31 Days

Day 13

Buy a Quality Watch (Without Going Broke)

Words by Cory Ohlendorf

How to buy a quality men's watch

We seem to be in the midst of a genuine, internet-fueled watch craze. At a time when a wrist watch is hardly necessary, guys have rediscovered a horological appreciation for these small yet significant mechanical wonders. But that doesn't mean that buying a timepiece is easy. Whether you're already wrist-deep with a burgeoning collection or find yourself ready to invest in your first quality watch, there are a few things to consider to ensure you don't overpay or end up regretting your purchase.

How to buy a quality men's watch

After all, there's a huge variety of options out there. The gamut ranges from affordable to grail-level and everything in between. So how can you find a quality (but not crazy expensive) watch? What should you look for? These are the questions we had for Zach Weiss and Blake Malin of Worn & Wound. The site focuses on attainable, reasonably priced timepieces and more independent brands, with an aim to make watch collecting accessible to everyone. On October 21st, they're hosting their annual Windup Watch Fair, which has become the largest consumer watch fair in the United States. At the show, you'll be able to check out watches from established makers like Oris, Seiko and Zodiac, as well as such modern brands like Autodromo, Tsovet and Serica. Here's what the gents have to say about investing wisely when it comes to your watch.


Find a reasonable
starting budget

With the growth in popularity of mechanical watches in the last five to 10 years, the options from non-traditional, direct-to-consumer, micro makers and independent brands have really blossomed. These often challenge previous notions of “entry level” in terms of quality and value. As such, a high quality mechanical timepiece can now be found starting at a few hundred dollars, with perhaps a sweet spot being around $800 to $1,000.

Don’t underestimate
the try on

A great watch is often greater than the sum of its parts. The fit, the feel, the finishing ... in hand, they all come together for an experience that brings a smile to your face. These days, there are great watches made all over the world, as are movements, so a great way to start is to go and handle as many watches as possible in person. Nothing beats coming in and trying on the watch yourself—the better made timepieces will reveal themselves.

You can find
value out there

Nomos timepieces
Nomos timepieces

Three brands we'd recommend anyone to look at would be Christopher Ward, NOMOS and TUDOR. Christopher Ward, from the U.K., creates robust, Swiss-made sport watches averaging around $1,000 with fantastic case finishing. NOMOS from Glashütte, Germany, offers tasteful, minimal designs with in-house German movements, starting under $2,000. And TUDOR, the sister brand of Rolex, offers classic Swiss style and some serious provenance with subtle vintage nods, along with fantastic reliable movements, all for just under $3,000.

Metal straps are
the smartest option

Tudor timepieces
Tudor timepieces

If a watch is available on a bracelet, it's likely the better investment, as it is easier to find a third party leather, rubber or nylon strap to fit, than a suitable bracelet. Since it's very easy to change the strap on most watches, this will give you the most versatility as well. Additionally, going to a brand after purchase to buy a bracelet often costs more than had it been included in the first place.


Don’t be afraid to
secondhand timepieces

Buying secondhand online has its risks, but it's also a great way to save some money on lightly used watches. Most watches lose value the second they leave the store, so finding the same watch online, whether from a forum or pre-owned store, can usually work in one's favor. Of course, there is price gouging and dishonesty, so when buying online, patience and due diligence are a must.

Smaller faces are
definitely having a moment

Historically, watches were “small” by today's standards, so the shift toward them is perhaps more of a correction than a trend. That said, what matters most is what one likes and looks best on them, whether a 34mm dress watch or a 44mm diver. Always trust your gut and your eyes when buying a watch.

You can find respectable
watches at any price point

It's hard to pick just one watch, but here are our current favorites:

Under $1,000

Farer Lomond

Farer is a relative newcomer, but they've managed to establish themselves as a force of creativity and value. The Exmoor is one of a series of three “field” watches that combine a Swiss-made automatic with a pointed date, unique designs and a package of three straps, for just under a grand.

Lomond field watch,
$995 by Farer

Under $500

Seiko 5 Sports GMT SSK001

Seiko 5s often hold a special place in watch collector's hearts as they've always been a great way to get into mechanical watches. The new Seiko 5 Sports GMT SSK001 continues that trend by not only offering a great looking sports watch based on a vintage icon, but also includes a GMT complication, which were previously unheard of below $500.

Seiko 5 Sports
GMT SSK003 watch,
$475 By Seiko

Under $100


These incredibly robust “ana-digi” watches are feature rich and come in so many versions, you're likely to find one that suits your tastes.

G-SHOCK GA2100 watch,
$86 by Casio

Watch Maintenance

Whether you dropped a lot of cash for a brand new, heirloom-quality timepiece or scored a deal on a vintage one, you need to take care of a quality watch to keep it ticking on time. Here are a few simple guidelines to keep your watch looking good and running smoothly.