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What you need to know about extended watch warranties

With major watch brands announcing far longer warranties than the industry-standard of two years, the question arises: to extend or not?

In horology, the topic of watch warranties isn’t the sexiest, but recent developments have necessitated a closer look at them.

In the past few years, various brands have announced extended warranty periods (far) beyond the industry standard of two years. Rolex was the first major player to do so in 2015, when it extended its international warranty to five years – no mean feat, considering its sizeable annual production. Other brands have followed its lead since then, from independents like HYT to larger players like Omega.

Currently, Faberge offers the longest conventional warranty period of 10 years for its timepieces. Jaeger-LeCoultre isn’t far behind, though, with an eight-year warranty period under its Care Programme. We have it on good authority that other brands in Richemont will gradually announce similar eight-year warranty programmes as well.

(RELATED: Why high-end watch brands are moving into pre-owned markets)

At its heart, this is a simple issue of economics: Warranties are signalling devices that imply the quality of their products. Here, they simply show a brand’s confidence in the timepieces that it produces. Offering extended warranties obviously comes at a cost, but brands can gain much from such a move, beyond the benefit of bolstering their brand equity. In Jaeger-LeCoultre’s case, for example, the Care Programme is part of an extensive customer relationship management system that allows the manufacture to keep in touch with its customers and the boutiques to potentially create more sales opportunities with these individuals.

For watch buyers, there’s certainly no downside to these extended warranty periods. According to conventional wisdom, mechanical watches should be serviced regularly every two to five years, depending on how often they’re worn. The longer warranties have simply moved the “free service” offered by brands to the upper limit of this recommended time period. Peace of mind aside, this could also promote a more active preowned market by guaranteeing the watches’ condition should their owners want to sell them within the first five years. It all makes for a virtuous circle worth getting excited about.

(RELATED: New Jaeger-LeCoultre CEO marks fresh chapter for one of world’s oldest watchmaking brands)

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