Dynasty: A Guide to Buying a Forever Watch

Heirloom potential is becoming increasingly important in the market

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar 3
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar

The thought of giving a gift your loved ones can carry through life is a comforting one. And with a fine watch, you can envision your grandchildren’s grandchildren still cherishing the timepiece you give this holiday season.

The big question is, how do you ensure you are buying the right watch, one that will not only last long enough, but look good doing it?

Buy Classic: Steer clear of trendy, in-your-face watches for this purchase. They might look great right now, but maybe not in 10, 20 or 50 years. The same goes for colors—the “in” color of today will change next year. The best colors? Sober ones like black, white, silver/gray and hues of gold.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Geophysic True Second PG_dialStick to classic and traditional timepieces. One litmus test—if the watch you are considering looks like it would have fit in a century ago, then it’s a good bet it will look good a century from now.

Buy Big or Go Home: Not size, brand. For an heirloom watch, stay true to the famous names in watches. A smaller, independent brand might turn out to be a cherished timepiece a century from now, but it’s a riskier proposition than a known quantity that has already been around for at least a hundred years.

Patek Philippe,Chopard, Breguet and Rolex are examples of companies that have been around for decades or centuries and will still be around for decades to come.

Wear and Preserve: No one has ever said “I love this watch, my dad kept it in his safe all his life.” Buy a watch that your loved ones will wear, and that way they appreciate it and the timepiece will mean more to future generations.

Omega Seamaster AquaTerra James Bond Limited Edition back
Omega Seamaster AquaTerra back. (Photo: Omega)

Regular service is a must to make sure the watch always runs correctly. Mechanical watches should be serviced about every five to seven years and if they are regularly serviced, making sure the movement is lubricated and cleaned, they can last virtually forever.

“Servicing a watch is very important, especially if you’re planning on handing it down to the next generation,” says Armen Darakjian, owner, Darakjian Jewelers in Birmingham, Mich. “The joy of an heirloom gift gets muddied when the recipient has to immediately send it in for a service that comes with a charge. It’s like giving a vintage car that doesn’t run and has a dent in the quarter panel.”


Breguet Tradition Independent Chronograph 3

Breguet Tradition Chronographe Indépendant 7077: Breguet is one of the most famous names in watchmaking, and this visually stunning chronograph would have looked as at home on this grandmaster’s wrist in 1790 as it does today. Available in a 44mm case in 18-karat white or rose gold, the 3-D, open-worked design will never go out of style. $78,900 in rose gold, $79,700 in white gold, breguet.com


Chopard L.U.C 1963 Tourbillon


Chopard L.U.C 1963 Tourbillon: This elegant tourbillon in a 40mm 18-karat rose gold case features a white, high fire enamel dial. The tourbillon is COSC-certified and has a power reserve of nine days. Limited to 100 pieces. Price upon request, chopard.com



Rolex Oyster Perpetual GMT Explorer II: The truth is that everyone knows the Rolex brand, and that’s because it is so popular and so well made. You can’t go wrong with the iconic GMT Explorer II, featuring a second time zone indicator and classic Rolex styling. $8,950 in stainless steel with blue and black Cerachrom bezel (shown, left), $38,250 in white gold, with the famous blue and red “Pepsi” bezel, rolex.com



Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar: The new extra-thin Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar in 18-karat white gold is easy to use and read, and features a great looking moon phase display. Audemars Piguet’s new movement calculates the varying lengths of months and leap years, has 374 parts and 38 jewels and, if you keep it wound, only needs correction every 125 years and 317 days. $95,700, audemarspiguet.com



Jaeger-LeCoultre Geophysic True Second PGJaeger-LeCoultre Geophysic True Second: Based on a design first launched in 1958, Jaeger-LeCoultre reintroduced the Geophysic collection last year and this year the showpiece is the True Second,  with a complication that allows the second hand to jump from second to second. Simple and elegant, packed with high watchmaking content. $17,500 in 18-karat pink gold,  jaeger-lecoultre.com


Patek Philippe Calatrava Ref. 5227 $34,700

Patek Philippe Ref. 5227G Men’s Calatrava: Watches don’t get more elegant and traditional than the Patek Philippe Calatrava. The white gold with black lacquered dial pictured here has a sapphire crystal caseback that showcases the automatic movement. A hinged dust cover also allows this watch to be personalized with an engraving. $34,700, patekphilippe.com



To read more watch stories from Observer Watch Collector, click here.

Dynasty: A Guide to Buying a Forever Watch