When I introduce myself at events and parties, new acquaintances often ask what I’d recommend as a first luxury watch. I’m not a guy who easily gives advice about anything, though, so I always try to give them some pointers that can help them on their way into the watch hobby. I think that in doing so, they can find something that speaks to their taste rather than just something that I like. And why not share these pointers with the bigger audience on Fratello?

When I bought my first “luxury” watch, the Oris Art Blakey, I wasn’t aware of all the things I had to take into account. I knew that I wanted an automatic watch and that it had to look good by my standards, but that was it. Therefore, I basically just went with my gut feeling. It was a decision that I absolutely do not regret to this day because I still think that the Art Blakey is a great watch. But if that dress watch had become my one and only timepiece, I’d probably have been better off with a different kind of watch. “Luckily,” the watch bug bit me quickly thereafter, and other pieces came in to cover for it in harsher situations. But to help you make the choice of your first luxury watch, I thought I’d share some things that I would’ve liked to know back then!

Oris Art Blakey first luxury watch

Gut first, features second

It might sound weird, but my first piece of advice would still be to trust your gut. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that you shouldn’t buy a watch in a purely rational way. You have to have an emotional connection to it, or else you’ll never wear it. That first luxury watch will probably be your only luxury watch for a while, so it better be a watch that you feel like wearing! Of course, it would also be nice if it could handle all kinds of (challenging) situations, but I’d rather wear a watch that I enjoy looking at than one that can handle absolutely anything.

Don’t get me wrong. Of course, I enjoy having watches that are versatile, so it’s nice when a more formal-looking watch is also highly water-resistant. And it’s also great when a sports watch on a bracelet can easily be transformed into a less sporty version with a leather strap. But I still think that the most important thing is that you should feel comfortable wearing the watch. Extra features like water resistance, longer power reserve, and versatility are nice, but only if they don’t eat into your attraction to the watch. And although I think that following your instincts is the most important thing, there are some other considerations that play a part in the equation.

Don’t be intimidated

I’ve mentioned this before, and I’ll do so again. I think the fact that the Oris boutique in Amsterdam felt so approachable played a big part in my decision to buy my first watch there. Overall, based on its image and asking prices for its watches, I think Oris as a brand comes across as quite accessible and friendly. So yes, I would definitely recommend that you take a look at Oris and go to a boutique if there happens to be one close to you. But it’s also good to know that you shouldn’t feel too intimidated by other fancy-looking authorized dealers that are fenced with locked gates and security guards.

Just go in and ask them to show you whatever watch you’d like to try out. That’s what they are there for. And while you’re there, you can discuss what you’re looking for. They might even come up with an option that you hadn’t considered before. And don’t be afraid to tell them that you’d like to think it over and walk away without buying anything, especially if you don’t feel comfortable. Just go to another store and see if you like it better there. That’s also very much related to my next piece of advice.

Try before you buy

Of course, you can buy your first luxury watch online. However, I’d strongly suggest trying it out in person first. There are many theories about different watch sizes, but you won’t know whether a watch will fit your wrist until you try it out yourself. One 40mm watch doesn’t feel the same as another 40mm watch. Besides, some people like bigger watches, and others like smaller ones. It’s all personal preference, and you won’t know what works for you until you try out different options. That’s also when you’ll notice other differences than just diameter.

It’s also important to look at thickness, weight, and how the proportions of the watch match your wrist. For example, you can love the looks of the Omega Speedmaster Professional, but that’s quite a big watch to start with. Until you try it on your own wrist, you won’t know if that’s the watch for you. The same goes for smaller watches as well. Sure, a Cartier Tank looks beautiful in pictures, but it’s still a small, rectangular watch. You have to find out whether that’s something you’re comfortable with on your wrist. Another thing that you should also feel comfortable with is the price.

Chrono24 first luxury watch

Do your research and get a fair price

First of all, you have to determine what kind of money you’d like to spend on a watch. Then you have to find out what that kind of money enables you to buy. Alternatively, you could start the other way around. Consider the features or design elements that you want your watch to have, then see what kind of money is needed to get such a watch. A good place to start would be a site like Chrono24 where you can find an overview of new and pre-owned watches sold in very different price ranges and with all kinds of features. You can search both ways, of course, either by price range or by features, or you can combine them right from the start.

It’s also a good way to find out how much prices vary for similar kinds of watches or even for the same model. And even though sites like these nowadays have great buyer’s protection, I’d still recommend that you buy your first watch in a physical store. Maybe I’m just old-fashioned, but especially if this is your first luxury watch, you also want a more luxurious experience, right? Yes, you can use all the knowledge you’ve gathered while you’re there and see if they can get a bit closer to the prices you saw online. Especially on a brand-new, not-too-popular watch, it’s often possible to get a discount, so don’t be afraid to ask. Even if the answer is “no,” at least you’ll know that you tried.

Vintage Watches

New, pre-owned, or vintage?

For my first luxury watch, I chose to go new because that was part of the luxury experience for me. But now that I’m more involved and have bought other watches, I know that pre-owned and vintage pieces can also be very interesting to consider. First of all, you might love particular models that simply aren’t available new anymore. Second, the prices compared to a new watch might be a little more favorable. Buying pre-owned and especially older vintage watches does require a bit more knowledge than buying a brand-new watch, though. You have to be more careful when it comes to the history and the condition of the piece.

But I wouldn’t rule out pre-owned or vintage watches right from the start. There may be some watches available in your price range that you wouldn’t even dream of when you see their retail prices in the shops. I would, however, always recommend going and seeing the piece in person if possible or at least confirming that you can send it back if it doesn’t meet your expectations. It can also be a good idea to ask for some advice from someone you know who is more into watches. But there are definitely still some real steals out there. And that brings me to my last piece of advice: enjoy the hunt!

The hunt is half the fun!

Of course, it’s great to buy a watch, put it on your wrist for the first time, and enjoy wearing it. But what I also thoroughly enjoy is the hunt for the right watch for me. I love browsing through forums, social media, blogs, and magazines, and discussing things with fellow watch enthusiasts. There’s always an opinion that will point you in a surprising direction that you hadn’t considered. And then when you think you’ve found the right model, you often still have to choose between different references, all with their own color combinations or other distinguishing features.

Ultimately, what I’m saying is don’t rush into it. Just enjoy the journey toward purchasing that first luxury watch. And yes, there are many more things that I could mention, such as all the different styles of watches, their various features, and so on. But I wanted this article to be more about the strategy than the watches themselves. I’ll be writing an article soon that focuses more on the latter, and I may even give you some specific recommendations.

Oris Art Blakey first luxury watch

Questions or advice? Share them below!

For now, I’d love to hear from any first-time buyers. What questions do you have about purchasing your first luxury watch?  And there are also plenty of experienced watch buyers out there. If you could please share your advice below, it would be greatly appreciated!

You can also ask me questions on Instagram: @fliptheparrot