What Is a Grail Watch? Understanding the Basics of Grail Watches

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All serious watch collectors have at least one “grail watch.” Among collectors, the term “grail watch” is used to describe the ultimate watch, the one watch that they must have within their collection. This type of watch is one that a collector would never sell if they were finally able to get their hands on it.

Suppose you are interested in collecting watches; you probably have quite a long list of watches you wish to add to your collection. This list may shrink or grow each year as your taste in watches changes, but the grail watch never does. This watch ranks high up on your list, and your feelings about it never change. The grail watch is the one you cannot stop thinking or talking about. Every chance you get, you are discussing it with other avid watch collectors or anybody else who will listen.

One of the greatest things about a grail watch is it can be different for every collector. No set timepiece screams out grail watch. Even better is there is no rule stating you can only have one grail watch, although many collectors do. Your grail watch doesn’t have to be outrageously expensive. It really only has to be something you have longed after for a really long time.

What You Should Look for in a Grail Watch? Things to Consider

One of the most interesting conversations watch collectors have with other collectors is regarding grail watches. When collectors get together, the stories of why a particular watch is a grail come out. Collectors will often share with others the criteria they use in determining if a watch is a grail or not.

No matter what you might hear in these conversations or what other collectors might say, there is no definite formula watch collectors use to decide on what makes a watch a grail watch. These watches don’t have to be expensive; they don’t even have to be rare pieces. However, even though there are no specific requirements, most grail watches have three things in common.

Rare Pieces

Most grail watches on the collector’s list are extremely rare pieces. In some cases, these watches are so rare that the collector hasn’t even seen the watch in person. Other collectors feel that it has to be unique for a watch to become a grail watch, something crafted just for them. These rare pieces are considered to be the best a brand has to offer. Some may be discontinued, while others were only made in specific quantities.

One thing to keep in mind is that no dealer wants to sell these rare timepieces to somebody who will flip them for a profit. If you are lucky enough to get your hands on one of these priceless options, you probably underwent a thorough vetting process. Selling the timepiece within the first couple of years of owning it is the fastest way to get yourself blacklisted within the community.


If you think about the term “Holy Grail,” you know it’s a quest to obtain some sacred object. The same thing applies to the watch you are after. You make it your mission to obtain the one timepiece you just can’t do without. This watch is special and unique to you because of what it reminds you of, often a particular person who wore it before you.

For example, you can purchase a replica of the Rolex Paul Newman wore in the 1960s, but that doesn’t make it a grail watch. Finding and purchasing the actual watch that he wore would be. Grail watches don’t have to belong to famous people or be super expensive. They just have to be valuable to you. The best example is owning a timepiece that belonged to your father or his father. Something like that is extremely valuable to the person and is irreplaceable.


Although not all grail watches are going to be outrageously expensive, most of them are. The outrageous price of these watches is typically linked to their rarity. The harder something is to find, the more expensive it is going to be. As most collectors seek grail watches that are unique or limited editions, the prices jump even more because they are no longer being manufactured.

Why You Should Not Buy a Grail Watch?

Regardless of how badly you want a grail watch, there are a few reasons as to why you shouldn’t buy one. The biggest reason why most people stop short of buying a grail watch is because of the price. It’s rather ironic because the expensive price tag is one of the qualities most collectors look for when it comes to a grail watch, but it is also the one reason that stops them from purchasing it. Some collectors simply can’t justify the price of a watch, even if it’s one they have wanted to own their entire life.

Another reason not to purchase one is that you have outgrown it. Some collectors recount stories of how they spent endless years searching for a specific watch. After they were able to successfully track it down and get their hands on it, they discovered they no longer wanted it. Many collectors find their tastes changing as they get older, which means watches they once thought looked fantastic no longer have that same appeal. Once they put that watch on their wrist, they discover it will just sit in a box collecting dust as it’s no longer something they would wear.