Goodbye buyer’s remorse: How to buy a watch sight unseenSean Roberts
In 2021, the average watch consumer is less likely than ever to try on a watch before buying it. And it’s not because they’re filthy rich and see no reason for such an experience. It’s just that the logistics of the current industry often make such an endeavour damn near impossible. Even with hundreds of authorised dealers spread across a country, the average consumer can still be separated from the watch they’re lusting after by hundreds of miles. This relegates most buyers to purchasing a watch sight unseen from either a sales forum, online retailer or brand website.
Yet, this predicament doesn’t have to lead to a disaster of a purchase. You can significantly increase your odds of ending up with a watch you’ll keep and not one they’ll immediately dread buying. Here are some tips from a repeat online watch buyer on how to buy a watch sight unseen.
Know Your Wrist
Every measurement counts when buying a watch online. But before pulling out that measuring tape, the easiest place to start is by pulling out your most comfortable watch. Once in hand, write down the model number and hit the Google. Add lug-to-lug, thickness and width to your searches, writing down everything you can find. By the time you’re done, you’ll have a list of numbers that basically define comfort on your wrist.
I would then highly suggest you find out what your wrist size (the importance of which I’ll hark on later) and diameter are. Your wrist size is the measurement around your wrist, usually written out in either centimetres or inches. Your wrist diameter is the measurement from the top of your wrist to the bottom of your wrist, as seen when looking straight down at a watch on your wrist. Seeing as most wrists are not perfectly round, the wrist diameter gives you a better idea of how things such as lug-to-lug will look on your wrist.
For example, my wrist diameter is about 60mm. I like anywhere from a 10-16 mm difference between this and the lug-to-lug of the watch I’m looking to buy. So if the watch I’m looking at has a 48mm lug-to-lug, I know I’ll be a happy customer.
Know Your Watch
Chances are, a thorough online search of the watch you want to buy will lead to a plethora of information. All the dimensions you need should come up allowing you to compare them against your “comfort” watch. Furthermore, take note of the type of watch you’re looking for and how that may skew your numbers in either direction. Dress watches will come in at dimensions smaller than that of a diver while a pilot watch may skew larger. Once again, go back to your comfort watch and decide the tolerances you’re willing to accept.
Should a search not provide the numbers you need, Instagram is a great source for information. Search for the watch by hashtags. See who is wearing it. Ask them what their measurements are and compare them to yours. I can’t begin to tell you how many times I’ve asked a random user on Instagram what their wrist size is.
Know Your Retailer
Last but not least, at the moment when you’ve decided that all the measurements are right and you want the watch, do some research on the online retailers who carry it. See if they provide watch sizing before shipping it out to you, at which point knowing your wrist size will come in handy. Check their customer reviews for any potential negative feedback. Check their return policy; should you end up just not liking the watch in the metal, you want to make sure you’re not stuck with a huge restocking fee for returning it. Finally, take note of just how long you have to return it.
As you can see, preparation and research are key. They allow you to navigate the online watch purchasing landscape as an informed consumer, thus avoiding the potential pitfalls of buying a watch sight unseen. Do it enough and even your fear and apprehension will begin to dissipate. At that point, you’ll only have to worry about sneaking said online purchase past your spouse. Unfortunately, I can’t help you there.