Do your research
Choosing a watch is a personal and considered decision. Picking a style can be difficult, and a little investigation can go a long way. Firstly, says watch enthusiast and expert metalworker Jan Lidmaňský, you must choose which look is right for you. ‘Regarding a style, you can choose an elegant or a sporty watch.’ This choice should be informed by your own tastes and personality, as well as your needs. ‘For example, if you choose a sporty style, it could be influenced by norms important for drivers, aviators, divers or just yacht lovers’.
Think about looks
Once this basic decision has been made, the finer aesthetic details come into play. Whether you choose a traditional leather strap, precious metal links or another material, the varieties are endless, and making the correct choice can often seem overwhelming. ‘The difference between styles of watches is just enormous,’ says Lidmaňský. ‘There are many to choose from and, of course, also many different versions.’
So how can you be sure you’re getting everything you want? ‘The most important thing is to know that watches from the real manufacturers – those that produce their own movements – will be more expensive than those who aren’t producing them bespoke.’ As with any luxury item, the more you pay, the more you get.
What lies within
What a watch looks like is only part of the story. A crucial element is what is going on inside the case – which is where it all starts to get quite technical. The movement (also known as the calibre) is the engine that makes everything work, and can be either quartz or mechanical – and the mechanical movements can be either manual or self-winding. The calibre also powers the additional features, known as ‘complications’, which can include everything from dual time zones to moon phases.
When navigating the often impenetrable language of watch mechanics, many clients can feel a bit lost. Lidmaňský believes the key is to pick your purveyor carefully, ideally opting for a bespoke design. ‘Personally I recommend the really rare haute horology makers, such as Audemars Piguet, which has a boutique in the centre of Prague. Here you can have specialities made by Jaeger-LeCoultre, Officine Panerai, Piaget, Parmigiani and Vacheron Constantin. If you want something iconic and local, you can also order a bespoke Czech watch in this store. Two independent watchmakers will custom-make your watch, delivering your ticking memento of the beautiful city directly to you.’
Where to buy
When watch-hunting in Prague, there’s one street that has to be on every serious buyer’s list. ‘If you are aiming for haute horology, you have to go to Pařížská,’ says Lidmaňský. ‘It’s the street of luxury brands. Alongside famous fashion labels such as Louis Vuitton, Dior and Porsche Design, you can find lot of luxury boutiques offering really special horological miracles: Audemars Piguet, Cartier, Chopard and Zenith, for example. Of course, you can find other popular brands, such as Rolex, Montblanc, Hublot and Omega as well. Keep an eye out for the new Patek Philippe and Breitling boutiques.’
There are plenty of other options for every budget in the centre of Prague. Koscom, which covers 800 square metres, carries one of the largest ranges of watches in central Europe, including more than 40 designer brands. ‘You will find Perrelet, Tag Heuer, Frederique Constant, Oris, Longines and even really niche manufacturers such as H Moser & Cie and Vulcain in Koscom, and the customer service in amazing,’ explains Lidmaňský.
Another personal favourite of Lidmaňský is the Prokop & Brož atelier on Václavské náměstí (Wenceslas square). Producing around 50 watches per year, this fine watchmaker is truly niche. Also on a small scale, Luděk Seryn specialises in creating handmade skeleton watches, and produces a maximum of five gold timepieces a year – a truly indulgent purchase.
The charms of Prague
Is there anything Lidmaňský feels one should avoid when shopping for the perfect luxury watch? ‘If you are shopping in the established boutiques in Prague, you can’t really go wrong. There are watch shops in Prague that have really long family traditions, as well as the better-known stores and brands, and that is what makes the city so special.’
From independent boutiques to large retailers, Prague is the perfect place to shop for your future timepiece, Lidmaňský believes. ‘It’s the atmosphere that makes Prague a good place to buy a watch. Just look around. In the future, each glance at your wrist can be a little reminder of the fabulous time had in the old town with its stunning astronomical clock.’