My apologies for the gap in posting. A series of out-of-town guests, numerous work projects, and a short trip to Nantes have interrupted the usual workflow.
Our foreign correspondent David was in Paris recently. We had a coffee at the cafe across the street from my office and discussed all manner of things: solutions to global crises (which we always forget to write down and pass on to the United Nations), the relative merits of crew neck and v-neck sweaters, the future of Paris, and, this time, wrist watches.
As many of you know, I’ve always recommended a simple stainless steel Rolex or a classic Cartier tank watch as easy (if not inexpensive) go-to options. They are discreet, elegant, versatile, and timeless.
However, as David’s commentary below reveal, all is not well…or at least, not as it was. I always counsel that it’s not what it costs to buy something. It’s what it costs to own something. And the something in question is now what it costs to service a wrist watch.
The bottom line is this: I’ve recommended the stainless steel Rolex and the classic Cartier tank watch in the past. I stand by my recommendation of Cartier, and more recently, my additional recommendation of Jaeger LeCoultre’s Reverso, also a timeless, high quality tank watch.
I’m just having my doubts about Rolex right now. If you’ve already own one, don’t feel bad: you’ve got an iconic watch that will last a lifetime. If you are considering buying a Rolex, I’d only ask that you think and think hard about it…as David will advise and enlighten below.
Thank you, David. Looking forward to your comments, readers….here we go…
Referring to the Old Money Style book (for Gentlemen), Pages 117 and 118 and the recommendation on watches, the preferred vendors are Rolex, Cartier and the Timex website. The guidance is to have one’s timepiece cleaned and checked at a reputable repair shop every eighteen months to two years. Using a Rolex as a good-quality example, I would like to share the following which I learned very recently and which I think should be kept in mind when making an ‘Old Money’ purchase with the long-term in mind.
A friend in Canada is a Rolex ‘fanatic’. He was recently informed by Rolex that a service on his Sea-Dweller would cost two thousand dollars. I am uncertain of the return time but what I also learned is that if the watch being handed in has a face or dial of a particular vintage Rolex will inform the owner that the face will need to be replaced due to the material originally used for the luminosity feature (of the face) being out of currently accepted norms. [Presumably Health and Safety norms.]
A recent quote to someone in the UK mentioned the figure of nine hundred UK Pounds for a replacement face, over and above the cost of the service. When the owner of that particular watch said yes, change the face, but return the old face along with the serviced watch, it was refused. He declined the entire process and the watch was returned to him, unserviced.
Compare this experience with the one I had recently. We have several Omega wrist watches in the family. One of them is an Aqua Terra with a Co-Axial movement. On enquiry at an Omega shop in Paris just last week I was informed that a service would cost seven hundred Euros providing nothing serious was discovered and that the current return time would be eight months !!
Read that again. EIGHT MONTHS.
When I last had my Omega Speedmaster serviced, perhaps five years ago, I paid five hundred Euros and it took two months to come back. (The Euro and the US Dollar are roughly equal at the moment.) Perhaps the extended return time can be blamed on the current suspect of convenience: COVID-19 ! ( That one is starting to wear a bit thin though.)
Why am I telling you this (?)
While OMGs are correct in carrying out their purchases with the long-term in mind – buy well and buy once – consideration should be given to the fact that if for example a twenty-five-year-old invests in a good watch and by the time it comes up for its first service he or she is faced with service costs such as I have mentioned they might have to choose between school fees and a serviced watch.
Sell it unserviced and it’s at a loss. Throw it in the bottom drawer and it becomes a bit of a waste. One other thing: no matter what ‘quality’ the watch, if it has a quartz movement it will require the battery to be changed every so often.
I recommend it is done with an approved agent for the make of the watch and not the local cellphone shop in the nearest shopping centre. If for some reason you are going to put it in a bottom drawer for a period of time, remove the battery before doing so. This applies to any and most devices with batteries. They all eventually leak.
A further thing I heard about Rolex currently is that (some/all ?) dealers, in more than one country, are not selling to ‘unknown or unfamiliar’ clients who walk in off the street and have the money to purchase one of their watches. They require a ‘relationship’ to be established first. I have enquired about this and the situation is, shall we say, known, but perhaps through diplomacy or that famous abundance of caution , no one wants to say why. I have heard these reports from the US, Canada and Scotland.
Do any readers perhaps know the reason ?