The sad truth is that all watch collecting will end at some point. The good thing is that you can decide when it should end. At some point, the object that will finally bring you (and your credit card) peace will also reveal itself to you. In the case of watch collectors, these are known as 'Exit' or 'Holy Grail' watches. It is the watch that will replace all your other watches and rest on your wrist for the rest of your life.
What constitutes an Exit watch?
Who coined the term is unclear, but browse popular forums or listen to the well-known watch exchanges and you will read numerous reports from those still seeking and those who have already found. But the road can be long to finding an Exit watch and requires experience and taste, which only develop through time and collecting.
Defining the Exit watch is thus difficult. These are usually rare models from popular series, such as the Rolex Daytona, which have already been taken out of production and are worth millions at auctions, or simply very expensive and complex watches such as the Ref. 5207P-001 by Patek Philippe from the Grand Complication series. And for some, it’s simply a Submariner with a particular Rolex dial or a GMT-Master with a faded bezel.
Important criteria for buying an Exit watch
It is one thing to finally find your Exit watch, another thing to buy it. We have summarized here what you should be aware of when making your choice and purchase. Try not to worry about style: trust your gut feeling. As long as you like the watch, everything is fine.
ServiceThe most important thing with an Exit watch is that you inform yourself about the service. Especially small or new brands might simply disappear from the market, which can turn the maintenance of your watch into an Odyssey.
DetailsMake sure that the details fit seamlessly into your life. Dual time, chronographs and perpetual calendars are wonderful everyday helpers, while acoustic complications such as minute repeaters are very unique, and not necessarily relevant for everyday life.
Fit of the watchIt can be tragic if you have found your Exit watch, but it is either too narrow or large for your wrist. You most certainly already know your suitable watch size, so check out the case diameter and wristband length of your Holy Grail watch in advance. You also might wish to discuss with your trusted watchmaker whether the watch could be adjusted to your wishes.
Use and wearAn Exit watch is not a watch for safekeeping, which is why its function and wear should be a top priority. If you have found a model, but the case is already dissolving or the dial is about to disintegrate, it would be better to move on
BargainingWhenever you decide to buy your Exit watch, it is important to start low in order to have room to negotiate. Many private retailers will use sentimentality against you to raise the price. So negotiate as you would any other watch.
Top 5 Exit watches at Watchmaster
Patek Philippe Minute Repeater Perpetual Calendar 5074R-001As much as you may occasionally have to take care with a repeater (and you really don’t want the timepiece to ring accidentally during a meeting), we are enchanted by the rich sound of this timepiece. Patek Philippe already mastered the art of the minute repeater in 1924 and remains unmatched to this day. The Ref. 5074R-001 was produced between 2002 and 2015 and captivates with its cathedral gong, which needs a much longer rate spring than a normal chiming mechanism to develop its full sound. This model also has a perpetual calendar so that you are also sure when you want to play the time.
PATEK PHILIPPE MINUTE REPEATER PERPETUAL CALENDAR 5074R-001
Rolex Submariner 6536For the vintage enthusiasts among you, we have picked a Rolex Submariner 6536 from 1957 – only four years after the series was officially launched. The watch is worn and has a decorative engraving on the back, but otherwise consists solely of original parts.
Hublot Big Bang 341.PC.3380.PC.1104This special edition of the Big Bang comes with a brown dial and case as well as a diamond-studded bezel, which slightly softens the industrial design of the watch. Launched in 2005, the Big Bang is still one of the most popular fusion watches and captivates with sophisticated material combinations.
HUBLOT BIG BANG 341.PC.3380.PC.1104