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Your Guide To Buying A Luxury Watch Within 5 Lakhs

If you’re in the market for a mid-range luxury watch, here are some pointers that can help you make the right choice.

Mitrajit Bhattacharya

Buying a mid-luxury timepiece is not easy, particularly if it’s your first attempt to acquire a quality product by a marquee brand. This is the toughest segment to choose from, straddling the uber luxury and entry luxury categories. For the high-end (5 lakhs and above) category you can choose from the best money can buy and be highly discerning, and for entry luxury (less than 1 lakh) category you can largely go by what you like visually. In this article, I try and make some points that can help you buy a watch between INR 1 and 5 lakhs (roughly $1,300 - $6,200). The choices are plenty and you surely want to have the best returns on your hard earned money . To make your decision easier to buy a piece launched in 2022 here’s an easy checklist.

Good movement

When you spend more than a lakh, make sure you invest on great movement. You can look at a prestige brand like TAG Heuer, Longines, Baume & Mercier or Grand Seiko that are fitted with a good mechanical movement—either made in-house or supplied by respected  movement suppliers like ETA, Sellita, or Ronda. While mechanical movements represent the soul of fine watchmaking, quartz watches can be super effective in keeping time. ETA is owned by the mighty Swatch Group and supplies movements to many famous brands both from within and outside the group. Miyota movements from Citizen are also very popular with brands 
outside the group

My picks:

1. IWC Pilot’s Automatic Spitfire

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In Pilot’s Watch Automatic Spitfire (IW326802), IWC has integrated an inhouse  movement from the new 32000 calibre family into its pilot's watches for the first time. The robust automatic movement features a pawl-winding system that winds up on both sides and boasts a power reserve of 72 hours. The watch has a diameter of 39 mm, a favourite size for today’s mens watches. An inner cage made from soft iron protects the movement against magnetic fields.

Rs 4,44,000

2. Grand Seiko SBGP017 with high precision quartz crystals

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The Grand Seiko Style that gives the product its distinctive look came into being with the 44GS, introduced in 1967, was the watch that first embodied the design grammar known as the “Grand Seiko Style”—. As part of the year-long celebration of the 55th anniversary of the 44GS, SBGP017 embodies the spirit of this seminal 60’s design and offers a remarkable precision rate of +5 to -5 seconds per year.

This high precision rate of the Calibre 9F85 is achieved by the use of quartz crystals that are aged and then individually selected for their particular performance characteristics. The same commitment to precision is expressed in every aspect of the watch’s functionality.  For example, the hour hand can be moved without stopping the seconds hand, thus preserving its high precision when the wearer changes time zones.

Rs 3,20,000

Chronometer certification

One of the most important criteria of timekeeping is accuracy. This is where the role of certification comes in. Chronometer certification is a process where a watch movement is sent to the COSC (Contrôle Officiel Suisse des Chronomètres – the Official Swiss Chronometer Testing Institute that certifies the accuracy and precision of watches in Switzerland) and tested over a period of time. . In fact, even among the Swiss-made watches, only a handful are COSC certified. The tests are conducted on a fully functional movement in different positions simulating day-to-day hand movements of the wearer. For a watch to be chronometer-certified, it must be accurate within -4 and +6 seconds per day on average between all positions, meaning a movement cannot lose more than 4 seconds or gain more than 6 seconds a day.

My pick: 

TAG Heuer Autavia

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The Autavia wristwatch collection was first introduced under the leadership of Jack Heuer 60 years ago; got its name from the two pillars of TAG Heuer’s history: automobile and aviation.

One of the three models introduced in the 60th year of the Autavia wristwatch is fitted with the Calibre 7 COSC GMT movement. The completely new three-hand GMT Autavia—the first GMT model in the collection—immediately captures the attention with a radiant blue sunray-brushed dial, a magnificent blue and black ceramic bezel, and a polished stainless-steel case. The numerals and hands are coated with Super-LumiNova® for perfect readability. The watch is delivered either on a stainless-steel bracelet or an alligator leather strap fitted with a double-push button deployment clasp, offering easy interchangeability options with this model.

