I don’t think I would call myself a watch collector since the word “collector” itself carries quite a heavy stature. However, I can confidently say that I am a watch enthusiast. This enthusiasm started around 4 years ago as just a hobby, then it got much more serious as time go by. Like many watch enthusiast / watch collectors out there, I have made countless mistakes along the way in buying and selling watches. I think those mistakes are crucial in helping me understand what I truly like in watches. Here are, in my personal opinion, the 5 things I have learned about starting a watch collection from this 4-year journey.

1. It needs to be YOUR collection

It is extremely important that YOU are the center of your collection, and your watches should represent what you like and you only. I think it is definitely ok to have only dive watches / dress watches / chronographs in your collection if that is what you like. I have seen cases where a person just randomly wanted to add a dress watch into his / her dive watch collection just to “balance” it, and I think this only makes sense if you like different watches and truly need a watch for a dressy occasion. Otherwise, I think there is no need to “balance” the collection by adding different types of watches.

2. See and feel the watch in-person

When deciding to whether buy a watch, you always need to see and try the watch on in person. No matter how good the picture is, it never does the watch justice. The watch measurement also does not tell you how the watch will look on your wrist, even when you have a watch with similar measurement with you. There have been countless watches that I thought looked extremely nice on picture, then changed my mind after seeing it in-person. This also applies for online watch shopping. I think you can buy watches anywhere as long as you have experienced the watch in-person before making the purchase.

3. Find out what you like

Remember when I mentioned above that I made lots of mistake when buying and selling watches? All of those helped me in defining my taste in watches. Me personally, I like watches that can be worn in almost every occasion but a bit more on the sporty side. Watches that fit into this category are Rolex Datejust, Cartier Tank / Santos on the mid tier of the Swiss luxury (yes these watches are not your typical watches, but in the world of Swiss luxury they are actually considered as somewhat mid-tier when compared to other higher end watches), and the Patek Philippe 3940 in white gold, or JLC Ultra Thin Perpetual in steel for my grail watch. My style is somewhere in the middle of the casual and dressy spectrum, so consequently my watches have to also be in this range.

I only know about what I like in watches after buying watches that just don’t fit with me at all. For example, I once bought a solid gold vintage Omega that, in hindsight, was too much “gold” for me because I don’t have anything that goes with a gold watch nor see myself wearing one for long. I prefer a more understated looking watch material like steel or white gold. I think that vintage Omega spent a total of maybe maximum 3 weeks on my wrist before it sat in a box for a good 4 months until I decided to sell it. Watches can be expensive, so make sure you know what you like before you spend your hard-earned money on.

4. Know the story of the watch

Story here means both how the watch came to be, and how you came to the decision of buying this watch. There are some watches out there that have really interesting stories such as the Omega’s Moonwatch, JLC Reverso, etc. But does that mean that you need to know the story of every single watch you purchase? Absolutely not. I think what’s just as important is you know why you buy this specific watch. I might not know everything about how my watches were created, but I do remember exactly when, how, and why I bought every single watch. At the end of the day it does not matter whether the watch has an interesting story because it is now your watch, and you will be the person to create the story for it.

5. Do not impulse buy/sell

Watches are expensive so definitely think twice before you make a purchase, and it can also be very sentimental so do the same when you think about selling. Impulse buy / sell basically means that you spent little time before coming to a decision, which means there is a high chance that you would regret your decision. I have made a few impulse purchases (meaning spending less than 1 day before buying the watch) over the course of 4 years, and I have ended up selling all of those watches. Fortunately, I have not impulse sell any of my watches. I would hate to be in a position where I end up selling one of my favorite watch with no way to get it back. I believe that in order for your watch to be meaningful, there has to be a process and story behind how you acquire such a piece, so definitely put some thoughts before every acquisition or sale.

At the end of the day, I think the most important thing to keep in mind when starting your own collection is BUY WHAT YOU LIKE. Do not listen to anyone or buy because of the trend (unless that is what you’re into). Be informed of your purchases, make sure that you are buying for you and you only, and keep on collecting!

By Daniel Q.