Traveling With Watches—How to Keep Your Watches Safe When You Travel


As any worldly horologist will tell you, traveling with expensive watches can be daunting without the requisite experience. A luxury watch is an investment with long-term sentimental value. But is it worth the risk of loss, theft, or damage? Would your grandfather ever forgive you for losing an heirloom timepiece?

Before you go burying your expensive watches in an underground vault, let us ask you this: who buys a brand new cherry red Lamborghini just to keep it in the garage? Take that baby out in the sun! You want to be seen wearing your timepiece, don’t you? People around the world won’t know what exquisite taste you have if you don’t travel with your watches.  

Which Watch is Best for Traveling?   

Ultimately, this depends on the nature and duration of your trip. Certainly, if you have a large collection of luxury timepieces, bringing them all along is neither practical nor prudent. Exercise your skills of discernment and remember the old adage that less is more. 

Consider what kind of trip you’re going on. Is this trip for business, relaxation, or adventure? To be prepared for all situations, you’ll need a minimum of two pieces: a ‘beater’ for adventures, and a ‘showpiece’ for impressing at dinner. 

Think ahead so you aren’t left wearing the wrong watch for the wrong situation. Do you need a watch that can beat the heat? Will water resistance be necessary? What else are you going to be wearing to that wedding? When you plan ahead, you’ll never be caught unprepared.

Consider your audience

Don’t forget about social considerations. If you’re traveling with your luxury watches, then you recognize the importance of making a great impression. Obviously, traveling for a luxury cruise is not the same as traveling for charity to build houses in poor communities. Plan accordingly. 

For example, If your Uncle Jeff gave you that Patek Philippe for your graduation, and you’re going to be seeing him on the trip, why not bring it with you and have it on your wrist when you say hello? If you’re traveling for a job interview, perhaps it’s better to wear something more classic and formal than flashy and ostentatious. Consider the statement you’ll be making with the watch on your wrist, and how that statement will be received. 

Best watch for business travel

Along with freshly shined shoes, tasteful cufflinks, and the perfect “Windsor” tie knot, a well-selected watch can make or break a professional outfit. 

When traveling for business, it’s best to opt for a more traditional aesthetic. Classic watch choices for traveling businessmen include Swiss namestays like Rolex and Omega, but smartwatches from brands like Apple and Samsung are gaining prominence among business travelers for their enhanced functionality. Growing numbers of professionals are choosing smartwatches for their enhanced features like GPS, scheduling, and text messaging built-in. 

The aesthetic of your watch is especially important when wearing a suit and tie, since there are a limited number of options for accentuating an outfit. Whatever technology you choose, opt for a traditional band made of leather, stainless steel, or titanium, and make any required size adjustments ahead of time. 

Best watch for adventure travel

If you’re planning on mountain climbing or going on safari, durability and reliability become more important factors. This isn’t the time for luxury materials like gold or diamonds. In fact, many adventure travelers opt for ultra-affordable brands like Casio because of their reputation for functionality and reliability. But if you insist on only wearing the finest and you aren’t particularly worried about loss or theft, many Rolex watches like the world-renowned Submariner are well known for their durability and water resistance. 

Best watch for beach vacations

surfboarder in water wearing a watch

If you’re going to be spending a lot of time on the beach and in the sun, it’s best to avoid suede, leather, or heavy metal watch bands. No timepiece is worth a sticky and sweaty wrist at the end of the day. Besides, hot sweat is one of the fastest ways to dirty a nice watch, and as any horological connoisseur will tell you, proper cleanings don’t come cheap. Needless to say, make sure your watch is water-resistant if you plan to get in and swim. 

The watch you bring to the beach might not necessarily be the watch you want to wear for that romantic dinner, so be sure to bring a second watch for more formal occasions. Just don’t forget to secure it properly in your room safe when it isn’t on your wrist!

Best watch for road trips

If you’re traveling by car, bring at least one watch that you can wear when you’re on the road. Go with something lightweight and breathable, this is the time to choose function over form. Choose a watch that’s comfortable and reliable, and save the luxury handcrafted timepieces for when you arrive at your destination.

Best watch for party vacations

While there are many situations in life where it’s best to be understated and refined, heading to Las Vegas to party it up with your friends probably isn’t one of them! If there’s ever a time to be flashy and break out the gold and diamonds, this is it. Planning on ordering bottle service? Do it in style while wearing your Fully Iced Gucci watch. Even in crazy environments like spring break or mardi gras, a flashy watch is sure to turn a few heads. Just be careful you don’t attract the wrong kind of attention! More on security concerns ahead.

Traveling With Expensive Watches Safely

man driving with luxury watch

Once you’ve selected which watch(es) you’ll be bringing on the trip, it’s time to see to their travel arrangements. How will your watches be moving from point A to point B? How will you keep them safe? And where will you be storing them when they aren’t on your wrist? Here are some pointers to remember:

Getting through the airport

When you’re traveling with expensive watches, never leave them in your checked luggage, lest you risk loss, theft, or damage. You could always wear your watch on your wrist, but then you’ll have to take it off for screening.

