Edward Howkins, Apr 1 2022

How To Buy A Watch In A Store

How To Buy A Watch In A Store

The Watch Collectors Club exists to help our members explore the wonderful, but occasionally intimidating world of watches. One of the most important aspects of collecting watches is actually buying them. You can buy watches from lots of places, including: physical stores, auctions, websites, and other collectors.  

This guide will help you navigate buying a watch in a store. We are excited to be running our first partner event with one of the biggest watch retailers, Watches of Switzerland, on April 12th in Central London. Places are limited at this exclusive event, so make sure to sign-up here so that you don’t miss out.  It’ll be a great chance to experience a welcoming watch store experience, with staff on-hand to answer questions and show-off the watches in the store.   

Top Tips for Buying A Watch In A Store 

Watch stores can be a great place to buy a new, second-hand and vintage watches.

Stores can be intimidating, but with a few easy tips, you will have the confidence to explore buying a watch in a store.  

Watch stores exist to sell watches 

Remember, stores exist to sell watches to customers. You are a potential customer of the store, and will be treated as such. The salesperson will answer questions for you and will happily show you what they have for sale. If they don’t the shop doesn’t deserve your custom. 

Understand the type of store 

Different stores sell different types of watches. Single-brand boutiques should be authorised dealers for a brand. This means they sell watches on behalf of a brand and should offer expert advice to customers. The watches are authentic and will be supplied with a warranty from the brand. This is a promise to fix the watch if anything happens to it in the first few years of ownership. Remember: warranties don’t cover damage caused by clumsiness!

Multi-brand boutiques should be authorised dealers for many watch brands, and whilst the staff might not be experts in all of them, they should be willing to help find the right watch for you. These stores will also offer a warranty on the watch you buy. Multi-brand boutiques are a great place to shop for a watch, as you can compare multiple styles of watches from different brands, at different price points – all in one shop! 

Second-hand watch stores will often sell watches from multiple brands, but are not affiliated with the brands themselves. They should have made sure that the watches they sell are authentic and in good working order. 

Vintage watch stores sell old watches; many are experts in a particular brand of watch. They will be able to tell you about the history of the watches they sell, and the provenance. 

Lots of watches on show at a multi-brand boutique

Lots of watches on show at a multi-brand boutique

A pair of A Lange & Sohne watches in a brand boutique

A pair of A Lange & Sohne watches in a brand boutique

A specialist vintage watch store can be a great place to buy important vintage watches

A specialist vintage watch store can be a great place to buy important vintage watches

Second-hand watch stores offer a wide range of models to try on

Second-hand watch stores offer a wide range of models to try on

Ask questions  

Make sure you ask any questions that you want to. No question is stupid, and staff are there specifically to answer any questions you might have. If you want to know why one watch costs more than another, ask the sales staff. They should be able to tell you.   

Some questions you should ask when buying new watches: how long is the warranty? Is the brand likely to replace to model soon? What could I buy instead of this? 

Some questions you should ask when buying a used watch: how have you made sure this is an authentic watch? Does it come with a warranty, and the boxes and papers that were supplied when it was sold as a new watch? Has the watch been serviced by an accredited watch maker? 

Some questions you should ask when buying a vintage watch: have any parts been replaced? This should be reflected in the price. Has the watch been serviced and authenticated? For a more in-depth guide to buying vintage, check out our blog post here.

If we hadn't asked Daniel over at Somlo about this watch he's selling, we wouldn't have known that it has a brass face and in incredibly rare

If we hadn't asked Daniel over at Somlo about this watch he's selling, we wouldn't have known that it has a brass face and in incredibly rare

Compare watches  

Whatever type of watch store you go into, compare the watches that they have for sale. Try them on, ask what the differences are between models, and why the prices are different, if they are. If you go into a store that sells multiple brands, try on watches from different brands to see which you prefer. 

2 Breitling being compared

2 Breitling being compared

Don’t feel the need to buy on the same day  

Staff in watch stores are used to customers needing a few visits to buy a watch. It is normal to take time over any purchase, especially one as potentially expensive and emotive as a watch. 

You can’t always buy the watches that you see in stores

Sometimes, the watches you see in a store are not actually available for you to purchase there and then. This is the case with particularly popular models, where demand far outweighs supply. Many watches from Rolex, Patek Philippe, Vacheron Constantin and Audemars Piguet are only available to potential customers who put their name on a waiting list. In many instances, it can take years for your turn to buy a watch when you’re on a waitlist. Some brands and watch stores will also restrict new watch releases to existing customers of the brand, who will have already bought multiple watches from them. These long waiting lists are a great opportunity for watch collectors to instead explore the rest of the watch market. 

2 Vacheron Constantin Overseas available for viewing in store, but not for purchase

2 Vacheron Constantin Overseas available for viewing in store, but not for purchase

Visit a store with The Watch Collectors Club

We are hosting our first partner event with the Watches of Switzerland Group on April 12th, in Central London. The store will be kept open especially for us, and staff will be on hand to answer your questions, as well as show you all of the watches that they have in the store. You must sign up to be able to attend, and places are limited. 

This blog is a continuation of our “How to Buy a Watch” series. Check out the rest of the series here: 

•      How to buy a watch at auction

•      How to buy a watch online

•      How to choose a good watch brand

•      How to buy a vintage watch

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Make the watch world simple

Make the watch world simple