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What to Know Before Investing in a Luxury Watch, According to Louis Martin Jewelers

By Nina RuggieroSep 27 2023
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Harry Mizrahi was raised in Rockefeller Center. His family’s store, Louis Martin Jewelers, has stood its ground through four decades and three generations. “I was basically born into the business,” Mizrahi said. After years of hands-on education in retail, he went to school to become a gemologist and began designing his own jewelry while also managing the company.

This summer, he designed custom wedding rings for Good Morning America host Robin Roberts’ marriage to Amber Laign, using diamonds, sapphires, and golden topaz to craft pieces that hold special meaning to the couple. But while wedding and engagement rings are inherently sentimental, Mizrahi says they’re not the only jewelry he sells that mark major life moments.

When a customer comes in to buy their first luxury watch, “it can be a symbol of life achievement, such as a work promotion, anniversary, wedding gift, investment, or something that can be passed down from generation to generation,” he told The Center Magazine.

He recalls a 13-year-old boy who walked into the shop over a decade ago and asked to see the Rolex Submariner in the window. “He said, ‘I’ve been saving up my whole life to buy this watch,’” Mizrahi said. After some negotiations, he decided to give the boy a deal but told him he’d need to come back with his parents. He returned the next day, cash in hand, and bought a watch that, according to Mizrahi, has since risen in value by over 150 percent.

It’s this long-term value that Louis Martin’s in-the-know customers look for in the timepieces they buy; the store specializes in vintage and estate watches dating back to the early 1900s. (A rare gem currently in stock is a vintage 18-karat yellow gold Patek Philippe dating back to 1911.)

While entering the world of luxury watches is appealing on the surface, investing in one for the first time can be daunting. Below, Mizrahi offers his top tips for starting off on the right foot — or, should we say, the right wrist.

1. Consider your day-to-day lifestyle.

While factors including wrist size, style, and occasion play a role, comfort and personal

preferences are key. “It comes down to the style of the person… and the types of activities that the person’s into,” Mizrahi said. “Whether the shopper is a business person, pilot, diver, or sailor, there’s a watch that fits each person’s lifestyle.” (Although he has gone surfing in a Rolex, he admits that’s not your typical match.)

2. Wrist size matters.

“Choose a watch face size that looks proportionate to your wrist and feels comfortable,” Mizrahi said, adding that the average face is typically between 32 and 36 millimeters in diameter. It’s important to shop in person and try on the watch to see how it fits you before buying. Each case size and style can be different from one company to the next, so shopping online can be deceiving.

3. Identify your ideal entry-level price point and a good starter brand.

Mizrahi suggests starting out in the $2,000 to $3,000 range, but warns that there are “hundreds of watch brands around that price point that don’t have resale value.” Omega watches are a great brand to start with to avoid that issue, he said. “You can get in the door on a very sophisticated, nice quality watch that holds its value very, very well, and that will allow you to step up when you’re ready.”

4. Stick to the names you know.

To always score a watch with resale value, “stick to names that have been around for a long time such as Rolex, Audemars Piguet, Patek Philippe, and Cartier,” Mizrahi advised. These companies manufacture a limited amount of inventory annually, keeping supply low and demand steady.

5. Don’t go chasing trends.

Avoid falling for limited-run trends or buzzy collaborations in the watch world; the price you pay will be much higher than the one you’ll be able to sell it for later. “I’ve seen so many people get burned over the years chasing that modern trend,” Mizrahi said. “Follow what’s classic and never goes out of style.” He points to the Rolex Datejust, which has remained in fashion since 1945, and the Patek Philippe Gondolo, re-released 100 years later in an almost identical style.

6. Look to vintage watches for a more meaningful purchase.

Louis Martin’s ever-growing collection of vintage, pre-owned watches has helped the store stand out. Customers often come in asking to see watches from times that mean something to them, whether it’s the decade they were born or a period that reminds them of a beloved family member. “Each timepiece can hold a piece of history,” Mizrahi said. “It’s like buying back time.”

Louis Martin Jewelers is open at 30 Rockefeller Plaza Monday through Sunday from 9:30am to 6:30pm.

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