While many watch lovers argue that the x-ray machines used by transit security have little to no effect on your watch’s function, you may still feel uneasy taking it off and leaving it directly in the tray where it can get scratched or covered in dust due to jostling. Even worse, it may get handled by a careless TSA agent.

Besides, that’s only going to work for one watch. What about the rest?      

Naturally, this means you’re going to want to bring your watches with you in your carry-on luggage. But it’s critical that you store your watches in a manner that leaves them safe, snug and secure from dust, scratches, and unnecessary rattling. You can’t just drop your watch into a loose bag and hope for the best. 

Bring a solid travel watch roll

If you’re reading this article, my guess is that you’re not the sort of traveler to use a cheap little plastic bag or dollar-store carrying case for your watches. Housing a luxury timepiece inside of a cheap and flimsy container sort of defeats the purpose, doesn’t it? It just makes sense to use a carrying case made with the same craftsmanship, quality, and attention to detail as your beloved watches themselves. 

To transport your timepiece in style, a solid watch roll is essential. These special carrying cases are designed specifically for watches, with compartments and removable pillows that secure each watch snugly. They’ll give you some peace of mind that your watch will remain safe through a bumpy ride.  

open operandi firenze watch roll

Operandi Firenze watch rolls offer a good balance of form and functionality. There’s just something about premium hand-crafted Italian leather that looks and feels like luxury. The hidden magnetic clasp system is great for securing larger watches, and the crushed terry cloth fabric interior is soft and plush to care for the watch-face. Rose gold embellishments add a touch of flare and sophistication. 

Hotel safety

As soon as you arrive in your hotel room, it’s good to mentally account for your watches. Designate a “watch spot” right away when you unpack. Unfortunately, luxury brand watches can be a target for thieves, so it’s advisable to place your entire watch roll inside the safe. Even if you completely trust the hotel staff, it’s still best practice to give yourself the peace of mind of knowing your watches are secure. It’s one less thing to worry about, so you can focus on enjoying your trip. 

Security when exploring

And speaking of theft, you’ll need to use your judgment when it comes to wearing your watch when you’re out while traveling. Research the overall safety of your destination and avoid wearing your expensive watches in areas where pickpocketing and other petty thievery is known to occur. Generally speaking, the more you flaunt your wealth, the more you put yourself at risk of theft. So try not to be a show-off, and play it cool and classy. 

Worst case scenario, remember that no watch is worth dying for. It doesn’t matter if you spent a year’s salary or if it’s been in your family for generations. Your safety always has to be your first priority, so if someone tries to rob you of your watch: just hand it over. If you absolutely cannot lose a watch, you probably shouldn’t be traveling with it in the first place.

Get watch insurance

Any seasoned watch collector needs to consider the question of insurance at some point. Many insurance policies on the market cover watches and other fine jewellery. We leave it up to you to decide what coverage, if any, is appropriate for your watch collection.

But if you’re traveling with expensive watches which have been insured, be sure to review the terms and exclusions of any insurance policy in advance of your trip. This way, you’ll know whether you’re covered against loss, damage or theft when you’re abroad. Don’t blindly assume you’ll be covered if your watch disappears from your hotel room, only to discover that overseas journeys are excluded by your insurance policy.   

Surviving car travel

When traveling by car, choose a spot for your watch roll right away. The last thing you want to be doing when you arrive at your destination is fumbling around for your Rolex, wondering if you forgot to pack it or just lost it along the way! Place your watch roll directly inside the glove compartment so you can swap pieces in a hurry, if the occasion calls for it. If you’re in a rental, however, it’s best to keep it in an easy-to-reach bag.

Whatever you do, avoid attracting unwanted attention from thieves and never leave an expensive watch sitting in the open when you leave your car parked. If it isn’t on your wrist, then it needs to be safe, secure, and out of sight.

Bottom Line for Traveling With Expensive Watches

man traveling with luxury watch

At the end of the day, a great watch isn’t much different from other fine jewelry, automobiles and clothing. Let’s be honest, part of the enjoyment of owning luxury goods is the positive attention they garner in the eyes of others. For better or for worse, an expensive watch from a reputable brand is an instantly recognizable, international status symbol. And in that context, it seems pretty silly to keep your collection permanently tucked away from the world inside a vault or safe, collecting dust.  

With a bit of careful planning and sensible precautions, you can absolutely travel with your luxury watches while maintaining your peace of mind. Invest in a quality travel watch roll from a reputable brand like Operandi Firenze, and keep it tucked away as a part of your luggage collection, so it’s ready and waiting when you need it. It’ll be one less thing to worry about when packing for your next trip, so you can focus on getting the most out of your journey. If you’re prone to collecting and you expect to be doing some shopping, be sure to leave some empty space in your watch roll for any pieces you may decide to bring home! 

Enjoy your journey, and don’t forget to keep an eye on the time! ;)