Many discussions have been raised already on the topic of watch collecting… how to start a collection, what to look for in a watch or how to make it reflect your personality. And honestly it is a very important series of questions to raise, especially if you have a passion for the watch industry, but really don’t know where to start. So now I will try to give you my best advise that I can, that is coming from a collector and a really passionate ‘watch geek’.
Watch Collecting Guide: Considering the Possibilities
There are many, and I mean a huge variety of watches out there. Starting from the mainstream and traditional brands such as Patek Philippe or Vacheron Constantin and to the less known independent ones like Linde Werdelin or Arnold & Son we have so much to choose from! Especially when you are just thinking of your first purchase it is extremely important for you to select a watch that you will remember and love for the rest of your life.
Unlike many suggest I would not advise you to start with a Rolex. Yes, it is a safe choice to play, these watches never go out of style, and the movements are quite frankly working horses, you can go swimming, hiking, base-jumping, flying and whatever else you can imagine doing with it. The reason why I wouldn’t advise buying a Rolex as a first watch is that it should be a big accomplishment. Not because it is an expensive purchase, there are many watches much more pricey than that, but simply because getting a Rolex is a milestone in a life of an established man. Unless you are a really big fan of the brand, then just keep collecting Rolexes, none other watch would ever be as good for you ?
Watch Collecting Guide: Where to Start ?
After you’ve realized how many watches out there exist you’ll need to start somewhere. I’d suggest starting with a price range, splitting it into categories of $5 thousand. Obviously everyone has their own budget and an amount to spend on a watch; and while some say a watch should be worth two monthly salaries I think it doesn’t matter. If you’re a beginner collector you’re not in a rush anywhere, and if you like a watch that is cheaper than that mark go for it! Or on the contrary, if it is rather expensive, wait for it… and if after some point you wouldn’t want to buy it anymore the piece wasn’t worth buying in the first place, and you’ve saved up some money perhaps for another watch you recently discovered! For example if you are a fan of Jaeger LeCoultre their price range is huge, and you can go for a (personal favorite) in steel for around $7’000 on one hand or a Duometre Quantieme Lunaire for $40’000 on the other hand.
Another thing I believe is that a real collection of ‘true’ watches should only consist of mechanical timepieces. The reason I say this is – you can see the time on your phones, and as strange and funny it may seem you don’t buy a mechanical watch for time-telling purpose. Some buy them because of the looks, because of the status it gives you, the appreciation of the mechanics inside, or all of the above together.
Watch Collecting Guide: Fitting the Watch to Yourself
So now that we’ve established that I’m only going to talk about mechanical timepieces let’s continue with factors to consider. If you’re an active and sportive person (G-Shocks aside) it might be a chronograph watch you’re looking for, as you’re actually going to use it. But let’s be more specific. Personally I think that skeleton chronos are the sexiest ones, and some of them include the new Hublot Classic Fusion chronograph or the Roger Dubuis Pulsion chronograph. The price level for them is a little different: $15’000 and $35’000.
Some of the more budget saving alternatives include Tag Heuer sporty Carrera pieces or the timeless Breitlings, which I prefer less, but that is just a matter of taste.
If your personality and lifestyle is rather calm and when you look in the mirror you see Don Draper you might want to think about something more traditional. Of course if you buy a Patek Philippe ‘Nautilus’ or an Audemars Piguet ‘Royal Oak’ it makes you look both classy and sporty, but those pieces do not describe the entire watch industry.
If your thing is simplicity, and the movement of the watch should be for your eyes only I would highly advise you to take a look at the Jaeger LeCoultre ‘Master Control’ that I’ve mentioned already, or the IWC ‘Portofino 8-Days’ model, they are definitely classics that don’t get out of fashion.
However if simplicity is not really your thing and you like the complications and skeletons much more consider some pieces of Arnold & Son ‘Instrument’ and ‘Royal’ collections or the more established Breguet ‘Tradition’ watch, both in the price range of $30’000 – 35’000.
Watch Collecting Guide: The Price issue.
Now you might think that I am pushing it a little with the prices here, and what if some people don’t think spending 20k on a timepiece is too much… Well, first of all – the above is my opinion on a ‘Dream’ collection and of course there are many other possibilities to consider when it comes to traditional watches that will not hurt your pocket as much.
Some of my favorite lower price range but still quality brands are the Baume & Mercier ‘Capeland’ or Maurice LaCroix ‘Masterpiece’ and classical collections. Or if you’re looking for something new and fresh the Schroeder skeleton watch is definitely a perfect way to spend a $2’000 and make everybody think it’s worth much more!
Watch Collecting Guide: Make it Count
Collecting watches after some time transforms into something of an obsession, and the best you can do is make every purchase count. Instead of buying a watch whenever you have some spare money to spend better consider all the possibilities, look for a watch you really want, try it on, sleep on it and make the purchase a special event. I, and most of the collectors I know always thought it is better to have few but more valuable, more complicated and appreciated pieces rather than many simple and similar ones.
Some people also tend to buy the watches that they then trade or sell and upgrade for the better models, and my feeling on that is mixed. On one hand I too sometimes wish to trade a couple of my pieces for an MB&F or a Richard Mille, but on the other hand it is very hard to let them go, especially when I know I bought the pieces myself and put a lot of work and consideration into choosing the right ones.
Now that you have a basic idea of what to choose from when it comes to watch collecting, and you’re not limited to the basic brands I would let you to exploring the web and your local retails to continue the search for your dream watch collection!
More resources about Collecting Watch on DreamChrono & Wall Street Journal (both by Ken Kessler).