How to Start a Watch Collection - The Beginners Guide
October 7, 2021
You can't open any site about watches without finding someone who talks about collecting and investing in watches. More often than not, showing pieces that are impossible to find on the market and boasting that creating a collection and the associated buying and selling traffic is transparent and straightforward. But, on the contrary, we will see below that this is not quite the case.
How to get into watches?
For some, a passion for watches begins as a child. With patience and love, possibly following an influential family role model, they saved their money to afford the sheer pleasure of strapping the first coveted piece to their wrist. And then another. And another.
Others find themselves as collectors by accident. Perhaps after receiving an inheritance and having to research what it was all about. And finally, being bitten by the "watch bug."
Others possibly started their collection for different reasons. Some strictly for economic goals - investing in something solid and potentially having an increasing value over time. Or even because they want to be stylish - because a watch, as an accessory, has that kind of effect: it shows your style and fully expresses your personality.
As you can see, in reality, there is no single motivation that moves watch lovers to start building a collection. Every collection is different, as some might favor vintage watches, and others prefer new watches: everyone has their own path and is fueled by their innermost desires and thoughts. But, whatever your need or desire, it's helpful to sit back, take a deep breath, relax, and figure out what you're getting into.
You'd better realize that buying one or more high-end watches is an expensive hobby - so it's not possible (or at least, not for everyone) to simply start shopping and buying whatever timepiece you fancy. That would be the wrong approach to the hobby - or the art - of watch collecting.
Once you find yourself in this state of self-consciousness, it immediately follows that you need to focus your interest toward an attainable goal: that's why watch enthusiasts find the theme that usually characterizes their taste and provides the focus for their collection. For example, there are chronograph enthusiasts. Others who love divers watches. Or again, timepieces with dials of a particular color or that have a certain watch size.
A collection does not have to be costly: you might focus in building a complete collection of quartz watches, like people did in the 1980s with the Swatch phenomenon. Remember that having a specific theme will make it easier to focus on achieving it.
How to build a watch collection?
True collectors do not "build" a collection: they "grow" it. A collection is like a living entity, so the true collector is more a gardener than a builder. This means that, even if there is a beginning, there will never be an end because the true enthusiast will always look for the "perfect piece" to adorn and complete it.
So, it's helpful to establish some guidelines to help you begin your quest, that is, to create a worthy collection of timepieces while avoiding the common pitfalls that plague aspiring collectors. And ultimately, lead them to squander their finances without building anything of value.
1 - Never rush into collecting watches (or anything else).
We've said it before, but repeating helps. When rookies enter the field, they tend to make typical rookie mistakes. Experienced players can usually spot a rookie from a mile away - and they typically know how to capitalize on their lack of experience. So, there's no point in rushing: haste is always bad advice. If an opportunity seems too good to be true, it usually is just that - an opportunity for someone else to unload their .
2 - Study your subject from the ground up.
Humans are not born scientists, lawyers, or architects: they have to learn to become one and continue studying to stay current. We can say the same for those who want to become watch collectors. They must continue to inform themselves and understand the thousands of little things that make the difference between the casual observer and the expert. So, the best bet is to focus your interest on a specific subject and specialize in it maniacally - like bumper movement watches. And once you've mastered that, provide for expanding it by exploring nearby fields - like all automatic watches.
3 - Practice patience, young Padawan.
We've already stated it - but this is something that needs to be clearly understood. Watch collecting usually rhymes with a painstaking effort to find the "right" watch on the market, which requires time. Remember to explore your chosen niche properly before you reach into your wallet. This means that you have to be patient to find the exact piece you need or want in your collection - what is rightly called "Grail Watch." Because in some cases it won't be easy to find. Some watches were produced in limited editions, perhaps a long time ago, and as time goes by, they become rarer and more valuable.
4 - Establish a monthly/annual budget for your watch collecting.
