Collector’s Guides • 31 Mar 2016
5 Rules Of Watch Collecting For Beginners
Would you consider yourself a watch collector? There is a big difference between having a number of timepieces you find fashionable or cool and being someone who acquires timepieces for very specific, often very personal reasons. Someone who owns a lot of timepieces may not have a full appreciation for why the items in their collection are worth owning. By comparison, a collector acquires timepieces for reasons beyond merely feeling that they look good to wear and in most instances seeks to have a deeper appreciation of stories behind the watches they strive to own.
Given the variety of watches and reasons to want them, it is difficult to offer broad advice to anyone who seeks to be a watch collector. With that said, over the course of my own journey through watch collecting and countless encounters with individuals with far more impressive collections than my own, here’s my list of rules that should apply to anyone with the watch collecting bug.
1 Buy Only What You Like
Never forget that at the end of the day you need to enjoy the items in your collection. Ideally you’ll actually wear all the watches you have – at least once in a while. This might sound obvious but a lot of people feel compelled to acquire timepiece they might feel are “important”, but not interesting to wear. It is good advice to never buy a watch that isn’t comfortable or that otherwise doesn’t look good on your wrist. Remember that watches are a very personal item, and not having the desire to actually wear them prevents you from forming a close relationship with a timepiece – and that makes it barely worth having in your collection.
Buy a watch that is comfortable and look good on your wrist. (Image Credit: Getty Images).
2 Resist Being Influenced As a Collector
Novice watch collectors usually begin their journey of collecting by investigating what more seasoned collectors have in their collection. Exposure to a variety of watches, brands, and stories is the key to earning a watch education. With that said it is very important for watch collectors to never parrot or mimic the collecting habits of someone else. Never buy a watch simply because someone tells you that you should, or because someone you admire has one. Only buy a watch when you understand the purchase importance, can attest to the fairness of the price, and have a specific reason why you as a collector want the watch in your collection. Being influenced as a collector happens more often than people might like to admit, so it is important that collectors ensure their collections are personal in nature. It is only to appreciate the same timepieces as others, but don’t do so merely because of social pressures.
It is important that collectors ensure their collections are personal in nature.
3 Never Consider Wrist Watches As Appreciating Investment
It is possible to make money buying and selling watches, but it is also the exception rather than the rule. Like all investment markets, making money by prospectively purchasing a timepiece that you anticipate will increase in value is an exercise in human psychology more than it is searching long and far for the best watches. Making money in the watch collectors market is done by anticipating trends and market availability – not by strictly buying good watches. Many collectors buy watches for “life,” without regard to their future value, and others only sell watches in when approached with a good offer or to fund other purchases. These collectors sell timepieces for the “right reasons,” and those who buy something with the hope that their purchase will make them money down the road typically have much less satisfying, and ultimately more stressful, experiences as watch collectors. More importantly, they frequently lose a lot of money.
Making money in the watch collectors market is done by anticipating trends and market availability. (Image Credit: Getty Images).
4 Document Your Collecting History
Few watch collectors actually take the time to record their journey. I suggest that novice watch collectors begin a journal with new entries made each time they purchase a watch. One of the biggest sources of value in a timepiece is the story behind it. That story can be about the watch, but also about who bought the watch and why. Collectors enhance the value of their own collection (as well as their ability to recall memories) by recording when and why they purchased watches. This can be as simple as writing down why you wanted a watch to begin with, how long you were looking for it, where you bought it, and for how much.
The important thing is to have a transferable log that goes with each timepiece in your collection that you can include with the watch if you sell it or convey it as part of your estate. More so, by documenting your journey as a watch collector you can survey how your tastes, buying habits, and budgets change over time. It can be a very important and telling part of your personal legacy, and one that you can share with others.
Collectors enhance the value of their own collection by recording when and why the purchased watches.
5 Never Underestimate The Thrill Of The Hunt
Collecting is hunting – and some meals are easier to get than others. The most rewarding trophies are those which require time, effort, and hard work to earn. There are some watch collectors whose passion is more in the search for a timepiece as opposed to the timepiece itself. For these collectors their interest in a timepiece almost immediately diminishes once they acquire it. For them the desire to own it (and the accompanying reasons) along with the hunt for the watch is more appealing that the watch itself.
This is important to mention because a lot of watch collectors can lose interest in a timepiece soon after finding it – and they should now that such sentiments are natural. Knowing this element of collector behavior can also empower you to not make the wrong purchase decisions, as well as to savor the thrill of a hunt and not jump to satisfy your desires without careful consideration of buying the right watch, and the right time, and for the right amount of money.