When it comes to travelling with your prized timepiece, it’s understandable if you approach it with some trepidation. The watch you’ve saved up for; been handed down through generations; or been given as a gift means a lot to you but could also mean a big payout from the pawnshop for any potential thieves.
For the best kleptomaniacs out there, flaunting a high-end piece of horology on your wrist is the equivalent to a magpie spotting a shiny spoon. Take this case of an $840,000 Richard Mille being swiped straight off the wrist of a Japanese businessman in Paris, or, worse still, a $1.3m Richard Mille 50-03 McLaren F1 being stolen off a man in Ibiza.
So what steps do you take to ensure its safety? Not only does it need to be protected en route to your destination, but it needs to be kept safe when you get there. Fortunately, with luxury timepieces being recognised as items of high value, ensuring they survive their trip is surprisingly easy.
What Watch Is Best?
First of all, you need to decide which time tellers are going to be accompanying you on your trip. Watches of Switzerland says with regards to this, “Do you need different watches for different purposes (casual, swimming, formal, second time zones, etc) or one watch for all purposes?”
If you’re travelling for business, then taking one of your fancier models is perfectly acceptable. It could finally be a chance to show off that new Rolex you just got. But if you’re going to be rock climbing with the kids, then we’re sure you’d sooner spend their college fund on a replacement were said Rolex to take any bumps. You’ll, therefore, need to take something either less expensive, or more robust.
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Watches of Switzerland also says you should consider the movement when packing for a trip. “Do you wish the watch to be wound and ready to wear? For automatic watches, this would require a watch winder, which adds to the mass and weight.”
What To Do At The Airport
When you arrive at the airport, it’s not just a case of walking through security. Your watch can be susceptible to all manner of damage risks, so there are a few things you need to do to avoid them. Firstly, don’t put your luxury timepiece in your checked baggage, as it’s out of your sight and if anything were to happen to it during transit, you won’t know about it until you reach your hotel.
The safest option is to wear it on your wrist, or at the very least put it in a protective case in your carry-on luggage. As for security, the debate as to whether you should take it off for screening is as old as time itself. To avoid the risk of being strip-searched by an officer with hands large enough to rival a goalkeeper’s, consider putting your watch underneath your bag in the tray, to help minimise the magnetising effects of the X-ray machine.
Some watch enthusiasts argue these machines have little to no effect on watches, at least those of the mechanical ilk, but it’s always better to be safe than have a watch that’s inaccurate by a few seconds.
“If you are travelling first class with a trunk, you can accord to stow a multiple watch winder”, adds WoS, “If you are travelling economy, you will probably opt for a lighter watch carry case.”
“The objectives in choosing the best option are to protect the watches from impact, scratches, dust, humidity and heat.”
Hard Is Better Than Soft
When it comes to cases, we’d highly recommended investing in a hard-shell case. Soft, fabric watch rolls look cool and have protective qualities, but they’re no match for a hard counterpart. Yes, it might take up a little extra space in your bag, but if it’s the difference between a damaged and undamaged watch, we’re sure you’ll be more than happy to forego that extra pair of shoes.
Watches of Switzerland sums it up perfectly: “When your selection of watches gets above a certain value, it is worth investing in the best quality of travel cases available.”
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As for recommendations, the retailer is happy to oblige. “[We] recommend Scatola del Tempo, the company which invented the first portable consumer watch winder in 1990.”
“There are portable models of Scatola del Tempo watch winders capable of maintaining the energy of one, four, six or nine watches, of any shape or size up to 56mm.”
“Likewise, the Scatola travel cases vary from the robust Viaggio or Valigetta, for one, four, six, eight or sixteen watches on strap or bracelet up to 56mm, to the lighter Pochette 4, capable of carrying four oversized watches on strap or bracelet.”
Ensure It’s Insured
We suspect you would have already thought of this if you have a watch worth four, five or six figures (perhaps even more) but be sure to take out an insurance policy to protect you and your watch should the worst happen. A number of insurance companies cater specifically for high-value jewellery and watches, with most letting you choose the jeweller or boutique you take it to should it need any repairs.
All good hotel rooms will have a safe hidden somewhere inside. Use this to your advantage. If you leave your timepiece on the bedside table, or inside your luggage, it’ll be like taking candy from a baby for anyone that comes into service your room*.
*Disclaimer: we’re not saying hotel room attendants are thieves,
Don’t Flaunt It
As we eluded to in the introduction of this piece, flaunting your finest wristwear is only going to attract the attention of the kind of people you don’t want to associate yourself with. Of course, we’re not saying you can’t wear your watch outside, but instead, just be cautious of your surroundings (don’t venture down dark alleyways, for example) and make sure it’s as tight on your wrist as possible.