Men’s Style’s complete guide to protecting and storing watches. By Elisabeth King.
Building a watch collection comes with responsibilities. Constant vigilance against theft, fire and loss for starters.
A burglary is committed somewhere in Australia every minute and, because of their size, watches and jewellery are top of the most wanted list. The problem is huge internationally, too, and our dependence on the Internet has springboarded the ancient crime of fencing to new heights.
The Art Loss Register, the world’s largest private data base for lost, stolen or looted artworks, antiques and collectibles, has even started a service called thewatchregister.com, which matches the serial numbers of Switzerland’s finest with timepieces sold by auction houses, pawnbrokers and private individuals to determine whether they are stolen goods.
“High calibre” (read: wealthy) consumers always enquire about insurance and the fixed costs of owning a boat, a luxury car or expensive watch. But younger clients often overlook the associated upkeep and insurance costs to protect and maintain luxury items, particularly watches, say insurers. Whether you own one expensive watch or several they need to be insured separately because they aren’t covered by a standard household contents policy.
Due diligence is also mandatory, even if you do update an insurance policy annually with a broker. The safest way to guard and store your watches is in a bank deposit box. But, unless you are going away for an extended period, it’s a drag to go to the bank and undergo a security check every time you want to wear a particular model.
A home safe is a much better option. Don’t be too cheap. Professional thieves have long been able to access the simple ones sold in hardware stores, even when they are bolted to the wall. A huge range of digital, fire-proof and in-floor safes are available online or in store to protect your horological investments. Check out: sentrysafe.com.au, cmisafe.com.au, justsafes.com.au and safesgalore.com.au
Dust, moisture and neglect are the other major threesome that pose a significant threat to the value and performance of a luxury watch. Watches also need to be stored separately to avoid wear caused by friction or physical damage. The original boxes aren’t just packaging, they’re specially made by the luxury watch brands to maintain the lustre of the timepieces. The problem is that three or four of them can take up too much space.
Speciality watch boxes come in all sizes, but the standard ones can store from three to 20 models. The smaller ones are perfect if you want to keep a collection of dive or chronograph watches together. The larger ones come in single and double layers to protect watches from the biggest danger to their functioning – dust.
Watch boxes can be as cheap as $50 or cost thousands if they are bespoke types made by storied manufacturers such as Hellermann in Germany ( hellermann.com). Heritage Brit brands, including the royal jeweller Asprey, Aspinal (aspinaloflondon.com) and Rapport (rapportlondon.com) specialise in watch boxes for gentlemen.
DL Trading (dltradingau.com.au) claims to be Australia’s number one watch box seller, and offers tips on watch maintenance. One piece of advice that should be written in stone is that storing your watches in a box is a good first step. “Every timepiece needs to be overhauled every three to five years by a watch expert to check the efficiency and performance of the product.”
Wind Up and Roll
Many connoisseurs store their watches in a winder because automatic watches stay precise by relying on the movement of your arm. Mechanical movements remain in top condition if they are constantly wound, so the lubricants inside don’t pool and maintain their purpose. Most high-end watches guard against over-winding, but you should bear three major things in mind. Is a winder easy to program for different watch models? Does the winder have a program? And is it powered by a battery or electricity? If you store your watches in a safe, battery-powered is the obvious buy. Good selections are available from: clockmaker.com.au and watchwinderworks.com.au
Watch rolls are having a moment. The most expensive ones are made from leather, but fabrics that can also be laid flat and can be rolled up into a small bundle are popular, too. Sydney-based brand Bas and Lokes (basandlokes.com) are a small artisan company, but its watch roll designs have been getting major attention from overseas watch fans. The new Manolo watch pouches are handmade to order and come in a range of leathers for only $89 each. Other watch roll names to note are Louis Vutton for its monogrammed watch rolls, Dunhill, Tod’s, Berluti and the US-based Royce Leather Gifts (royceleathergifts.com)
Bas and Lokes watch roll
This article originally appeared in the Winter issue of Men’s Style.