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Top tips and advice for choosing a timepiece

PUBLISHED: 15:41 07 September 2016 | UPDATED: 15:41 07 September 2016

One of Robert Reynard's watches

One of Robert Reynard's watches

Archant

Robert Reynard – a lifelong lover of fine watches – offers his advice for choosing a timepiece you’ll want to wear forever

My first serious watch was a Jaeger LeCoultre Memovox when I was 12. An amazing watch my father won in a poker game. He thought I’d be amused by the alarm; I was.

I have had a lifelong love affair with Rolex, nothing else has the same blend of design, development, engineering integrity and heritage. As a teenager I had a picture on my wall of a Rolex Sea Dweller. Originally created in 1967, the latest Sea Dweller from 2014 is on my wrist as I write. It is a true legend and is historically linked to COMEX (Compagnie Maritime d’Expertise).

But how do you buy a watch? Well of course, it’s easy if you just want to know the time. For the rest of us there are other important considerations. Our watch is with us all day every day, marking the passage of time, of life, of history. I’m not a collector, but it’s nice to have some choice.

A mechanical watch has a ‘heartbeat’, a pulse. Some run at 28,800 vibrations per hour, every hour every day. That’s more than 25m beats a year which can outlive generations. For me there is a special romance to mechanical watches. My watches typically have 250 or more components just in the movement, assembled by hand, by a single watchmaker and accurate to within a couple of seconds in any 24 hour period. I wish I had a car like that.

There are some great quartz and smart watches too, with accurate timekeeping and interesting and useful functions. But I loved the ad I saw recently for a simple mechanical watch that said, “This watch is so smart you can tell the time just by looking at it.”

Whether you are buying new or pre-owned, provenance is really important. If it looks too good to be true, beware. I have always preferred to buy from an authorised dealer and certainly one with a good reputation. Factor in the cost of maintenance if this is a watch you want to keep.

Make sure you try on the watch you are considering. you have to see and feel it on your wrist. It should make you happy just to wear it. Try it as many times as you need just to be sure.

In 1914 – when wristwatches were little more than a novelty for ladies and men wore pocket watches – Hans Wilsdorf, founder of Rolex, said: “My personal opinion is that 19 ligne (pocket) watches will almost disappear and that wristwatches will replace them definitively! I am not mistaken in this opinion and you will see that I am right.”

He was!


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