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How to choose your first “real” watch?

Anna Wu-Chauvineau
Le 9 February 2017

What an important question indeed, with as many subjective point of views as there are passionate ones. Those who consider themselves neophytes in this marvelous world of timepieces, take heed. It’s very easy to get lost in all the information and watches available… and this is an understatement.

Rolex Milgauss 1019 - Vintage 1968

Maybe you read an inspiring article or book? Seen a great movie? Or perhaps it was an old photo of your childhood hero that made you seriously consider purchasing your first “real” watch? Don’t worry, this is a common and completely normal. And we have just the thing for you. A few suggestions to add more focus and direction to your search, and help avoid buyer’s remorse a few days later.

What is a “real” watch?

Another ambiguous notion to define…yet again. Most of us received our first watch from our grandparents. Maybe it was a multicolored rubber Swatch or a no-brand 3-hand thing with which you learned to tell time. It’s a “first watch,” absolutely, but not a first “real watch,” you know what I mean? I’m talking about something that will quite literally become a part of you, and make you smile every morning when you put it on your wrist…no wait, it’s more like a silly grin. It’s the one that you’ll never regret purchasing because more than simply being “your first,” it has sentimental value that will quickly exceed its market value. And that, my friends, is a real watch.

CWC Chronograph - 1970

Why is it so important?

It’s the time we spend with this timepiece at our wrist that gives it value. It is the travelling companion on our adventures, the witness of our important life events that will forever remind us of these unique happy moments. The notion of accumulation is of little interest here, except in terms of pure investment, but that’s not our focus today.

Logically this first watch will be the one (among others?), with which you’ll share the most memories, seeing that it will be purchased before the others. It will be the one that represents you, and which will remind your children directly of you. Hence the great importance of choosing the right one.

Versatility vs. Love at first sight

Our first real watch will surely be put to the test through all types of situations, environments. And that’s the point. Whether it’s the subway ride home at 6am after a night out in Paris, or meeting Kaori while backpacking through Japan, we clearly want a watch that’ll be comfortable with anything and everything (remember, you only have one at the moment, and it’s special). A watch that can be worn as easily to work as on the road, in a 3-piece suit or relaxing in your favorite linens.

Why versatility? Because what’s worse than thinking after two weeks that you need another less dressier watch on weekends when you’re not in a suit… Also because you’ll want a piece that will have as much value as in 30 or 40 years when you pass it down to your descendants, another man or woman of taste surely.

Now, if by misfortune, you get too carried away and fall in love with the current fashion, the risk of dissatisfaction when seeing next season’s collections is very likely, and of frustrating your children even more likely. I won’t even mention the watchmaking value of such a piece in a few years…

To Hell with your suggestions!

You’re right. These suggestions reflect my personal point of view. But if I had to push forward one suggestion today, it would be to choose a watch that you truly want. A watch that’ll bring you real pleasure while putting it on, without worrying about costs or fashion. This watch is yours, it’s you. Now a Swatch System 51 will be less valuable than a 30 year old vintage “Explo” 1016 or a Reverso with your initials engraved on the case back, obviously. But regardless of the piece, it was will gain value once the sharing between the two of you begins. If your personality resembles more like a Casio G-Shock and your work has you diving into rough terrain all over the world (the army?), then it’s a perfect match!

Casio G-Shock MT-G G1000

One last piece of advice if I may… Refrain from accumulating little pieces that won’t spend much time on your wrist anyway. It’s really about quality and not quantity here. Make a sound decision and stick to it with confidence.

Vintage Omega Ranchero style

Don’t forget, if we’re too engrossed with the hunt we’ll likely miss a diamond in the rough, a watch that will bring us happiness until the last of our days, and make us remember these first moments of joy fondly. I’m of course talking about watches… and yet…