When it comes to building a collection of timepieces, there’s no stopping at just three or four (barring tremendous willpower). As most collectors will attest, there is nothing quite like the thrill of the hunt for the next one. But in the world of high-priced luxuries, a single mistake can often spiral out of control. What used to bring happiness can also turn into a wellspring of misery. For those who are well-acquainted (or are starting out) with the hobby of watch collecting, here are some ways you can keep that passion burning bright instead of out.
Re-think your needs
A watch that’s swim-ready doesn’t need to possess a depth rating of 500 metres. When it comes to specifications, it’s very easy for to fall prey to a “more is better” mindset. Certain watches are designed to fulfil specialist functions (e.g. submersion diving). That’s not to say that regular people can’t have them, but it certainly doesn’t fall into a “need” category. This is especially true when you consider timepieces with grand complications or those of a certain aesthetic. There’s nothing wrong with saying “this is the watch I want and I’m going to buy it”, but masking it as a need is only deluding yourself into making an unnecessary commitment. The less you think you “need” something, the more you’re able to explore other more potentially rewarding options.
Be realistic with expectations
Vintage watches are currently en vogue and while their appeal is certainly undeniable, they’re not exactly suitable for everyone. With regard to manual winding and automatic watches, even the most hardy of which are not exempt from mechanical wear and tear. The troublesome thing about vintage watch movements is that they sometimes require parts that are either no longer in production, incredibly scarce, or are generally very complex/delicate mechanisms. As a result, the cost of servicing goes up. Imagine if you had to contend with this, along with a sizeable collection of vintage watches that need fairly frequent servicing.
Don’t force the love
Those involved in watch collecting tend to know exactly what they want, right down to the minute detail. Thermally blued dauphine hands? Check. Guilloche dial? Done. Helvetica typeface? No sweat. The thing is, there is a slim chance that you can get the exact reference from your desired year, only to find that it doesn’t live up to the hype. It’s not anyone’s fault; watches are aspirational and an emotional connection carries more weight than most would expect. Never feel obliged to buy such a watch, even if you’ve gone through a great deal to find it. It something isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, you’ll only be setting yourself up for regret if you went ahead to make the purchase.
Stay financially prudent
Fine watches are now very much considered luxury items and come with a matching price tag. It goes without saying that unless you’ve got cash coming out the wazoo, one shouldn’t be rash when it comes to making a decision. Not only does having a budget keep you grounded, it also helps determine which purchases are off-limits. Thinking that it’s ok to take just one tiny step into the “red zone” often leads to several more. Before long, you’re considering timepieces that have “bankruptcy” written in bold across the dial. When you’re left scrimping and saving just to finance the latest addition to your collection, that pride you initially felt for your latest acquisition can quickly turn into a grudge.
Watch collecting is meant to be a fun and enjoyable experience, so it makes much more sense to keep it that way for as long as possible. While we all wish to be able to build a collection that’s the envy of other collectors, it’s not a process that can be forced. Focus on enjoying the journey and the whole experience will be much more pleasant for it.