07/10/2013 07:51 BST | Updated 04/12/2013 05:12 GMT

How to Choose a Watch

For my 21st birthday I wanted a designer handbag. My Mum said no straight away, reasoning that in a year I'd be bored with it and be clamouring (fruitlessly) for a new one. Instead, I was given a watch as a joint present from both parents and grandparents and I was glad Mum had vetoed the handbag option. The watch felt like a 'forever' gift, not merely transient fashion item. A watch is both a useful wrist adornment (it stops you checking the time on your phone every two minutes) and a stunning piece of jewellery in its own right. It says something about you, your style and can be as big and flashy or as slim and discreet as you like. Below is a short guide to choosing a timepiece that's going to last you a lifetime.

What do you want from the watch?

Decide what you want from your timepiece before you even walk into a jewellery store. If you're sporty, choose a watch that will be of maximum usefulness in that area. Think large, easy to read dials, timers, alarms and the appropriate level of water resistance. If you're not sporty, there's not much point in picking a divers watch that can be worn at 990 ft. However, there is absolutely no shame in admitting that you want a watch that will impress people. I think that by definition, high quality watches are impressive. When I chose mine, I wanted one that would impress ME every time I put it on (no pun intended)! There's also nothing wrong with choosing a watch purely for its aesthetic value as long as you've done some research into the brand. Established names are meaningful when it comes to superior timepieces.

Choose Swiss

'Swiss made' means that the watch's movement (the mechanism that powers the watch) is Swiss, the movement is cased up in Switzerland and the final inspection of the timepiece is carried out in Switzerland. The Swiss have a long tradition of watch-making, beginning in the 16th Century. They are responsible for making the first wristwatch, the first quartz watch, the first water-resistant watch and, unsurprisingly, the most expensive watch in the world. Combine a 'Swiss made' with a reputable brand, and you have a quality timepiece, well worth its price.

Weight and size

When looking at watches online, it's unlikely that the weight of the timepiece will be shown. By all means browse remotely, but go into the shop and try the watch on before you spend any money. A watch that feels heavy or uncomfortable will end up being barely worn. Choose an appropriate size. I love masculine-looking watches but have tiny wrists. Fortunately my watch combines the chunky look I wanted with a small enough face, so that it doesn't look like I've borrowed it from my dad.

Get it insured

Seems like a no-brainer, but a lot of people neglect to insure their watches and even small repairs can be extremely expensive. If it's not insured, you'll treat it like it's made of glass, not a working timepiece, and not get the wear out of it.

Avoid sales staff on commission

The reason I say this is because staff on commission are driven by the number of sales they make and not necessarily by how satisfied their customers are. Don't let anyone rush you into a purchase. When investing in a lifetime item such as a watch, you want to deal with staff who are knowledgeable about their products and who will allow you to take the necessary time during the selection process, rather than trying to make a quick sale and moving on to the next customer. This will also save you the hassle of returning it when you realise you've made too much of a snap decision.

Shop around

Don't feel you have to go for the first thing you see. There are so many variations in designs and brands and price ranges that it's definitely worth doing your research and finding the watch that feels and looks right for you. Try the timepiece on, wander round the shop and see how it feels on your wrist. If you can imagine wearing it to work, to evening functions, when picking up the kids and even when you're just popping to buy milk, then buy it.