5 questions you might have never asked about luxury watches
We’ve been around since 1877 here at Leonard Dews, so throughout more than 140 years in business, we’ve fielded our fair share of questions from customers. The nature of luxury watch buying, and the sums concerned, means that it’s often quite an involved process, and we’re well-versed at answering the most common queries at every stage.
Now, some of these queries are undeniably less common than others, even though the answers are no less important. So this week, we thought it worth putting the spotlight on some of the slightly more infrequently asked questions occasionally put to our experts - you might find the answers quite useful!
Should I get a leather strap or a bracelet?
To be honest, there’s no straightforward answer to that, as it depends on why you’re asking. Some buyers make the choice for purely stylistic reasons, depending on what they think looks best with their selected watch. However, there may be other practical considerations in play too. For example, if you think there’s a good chance that your watch may be exposed to water, we’d suggest steering well clear of leather straps, because of their tendency to discolour and prematurely deteriorate in wet conditions.
On the other hand, leather has its own practical advantages too. For example, we’re sometimes asked: “what’s the best way to stop my watch from pulling at my arm hair?” One general solution is simply to get a watch with a leather strap, as it can cut down on the amount of chafing involved. If it’s something you’re dealing with yourself, then another potential factor is that it may be too tight. In fact, speaking of the fit…
How can I tell if my watch is the right size?
The very short answer is: if the watch is uncomfortable, it’s probably the wrong size. We appreciate that might be a bit of an unhelpful answer without a bit more context though, so to expand a bit, your watch should be tight enough around your wrist that it stays in one place. In other words, if you find that it’s rolling around to the extent that the watch face sometimes ends up on the inside of your wrist, then the strap or bracelet is definitely too loose.
However, you don’t want it to be too tight either – you’ll need at least a bit of space for your wrist to ‘breathe’, to prevent it from feeling too constricting, or even leaving actual imprints on your skin.
As a general rule, the metal or leather strap should sit just before your wrist bone (or the tip of your ulna, if you want to get all technical about it). If you try to keep it on or above that bone though, you might find that it quickly starts to get uncomfortable. Similarly, ideally you won’t want the watch’s lugs to extend past the edges of your wrist, or you might find that you start catching it on things; which can be painful, annoying and maybe even expensive.
We’ll also take the opportunity here to address another question we’re very occasionally asked, which is – can you wear a luxury watch on the inside of your wrist?
Well, technically yes you can, but we really wouldn’t recommend it, for an expansive list of reasons. To begin with, it looks awful, and the stunning beauty of something like a Patek Philippe or TAG Heuer isn’t designed to be hidden away on the inside of your wrist. Plus, there’s a much bigger risk of accidentally knocking the crystal of its face against something, and as we’ve touched on above, those sorts of repairs don’t come cheap.
How much do the different watch designations matter?
Pilots watches, racing watches, divers watches… they’re all probably terms you’ve heard before. And yes, they all have solid historical basis – for example, as we covered in our post about the history of OMEGA, pilots watches were so named for their popularity amongst military pilots in the heat of the Second World War, as they were invaluable for making accurate and sometimes life-saving calculations mid-flight.
However, today the labels are somewhat malleable. Modern commercial and military pilots rely more on the instruments and technology in the aircraft itself than they do on any watch, which means the value of pilots watches now lies primarily in their aesthetics and historical and cultural value, rather than pure practicality. The same largely goes for racing drivers – although you’ll probably see more drivers wearing racing watches than you’ll see pilots wearing pilots watches!
Divers watches, on the other hand, have broadly retained their longstanding practicality, mostly due to the inherent water resistance that allows them to reach impressive depths (in some cases, far exceeding that of a human). The Planet Ocean is just one prestigious example that springs to mind.
Basically, there are indeed many luxury watches designed to withstand challenging conditions, but if in doubt, we’d recommend erring on the side of caution. You can always ask one of our experts if you’re wondering about the capabilities of a specific watch.
How often should I have my luxury watch serviced?
You’ll probably hear various answers to this question, but personally here at Leonard Dews we’d recommend getting your watch served at least once every two to three years. That’s only a guideline though, and you’ll also need to use your own judgement. Essentially, if you think your watch looks like it might be in need of a service, there’s a good chance that it does. If you notice anything egregious, such as if it’s losing time, or if the date isn’t accurate, definitely don’t hesitate to take it to an expert!
Why are mechanical movements more prestigious than electronic ones?
We’ve addressed this question in full detail in our post about watch movements, but we’ll break it down quickly here. Essentially, mechanical movements like manual and automatic movements tend to be more highly valued because of the greater levels of artistry, heritage and craftsmanship involved. Purely mechanical watches have been traditionally made by hand by skilled craftspeople who’ve honed their talents over generations. That means they require considerable specialist knowledge and no small amount of raw talent to produce, and they command correspondingly high price tags as a result. They’re valued for their artistry, heritage, and the sheer ingenuity of their mechanisms.
Quartz watches, on the other hand, are generally valued more for their practical attributes, such as their even greater accuracy and reliability, as well as their shorter lead times and lower prices. The first two attributes come down to their reliance on electronics rather than mechanical systems, whereas the lower lead times and prices are rooted in large-scale factory automation, which is anathema to luxury watch purists. Exclusivity has always been a big draw for mechanical watch buyers, whereas the first quartz watches were produced in such numbers that it actually led to a major reckoning for the mechanical watch industry – an event now referred to as the Quartz Crisis.
Thankfully, the mechanical watch industry survived, much to the relief of buyers all over the world who find themselves drawn to the unique stories, personalities and stunning technology of each individual timepiece.
Those are some of the biggest questions – but of course if you’ve got any more, you can always ask our experts right here at Leonard Dews! With more than 140 years of experience behind us, we’re committed to helping you enjoy every step of your buying journey. To book an appointment with one of our friendly watch experts, feel free to give us a call on 01253 754940 today!