Guide to Watch Collecting Pt.1 – Getting Started

(This topic is just huge. This is the first article in a series being published on the Fine Watches blog throughout the rest of 2020.)

One night I sat at my Grandparents’ kitchen counter and my Grandfather taught me a very valuable lesson.

He was having his preparing-dinner glass of wine, and I asked him if the bottle of Riesling he poured it from was a good wine.

He answered with a story;

“Many years ago, I had a client with whom I used to have lunch a lot. For some reason he formed the idea that I knew a lot about wine. [My grandfather’s preparing-dinner glass was his only tipple on any given day.]

He asked me, “Mr Kushinsky, is this a good wine?”

To which I replied, “Please, taste it”, which he did.

“Do you like it?” I asked him.

“Yes, it’s very nice.” he replied.

I said to him “So, it’s a good wine!””.

With that my Grandfather smiled and turned back to the stove to finished cooking whatever we were having that night.

Collecting watches, like wine, art, cars or antiques is complex and varied. The many different influences on style, functionality, price, value, desirability etc. etc., mean that any one answer as to how or why to collect is meaningless. There are as many reasons to collect watches as there are collectors.

Additionally, the scope of watch product itself is a complex one. Huge variation in design, price, use case and brand mean that good watches come in all shapes, sizes, and for any budget.

When starting out, this rich variability can be daunting and confusing to the new watch enthusiast. People want their first special watch for as many reasons as collectors collect.

For most people acquiring a special watch represents an important milestone. Either in itself, or as an object that marks a broader achievement in life, career or business. What makes that watch special though is unique to the individual. There are no wrong answers. If you like the watch, it’s a good watch.

It’s an obvious place to begin, but start by doing deliberately broad research. Look at what’s available in the market. Get to know some of the terms around different categories and types of watches, Dress vs Sport, Manual vs Automatic wind, chronograph, chronometer. You can get a good head start on terminology by checking out the Fine Watches watch glossary HERE.

Approach brand with an open mind. While all of the most popular well known and prestige brands enjoy well deserved status, they don’t necessarily represent the best value for a first time buyer, or indeed the seasoned collector. Excellent value can be had when straying from the Rolex, Panerai, Omega, AP path. Demand keeps prices for popular models from these brands high. Although this means they retain value, looking at other brands, or even models from the popular brands mentioned, can provide great alternative options.

It’s also important to remember is that watch collecting is not only for those with deep pockets. Collecting Swatches or Seiko 5s is just as valid an approach which can bring as much joy as a safe full of Patek complications.

In a nutshell. Like wine, watches come in all flavours. A twenty dollar bottle can be as enjoyable as one bought for two hundred. Find out as much as you can about what’s out there. Consider different styles. Learn about different brands. Try different watches on. (This is important. Wrist feel is crucial.) Discover what you like and go with it.

If you like it, it’s good watch.