Sunday, April 21, 2013

High-End Watches - Basics

This guide is merely a starter to help the beginning watch enthusiast understand the range of brands available. The mentioned specific brands are intended as a general guide to get you started looking, but is in no way a definitive guide to all these brands have to offer. I must emphasize that these are my choices of the respected brands and categories, more particularly what are the most famous pieces of each company, by my opinion of course. Beyond that, you will have to do more detailed research on the specific attributes of the watch and watch companies you find of interest to determine which are better for your specific wants and needs. The actual relationships and who exactly is better than whom is highly debated among wristwatch aficionados. There are so many different attributes of each and so many different things that are important to each buyer or owner that a simple list of "the best" or attempts to rank the brands in detail would be fruitless.

Omega - Seamaster JB 007
Rolex - Submariner
Popularity is only one indication of a superior product. In most cases, the general public knows only certain brands which were well publicized as the 'best of the best' and may be totally unaware of other equal or superior products that are available. If you asked the average person-on-the-street about watches, they would probably tell you the market starts with Timex and Casio, moves up to Seiko, then TAG, and reaches its peak with Rolex. Rolex is by most of the amateur watch lovers as the ultimate time piece product, because they are the single brand that has the broadest public perception of excellence. They have become the yardstick by which most watch layman discussions of the high end watch brands go by. Rolex is clearly the best known and most popular fine watch brand in the world. Rolex has long been known as a maker of superior watches. They pioneered and invented several major watch concepts, such as the first "certified chronometer," the first effective "waterproof" and dust-proof watch casing, the first wristwatch with an automatic changing date, and the techniques used in mass-manufacturing of premium watches.

Vacheron Constantin - Patrimony Tourbillon
A. Lange & Söhne - Grand Complication
Yet the most popular or well known choices frequently are not what the true aficionado would select. So, if you take into consideration the total amount of high-end manufacturers Rolex would not scale not even on the average level. I'm sure you would find your man-on-the-street sample would also be unaware of the true collectors' choices of wines, cigars, audiophile equipment, sports cars, or writing instruments. Similarly, they will unlikely know the additional fine watch brands such as Audemars Piguet, Blancpain, IWC, Jaeger-Le Coultre, Patek Phillipe, and Ulysse Nardin to name a few. 
Tag Heuer - Carrera Calibre 16
Patek Philippe - Perpetual Calendar 5159g
In many products, the well-known brands like MontBlanc, Sony, and Rolex dominate their markets from global name recognition. While they do have quality products, they are not always the only superior choice.
Bell & Ross - WW1
Luminor Panerai - Marina Militare
Success can spoil the innovation, the competitive edge, and the uniqueness that was what built the reputation these companies and products enjoy today. Sure, if you want to impress the general public, you buy names anyone will recognize--sometimes even without regard to outrageous premium prices or quality and features that are less than one would expect from their "leader of the pack" reputation.
Longines - Master Collection

IWC Schaffhausen - Portuguese Yacht Club
Jaeger LeCoultre - AMVOX DB9 
What you need to consider mostly is your personal style and with no doubt your budget. If you though up until know that a Rolex will set you back quite a lot, you were not well informed. Most of the pointed time-pieces cost from a range of 10 000 up to more than a 200 000 dollars. Once you set aside a significant amount of money and are willing to spend a lot for a good wrist watch, you need to select the next features. The base of the watch, its shape and color, from squared to circular, from gold to silver, you can have your pick. Then the band of the watch. Depending on your personal wish, you can go from quality leather to stainless steel, or for the more sporty versions of rubber and other materials. At the end, at your preference you choose the category of the product, from chronographs, to perpetual calendars and many other types. Also there are preferences about the motion of the watch, whether you prefer a quartz, automatic or self-winding motion. Just see to it that is Swiss. And of course, we blabbed about all the technical stuff but we forgot to say - the most important preference of all - see that you like it.  


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