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Finding a timepiece that stands the test of time

Like handmade shoes or custom-fitted suits, guys often daydream about owning the perfect wristwatch – the kind of brilliantly designed, achingly attractive and enduringly functional accessory that adorns your arm as if it were a bejeweled body part created just for you.

But when some timepieces cost more than a new set of fancy rims – choosing a watch-for-life can feel more daunting than deciding which hockey team to support. But it doesn’t have to be.

Starting out

Since there’s no need to rush, research your options slowly. There’s a wealth of watch-focused websites — including HODINKEE, Worn & Wound and A Blog to Watch — that write detailed timepiece reviews, buying guides and trend articles. Pour over their pages and compile a digital scrapbook of your favourite watches.

Insider advice

“Choosing a watch for life is one of the most personal choices you can make,” says Rob Nudds, a former watchmaker and wristwatch journalist now working for Germany-based NOMOS. “It can also be a significant investment, so you need to be confident your watch will be as engaging to you in 20 years as it is today.”

Tracked down at Baselworld – the planet’s most important wristwatch trade show – Nudds adds that the trick is to find something “playful and mature that makes you feel happy whenever you look at it. In fact, the older I get the more I appreciate these endlessly fascinating little mechanical marvels ticking away on my wrist.”

Timepiece types

Narrow your search to the kind of watch you like. Dive watches are rugged with bling-tastic metal bracelets; hard-wearing field watches have bold faces and leather or cloth straps; aviator watches can take either approach; and dress watches are exemplars of shiny elegance.

Movement-wise, you’ll find watches that need winding; others requiring batteries; and many that are automatic. But those aren’t your only considerations: some also have alarms, calendars or chronometers. Which features are deal-makers or deal breakers for you?

Price points

Everyone has different ideas about what to pay for an item they’ll use for years. But if you genuinely love your choice, you’ll never begrudge the price you paid. Just keep in mind that — like new car — few watches grow in value. Remove the “investment” from your search and finding your perfect match may be easier.

Under $1,000

There are many established brands delivering style, reliability and durability at the market’s entry level. Mondaine’s Swiss Railways watches are popular, but its Helvetica model is less ubiquitous and equally alluring. Alternatively, Tissot’s Heritage Visodate Automatic can be a timeless classic. And if minimalism is your bag, Instrmnt watches are a must-have .

Under $6,000

The up-to-$6,000 price point offers more temptation. Frederique Constant — “accessible luxury” is their strapline — serves-up sleek examples in its Slimline Automatic range, while field watches like the handsome Hamilton Khaki are also serious contenders. But in recent years, many have flocked to NOMOS Glashütte. Its Tangomat GMT is a top-seller but the lower-priced midnight-blue Tangente has been known to trigger instant watchlust.

Above $6,000

At the top-end, IWC and Patek Philippe jostle for man jewellery attention with Omega, whose celebrated chronographs enable James Bond to check the time while leaping atop speeding trains. Among its stylish options, the Globemaster Annual Calendar is a silvery beauty. And while Rolex’s glittering Oyster Perpetual helped popularize posh watches, consider the brand’s deliciously sophisticated Cellini range.

Happy Shopping!!