I’m a technologist and as a technologist a lot of people expect me to be into smart watches like the Apple watch. The thing is, I see mechanical watches as more of a technological achievement than smart watches. The amount of skill required to create something like a perpetual calendar watch using only gears and a spring is astounding to me. I don’t deny that there is a lot of technical achievement in the transistors that power a smart watch, but the time keeping aspect is fairly straight forward programming. So when I decided that I wanted a watch, I started looking at mechanical watches (rather than quartz).
I was fortunate to receive a Breitling 765 AVI from my father-in-law. When I got it I did not know how rare the watch was (always research any watch you inherit), but after wearing it for a few times I decided it wasn’t exactly what I was after. I started doing some research and found the Breitling forum where I posted the watch to get some information about it. It didn’t take long for some of the longtime members and Breitling expert collectors to verify that it was a genuine 765 AVI and then the private messages started to arrive. During this time I had been thinking about what watch I wanted and had decided that the Omega Speedmaster was the watch that I was most attracted to. I was attracted to the Speedmaster because of its design and heritage. I really like the fact that it is a chronograph with a black dial and think that it looks very sleek. However I really like its relationship with the Moon landing. I’ve been fascinated with Physics and space since high school and when I started thinking about a watch for myself I just couldn’t think of anything but the “The First Watch Worn On The Moon.” While I knew acquiring a reference model that was the same as the ones actually worn on the Apollo missions would be cost prohibitive and difficult to verify, I thought a modern reference would suit me.
The next time one of the expert collectors messaged me about trading the 765 AVI, I decided to begin bargaining. I knew I wanted a Speedmaster and I knew the 765 AVI was worth more than just a Speedmaster. The collector offered me a limited edition Navitimer.
I thought the 765 AVI was worth more than that and it wasn’t a Speedmaster (turning this down may have been a bad decision). The collector then offered me a Speedmaster (early 90s model) and a silver dialed Navitimer.
I decided to do the trade (probably also a bad decision) and was ecstatic to receive the two watches and wore them a lot as you can tell from my pre-March 2014 Instagram photos when I traded the Speedmaster for a different Speedmaster and then traded the Navitimer in July of that year, but those are different stories.
As they say, hindsight is 20/20 and knowing what I know now about the rarity of the 765 AVI that I traded and its true value, I would have asked for a lot more in the trade or not have done a trade at all. So make sure to research, research, research before you make any moves with purchasing or trading a watch.
While I had a definite idea about the watch I wanted, not everyone may have a clear idea. Some things to keep in mind when looking at getting a watch, there are a ton of quality mechanical watches with prices ranging from $500 – $500,000+ and a ton of different styles. Once you have an idea of your price range then you can consider the style of watch you want. Are you looking to have just one watch that will go from casual to dressy? Are you looking to have a dress watch and a casual watch? Are you thinking you’ll have a small collection (or a large one)? How you answer these questions should steer your decision for the style of watch you’ll purchase. A lot of people are probably going to go for one watch that can do dress and casual. In this situation I would tend toward a simple faced watch, something with two or three hands and stick indicators instead of numeric indicators. Something like
Once you have a watch picked out you should consider whether you want to buy the watch new from an authorized dealer (AD) or buy a pre-owned watch. I think that for some highly desirable manufacturers like Rolex, Omega, Audemars Piguet, and many more that one should consider saving up and buying from an authorized dealer. By purchasing from an AD you know for certain that the watch you are purchasing is genuine. However there are a number of excellent dealers for pre-owned watches: Govberg, Tourneau, Crown and Caliber, Hodinkee, or Bob’s Watches to name a few. All of these dealers verify authenticity and service their pre-owned watches before selling them and several offer limited warranties. If you are seriously considering purchasing a watch, you can get a lot more information on finding the right watch for you at A Blog To Watch or Hodinkee.