Even when we are whizzing around in self-driving cars, buying android butlers using chips embedded in our arms, there will still be a watch strapped to our wrists according to Alex Stonely.

The head of retail operations for Watchfinder said business was booming, especially in the secondhand market.

“There are many reasons why people buy a watch,” he said.

Head of retail operations Alex Stonely

“For some it is replacement jewellery and, in certain industries and jobs, it’s a status symbol and sign of success.

“Some buyers appreciate the craft that goes into it. They wear it because they understand it is an impressive piece of technology.

“I don’t think watch wearing will ever change. They are more of an asset than ever for blokes, meaning young men are spending a lot of money on them.”

He started in the business nine years ago when it was just one office and an online store.

Now it has 180 staff spread across three offices and five stores, the newest of which is in Cabot Place in Canary Wharf.

Watchfinder in Cabot Place

We have been wanting to come here for a long time,” he said. “And it has been the most successful store opening we have done, with sales exceeding our bigger stores.”

It has around 300 models on display at any given time, but staff can also sell any watch listed in its online store and have it available the next day. Rolex accounts for about 40% of its business but it sells watches from £400 to more than £100,000.

The majority are bought from individuals and it encourages clients to trade up or sell their watches. As a result 40% of its sales are from existing customers.

Those wanting to sell their watch get an estimate in-store. Their timepiece will then be sent off to the in-house team, with staff accredited by some of the top watch brands, who check it for authenticity and make any repairs using genuine parts before it is sold.

Alex said: “We try to make the process as simple as possible. And because the value of pre-owned watches has gone up, quite often the customer will make their money back. That is partly because more and more retailers are making limited edition models that can only then be bought second hand.

“Omega is one example. It is known as a mass producer of watches
but has started to produce limited editions that sell out and then command massive premiums.”

He only owns two watches, an Omega and a Patek Philippe, but knows collectors who have up to £1million worth of timepieces and clients who trade in for a different model almost every year.

“It is a really nice when we get to see a customer go on a journey, from their first watch trading up maybe up to 10 times to their dream watch.”

1) The priciest

Watchfinder: Rolex GMT Master II

Rolex GMT Master II

You can literally dazzle your rivals with this sparkler which has a diamond pave dial, oyster lock and automatic movement.

Made from 18ct yellow gold and set with diamonds and sapphires it is shinier than One Canada Square and is less than a year old.


2) The rarest

Rolex Daytona

Rolex Daytona

Released last year, there is a five-year waiting list for this model.

Customers have been seduced by the steel case, black dial and new ceramic bezel.

It retails for £9,100 but is selling for thousands more secondhand.


3) The trend-setter

Hublot Big Bang King

Hublot Big Bang King

Surely one of the coolest watch names around and only 500 were made.

Not only are you unlikely to see anyone else wearing it but the red rubber and black ceramic case makes it sturdy enough to wear everyday without fear of value-reducing scratches.

The brand also holds its value well – this watch was originally £14,000, which will help if you want to trade up to something sleeker in a few years.


4) The classic

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak

This is the watch you trade up to after a Rolex.

The brand is extremely popular at the moment and this is a classic sports watch.

Slightly larger than previous models at 41mm it features a rose gold case and black crocodile strap.


5) The prettiest

Rolex Pearlmaster

Rolex Pearlmaster

Rose gold is still the fashionista’s favourite choice because of it’s flattering pink hue and Instagram cache.

But this watch also offers elegance and refinement by way of a beautiful floral dial and a six marker made from diamonds.

They retail at £27,000 new.


6) The status symbol

Richard Mille AG TI Felipe Massa

Richard Mille AG TI Felipe Massa

This brand is known for working with some of the coolest sportsman around an is worn by Rafael Nadal.

Designed in conjunction with Brazilian F1 driver Felipe Massa, only 300 of this model were made meaning it is as hard to chase down as the man himself.

Built to last it features a titanium 40mm case, black rubber strap and bold yellow details on the face.


7) The heirloom

Patek Philippe Gondola

Patek Philippe Gondola

Considered by those in the industry as the ‘daddy’ of watch brands.

This rectangular dress watch has a white gold case, manual movement and alligator blue strap.

This is one to hold onto and pass down to the next generation.


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