Watches with lifetime warranties make timeless gifts
But few watchmakers offer them
But few watchmakers offer them
For many, a watch isn’t just some trinket to don today and toss tomorrow. It’s an item to wear indefinitely. A lifetime warranty makes sense if you’re in the market for a new, long-term timepiece, whether it’s for yourself or a gift for someone special. Only a handful of watchmakers back up their products for the duration of ownership, and they may not be the manufacturers that immediately come to mind. You have to search carefully to find lifetime guarantees but even then most cover only the movement—the internal mechanism—excluding the case, crystal (the glass covering the face) and band. In certain situations, the warranty is so limited that the term “lifetime” seems misleading. Narrowing the search to men’s watches for simplicity, we considered five manufacturers that claim to support their products for life. Our top pick is surprisingly affordable.
Texas-based Skagen is owned by global retailer Fossil. The company offers relatively inexpensive products, and the Moonphase Chronograph 901 XLB is its priciest watch. It features a leather band, sandblasted dial, Swiss movement, 30-minute counter, date and moon phase display. Skagen’s warranty covers faulty material or workmanship but not the band or crystal. The manufacturer doesn’t require regular servicing as Rotary does, and the warranty is relatively straightforward compared to that of Charles-Hubert Paris. The price is tempting, so if you’re looking for a bargain, lifetime-guaranteed watch, Skagen is your watchmaker.
Skagen doesn’t come close to matching the luxury level of Cartier, but its feature-rich product, no-nonsense warranty and low price point combine to make it the best value among the watches we considered
The priciest piece in the running, the Tank Solo has a storied pedigree. Company founder Louis Cartier designed the Tank in 1917, inspired by the sharp lines of the Renault-built tanks that France used in the First World War. This latest iteration of the watch has a steel case, sapphire crystal and synthetic spinel cabochon (the polished gemstone on the end of the knob used to adjust the time). The lifetime warranty covers any piece exhibiting a manufacturing defect. But if you ignore Cartier’s recommendation for which batteries to use, or if you have the watch serviced anywhere but an authorized Cartier shop, the company effectively blows up the guarantee.
California-based Steinhausen is best known for classic pocket watches, but it also offers wristwatches. The men’s line ranges from $250 to $2,100 in a variety of styles that will satisfy nearly every taste. This specific iteration of the Atlantis collection presents Swiss movement, an analog display and a black stainless-steel casing, contrasted with a white lizard-grain strap. (Multiple colour variants are available.) The warranty is somewhat limited, covering the movement only. But there’s no tricky contract language and no servicing required.
Founded in Switzerland in 1895, Rotary is now in London, England. Its pieces range from $200 to $7,000. The GS905502/04, a member of the new Jura collection, features Rotary’s first proprietary movement. The watch sports a black skeleton casing that displays the internal mechanism. The warranty covers the movement and all non-moving parts except straps and crystals. Rotary insists, however, it’s good only so long as the owner has the watch serviced—for a fee—every three years. Makes you wonder if this a warranty or a maintenance schedule.
Despite the name, this watchmaker is located in South El Monte, Calif. The X0242-010 is the most expensive piece Charles-Hubert Paris has to offer, featuring a sapphire crystal, Japanese automatic movement and a see-through case back. The warranty, however, is less than transparent. The company says it offers lifetime coverage on the movement, but just one year on manufacturing defects. What this means isn’t clear, and attempts to find out from Charles-Hubert Paris were unsuccessful.
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