My watch collecting philosophy and why you should build your own.
During my time as a Politics and International Relations student philosophy was discussed many a time, often with a brilliant scholar – Dr. Love (I kid you not), but I’ve rarely seen it mentioned in the watch community. Look up the definition of philosophy on google and you’ll find the following…
I think I’ve leave the first one to Dr Love, been there. Done that. Head the headache. So this article boils down to the less romantic topic of “an attitude that acts as a guiding principle for behaviour” regarding wristwatches. You can see why I jazzed the tittle up now can’t you, but please, stick with me.
So why have I spent my time creating a philosophy for something as trivial as watch collecting and why should you do the same? Well… partly because you can only argue about the ethics of homage watches, Omega vs Rolex and if it’s okay to wear a dress watch on a NATO so many times… but also because our infatuation for specific pieces darts around all over the place like a sugar high fly in a syrup factory. One minute we’re lusting after a pre-ceramic sub, the next it’s a seamaster. Oh wait, now we’ve decided that divers aren’t refined enough and that Rolex and Omega are too mainstream. JLC Master Control anyone? But there is a great deal on that Nomos World Timer that’s always had my eye… It’s the Achilles of every watch collector. If only we had spent some time creating a framework that is both flexible and focused to guide us through our collecting adventure. If only…
(Photo from Professional Watches)
The fundamental key to building your own framework is to ask yourself very specific questions that will help to assess your attitude on broader subjects and to deal with the very tough answers/consequences. For example, a great place to start would be with the question, “Do I want to wear every watch in my collection on a regular basis?”. If the answer is “Yes”, then maybe you should consider not having a collection of 28 watches. This also forces you to the realisation that “You can’t own every piece that you like”. That’s not collecting, that’s hoarding and would there really be any fun in that? Unless the answer to the question, “Do I want to keep my watches for extended periods of time or do I want to constantly buy, sell and trade?” is the latter option.
There’s no set list of questions to ask yourself but this is where a year or so of thinking has brought my watch collecting philosophy…
I want to wear every watch that I own and I want to keep them for the rest of my life. Part of the enjoying my watches is the creation of memories and associations with each piece so constantly flicking one piece to buy another has little purpose for me. Similarly, I want to keep my collection relatively reasonable so that I can wear each watch pretty frequently. I’ve not set a limit on the size of my collection but it would have to be something pretty special to push me past 10.
Movements are important to me. Having five different watches from different brands all with an ETA 2824 powering them is of no interest to me, I wouldn’t get past the feeling that I had multiple versions of what is essentially the same watch. That said I have nothing against mass produced movements, there’s definitely a place for them in the market. There are also exceptions to this rule! For example if, like Wempe, the brand do significant amounts of work to improve the technical performance of the movement then I may consider it. Equally if the brand has put all of their efforts in to technical advancements in case design or alike then I’m happy to have a duplicate movement. Sinn or Damasko most definitely fit in to this exception. Maybe this section should be titled, technicality matters to me.
(Photo from Ask Men)
I want to cover the spectrum of wristwatches in a way that fits my lifestyle. By this I mean that I don’t want a collection heavily biased towards divers, pilot watches, chronographs or anything else. I want to cover all bases. That said, with the lifestyle that I live there is no point in me purchasing a super dressy white dial, yellow gold, batton hand slimline watch. It simply doesn’t fit who I am. Instead to cover the dress watch category I’ve planned to go a slightly less formal way – something like the Frederique Constant Classic Moonphase with the dauphine hands.
(Photo from Monochrome Watches)
I don’t want to chase haute horology. I adore gyro-tourbillons, minute repeaters and perpetual calendars as much as the next guy. I swoon over them on a daily basis but quite frankly, if I have that much money I’m going to throw it in to building an amazing future for myself and my future family. That way my filthy rich descendants can engrave my name on the back of their Lange Zeitwerk Striking Time. At the same time, I do want to focus on some expensive watches. I’m not a snob. My Orient Ray sits proudly in my collection, as does my Hamilton Khaki Auto and my Seiko SRP773. (All bloody ridiculously great timepieces regardless of their fantastic price). But now I think I’ve got all my entry/mid-range grails ticked off and what’s left isn’t cheap and I’m determined not to be nudged off course by some beautiful, tempting and more affordable pieces. Like I said, I can’t own everything that I like and there aren’t many spaces left in my collection so I’ve got to make sure that I fill them with my bsolute grails, even if it takes me 40 years to do so.
(Photo from Swiss Classic Watches)
So that is where I’m at. I want a small-medium sized attainable collection of technically unique/different watches that I’ll keep forever to cover the entire spectrum of wristwatches in a way that suits my lifestyle. No, I don’t want a 5711. I don’t want a 5711. I don’t want a 5711…
(Photo from Monochrome)