Watch collectors: Don’t buy what you like!

A couple of weeks ago, a few friends and I had a discussion on the Clubhouse app. This session started with a discussion around what defines a a collector and how that differs from an enthusiast.

One of the key insights was that collectors can be compared with “accumulators” rather than enthusiasts – and that a collector is simply a subset of the overall group of watch enthusiasts – in other words, you’re enthusiastic, and you collect – so be it!

So what is a collector? We seemed to collectively agree over the course of the discussion that collectors are simply passion-fuelled students of their hobby or craft. A collector may start off with some some aesthetic trait such as dual-subdial chronographs, or simple three-hander watches – but then, they dive deep into that specific rabbit-hole and unearth all the possibilities within that niche they have chosen. This might include rare or unique dial variants, or particular unusual examples with varied fonts and so on – the possibilities are literally endless. The key point is, they are fastidious about every single detail.

Without the aforementioned deep-diving, the purchase of any watch is more transactional. This is why you should not simply “buy what you like“. This is common advice given to new collectors, and the problem with this advice, is the very nature of what you like, is likely a temporary conclusion.

To provide an example – perhaps you might like green dial watches for now, and then when summer comes along, you will like yellow dials. Perhaps you enjoy steel sports watches today, because this seems to be the thing everyone wears and you can’t stop seeing them… but what happens when the craze subsides? Will you still like it?

Hopefully this highlights the point that education is the starting block. As a buyer, you must find out what you like by taking yourself through the process of figuring it out, using data you have gathered yourself. Question what you read, understand all the variants, find all the alternatives and then as you do this, you will begin to find that passion within you start to form. As the passion forms, you will have confirmation of your genuine desire for this item. Conversely, after diving deep, and realising there is no passion to speak of, you might have just convinced yourself the item isn’t for you; and that is ok!

Finally – one of the worst reasons to buy an item is the fear of missing out. The idea here is that if you don’t know for sure that you want something, then you’re simply not ready to buy it at all.

To conclude, an easy test to apply to yourself is to try and speak to someone who is totally neutral about the topic. Try and explain your choice or conclusion and go into a lot of detail about why you think you want it and like it. Try and get this person to feel your passion, and see if they buy into it based on your own ability to communicate about it in great detail. Of course, in order to do this, you will need to be well-versed on the subject, and therein lies the test.

Do you agree with this approach and conclusion? Thoughts welcome!


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