One Man’s Guide to Healthy Watch Collecting
A Listener Article from Zev (Instagram @clever_baked)
I’m a romantic. Honestly, I am. And I’m not alone. You’re a romantic, too. If you’re reading this article and you love watches, you are – by definition – a romantic.
And that means we’re pretty much constantly falling for one watch or another. It also means we’re all searching for that perfect watch. Unfortunately, love, especially where watches are concerned, can be expensive…and emotionally draining… but also, really, really, really expensive.
So here’s the deal:
I’ve put together a few rules that I think can help us navigate this crazy, mixed-up, topsy-turvy world…because…(spoiler – rule number 4) this hobby should be fun! It shouldn’t be a source of stress and regret!
If that sounds interesting, read on.
Rule Number One: Don’t Trust the butterflies.
You’ve been scrolling the gram, and then – BAM! – there she is: she’s gorgeous. You’re feeling those feelings again. Your heart is racing, and your palms are getting all sweaty. Just look at the way she catches the light…
A real friend would slap you or shake you, and yell, “SNAP OUT OF IT!” Since this is the internet, and I’m not interested in being sued, my shouty caps will have to do. The point is, what you’re experiencing is not real. It’s what we in the business call a “watch crush” and “watch crushes” happen every minute of every day. Watch crushes are the veritable junk food in an otherwise healthy diet of cat pictures, cars, and “lifestyle” advertisements.
Someone out there is reading this and thinking about a particular watch (probably a Grand Seiko)…and that someone is getting pissed… because…
“This one is special! “
And, “This one is perfect!”
And, worst of all… “This one is TRUE LOVE! “
Well, I’ve been doing this for a long time,* and I’ve been in your shoes more than once**, so let me just get this out of the way:
Reading a Hodinkee review, watching Bark and Jack, scrolling Instagram, and even drooling over a watch at meetup does not equal “true love.” She’s not “the one” if you’ve only been on two dates. Hell, she’s not “the one” after you’ve maxed your credit card, taken her home, and had your first fight. You need to have been with that watch for a good long time before you know that what you’re feeling is real. And unfortunately, half the time, it’s not.
So the next time you’re feeling those butterflies, remind yourself that true love takes time. And that, Friend, is rule number one.
*This is a lie; I’ve only been doing this for a few years, but I’m trying to project a grizzled old watch collector here, so just go with it (plus, even if I were 17 years old and living in my parents’ basement, I’d still be right).
**This part is %100 true.
Rule Number Two: Don’t Believe the Hype.
Have you ever wondered why watch companies make limited editions? Obviously, limited editions sell well, and there are certain psychological / evolutionary reasons for that, but that doesn’t really answer my question. What I mean is, watch companies are in the business of selling watches; over the long term, there is literally no limit to the amount of watches a given company hopes to sell. So don’t limited editions stand counter to that larger goal?
The reason there is no contradiction between limiting the production of a given watch and selling an unlimited number of watches in the future is that the number of limited editions is itself unlimited.*
In other words, once a given limited edition sells out, there will be another limited edition. Not every limited edition is going to be awesome, but many will. And in a universe with an infinite number of limited editions, there is no need to fuss when we miss out on one or another… remember there will always be another and another and another. The same principle holds true for discontinued watches and limited production watches.
“Well, what about vintage watches?” Good question, Friend. The same is true for vintage watches. Sure, you might not find another tropical 1016 with the exact same gilt dial, but you’ll find another incredible watch (I love me some 16753 Rootbeer).
And here’s the deal: we all have a finite amount of money we can spend on watches. For some of us, that number is more significant than for others, but it’s always finite. None of us can buy as many watches as we want (#allthewatches), so at some point we just have to let the ones that get away… go, and enjoy the ones we’re blessed to catch. Fortunately, there are more awesome watches worth buying than there is money to spend. So don’t believe the hype. Missing out on one awesome watch just means you’re going to end up with another awesome watch. There are plenty of fish in the sea.
And that’s rule number two.
*Kat and Katlen never told me to set a record for writing “limited” as many times as humanly possible in one sentence; no, Friend, that goal was all mine. High fives everyone! Now, go back and read that sentence again, because once you unpreztle your mind, I promise that it makes sense.
Rule Number Three: Real Life > Internet
At the risk of getting lost in the sauce, I’ll throw this out there: this rule isn’t just about watches. This rule is about the way we experience the world. This rule is about life.
