The best places in the world to buy watches

Hop on a whirlwind tour of Geneva, London and New York as we recommend the best places in the world to buy watches.

Watches of the world

Buying a watch that could cost anywhere from £5,000 and up is not what I would describe as a spur of the moment, impulsive buying experience. Before you embark on your watch-buying adventure, it’s worth spending a bit of time reading up on watches and preparing yourself with questions to ensure you are going to get the watch you really want and you will find some essential pointers in my article Things to look for in a luxury watch.  A companion destined to last a lifetime – and longer if properly looked after – I have compiled a short itinerary of some of the best places in the world to buy watches in Geneva, London and New York.

Ref. 5230 World Time watch
After 80 years, Patek Philippe’s classic World Time has been replaced with this new model known as Ref. 5230 (£31,320).

If you want to buy your watch direct from the source, Geneva is your destination. As the capital of Swiss watchmaking, all the top-tier watch brands are conveniently congregated on Geneva’s smartest shopping street, the Rue du Rhône. Literally paved with gold thanks to the high density of jewellery and watch brands in and around the central axis of Rue de Rhône, you can’t miss giants like Patek Philippe and Vacheron Constantin and will find the A-Z of luxury watch brands all within walking distance. For unique made-to-measure, fully customized watches, visit DeLaneau’s lakeside boutique where women’s watch fantasies really do come true. If you prefer to see your watches in the comfort of one shop, your best bet is Bucherer and Les Ambassadeurs, both located on Rue du Rhône offering a wide variety of big name and independent brands.

Tonda Metropolitaine watch with diamonds
Capturing the spirit of the boat race: the Tonda Metropolitaine watch in stainless steel with a diamond-set bezel (£9,600).

London is a mecca for watch magpies and, like Geneva, concentrates all the top watchmaking maisons in and around Old and New Bond Street. If you are after a vintage or second-hand watch, pop into the Burlington Arcade, and if a personal, one-on-one exchange with a watchmaker is what you’re after, head over to the swank neighbourhood of Mayfair where Swiss watch brand Parmigiani Fleurier has a resident watchmaker ready to answer all your questions and discuss the intricacies of watchmaking complications at his bench.

If you are still unsure about which brand or model you want to buy, pop into Watches of Switzerland on Regent Street, Europe’s largest showroom devoted exclusively to luxury Swiss watches, and feast yourself on the vast array of brands.

East West watch
Inspired by a travel clock of the 1940s, Tiffany’s new East West collection includes this attractive watch with a Tiffany blue dial and double tour calfskin strap (£2,850).

The city that doesn’t sleep is also one of the best places in the world to buy watches. Home to Tiffany’s iconic Fifth Avenue flagship store, which carries Tiffany’s very own line of Swiss-made watches, New York is one of the most vibrant markets in the U.S. capable of catering to every desire. For an unbeatable selection of more than 8,000 models from 100 brands, try Tourneau TimeMachine, America’s largest watch retailer, or take a trip back in time at the Aaron Faber Gallery, where rare Patek Philippe and Rolex watches will catch the eye of collectors. As one of the most respected watch dealers in the U.S., Aaron Faber offers an impeccable level of personal service and has a service centre for the restoration and repair of mechanical watches. 

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