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Factory vs. Aftermarket set Diamonds on luxury watches

Nikkan Navidi

Aftermarket vs. factory set diamonds on luxury watches

In the world of luxury watches, diamonds play a pivotal role, adding a touch of elegance and opulence to these timepieces. While phrases such as "iced-out" or "bust down" have gained a lot of popularity in today's pop culture not every diamond watch set is made the same way. Generally, it is distinguished between aftermarket and factory-set diamonds.

Aftermarket diamonds refer to diamonds that are added to a watch by a third-party jeweler or expert after the watch has been manufactured. This customization allows watch enthusiasts to create a personalized timepiece that reflects their unique style and taste. On the other hand, factory-set diamonds are those that come pre-installed by the watch manufacturer during the production process.

Aftermarket Diamonds: Advantages and Disadvantages

Customization and Personalization

One of the primary advantages of aftermarket diamonds is the freedom of customization they offer. Watch enthusiasts can select diamonds of various sizes, cuts, and qualities to create a truly one-of-a-kind timepiece that matches their preferences perfectly. This personalized touch adds sentimental value to the watch, making it a cherished possession.

However, in the realm of watch customization, flooding a bracelet with diamonds involves a radical transformation of the original design, necessitating the removal of parts and risking potential damage to the timepiece. This alteration becomes even more problematic when smaller stones are utilized.

Potential Risks and Quality Concerns

When opting for aftermarket diamonds, buyers need to exercise caution and ensure they are dealing with reputable jewelers. There is a risk of inadvertently purchasing counterfeit diamonds or stones of inferior quality. Poorly set diamonds may also become loose or fall out over time, leading to potential damage to the watch.

Impact on Watch Warranty

Another consideration when choosing aftermarket diamonds is their effect on the watch's warranty. Some luxury watch manufacturers may void the warranty if any alterations, including diamond additions, are made by third parties. This loss of warranty coverage may be a significant drawback for those seeking long-term protection for their valuable timepiece.

Factory Set Diamonds: Pros and Cons

Watch Manufacturer's Expertise

Factory-set diamonds offer the assurance of expert craftsmanship. Luxury watch manufacturers employ skilled artisans who are well-versed in handling delicate materials, including diamonds. These professionals have an in-depth understanding of the watch's design and structure, ensuring that the diamonds are seamlessly integrated without compromising the watch's functionality.

Assurance of Quality and Authenticity

Choosing a luxury watch with factory-set diamonds provides a guarantee of authenticity. Reputable brands meticulously source high-quality diamonds that meet stringent standards. This assurance extends to the metalwork, settings, and overall finish of the timepiece, making it a reliable investment for watch enthusiasts.

Limited Customization Options

The downside of factory-set diamonds lies in the limited customization options available. Unlike aftermarket diamonds, where buyers can select specific stones and settings, factory-set diamonds come as per the manufacturer's design. This may not appeal to those seeking a highly personalized piece.

The Fascinating World of Diamonds in Luxury Watches

Different Types of Diamonds Used

In luxury watches, diamonds come in various types, each offering unique characteristics. White diamonds, with their timeless elegance, are the most common choice. Colored diamonds, such as pink, blue, and yellow, add a vibrant and rare touch to exclusive timepieces.

Diamond Clarity and Cut

The clarity and cut of diamonds significantly impact their brilliance and sparkle. Watch manufacturers carefully select diamonds with excellent clarity grades and precision cuts to maximize their visual appeal.

Rarity and Grading

The rarity of diamonds also affects their value and desirability. Diamonds with higher grades on the color and clarity scale are exceptionally rare and command premium prices. Grading organizations like the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) assess diamonds, providing buyers with vital information about their quality.

Exploring Lab-Grown Diamonds

Definition and Production Process

Lab-grown diamonds, also known as synthetic or cultured diamonds, are created in controlled laboratory environments. These diamonds share the same chemical and physical properties as natural diamonds, making them a more sustainable and potentially cost-effective alternative.

Comparing Lab-Grown Diamonds to Natural Diamonds

Lab-grown diamonds offer similar brilliance and beauty as natural diamonds, but at a potentially lower price point. Their ethical and eco-friendly appeal has garnered attention from consumers seeking more sustainable choices.

Considerations and Potential Risks

While lab-grown diamonds present compelling advantages, there are considerations to be aware of. Some consumers may still prioritize the authenticity and unique origin of natural diamonds. Additionally, the long-term market value of lab-grown diamonds compared to natural diamonds remains a topic of interest. A risk to consider with aftermarket set watches is the potential of receiving lab-grown diamonds that are sold as natural ones, which cost around 60-80% less than natural diamonds.

The Market Value of Luxury Watches with Diamonds

As mentioned previously, factory-set timepieces are renowned for their exclusivity, rarity, and challenging acquisition. Unsurprisingly, these factors significantly influence their price tags. For instance, the Rolex Daytona "Rainbow" commands a considerably higher price in the aftermarket compared to its initial retail value, and the pavรฉ Nautilus is even more astonishingly expensive.

Conversely, aftermarket pieces, which undergo modifications that some might view as a "mutilation" of the original watch, tend to have a lower value compared to their unaltered counterparts. The modifications impact their worth, leading to a noticeable gap in prices. The current "steel mania" within the watch industry, particularly for Rolex and Audemars Piguet models, further amplifies these differences in value between factory-set and aftermarket timepieces.

Interested the overall secondary market of luxury watches is performing? Check out this article


In the world of luxury watches, the presence of diamonds adds a touch of brilliance and sophistication. When choosing between aftermarket and factory-set diamonds, it's essential to consider factors like personalization, quality, and warranty coverage. Additionally, when considering watches as an investment it is crucial to understand that factory set diamond watches will in the majority of the cases lead to a higher appreciation potential than the aftermarket counterpart.

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