But, since this article is about watches, and since watches are basically life anyway, I’ll try to connect the dots.
Back in 2018 I was an armchair watch enthusiast; I was part of two Facebook groups, I ghosted the forums, I read articles, I watched YouTube videos, and I listened to podcasts. I even owned a few watches. So basically, I was a total expert, I knew everything, and I had all the right opinions.
Fortunately, at some point I came across the Worn and Wound podcast, (episode 70, linked here). The episode features a watch collector who goes by the handle OT (Instagram @ranxoren),* and it’s about taking hobbies (whether they be watch collecting, photography, or really anything else) off-line. OT talks about the value of sharing our passions with likeminded people. After listening to the podcast, I promptly contacted the good folks at RedBar and went to my first meetup.
It is literally impossible to overstate how much better it is to experience watches (or almost any other hobby) in real life than it is to experience watches (or almost any other hobby) through the internet. Don’t get me wrong, I still consume a huge amount of watch content online, but I also attend as many watch meetups as I can.
The benefits of pursuing this hobby in real life are legion, but I’ll leave you with the following three:
1. You’ll gain exposure to watches you’ve seen for years but never tried on (with results both good and bad), and you’ll gain exposure to watches that you never even knew existed.
2. You’ll spend your money more wisely**, and you’ll end up refining your tastes. Trying on lots of watches is the best way to figure out what you really love.
3. You’ll enjoy your watches more when you get to share them with fellow enthusiasts. There’s nothing like having a friend gush over your watches to remind you why you bought them in the first place.
So go ahead and log off (after you finish reading this article). If you haven’t already, join your local watch meetup. If there isn’t one, then start one. The point is, don’t be an armchair enthusiast, because… Real life > Internet. And that’s rule number three.
*Incidentally, OT was also a recent guest on Tenn & Two; if you haven’t already listened to that interview, you definitely should. You can find the podcast here!
**Note, I did not say you’ll spend less money.
Rule Number Four: Watch Collecting Should be Fun
I know this rule is obvious, and yet.
…YouTube comments. Need I say more?
Okay, here’s how I know that it’s not obvious:
Vitriolic arguments about…
• Quartz versus mechanical
• The Rolex bubble / Rolex supply
• Hesalite vs sapphire
• Leather straps on dive watches
• Bracelets on Panerais
• What constitutes “in-house”
• The rising prices of all things Seiko
• Spring drive = quartz (It doesn’t, but so what if it did?)
• The Apple Wrist Computer (you know where I stand)
• The morality of flipping watches
• The P01
• AP Code 1159 (which is a silly name, to be sure)…
• Pretty much Bremont anything
• Chinese manufacturing
• Whether so-and-so is a “real” watch enthusiast
• X watch is objectively more handsome than Y watch…
• Etc. Etc. Etc.
Having your own opinions is both satisfying and healthy. Assuming that everyone else should have the same opinions is both puerile and absurd. Resorting to ad hominem attacks when other people don’t share your opinions is pathetic.
My suggestion: don’t say anything online that you wouldn’t say in real life. Again, we’re dipping into life lessons here, but what I can say? Watches = life.
So again, this hobby should be fun. If you’re finding yourself stressed about what you should buy next, or whether a limited edition is going to sell out, or whether X watch is approved by the watch snob community… slow down, take a deep breath, and remember…
1. Don’t trust the butterflies
2. Don’t believe the hype
3. Real life > Internet
4. Watch collecting should be fun
5. ̶B̶̶̶o̶̶̶n̶̶̶u̶̶̶s̶̶̶:̶̶̶ ̶̶̶w̶̶̶a̶̶̶t̶̶̶c̶̶̶h̶̶̶e̶̶̶s̶̶̶ ̶̶̶a̶̶̶r̶̶̶e̶ ̶n̶̶̶o̶t̶̶̶ ̶̶̶a̶̶̶c̶̶̶t̶̶̶u̶̶̶a̶̶̶l̶̶̶l̶̶̶y̶̶̶ ̶̶̶l̶̶̶i̶̶̶f̶̶̶e̶̶̶.̶̶̶ ̶ ̶
That’s it. What’s on your wrist?
For cool pictures and anti-watch-snob positivity follow @clever_baked on the gram!