8 Tips Every Watch Collector Needs to Know

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Whether buying or consigning, savvy watch collectors need to consider a few key points. Condition, size and many other factors are important in determining if a timepiece is right for you. Click ahead for top tips from the experts in Sotheby’s Watches department.

8 Tips Every Watch Collector Needs to Know

  • Knowledge is Power
    The watch market is robust and constantly shifting – there is a lot to see. The best way to understand the current market trends and also to develop your own personal style is through exposure. Stop by Sotheby’s offices and Sothebys.com to view our ever-changing selection of vintage and modern watches. Our sales feature some of the most sought after timepieces today, from iconic Patek Philippes and vintage Rolex Daytonas to modern, complicated wristwatches from small firms like F.P. Journe and A. Lange & Söhne.

    Patek Philippe, An 18K Yellow Gold Perpetual Calendar Chronograph Wristwatch Ref 2499/100, 1981. Lot Sold $338,500.
  • Icons Never Go Out of Style
    Iconic wristwatches have staying power, and never go out of fashion. Sotheby’s Watches offers collectors iconic designs like Audemars Piguet’s Royal Oak, Patek Philippe’s Nautilus and the Rolex Submariner in excellent condition and quality.

    Audemars Piguet, A Stainless Steel Automatic Wristwatch with Date and Bracelet Ref 5402 Royal Oak Jumbo, Circa 1972. Lot Sold $32,500.
  • Always Examine Condition
    Buying a watch at auction offers collectors an opportunity to acquire rare, special, limited edition and discontinued vintage pieces that are highly desirable. With secondhand timepieces, it is important to understand the materials and construction of the watch, as well as to examine its present condition and quality. We always encourage our clients to read our condition report in full, and also to inspect the piece in person if possible.

    Cartier, A Fine and Rare Limited Edition Yellow Gold Asymmetric Wristwatch Crash, Made in 1991. Lot Sold $52,500.
  • Size Matters
    Wristwatches come in a range of sizes and shapes, so pay close attention to the dimensions and bracelet lengths in our catalogues or online. We encourage collectors to stop by our presale exhibitions to see and try pieces on first-hand.

    A. Lange & Söhne, A Platinum Flyback Chronograph Wristwatch with Register and Date Datograph, Circa 2001. Lot Sold $40,211.
  • Does It Match Your Lifestyle?
    Whether you are a watch aficionado or a new collector, it is important to consider your lifestyle when purchasing a wristwatch for everyday use. For ease, style and accuracy, take time to consider the watch in your daily routine, including those made of stainless steel, waterproof materials and quartz.

    Rolex, A Stainless Steel Automatic Center Seconds Dual Time Zone Wristwatch with Date and Bracelet Ref 16710 GMT-Master II, Circa 2006. Lot Sold $9,375.

  • Buy What You Love
    Ultimately, it is most important to buy what you love. Wristwatches are made to be used! For example, many types of watches provide you with useful and sometimes necessary tools for your daily life, whether you are timing an event or just checking the date. Always buy something that you would wear and love yourself.


    IWC, A Limited Edition Stainless Steel Automatic Wristwatch with Perpetual Calendar Moon Phases and 7-Day Power Reserve Ref 5026 Pilot's Classic, Circa 2010. Lot Sold $16,250.

  • Treat Your Watch as an Investment
    Buying at auction is an investment. With wristwatches, you have the pleasure of utility and equity. Enjoy your timepiece, but respect it, and take care of it by providing trusted service on a regular basis. By doing so, you and future generations can enjoy the watch for many years to come.


    Patek Philippe, Very Fine Yellow Gold Perpetual Calendar Chronograph Wristwatch with Moon Phases, Registers, 24 Hour and Leap Year Indication Ref 3970, Made In 2003. Lot Sold $68,750.
  • Meet the Specialists
    When making a big purchase, it’s important to get the facts. Sotheby’s Watches team is here to answer your questions and assist you in building your collection. If you’d like to learn more, or have a specific question, please do not hesitate to call, email or stop by.


    Rolex, A Stainless Steel Chronograph Wristwatch with Registers and Bracelet Ref 6239 Daytona 'Paul Newman,' Circa 1969. Lot Sold $162,500.
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