Although collecting watches is a passion, you need to approach it as if a regulated activity. So, try to set aside a specific budget for your watch hunting activities. We know that the thrill of hunting for a particular piece might be so intense that you might exceed your spending limits - watch collecting can become a very pervasive passion. So, the best way to keep it in line is to set a budget and never exceed it. With this habit comes two results. The first is to improve your patience, and the second, to become much more discerning in your tastes. Thus, getting a better collection in the end.
5 - Never cease to review and optimize your collection.
A watch collection is never complete, as it would be impossible. Whatever your goal, there is always room for improvement. Perhaps you could look for an example of a watch already in your collection that looks better than the one you have. Or find another with a watch movement that is in better shape than the one you have. Or simply, you need to free up some funds to purchase another watch, which would be more interesting/suitable for your "theme." If you sell a reference from your collection, you add the funds that you gain to your self-assigned budget.
6 - Assess the current value of the watches you own.
Please keep track of and record the timepieces that you have purchased and their ultimate value, as it will help you better understand the market and where it is going. Also, if you happen to focus on specific niches, remember that the watches you purchased would be affected - sometimes profoundly - by their pure investment value. Investors are a special kind of collectors who are not really into watches: they use them as a means to make money. But the true collector, first and foremost, is a watch enthusiast; only after that comes their "value." Always try to remember that. Because...
7 - True collectors wear their watches.
Unless you live in a dangerous place, and therefore your collection might be better stored in a safe, true collectors wear their purchases. Collecting watches is fun because you'll be putting something different on your wrist each time, and you'll be doing it - mostly - for the sheer pleasure of doing it. In addition to its most obvious function, keeping track of time, a watch is an accessory that enhances your appearance and gives you a unique look on social occasions. A man who knows watches is, as a rule, a man of good taste. And anyone, if they have a choice, would instead associate with a man of good taste than a boor.
8 - Expand your watch network and meet other watch lovers.
Once you have a common interest with a small group of people - like watches - it becomes pretty easy to share that passion with them. It would be helpful to frequent forums and groups on social media to meet other people who have the same tastes. You will soon end up sharing your passion with other enthusiasts. It's like going golfing - but without the golf clubs and hefty green fees. We guarantee you'll learn a lot - and have fun meeting like-minded people who may become more than just acquaintances.
How many watches should a collector have?
A watch collector is a person who loves timepieces. And if he loves them, he wears them throughout his days. So, creating a collection goes hand in hand with wearing the watches that are part of it.
And here we fall back into an aspect related to collecting, which is that of etiquette, i.e., which watch to wear and when: so remember, even if you like a particular category of watches, you can't necessarily wear it all the time on your wrist without looking a bit extravagant.
Back to our main topic: how many watches should you have in your collection? The answer is - a number between one and infinity, depending on your economic possibilities. But the most important thing is that they are "quality" timepieces. Better one quality watch than three so-so watches: the true collector is judged by the level of his pieces, not by their quantity: this is the biggest difference between a collector and an accumulator.
Our advice to budding collectors is to start with a single quality piece belonging to the theme you are passionate about and then slowly progress and buy others that fit well with the chosen theme. Attention, however: always reckon with your wallet. Putting in the collection a piece that may not be perfect but was bought at an attractive price might be worth it. Still, the best solution is always to wait for the right opportunity to crop up when you are with the money ready to close the deal you have set.
Do not despise, however, the purchase of timepieces that are not precisely related to the theme of your collection: remember that watches have to be worn, and while it is possible that a good quality watch purchased at a fair price might not move you that much, it could be well-appreciated by someone else who is in the same situation as you. And that exchanging timepieces, usually with monetary compensation on one of the two sides, is one of the preferred ways to conduct a transaction between collectors.
Watch collecting is one of those curious little follies that lead us to ride a motorcycle to travel, jump out of an airplane with a parachute, or buy an expensive stereo system to listen to jazz vinyls: an activity that gratifies us precisely because of its exquisitely voluptuary character.
But on the contrary of some of these, collecting watches can represent a form of investment of one's money, if carried out carefully and responsibly, with an eye to one's passion and the other to one's wallet. The important thing is just this: to practice it with heart and brain well connected, and above all, in perfect synchrony.