This article was contributed by avid watch collector and travel writer Charlotte McCulloch, who writes for TravelSupermarket.com. Since living in Singapore as a child and travelling to countries such as Thailand, Borneo and Australia, she has always had a keen interest in travel. More recent holidays include trips to Paris, New York and the islands around Spain.
It’s surprising just how many of us are watch lovers, whether small and practical watches or large and chunky statement watches. There is a whole range of quirky, vintage, fun and sports watches in between.
As with any good accessory, a watch can brighten up an outfit or add a touch of fun or glamour. Of course, they remind you of the time when you’re running late for that all-important appointment or date!
Many of us also find that we buy our watches whilst out shopping in some of the world’s most popular retail destinations, whether that’s on a holiday, work trip, or just in the course of our daily travels. There’s no better feeling than buying a watch that will last, from a place that has meaning and memory for you. Like a good watch, those memories will stand the test of time.
If you’re hunting down a quality watch, don’t automatically go for the designer and high-end options. Some of the best watches aren’t the most expensive, so it’s worth doing your research first and checking which brands are known for having the attributes that you value most. These may be expert time keeping, style, vintage appeal or quirky fashion.
When looking at destinations to shop for a watch, keep these factors in mind, as they’ll influence where you head for. For example, Hong Kong is one of the most famous shopping destinations in the world, but you do need to be careful that you’re buying genuine watches from one of the official outlets. The place to go is Nathan Road in Tsim Sha Tsui. Every legendary Swiss brand gleams and tempts from one shop window after another.
Look for the brand name above the shop and avoid Temple Street Night Market and Stanley Market, as they are just full of replicas – and fakes, as we all know, are for dummies. Most tour operators will run shopping tours that will help you find the best, legitimate outlet stores and the prices and variety is impressive.
Pick up quirky plastic watches, neon pop vinyl watches, manga themed and animated kids’ watches and other Japanese themed watches in Tokyo. Look for unusual features such as featureless faces, zany shapes and experimental sizing and design concepts. Casio is probably the most famous of Japanese watch manufacturers and if you’re a fan of the G-Shock you can pick one up at the G Shock store in Tokyo.
Amsterdam is a wonderful place to pick up a watch if you love diamonds, crystals or general bling. The capital of Europe’s diamond industry, Amsterdam has some wonderful independent jewellers and watchmakers that specialise in glamorous, eye-catching timepieces that will get you noticed! Make your way to Amsterdam Vintage Watches situated just outside the city for great unique pieces – you might even find yourself a hidden gem!
London is the classic destination to head for Savile Row tailoring and quality classic timepieces. For every old school watch, there will be a funky fashion watch from one of the emerging designers from this international trend-setting city. Keep an eye out for fashion-forward colours, styles, shapes and innovative design features that may not cost much now, but will hold their value in time and potentially become a collector’s piece.
With that in mind, if you are buying watches as an investment, be sure to keep the boxes and any other accessories. Those who remember Swatch from the 1980s won’t be surprised to know that there is a strong collector’s market for well preserved and maintained examples of these inexpensive and fun watches of their era. If you feel like picking yourself up a Swatch watch now and are in London visit their flagship store situated on Oxford Street itself.
Dubai is a great place to pick up an unusual statement or jewellery watch in one of the souks particularly those located in Deira and Bur Dubai, as is Morocco, famous for its street markets and beautiful intricate designs. Be prepared to haggle and pay a little more for local craftsmanship and antique timepieces.
In a similar vein, if you love high fashion and timeless style alike, Paris will always be the fashionista’s favourite shopping destination. When in Paris head to the Puces de Montreuil flea market,. This authentic flea market is the Ali Baba’s cave of Paris. You may have to be prepared to hunt for your treasures and there’s no guarantee you will find what you are looking for, however if you do find something you like you will feel like you’ve hit the jackpot! Expect to find some beautiful vintage watches, which, if your French is up to it, can be had for a real bargain.
Even the high street stores will sell excellent timepieces that work well with all the latest colours and trends of the season, perfect for treating yourself to more than one watch; after all, the idea that one just needs a watch for work and a fancy one for play is just so outdated!
One final tip is to look close to home for vintage pieces at reclamation yards, junk stores and car boot sales. Alternatively, go online on Ebay and find unusual fashion pieces, jewellery watches, costume watches, historical timepieces and more.
If you love watches you’ll find a way to enjoy them even if they have stopped working. Remember that the services of an old fashioned craftsman or craftswoman can often get the most stubborn old watch up and working again!