So you can’t afford a serious timepiece OR How to wear a Panerai for $1600

TimeCaptain's Luminor Marina 1950 3 Days Automatic PAM00359

TimeCaptain’s Luminor Marina 1950 3 Days Automatic PAM00359

So you can’t afford a serious timepiece. I hear ya. I feel ya. You desperately WANT a piece. You read WatchPaper, you follow TimeCaptain on twitter, you watch YouTube videos, and you dream about all the fantastic timepieces out there….but you just don’t have thousands of dollars to spare on such an unnecessary luxury. You’re DYING to acquire a real timepiece, but economic reality just won’t allow such and indulgence. In today’s blog, we will explore your situation and suggest some remedies and possible courses of action.

The first thing you need to do is look in the mirror and admit that you are full of s__t! You can’t raise 5 grand to put a proper timepiece on your wrist? Get real! Where are your priorities?

How many weekend trips did you take this year? Miami? New York? Hockey games? How many dinners out? How many gadgets and toys did you buy? Oh, I see. And were those free? No? I see. So you could, in fact, have afforded a Planet Ocean chronograph…but you CHOSE all that other stuff instead. Prioritize, man! A weekend trip leaves you with nothing! But a fine timepiece will last for decades and retain some value.

Hey, I am on a budget, too. But I drive an economy car. This decision alone saves me hundreds of dollars each month, which frees up some cash for watches or watch accessories. And let me tell you something- when I show up to a meeting in a board room on the 25th floor of some huge building, noone knows (or cares) if I arrived in a Porsche, a Honda or a city bus. But they all stare at my Panerai.

Another thing about cars- I live in the city and I use the subway and even the express bus. Some weeks, I may spend a grand total of 2 hours in my car. Is it worth spending twice as much to have said car be a premium German car? However, when I put on a Rolex, I’ll wear it for 16-17 hours in one day! And it will accompany me everywhere I go! So where should you put your money? Don’t get me wrong, I would drive a Porsche Macan S if I had the budget. But we’re talking about real world choices today. Priorities, gentlemen!

OK so you agree that a Panerai is justified. But you literally do not have 7 grand in your savings account. What now? Leverage! Finance! Borrow! If the financial crisis of 2008 taught us anything, it’s that regular people can obtain tons of debt and you can enjoy stuff now while paying for it much later…if you pay it off at all! Surely, you have access to some credit facilities. A credit line could cost as little as 6% and a low interest credit card could cost around 11%. You may not have 7 grand in cash, but you could afford 200 bucks per month. Cut back on the coffee stops, stop going out, buy less booze and you can easily find some free cash flow. In fact, using some leverage, you can effectively lease a timepiece. Here is an example.

TimeCaptain's PAM00540 on a custom made strap.

TimeCaptain’s PAM00540 on a custom made strap.

You find a beautiful, mint pre-owned Panerai Luminor PAM00111 for 6 grand. You pay for it using a credit line that currently costs 6% interest. You start paying $150 per month toward your credit line (including interest). After 2 years, you sell your Panerai for $5000 (very realistic). You spent $3600 over 2 years. You reduced your credit line balance to about $3000 and you received $5000 for your Panerai. So your net cost over 2 years was roughly $1600.
Think about that. $1600 for a Panerai for 2 years. Isn’t that a great deal? Sign me up!

You can also find deals. Consider the grey market and/or pre-owned. You might find, for example, a Rolex Submariner that LOOKS like new but that was originally bought 6 months ago by some guy who wants to unload it to acquire something else. And I have often been THAT guy!!! These are the deals you need to look for. Imagine a Jaeger-LeCoultre chronograph for only 7 or 8 grand. It is possible. I have held, in my own hands, a pre-owned-yet-like-new JLC Master chrono that was sold for under 8 g’s. And you could never tell it was 6 years old. Imagine that. I bought my very first Panerai for under 4 grand! A Radiomir PAM00210. Under 4 grand. It was 7 years old, but cleaned up to look NEW. For real.

So you still can’t find enough cash? Sell some assets! A few years ago, I was craving another nice mechanical timepiece for my collection. But I did not have a lot of cash. What I DID HAVE was a collection for Formula 1 models and memorabilia that I had accumulated over the previous 25 years or so. Fortunately, some of this stuff had a bit of value. It took nearly one whole year, but I sold every last item. And then I bought a sweet timepiece. So how about yourself? Get rid of that motorbike. You’re too old for Xbox games, sell ’em off. Sell off your baseball cards. Hustle. Get moving. You can’t go on, pretending to be a respectable man without a real timepiece. Let something go and conjure up some watch money.

Panerai Radiomir

TimeCaptain’s Radiomir only lasted 6 months because he traded it in toward a PAM00540 through Canadian Watch Collectors.

After all of these ideas, you still can’t come up with enough scratch to buy a decent timepiece? Get creative, man! Partner up with somebody. Do you have a friend in the same situation? How about a timeshare? Let’s say you’re both dying for a PAM00351 and you find one for $8000. You can each use the suggestions above to raise your own $4000, buy the piece, and then alternate it each week. Since the 351 has a quick-release strap change system, you could even each have your very own strap to use when it’s your week. This way, it feels like your very own piece while you wear it and you can coordinate with your partner to make sure that you each get the piece for big occasions (meetings, presentations, special events, etc.).

And if, after all of these suggestions, you still haven’t been able to liberate some cash for a watch purchase…sell blood! Volunteer for a medical experiment! The sky is the limit. Keep your eye on the prize.

So to summarize this blog, there is NO reason why you cannot manage to acquire a real, serious timepiece. Or even your dream piece- your grail. There is really no reason this cannot happen. Prioritize. Reduce your discretionary spending. Forget expensive cars. Borrow- use leverage. Check out the grey market. Liquidate assets. Be creative. And….enjoy. The fun is always in the search.

Yours truly,


TimeCaptain is a self-confessed timepiece junkie.  He spends nearly all of his spare time buying,  selling,  trading,  researching, admiring and trying different timepieces. He's also a fanatic Formula 1 fan, having followed every single Grand Prix since 1991.  He switches to NFL football in the fall and roots for the Green Bay Packers. A child of the 1980's, TimeCaptain is mad about 80's music,  TV, cinema and pop culture.  Another interest of TimeCaptain is space exploration and the study of distant planets and galaxies. When asked about his favorite watch,  TimeCaptain remembers Enzo Ferrari's answer as to his favorite car- "the one I haven't built yet."