Have you ever been in a situation when you crave some finer things in life, but your budget limits you? Have you felt frustrated when people with more money, but less taste can have accessories that you can’t? Have you been dreaming about a nice watch that you think you can’t afford?
There are no miracles and you will still have to pay for the watch you will get, but we can help you find ways to get the optimal luxury watch for your money. Let us show you 7 ways to own beautiful timepieces and still be economical:
1. Change straps
If you want to liven up your old but still good watch, consider changing its strap. Swap leather for metal or fabric, if your watch allows that kind of swapping. Make sure you measure the width of the strap too. Other than that, trust your eye and your taste to make needed improvements. If you have doubts, take a picture and share it on watch forums to get other people’s input.
Many cheap watches come with tasteless cheap straps. Just changing that can give a totally different life for your watch. Even when it comes to luxury watches, not every merchant has good designers for matching the strap to the watch perfectly. So change it up!
2. Forums and eBay
When it comes to looking for great used watches online, don’t get easily tricked by “too good to be true” watches and prices. Often times what you get into your hands is totally different than what you saw in the pictures. The only way to avoid that is to do some research and know what you are doing.
Start by scouting eBay for watches you like and look for great deals. Don’t worry if you let something nice slip away. The secret to eBay is to use “saved search” function and get emails with watches that interest you when they show up for sale. This way you won’t be wasting hours and hours searching. Saved searches will give you good ideas about how much the watch of your choice is worth and how often it shows up. After all the research is done, make sure you evaluate the condition of the item without taking too big of a risk.
If you belong to watch forums, you know you will be dealing with buyers and sellers who know their stuff. People there want to sell things fast to finance new purchases, so deals can be made efficiently. You have to check sales corners quite often to know what comes up for sale; nobody will send you an email. The only thing you can use to help is Google Alerts, which will alert you if something new of interest will show online.
3. Kickstarter and crowd-funded watch campaigns
If you want to own something legendary that haven’t been made yet, join a Kickstarter or help fund something on Indiegogo. Yes, there are some risks associated with such products and sometimes they never get made due to financial or technological reasons. You will have to have patience to wait for your watch and in some cases the result might be different than expected, but it’s an exciting opportunity nevertheless. In most cases your willingness to take risks is greatly rewarded with an exclusive accessory.
4. Pre-owned watches
Pre-owned watch world is very similar to that of automotive. A brand new watch loses its value and depreciates, but can still be sold and loved over and over again for years to come. Used watches can be bought from individuals or more commonly, from dealers. If you choose carefully, you can get a very good value for your money.
Another thing to consider is a vintage watch. Sure, it often comes with wonderful stories and sentimental value, but it’s the same as a vintage car – way too expensive. Servicing might be a problem here too. Some of those watches might never be fixed when a part breaks. If you are on a budget, vintage watches are probably not for you. Look for something 20 years or newer – it will be a great investment and not an endless money pit.
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5. Save up, sell or trade
Watch makers are too aware of the fact that wealthy watch collectors have unlimited funds to fuel their passion, so the prices of well-known brands keep going up and up. This trend affects buyers on a budget quite a bit. You will have to save, sell or trade, just like some rich people have to do to finance their next purchase.
If you have something that someone might want, don’t be afraid to sell it to help get something that you desire next. The best way to do a smart transaction is to work with a dealer or an individual directly to either trade or sell. This way you won’t grow your collection, but you will be able to keep up with fashion and sport contemporary watches without investing all your money into this hobby. Rich guys do that too, the only difference is the price of watches they are trading.
Trading is a skill that needs time to perfect, but so worthy.
6. Affordable Japanese watches
When you are looking for something under $500, check out mechanical Japanese watches, like Seiko, Orient, or Citizen. Japan is known for quality mechanics everywhere, so the same goes for watches. It starts with mechanics, cases, and ends with dials and straps. Japanese watches are a good starting point for watch aficionados.
When we are talking about Japan, we mean just that, not the entire Asia. Chinese watches are a slippery slope. Yes, they definitely make a great portion of watch parts, even for the most expensive watches, but overall, some of their movement technology is not fine. Swiss or Japanese movements are not likely to break, Chinese – a high chance.
So that being said, go for Japanese made watch and you won’t be disappointed and will get a lot better value for your money than what you would get from something Swiss.
7. Look for small watch makers
You can find some great value if you deal with new independently-owned indie watch makers. They are little known, but don’t compromise on quality while searching for their niche. You can find something that will range from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars. These watches are made by watch lovers for watch lovers, so expect great things.
The drawbacks hide in the future. When it comes to maintenance, it will be harder to get service from small and less organized companies. Very few independent companies make their own products, and this is true for most watches under $1,000. Only luxurious small brands can do produce their own parts ad own their own operations fully.
Small companies work with third-party suppliers and make something cool. It pretty much ends at that. If this sounds tempting, you can find such indie-watch makers on blogs, forums, and social media.