortly after with “that’s expensive”. But does it have to be so?
There are a number of brands that could be considered as luxury, but who defines ‘luxury’? Is it that any watch from a specific brand is luxury, or is cost a factor? A £5.99 Sunday market special tells the time perfectly, so anything above that could be considered a luxury for some, but for the sake of clarity, we’re talking about the more recognised brands; Omega, Rolex, Oris, Chopard etc.
Equally, what defines the word ‘budget’? A genuine Rolex at half its RRP could be seen as a bargain, but would we call it ‘budget luxury’? When using that term, we’re talking about watches that are less expensive than you’d think – whether that’s in the hundreds or thousands.
If it’s simply about getting your foot on the ladder to owning a prestige watch, a simple search online will give you enough results to choose from – the cheapest Breitling, for example, came in at just over £1400 for the Colt Skyracer (with a retail of £1690).
Of course, many official dealers are prepared to be flexible on price, discounts can be had if you’re prepared to … question (the term ‘haggle’ is just crass) the price.
An Oris Classic Date could be yours for a little over £500.
And that’s before we get to the used (pre-loved!) or vintage market.
Now, of course, this is a vintage watch site, you’re expecting a huge advert on the watches we carry, but the reality is, we don’t work that way. Sure, we may highlight a watch or two, but the idea of the article is to tell you about luxury watches for less money than you expect, not about why we love vintage watches.
The reality with vintage watches is that they have a certain style, a look that is different from today’s trends (although they do say that ‘fashion’ is cyclical), so buying a vintage watch is as much about styling as it is about finance, although of course there are watches that are just dateless – take the Breitling Colt Chronograph for example – £2,940 RRP, ours is almost half that and virtually indistinguishable from the current version.
Buy a vintage watch and you can get luxury brand and styling for high street prices – that really is luxury on a budget.
The Used Market
Just the same as buying a new car; once you roll that out of the showroom, a large slice of the value has gone, a luxury watch is similar – the customer pays a premium for the new watch, although of course, some watches are difficult to get hold of, so you may even find that if you buy right, you could even make a little money (more on that another day).
Occasionally you may strike lucky, and find someone that is selling a branded watch for much less than market value, but on the whole, a good used luxury watch still retains a certain value, and thanks to the very nature of the item, it will have been looked after, meaning that you’re getting all the benefit without the premium, and the value should hold steady.
Our only word of caution would be that you need to make sure that it’s a genuine product – there are hundreds of replicas available, some good enough to fool even the most clued-up of collectors, so if you’re buying used, do your homework first.
Certain brands will always carry a premium, taking that a step further, some models are more collectable than others – take the Rolex Sub for example; buyers love the classic design, the instantly recognisable style always attracts a premium because it appeals to a wider audience – people that know watches, and people that just want to hear those words … “nice watch, I bet that was expensive”.
If it’s purely about the name, choosing a less popular model will always get you a deal, either new or used, but then you may find yourself explaining why you chose X over Y, and that despite no one recognising it, it really is an XXXX (insert your preferred luxury brand here).
For what it’s worth, we believe that watches are hugely personal, and you shouldn’t just buy what you can afford – buy something that you’ll love and cherish, that suits your style, that fits your need – whether that costs you £50 or £5000.