On bracelet: Rs 3,48,500

On strap: Rs 3,18,750

Resale value

The most important criterion to buy a collector’s piece is the brand itself. Watches are for keeps and brands with established credibility over decades, make it to the consideration set. There are exceptions like Richard Mille, Franck Muller and Hublot (though you won’t get them within this price bracket) who have made it big in quick time. Also, if the brand has had uninterrupted existence and has proprietary movements along with in-house production of most small parts, the value attached is even higher. You will realise the power of the brand when you decide to resell your watch. Only a handful of brands are like currency, selling pre-owned pieces at any point, fetching a good return on your investment. Rolex is a brand that can be resold the fastest.

My pick:

Rolex Oyster Perpetual Air-King.

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Rolex launched the new-generation Air-King earlier this year. The watch features a completely redesigned case with a crown guard and straight sides. The proportions of the Oyster bracelet have also been revisited, including the broadened centre link. In a first for the model, it is equipped with an Oysterlock safety clasp. To deliver a  refreshed and balanced display, there is an additional  ‘0’ before the ‘5’ on the minutes scale, marking each five-minute interval by two digits. An optimized Chromalight display guarantees maximum legibility in dark conditions. The 3, 6 and 9 numerals, which were previously made entirely from 18 carat white gold, are now also visible in the dark thanks to this innovative material.. The watch is equipped with calibre 3230, a movement at the forefront of watchmaking technology, displaying the hours, minutes and seconds. Like all Rolex watches, the Oyster Perpetual Air-King carries the Superlative Chronometer certification.

Rs 5,60,000

Unique design

Go for something which is unique in design, not only for the brand but also within the entire watch industry. A reversible watch like Reverso from Jaeger-LeCoultre or a Cartier Tank with its famous railroad design have stood the test of time for almost a century. These designs are identifiable from a distance and grow as identifiable symbols for the brands . like Rolex Oyster Perpetual, Movado Museum, Omega Speedmaster, TAG Heuer Monaco etc. .

My pick:

Omega Constellation 28 mm

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Omega has rejigged their ever popular Constellation line. The new stainless-steel timepiece in 28mm stands out for individuality , thanks to its striking blush rose dial. To enhance the pastel effect, Omega has used the same colour to highlight the engraved Roman numerals, while the hands, hour markers, and applied elements are all crafted in 18K white gold.

Rs 2,50,100

Work on the dial and case

Finally, the customer buys a watch based on how good the watch looks. Period! And much of its good looks are attributed to the work on the dial and the case. Watchmakers go a long way to decorate the dials with hand-crafting and machine-crafting works. One of the most famous dial materials is the mother-of-pearl (MoP). They are easy to get damaged while working and hence the skill of the watchmaker is paramount. You also have Guilloche and Clous de Paris patterns which have their own followers. Many of these patterns were made by hand earlier, and have now been replaced by easier methods like stamping.

Similarly, enamelling, marquetry (special work on wood, rare to get at this price), engraving methods—many of which are still done by hand—are highly sought after among discerning customers. The looks of cases and bracelets are also enhanced by special polishing techniques. You will often find brands alternate the polished and brushed look of their case/bracelet to enhance the beauty of the product by giving a two-tone look.

My pick:

MeisterSinger Perigraph

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The MeisterSinger mechanical watches stand out as they display time in a traditional way and with great precision, using only one hand. This hand is long and tapered and points exactly to the fine, five-minute markings on the edge of the dial—just like the first mechanical timepieces of the 18th century.
Recipient of Red Dot Design and Good Design Awards, all Perigraph watches experiment with design and feature a 360° completely open date disc, which structures the dial and lends it depth. A small arrow at 12 o’clock shows the current date.

In this new reference, an easy colour change takes place in the 43 mm case. The edge of the dial and the date ring in Bordeaux or petrol contrast with the deep black of the rest of the dial. The vintage straps feature a hand-sewn contrasting seam, adding to the casual look.

Rs 2,14,000

It’s also important to check the quality of illumination, water resistance, and sapphire crystal in watches—all of which sum up a great buy. The pointers mentioned above cover varied interest points from looks to functionality, legacy to technology. You can’t get it all, so please prioritise your wants and go with what your heart says.

Photo: Shutterstock; Featured brands
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