Collecting as a Love Affair or a Business or Both?
It seems to be in the nature of modern men and women to collect things. What those things are varies from individual to individual, of course, but it is the rare person you will encounter that doesn’t have one or two prized collections of items in which they take a special interest.
Just as the types of collections vary, the motivations behind the effort are different from one person to the next. However, the three primary motivators for collectors are nostalgia, enjoyment and financial. Collected items that are most treasured are often those that have a connection to your past and special memories. These may be trinkets or quite valuable, but are retained because of what they mean to you on a personal basis.
You will also find people who collect primarily for the fun and enjoyment of the process. If you ever visit a Coca-Cola collectors’ convention or get to know an earnest stamp collector, they will regal you with all kinds of stories and minutiae they think makes their hobby and collectibles some of the most interesting in the world. The passion of a true collector is often infectious.
Of course, many people combine their collecting with a profit motive. Even if the goal is to simply be able to invest more in their collecting efforts, financial factors usually play a large role in the process.
Finding History and Tradition in a Modern Invention
Although rudimentary forms of watches have existed since the 15th century, the first timepiece that could be called a watch for conveniently wearing on the arm – the wristwatch – was the creation of Patek Philippe in 1868 for Hungarian royalty. Very quickly after this, in 1880, the first true but primitive wristwatches came to be as the result of an edict by Kaiser Wihelm I, wanting them as equipment for his naval officers.
While men primarily used pocket watches and women the new, fashionable wristwatch, this all changed during WW I. With the wide use of “trench watches” among both sides, the foundation was set for the wristwatch to all but replace the pocket watch by the end of the 20s.
Since that time, the wristwatch became ubiquitous as a part of virtually every man’s wardrobe. During the process of its global acceptance, many designers and craftsmen put their personal imprint on a number of models and the luxury wristwatch market became a major focus for the wealthy.
While the wristwatch has gone through a continuous technical evolution, its function remains the same. Whether it is a mainspring or a digital heart the drives gives it an ability to tell time, it is the esthetics and craftsmanship that captivate many discriminating buyers and users. Even as the cellphone becomes the time piece for the common man, evermore exclusive, beautiful and expensive wristwatches continue to be introduced. Likewise, the collecting of what are often miniature works of art attracts a loyal and committed following.
Getting Started with Luxury Watches
Many men (forgive the gender bias, this is predominantly a male hobby) are first introduced to a luxury watch at the time of a critical life event. They receive it as a gift upon graduation, as a wedding gift, or even as an inheritance. Lacking that introduction, others are exposed to these treasures when they begin their careers and end up aspiring to be in a position to replace their $100 mass-produced watch for an indicator that they have arrived. A fine pen, a luxury wristwatch and a high-end auto are among the basics considered de rigueur for the successful executive.
After that first tidbit, many men develop an appetite for every more exclusive versions of this simple timepiece. Needless to say, at that point the function of telling time is mainly replaced by that of showing status, power and a discriminating sense of fashion.
Knowing the Elements of a Fine Watch
As with any specialty item or collection, the watch has its own vocabulary and points of distinction. The essential elements of any watch include:
- The Case. Also called the housing, this is the basic “package” of the watch and stainless steel is used for most watches. Luxury watches will utilize any number of precious metals, including gold, titanium, and platinum.
- The Crown. Usually found on the side at the three o’clock position, this is the device used to wind the watch and set the time.
- The Bezel. This element is often the subject of the designer’s artistry. Its purpose is to make it easier to tell time and can be inside or outside the crystal. Some designs seek uniqueness by having no bezel.
- The Movement. The heart of the watch and what enables its time-telling ability, it is composed of an escapement, mainspring and balance wheel. The winding mechanism gives it the motive power to accurately tick off units of time and move the hands of the watch.
- The Dial. Another primary focus of the fine designers, the dial is also referred to as the face and it is where the time is indicated, often in creative ways.
Other parts of the watch collector vocabulary include descriptions and features. A few of these include their categories, such as:
- Dress. Usually designed as a thin, elegant and unobtrusive watch with a simple leather strap.
- Business or Everyday. These are the heavy duty watches that are seen in regular use and range from the simple to the larger and more adorned wristwatches with heavy wristbands.
- Sport. While this category continues to evolve and segment, these watches often have added functionality, such as stop watch capabilities. Many men wear them for everyday use as well as at recreation.
- Chronograph/GMT. Often referred to as a complication, wristwatches with an additional hand that can be used as a timer are generically referred to as a chronograph. It can also have as an additional or separate complication, the representation of a 24-hour scale or a second time zone. These are often called a GMT watch.
The complicated watch contains any number of unique features, such as a Tourbillon, which compensates for the effect of gravity. The majority of these watches are made in limited editions, primarily for elite customers and high-end collectors.
Of course, there are many other categories for collectors, including by brand, maker, vintage and modern editions.
How to Get Started
If the concept of collecting fine and luxury watches is of interest to you, the best course of action to get started is to educate yourself on what the market offers. Since these watches can run into the tens of thousands of dollars, your budget will play a factor in the path you select. However, here are a few good starting points:
- Visit your local high-end luxury watch and jewelry store and initiate a relationship. You will find these to be an excellent source of current market information, for both new and used fine time pieces. Places that sell jewelry Boca Raton residents choose are an example of such stores.
- Visit some of the fine watch boutiques in larger cities like Chicago, Miami and New York. Not only will it be educational, you just might find an irresistible bargain.
- Watch the ArchieLux channel on YouTube. This is a great source of basic information about all things dealing with luxury watches.
If you think this is the time to start collecting, this is a hobby that can provide nostalgia, enjoyment and financial rewards. If a beautiful watch gets your heart pounding, you might have a passion for one of the world’s more discriminating forms of collecting.