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Buying a Rolex: How I decided which watch to buy as my first luxury watch

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    Before I bought my first watch, a Rolex Submariner with date function, there was I time I thought I would never buy a Rolex at all. Back in 2012 when I turned 22 I started thinking about which first real watch I wanted to buy whenever the occasion (I mean money) was there. Ever since my childhood I fancied nice wristwatches and I wore a bunch of watches during my years as a teenager. At the time I owned some fashion brand watches, such as Tommy Hilfiger, Armani and Hugo Boss watches. The all black Hugo Boss was gifted by my close friends and I loved to wear it in the weekends.During the week when I was wearing a suit, a simple Tommy Hilfiger with a white dial and a leather strap would be on my wrist. Both watches were not really expensive (€50 for the Tommy Hilfiger and €500 for the Hugo Boss). Looking back at it, I would make a different choice today with 600 bucks to spend on a watch.But hey, life is all about learning right? In this blog I will provide some handy tips to first time luxury watch buyers. In my opinion it comes down in asking yourself some questions and then go for it. I will give you some insight in my thought process and explain how I ended up buying my first Rolex Submariner.

    Step 1: Find a sparring partner

    My brother is a watch enthusiast as well and he became my sparring partner when I was searching for my first luxury watch. He owned an Oris diving watch at that moment and read about watches on a daily basis. We would challenge each other and try to distinguish what we sought for in a watch. We debated during family gatherings over what type of watch would suit a certain type of guy and what type of guy we were and wanted to be. In the end we agreed our watch had to be classy and not north of the €10k price point. But above all, it had to be a daily beater, ready for the office but also for the beach and some swimming whenever the occasion occurred.

     

    Step 2: What type of watch should be my first one?

    Of course I knew about Rolex. I had seen rappers, football players and other “flashy guys” ran around showing off their Rolex in video clips and on television. I admired there interest for watches, albeit only to show it off, but it gave me an image of Rolex wearers which I couldn’t ignore. I couldn’t relate to those guys as I didn’t own a massive amount of money, couldn’t rap one sentence on a beat and only entered football stadiums with a paid ticket. So I was convinced a Rolex was nothing for me.

    During the years I worked in the financial district in Amsterdam, I met business minded people who would also have a love for (showing off) wristwatches.Brokers, traders, lawyers and other people with high paying jobs were quite often wearing a Rolex, and the Rolex Datejust and Rolex Submariner were the most worn and admired watches. But to be honest, I concluded mostly cocky,self-righteous bastards in suits or designer clothes were wearing a Rolex Datejust or Rolex Submariner. That’s not me, I thought…

    In the beginning IWC felt like the right thing for me. Not too flashy, and you cannot dislike someone because of his watch when he wears an IWC, right? I actively asked people wearing an IWC about their adventures and how much they liked their IWC. Although they all loved their watch, I was told they were a bit fragile and swimming and beating it around might not be the best thing to do with it.

    Although nobody could talk me into a Rolex. It started to grow on me that these “little tanks” where absolute daily beaters, up to the challenges of young adults lives’. But no, too flashy. Rather have a Tudor Pelagos, a high quality watch that is up for the challenges of being a daily beater.

    Step 3: New or Vintage?

    I scattered the internet to get to know more about watches and I also became known with the vintage watch market. The vintage watch market felt like something too dangerous. I’m an accountant (at that time studying) and not a watch expert or watchmaker. There where forums full of people talking about fake watches being sold on Chrono24 and eBay. Even if they were authentic, poor condition and no one to go to whenever something is wrong with it were looming on the grey pre-owned luxury watch market as well. Not my thing for now. I don’t want my first watch buying experience to be a total disaster.

    However, this might be different for you. You might have a sparring partner, a friend or a family relative who is an expert on vintage watches.Some good local dealers have surfaced over the years, and if you are lucky you might find one close to your home. This can be a good way to get known with vintage watches and find out if you prefer a vintage watch over a new watch. Please be aware buying a vintage luxury watch on the grey market can be tricky and carries many risks. Relleb.com can help you in buying a vintage watch on Chrono24, eBay or any other platform without carrying all the risks and they provide certainty over authenticity. Visit www.relleb.com to find out more.

    Step 4: How does it feel on the wrist?

    Since authorized dealers (‘ADs’) had no desirable Rolex in store-for me back then a big surprise- and the occasion (read: ‘money’) wasn’t there yet, my brother and I went on a day trip to Maastricht. A very nice old city in the south of the Netherlands where a lot of jewelers are selling secondary wristwatches. This enabled us to try a lot of watches on our wrists and get more information on pricing. We tried a lot of watches from Tudor, Vacheron Constantin, IWC and Rolex.

    The Tudor Pelagos felt very good on the wrist that day. Light, great aesthetic and for sure a daily beater. The Vacheron Constatin Overseas felt a little bit too heavy and too large on my wrist. And for Rolex: in advance of the trip I had seen the Rolex GMT Batman with oyster bracelet on the internet. I had to admit I loved the blue and black ceramic bezel and thought might to give it a try on the wrist. But when I tried the Rolex GMT Batman on the wrist it felt optically too big and heavy. The salesman offered me to try a Rolex Submariner. I saw it on the counter and thought “doesn’t look too bad to be honest”. But then when I put it on my wrist, I just knew it. I just loved it.The size, the quality and the look. And besides, if this diver watch is not ready for the beach and the water, nothing is. I tried it on besides the Tudor Pelagos, but the finishing and quality of the Rolex Submariner was undeniably better. Of course the Rolex Submariner is priced higher, but in that moment it made complete sense to save a little longer and go for the Rolex. The experience of trying the watches on my wrist let me fall in love with the Rolex Submariner,a watch I even hadn’t on my list before.

    Step 5: What are you willing to spend on your watch?

    Some of you might think you have start with your budget. But that’snot how it works for me. You don’t determine what you can buy, but what you are willing the spend on a watch. You have to feel comfortable with the price point,it doesn’t have to be an amount that you have on your bank account already or earn at once with your annual bonus.

    When I started looking for the watch I wanted, I didn’t earn of a lot money and my savings was (at max) €3k. But when you start with a proper savings plan, you will be able to buy a lot of luxury watches. Most of you can save up €125 a month (just a little bit less on dinners outdoors, coffee at Starbucks and ordering food). If you do that for 5 years, you have saved up €7,500 which would buy you a new Rolex Datejust or Milgauss. Add a year and you can buy a Rolex Submariner Date. Best is to put the money monthly in a savings account directly after you receive your salary. I used a savings account which wasn’t visible in my banking app.

    Step 6: Go buy it!

    If you want something bad enough, you’ll find a way. Don’t think about the excuses not to go to the AD or a very well-known pre-owned luxury watch seller. I built a very good relationship with an AD here in Amsterdam. I go there to drink coffee and just talk about watches. I had a bad experience the first time I went there, but after talking with multiple salesmen I found a friendship. Realize that you and the dealer have one big thing in common: a love for wristwatches! Build a relationship with that person and enjoy the journey towards buying your watch.

    In my next blog I will write about my journey of finally buying the Rolex Submariner Date together with my brother. I hope this blog helps you in your quest of finding your next luxury watch. In case you want to buy it at the grey market and -like me- don’t want to bear the risks of buying a fake watch or a watch in bad condition, buy your next watch via Relleb.com and be able to enjoy the whole journey!

    If you have any remaining questions, or if you want to get in touch so we can help you safely purchase a watch, then feel free to reach out through the contact form below!

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    Written by

    Kenny Vaes, watch enthusiast, co-owner of Relleb

    Last updated June 26, 2022

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