A Guide to Shopping For and Trading Up Your Watch

Author Taylor Rao
Date Feb 15, 2021


It’s true --it’s not always easy for guys to accessorize. But wearing a watch has always been a classic, timeless (no pun intended) statement in a man’s wardrobe. From the pocket watches of the 17th century to today’s modern smart watches, it’s second nature to look down at your wrist for a quick check of the time, and in most cases, embracing the chance to look fashionable while doing so.

But anyone who’s ever shopped for a watch knows there are totally opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to how much you can expect to shell out. It’s jewelry after all, and though a fashion watch for men could run you $20-30, with deep pockets you could spend in the thousands (and thousands) for a piece of wrist candy.

And as with most things in life, cars, apartments or the brands you shop for on a daily basis, you start small and trade up over time. So, how can you be smart about watch shopping to make sure your first investment can help get you the model you really want later on in life? We’ve rounded up some of the best tips (with a little style advice thrown in) to help you trade up your watch when the time is right.

Your starter watch


Who it’s for: Say you’re celebrating an accomplishment like the completion of a college degree or the start of a new full-time gig. A watch is a celebratory, practical and sentimental item that’ll remind you of your accomplishments and motivate you to keep striving for more.

What is it: Now, your starter watch doesn’t have to have a comma in the price tag if you don’t want it to. A tried-and-true brand like Shinola is the perfect brand when shopping for a watch with a more modest starting price range, which is plenty for one of your first big purchases (especially for something that’s going on your wrist and not in your Man Cave).

How to shop: If you’re looking at this purchase as an investment and know right off the bat it’s something you’ll want to upgrade eventually, consider shopping for a watch in person rather than online. This could be the beginning of a lifelong relationship you make with a jeweler, giving you a go-to place and point of contact, and somewhere to shop for a lifetime of jewelry purchases (hint, hint: engagement rings and wedding bands).

When (and how) to trade: If you’re starting off with a watch like Shinola, you’ll know you’re buying a product with a lifetime guarantee, meaning there’s no reason your watch should depreciate in value over time so long as you take care of it.

So, after a few years in the working world, when your personal style changes and you’ve had a chance to tuck more funds away into savings, meet with your jeweler to see if trading in your watch or getting cash for it makes more sense for your next move.

Your trade-up watch


Who it’s for: Now, you’re a little more mature and might not be as worried about wearing a pricy piece of jewelry during a night out. You’ve proven you can take care of your things (sorry guys, sometimes this can take a while!) and see the value in quality items that also boost your social status just a little bit.

What is it: TAG Heuer is one of the most famous Swiss watch brands in the world and it’s surely a sign that your style is stepping up a notch. Maybe you’re ready to ditch the leather band and go for an all steel, sleek statement strap that will get you noticed as soon as you roll up your sleeves in a business meeting.

How to shop: Think about a realistic budget for how much you want to spend on this next watch and what you want the purchase to represent. Are you solidifying your status as someone to watch at work or just starting to appreciate the finer things in life? Either way, do your research and make sure you’re shopping for a brand that shares similar values with you so your watch looks even more natural sitting on your wrist.

When (and how) to trade: Say the first time you traded up a watch you took the cash deal because hey, who doesn’t like holding some serious dollar bills in their hand? But now if you’re ready to upgrade again, keep in mind you could get more in-store credit towards a new purchase by trading rather than taking the money and running. The bigger a purchase you make, the more time you'll want to spend checking out all your options to still get the most bang for your buck.

Your watch for life


Who it’s for: OK, let’s be real --at this point you might be getting into territory where you’re browsing for a watch that a rapper would sing about. You’re well established, successful in the way of material things and have probably developed a watch obsession by now as a result. No shame in this game, though. Watches signify status and success, and you should be proud of whatever you’ve done to get you to this point where a purchase like this is in the cards.

What is it: You’re looking for something like a Cartier watch with all the fixings --steel, leather, gold or whatever it is you desire. Cartier watches are a truly timeless, classic piece of jewelry, and the brand offers a number of collections that meet all of your high-end watch needs. You want diamonds? They have diamonds (as long as you have the budget).

How to shop: Again, the bigger the purchase, the more you want to be sure of what you’re shopping for and where you’re buying from. If you can’t imagine something that could cost you five-figures being shipped to your doorstep in the mail, then considering shopping at a physical store location and working with a consultant who can educate and guide you into making the best purchase for your lifestyle and personal style.

When (and how) to trade): Chances are you’re never going to want to get rid of this watch. When you look down at your wrist, you’ll be reminded of your accomplishments and of the watches you used to wear that eventually lead you to this one. You’ve reached your peak piece of wrist candy and since it’s so valuable, hang onto it and pass it down for as long as you can.

Think it’s about time to start shopping for a watch of your own? Browse the different watch collections online or visit a store to work with a consultant and try some on yourself.

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