The Watch Collector’s Matrix

Do you sometimes feel like you spend all your time putting out proverbial fires in your life? At the end of the day do you feel completely sapped and drained of energy, and yet can’t point to anything of real significance which you accomplished that day?


Well then, you are probably confusing the urgent with the important! In terms of watch purchasing decisions, people tend to have similar problems – where the ‘importance’ is replaced with ‘desire’ – since the purchase of a luxury watch is rarely important. I will talk about the Eisenhower matrix before exploring The Watch Collector’s Matrix in its application to watch purchasing decisions.

The Eisenhower Matrix

Dwight D. Eisenhower — five-star general during World War II and 34th president of the United States — was a productive guy. During his two terms as president of the United States, he led the construction of the Interstate Highway System, created NASA, signed into law the first major piece of civil rights legislation since the end of the Civil War, ended the Korean War, welcomed Alaska and Hawaii into the union, and managed to keep fighting the Cold War with Russia while reducing military spending by a third compared to President Truman before him.

How was Eisenhower able to rack up so many accomplishments that would have such a lasting impact on his country and the world? He understood the fundamental difference between the Urgent and the Important.

In a 1954 speech, Eisenhower quoted an unnamed university president who said, “I have two kinds of problems, the urgent and the important. The urgent are not important, and the important are never urgent.”

Over 3 decades later, in his best-selling book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey repackaged Eisenhower’s insights into a simple tool to prioritise tasks, now known as the Eisenhower Matrix (also known as The Time Management Matrix, The Eisenhower Box, The Eisenhower Method, and The Urgent-Important Matrix). This framework for prioritisation helps you combat the “mere-urgency” effect, eliminate time-wasters in your life, and create more mental space to make progress on your goals.

Source: Todoist

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The Watch Collector’s Matrix

So I literally just made this up – if a similar model exists out there already, then feel free to let me know and I will be happy to credit the inventor. I am also open to revisions, and fine-tuning, since this is just an initial idea, in its raw form… so please do reach out if you want to add or share further insight.

I think it might be easier to show the matrix and then discuss the quadrants in more detail:

The Watch Collector’s Matrix

Now this seems obvious when you look at it, but I think this might help people focus their watch purchases and prevent poor decision making, provided there is inherent discipline and ability to stick to the script. At any point when a new watch captures your interest, try and place it into the matrix and score it relative to all the watches which are already in the matrix, BEFORE you make any purchase decisions.

  • Top right: Buy
  • Top left: Wait to buy
  • Bottom right: Decide whether you can do without, or whether you can justify raising the desirability to move it up
  • Bottom left: Avoid, but leave them there in the matrix for future scoring, and as a reminder of things you have successfully avoided.

The key here is that this is based on completely subjective scoring, and that is because this is your own opinion, and you will be spending your own money… My friend Brett maintains a spreadsheet of watches on his radar, and although I have not seen it, I think there is one thing which he does for sure – a relative ranking of all the watches on his radar. That is important to remember of course – the matrix will comprise of watches which are on your own radar, and the scoring is not based on anything other than your own view.

So for example, it might be true that in an instagram poll of 100,000 watch-fam, they would potentially rank a Dufour Duality to be more desirable than, say, an AP perpetual calendar. However, you have loved AP since you were 4 years old, and to you, the single most desirable thing after the air your breathe is an AP perpetual calendar – that is totally fine, and you ought to be ranking them in your matrix accordingly. Remember, this is about you and your preferences.

The ranking of the desire is fairly straightforward, and it is important to remain strict when it comes to scoring – you will be doing yourself a disservice if you separate your ultimate grail from a random beater watch by only 2 points – check it, and re-check it, and most importantly be honest with yourself.

The ranking of urgency can perhaps be a bit trickier. For example, the watch could be a limited edition which is soon to be sold out, it could be a timed release which will not be sold after a few months (or 10 minutes!), it could be a watch which you know is currently still within your price range but is quickly getting hyped and might not be attainable if you wait too long or it could simply be a random call from an authorised dealer to purchase a highly sought after piece which you would not ordinarily be able to purchase. Of course, there is no way to conclusively rank the aforementioned things, but do not forget, it ought to be true that the most urgent is your current object of desire – the watch which you cannot stop thinking about, the one which you could buy subject to its affordability and availability, and the one which you want NOW. It might be true that you can’t afford it without selling watches in your current collection, but having this laid out in front of you, and adding your current collection to the matrix (at least in terms of desirability) will also help you decide what to sell, if anything does need to be sold.

In closing, I would say the block to be most wary of is the bottom-left, because this is the one where so many people waste resources and wrist-time buying and wearing unnecessary watches, just because of some fad or trend. Indeed, it is not a criticism of any particular watch, but rather of the mindset with which people approach these purchases. In any given year, you get to pick a watch 365 times – once each morning – do you really want to waste a day wearing something you don’t actually like, or perhaps picking something simply because it hasn’t received enough wrist-time recently? Why bother? If you don’t really want to wear it, don’t! If you don’t need to sell it, then don’t do that either – but it is better to avoid building up a collection of these ‘worn-once-in-a-while’ watches because you will surprise yourself with how the small sums add up over time. In order to avoid them, make sure they are placed in that box if they deserve to be, and then be disciplined about avoiding it entirely.

I enjoyed writing this, and perhaps in my excitement to share it, I have missed some points, so do feel free to let me know and I would be happy to update accordingly.


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