Watches serve as status symbols

01 Feb, 2014 - 00:02 0 Views

The Herald

Chipo Mapondera Fashion
Apart from footwear, one of the key indicators of a person’s taste levels lies on their wrist. Timepieces make a strong statement about the wearer: Are they flashy or understated? Is their perspective classic or high-tech? Do they veer towards recreations of a refined nature or are they the untamed adventurer? Perhaps they have all of these, with a different watch for each occasion. Watches also serve as a symbol of status and power, with some even demanding exorbitant prices. Is there a reason behind this?

Here are a few reasons why this is the most important accessory in your wardrobe.

There are a few simple rules to follow when it comes to wearing wristwatches. Wear it on your off-hand, so if you are right-handed it goes on the left. Never wear your watch on the inside of your wrist and it should fit snug, but not tightly, never sliding down and dangling on your wrist.

Make sure that it works for the occasion. A medium-sized watch in sleek, dark metal is versatile and goes with a suit, jeans — everything. It is an all-day, everyday accessory so if you are going to own one watch, this is the one. For the weekend a chronograph is like a big brawny muscle car, with show-stopping features that get you noticed. This includes splashes of colour and anything that goes beyond simple timekeeping. Could be an annual or lunar calendar, or just a stopwatch. These work best with more casual outfits, not pinstriped suits.

For athletics, you need a practical watch that you can throw in your gym bag and wear when you jog, cycle, rock-climb or conquer the great outdoors. Rubberised materials and digital models are best for this. Just don’t be the guy who wears it with his suit to the office. For formal affairs, your watch should be as precise and understated as your tuxedo.

So what exactly is the difference between a US$2 500 and a US$25 000 watch? No, it has nothing to do with diamonds, although these will certainly bring the price tag up. The “movement” of a watch is an important indicator of quality and price. Electronic watches are generally less expensive, and are powered by battery or an automatic winder. Mechanical watches use a small pendulum to wind up and keep time. This is the go-to movement for the finest watches.

When you get into the high-end market, exclusivity is what you are paying for, with limited numbers made in the highest quality materials. If you are dropping more than US$25 000, the materials used are precious, and such a model takes a team of specialised craftspeople several months to  make.

These days you can buy a watch from Germany, France, Russia, or Japan that will serve you just as well. However, Swiss-made watches are still the best due to their quality and watch-making philosophy. A watch that is hand-assembled by artisans taught by their grandfathers, and whose ancestors crafted time pieces for Napoleon and his ilk, has a sense of history and tradition. And in watch-making, that is what it is all about.

Given this history and tradition, timepieces make for valuable heirlooms with brands like Patek Philippe stating that one does not own their watches; they simply look after them for the next generation. When buying a watch as an heirloom, keep it simple. Classic watches from respected high-end companies are guaranteed to increase in value, because they are rare.

To keep your watch ticking for the future generations, take it to a specialist to service it every three to five years. They should take it all apart and give it a complete overhaul, by cleaning and re-oiling the movement. If you enjoy swimming and sports, you should have your watch checked every year. Do not test your watch at too great a depth. Only swim with it on if it is water-resistant up to 100 metres.

I never condone the wearing of fakes in fashion, and in an ideal world we would all have a Rolex on our wrists. It can be tempting to buy a replica but fake watches will likely have cheap mechanics, and will not fool anyone with the low quality of their fabrication and features.

Instead, buy the best watch you can afford and enjoy it. If you want the best watch money can buy, man-up and earn the funds for the real thing. It will be all the more satisfying when you finally get it.

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