Watches usually fall into four price brackets:

  • Less than $30 – No name brands and low-level counterfeits
  • $30 – $300. This is where you find most fashion brands as well as better quality counterfeits. The higher the price the higher the quality
  • $300 – $3000 Entry level Luxury Brands
  • Above $3000

In general terms, three things contribute to the price of a watch:

  • The watch movement (referred to in lay man’s terms as the engine)
  • The accessories (the casing and the bracelet/strap).
  • Heritage – brand name and history

It is normal to find very different watches (sometimes from different manufacturers) using the exact same watch movement having a substantial disparity in their prices.

You can easily find a watch that costs $100 having the same movement as a watch that costs $300.00. This is because a lot of the times, the accessories and the brand name contribute more to the cost of a watch than the watch movement itself.

At below $30.00 what you get will mainly be unknown brands and counterfeit watches. The quality of plating on the accessories here will usually be very poor. So buying gold plated watches here would be a very risky. A safer bet would be leather or rubber straps. The likelihood however is that the watch will still be working long after the watch has become an embarrassment. This is because the technology behind watch movements has become so common that even very cheap options will work accurately for many years.

Between $30.00 and $300.00, the quality improves considerably, and you will find several notable fashion brands having a presence in this segment (though these will usually be on the other side of $100.00) e.g. POLICE, Guess, Tommy Hilfiger watches. The quality of the plating will be significantly better (though the higher the price the higher the quality) the leather/rubber would also be better quality… you will also likely be getting stainless steel as the base metal as against brass.

Watches between $300.00 and $3,000.00 are termed as entry level luxury watches. This is where you will usually find the best value for money. Many of the best-known brands have a presence in this region. High quality watch movements as well as very high-quality accessories are also used. In this price bracket you usually will not have to worry about the quality of plating as it is usually very high. Since brand value also comes into play, the brand owners have a reputation to protect so they don’t mess around with products that could ruin their hard-earned reputations.

Above $3,000.00 you will not necessarily be getting an improvement in quality. What you will be paying for will be the accessories… instead of gold plating; you could be getting a substantion amount of gold deposit, depending on how much you are willing to pay. In some cases if you’re really ready to shell out the money you could get the gold studded with diamonds which could take you as high as the other side of a million dollars.

You will also be paying for the tradition and history… handmade this and handmade that since 1875 and things like that.

At the end of the day, what you get for watches that are substantially above $3,000.00 is an ego massage… I am wearing a “this” or a “that” and its pure gold or the diamonds are so and so carat.

The truth of the matter however is that depending on the circle you operate in, these things do have a value and the value could be worth it depending on what is at stake.

Bottom line determine how much you have to spend and try to fit your preferences within your budget. It is usually not worth it to break the bank to buy a watch.

For more, please read our article on “Buying yourself a wristwatch? What to consider – Part 1" and “Buying yourself a wristwatch? What to consider – Part 2”.