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Watch Collecting: A Perspective From One Who Tried, And Failed.

Watch collecting is an interesting pursuit, and can mean very different things to different people.  There is no “right answers” – only what works for that individual.  Some people enjoy a rotation of 3-10 watches, happily going to the safety deposit bank or the safe to pull stiff off the winder.  Others keep a few timepieces on hand that they wear regularly, and leave the others- sometimes many others- wrapped up in plastic for posterity or investment purposed (I’m thinking of the Patek crowd here, particularly).  Then there are the fanatics for vintage Rolex or Panerai limited editions, who enjoy the hyper-minutiae and sharing a latest rare acquisition with their equally obsessed buddies at get-togethers were festivity levels are just slightly less than that of a Roman bacchanalia.

I’m going to say it straight up-despite having had more than my share of neat watches along the way, I’m not a “watch collector”.  Can’t do it, and my failure isn’t from a lack of trying.  For me, the issue is this: the more I end up owning, the less enjoyment I ultimately have.  In my attempt to gather a “collection” I once got up to some five or six watches-this eclectic mix included Rolex, Roger Dubis, Glashutte Original, IWC and even a Kobold dive watch.  Somewhere along the line, pieces from Audemars Piguet and Chopard got subbed into the mix, while something else left.  I honestly don’t recall which it was at the moment, if you can believe that.

Problem was, I felt really, really distracted and could never “bond” with any of the watches.  Between trading, selling and scheming for the next hot watch, I was too busy trying to figure out how to rotate everything so I wouldn’t feel guilty for having spent the $$, but not giving each their due wrist time.  The not-inconsequential servicing costs to keep this (relatively) elite and ever-shifting mechanical family properly maintained-once I started to think about it-was also something of a turn-off.

It’s as tiring as it sounds, and I took away the personal lesson I needed from it all-two or three watches is what works for my “needs”.  Give me a couple of well-differentiated and less-frequently seen Rolex sports models for “gettin’ life done”, and something truly superb (A. Lange & Sohne, F.P. Journe, Patek Philippe, Vacheron Constantin, etc.) on a strap for special occasions and general appreciation of traditional watchmaking.  (Ok…. An AP Royal Oak “Jumbo” or Patek Philippe Nautilus would be dandy in this role, too).  Now we’re on track, and I’m as happy as a clam.

Ironically, the two watches I owned seven years ago (both sadly long traded off to pursue some new ticking trollop) fit that criteria to a tee, and would have probably suited me perfectly for the rest of my life-a 16600 Rolex Sea-Dweller and a Patek Philippe 5107R Calatrava.  Talk about full circle, right?


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