04/22/2024 | Updated on: 04/22/2024
 5 minutes

The Ultimate Guide to Buying Your First Luxury Watch

By Sebastian Swart

The Ultimate Guide to Buying Your First Luxury Watch

Buying one’s first watch is a big step for most people. Anyone who is willing to invest their hard-earned cash in a long-awaited timepiece must put ample thought into the decision beforehand to ensure they will enjoy their chosen watch for many years to come. In addition to basics like design and functionality, factors such as budget and brand are central to the choice. The origin of the watch is also important, and buyers are often faced with the question of whether to buy from a private seller or specialist dealer.

In this article, we’re offering some advice to keep in mind when buying your first luxury watch.

1. Is the watch within your budget?

Your watch budget is as individual as your choice of timepiece. While some people have considerable discretionary spending power, others have more limited budgets. If you fall into the latter category, be sure to remain realistic so as not to overextend yourself financially. While there are no hard and fast rules for such decisions, one good rule of thumb is to set a maximum budget of 1–2 months net income. In any case, you should have ready access to the total purchase price and be able to cope with a total loss of your investment without facing financial hardship.

Mineralgläser werden gerne bei Einsteiger-Uhrenmarken eingesetzt. Seiko bietet mit ihrem Hardlexglas eine besonders kratzresistente Variante des Mineralglases.
First things first: Set your budget.

2. What watch type am I?

Now that you have your budget sorted, it’s time to narrow your selection down to a few brands. The most difficult task for many people is discerning what watch type they are. If you’re a sporty watch lover, you could opt for one of the plethora of stainless steel diving watches the market has to offer. If you’d prefer something a bit bolder and robust, a pilot’s watch may be the thing for you. If you’re on the more refined end of the spectrum, you may be the ideal candidate for a chic rose gold dress watch. Then again, if you travel a lot, a GMT watch may be just what you’re looking for. The best-known model catering to multiple time zones is probably the Rolex GMT-Master, of which there are a number of different references available. If this watch doesn’t suit your budget, there are many more affordable options that offer the same functionality.

Schauen Sie nach einer Taucheruhr? Zum Beispiel wie diese Omega Seamaster Diver 300 M
Looking for a diving watch? Check out the Omega Seamaster Diver 300M.

The above-mentioned watch types are just a rough guide. You will find numerous manufacturers on the Chrono24 marketplace that blend different design features and functions in a myriad of ways. For example, there are dress watches that have a chronograph or GMT function, and sporty diving watches made of precious metals like gold or platinum. The combinations of functions and materials are seemingly endless. Have a good think in advance about what your priorities are to narrow down the selection.

3. What size is right?

When purchasing a watch, many first-time buyers don’t give enough thought to the case size of the model they want, or they mistakenly think “bigger is better.” It’s not uncommon for people to buy watches that are objectively far too large for the wearer, resulting in more shaking heads than envious glances. Of course, things can also swing in the other direction and confusion abounds if you find a dainty 32-mm dress watch on a wrist akin to that of Dwayne Johnson, aka “The Rock.”

Lediglich 25 mm misst die Cartier Tank Basculante im Durchmesser.
The Cartier Tank Basculante measures just 25 mm in diameter.

Grab a tape measure and find the circumference of your wrist where you’d usually wear a watch, as well as a little further up. Keep in mind that it’s not necessarily only the watch’s diameter that determines whether it fits well on your wrist, the lug-to-lug measurement also plays a decisive role. As a rule of thumb, the lugs of the watch should not stick out beyond your wrist.

4. New or pre-owned?

Once you’ve decided on a model, the question arises: new or pre-owned? For beginners, new, unworn watches are usually the safer bet. These watches work seamlessly and most come with a manufacturer’s warranty. In exchange, you’ll pay significantly more than you would for a pre-owned copy of the same reference. However, used watches have more advantages than just price; for example, worn watches are typically available for immediate purchase, and you can find coveted discontinued models on the secondary market that may pique your interest.

Wollen Sie eine neue oder eine gebrauchte Uhr kaufen?
Are you looking for a new or pre-owned watch?

Regardless of whether you opt for a new or pre-owned luxury watch, there are a couple of rules to follow. Always buy a full set whenever possible, i.e., the watch plus its original box and papers. If you decide to sell your watch further down the road, you’ll get a much higher price for it. Also, you should ask for service receipts for any used watch to ensure it has been regularly serviced by a professional.

5. Professional dealer or private seller?

We’ve now covered the most important parameters in finding the right watch, so let’s move on to the purchasing process. You have the choice of buying from a professional dealer or private seller. In both cases, try to get as much information about the person you’re dealing with before taking the plunge. Look at dealer reviews and don’t be afraid to ask the seller important questions and/or for high-resolution pictures, if necessary. Inconsistencies will quickly come to light if you pry.

Regardless of whether you decide to purchase privately or from a dealer, you can opt to use the Chrono24 Certified service. Your watch will be guaranteed authentic by a verified watchmaker and come with a three-year authenticity guarantee.

Dealers and Private Sellers: Pros and Cons

Pros Cons
Professional Dealers
  • Legal right to warranty
  • 14-day legally mandated return policy
  • Reliability and experience
  • Chrono24 Certified service available
  • Usually higher prices than private sellers
  • Long waiting lists for certain models
Private Sellers
  • Lower prices compared to retailers
  • No waiting lists
  • Often offer unique collector’s items
  • Chrono24 Certified service available
  • No obligation to provide a warranty
  • No obligation to accept returns

Payment and Delivery

Before you pay for your dream watch, you should clarify payment and shipping in advance. For example, always insist that the item is sent insured for its full value. Please also get a fixed quote for shipping costs. It’s also a good idea to look into customs and import regulations if you’re buying from outside your economic zone. This way, you’ll avoid running into unexpected costs that turn your supposed bargain into a money pit.

Payment details also need to be carefully considered. Reputable sellers should always offer a secure payment method. A good example of this is the Chrono24 Escrow Service, where your money is held safely in an escrow account until you have the watch in your hands.

If the seller insists that you pay in advance, or demands you meet them somewhere with cash in hand, steer clear.


Buying a luxury watch is not rocket science, but it does require some important considerations before take-off. If you follow the tips above and exercise a little caution, you should have your dream watch in your hands in no time.

About the Author

Sebastian Swart

I've been using Chrono24 for years to buy and sell watches, as well as for research purposes. I've had an infatuation with watches for as long as I can remember. As a …

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