Don’t get bitten by the watch collectors biggest pitfalls.
Don’t over pay. This first one is hard to quantify. Overpaying is subjective to each of us but the most important thing is that you not regret spending your money. Whether the math doesn’t work out for you, or your research isn’t up to par, you owe it to yourself to make sure you work within your means. Do not go into debt or other great dangers borrowing money for that next illusive watch. It’s just a watch, it will not keep you warm at night or feed your family.
Maintenance matters. That is to say, that you need to be aware that your watch, just like your house, car, or relationships, require maintenance. If you truly love your watch and want it to run forever, you need to make sure you take care of it. Much like a knife that needs sharpening, your watches need a tune up every so often. Do not forget that they need to be taken care of or you might find your watch rusting from the inside out. Also don’t forget that a watch service is not free so factor that into your buying costs for down the road. Your Rolex will certainly cost more to service than your Seiko, unless it’s a Grand Seiko, which may cost more.
Buy what you want. This is your collection so if you want an Omega, don’t settle. Don’t let someone else’s opinion on watches sway you into buying something you don’t love. don’t let hype, trends, pop culture or celebrities influence your purchases. This, like over paying, leads to regrets. Often called buyers remorse, you’ll get feel this upon arrival of the new watch, the high you’re expecting from your new shiny bauble not as great as you’d expected. This isn’t the watch you wanted, but rather the one you’re now stuck with and will likely sell at a loss later on. So chase your dream and don’t let anyone else judge you for it.
How to know what you want. Much like buying a house or a car, nothing is perfectly perfect. There will be some trade-offs and you have to figure out what you can live with or without. So make a list of your must haves versus your wants. Do you want or need a specific brand. Do you want or need a bracelet or Nato strap? What are your min/max sizes based on your own wrist size? What complications do you need? These are all things you very much want to determine before you buy any random watch with a fancy logo. Your Apple Watch is a far cry from a Vintage Omega, especially as one has timeless heritage and the other is destined for a trash heap once the battery permanently dies. Narrow it down or else you’ll end up overspending on the wrong things at the wrong time for the wrong reasons.
Trusting in your Seller. If you are new to the watch game, go with an Authorized Dealer. Especially as in the case of high dollar luxury watches, an AD will not only be able to provide answers to your questions, they’ll also have the correct paperwork and authentic tags attached to the watch. Going to the untrusting internet can lead to massive heartache if you don’t know what to look for and someone takes you on a merry chase with your own money. Choosing the right seller, even those that are Grey Market, can lead to a fairly fruitful relationship if cultivated correctly.
Box and Papers. A sensitive subject to be sure, especially for luxury watches. Realize that life isn’t perfect and so sometimes you’ll come across a watch that is pre-owned, without box or papers or both. This does not automatically disqualify the watch from being the one that will join your collection but comes with some caveats. You’d need to look for signs the watch isn’t legitimate and if you don’t know how, find someone who does. Boxes and papers will only help if you plan to ever sell the watch down the road. If not, they don’t matter and can save you several hundred dollars in upcharges. Just get the watch authenticated.
Hands on Experience. With or without box and papers, all you can judge on is condition and that’s usually obvious with the naked eye. Yet a watch also has that expensive delicate movement housed in the case so getting your hands on the watch and feeling the crown as you wind the watch can often tell you if the watch is legitimate. A Rolex, Omega, Tag Heuer, or any other luxury watch should have a smooth winding feel and sound. a fake will have a crown that either breaks off at the drop of a hat, sounds like rusty metal grinding together or feels like your churning ice cream instead being smooth as silk.
Acknowledge that collections can change. The argument a larger affordable collection versus one or two signature pieces that cost significantly more is one that every collector experiences. Some adhere to the strict idea of having no more than 3 or 4 max and are steadfast in their belief. I’m sure their wallet appreciates it but there are others who do not have this firm grasp of their wallet and so their collection goes into the dozens, filling a roster in their list of watches they must own. It’s okay if this change through your life, especially as you grow older or find greater success. What you can afford or focus on will naturally change. That’s okay.
Appreciating others. In it’s own subtle way, collecting watches or anything else really, leads many of us to respecting the hobby as a whole. Yes there are the naysayers and the flamers but at the end of the day, we’re all collectors looking for our next timepieces to enjoy. There is great joy in being the start of a watch hobby within your friends group and sharing those similar joys together can be very rewarding. The watch collecting community, by and large, is mainly about appreciation and respect. It should hopefully always stay this way.
Making Lasting Memories. One of the great things about watches is that they can be given as gifts. In many positive ways, watches mark great occasions in ones life such as what you wore when you were getting married, or which watch you bought while on your anniversary. These memories will come to surface every time you look at that watch or think of that trip. It can bring a warm feeling of satisfaction that you had such a timepiece with you on your journey through this thing called life.
In the end, buy the watch you want, at the time of your choosing, for the right reasons, the correct price, and can live with-without regret.