Collecting Watches for Beginners: How to Start Your Set
There are many reasons to start a watch collection, and there are just as many watches out there waiting to be collected. Collecting watches might seem overwhelming at first, but it can also be extremely rewarding. The wristwatch is a timeless accessory; it’s that extra addition to your wardrobe that can seamlessly bring an outfit together.
Owning a great watch is a luxury that combines exclusivity and style. The chase to hunt down the perfect watch can take days, months, or even years. There are countless avenues to lead you to watch collecting and hours upon hours of research that can give pause to beginners just starting out with the hobby. Read on for some tips to help you navigate the world of collecting watches for beginners.
How To Get Started
The best way to begin collecting watches is to find that one piece that truly grabs you, ideally at a price point you can manage. Watches are often luxury items and many of the pieces that find their way into watch collections can easily run thousands of dollars. The best place is start is by determining what you are looking for in a watch, and finding a piece that gets you excited. You’ll likely know it as soon as you see it.
Once you find a watch you feel passionate about, you’ll have to figure out how to actually purchase it. Doing your research is essential when starting out. You can start by hitting up YouTube and watching videos of experts breaking down collections and their history, and reading up on the terminology and features of watches that strike your interest. For example, if you find yourself drawn in by steel luxury watches, you might seek out Audemars Piguet’s Royal Oak watch, the first high-end steel sports watch. The passion for the Royal Oak might then lead you to the 1969 Zenith Chronomaster El Primero. The stainless-steel watch has three stunning chronograph dials and an understated style that doesn’t skimp out on functionality.
Want a truly out-of-this-world watch option? The Omega Speedmaster Professional is known as the Moonwatch Professional and is qualified by NASA for crewed space missions. Featuring an engraving on the back proclaiming it “the first watch worn on the moon,” this is the watch Buzz Aldrin wore when he took his first steps on the moon and every Omega Speedmaster Professional carries a piece of that incredible history. In addition to its historical significance, the Speedmaster is also renowned in watch collecting circles due to its classic design and reliability.
Watch collecting is far from a surefire way to make money. Many watches hold their value, a few increase in value, and some ultimately lose value over time. Put simply, you should only buy a watch you are passionate about. Buying expensive vintage pieces to add to your collection is an exciting hobby, but if you are buying with the vague notion of what a collection needs and not what you will personally appreciate, you will never fully enjoy the pieces in your collection.
As a buyer, you should take time to read about the market and understand the risks. If you are starting out by purchasing a vintage Rolex, you can expect a hefty price tag, with no assurances that you will make that money back when/if you decide to sell. Take time to study the watches you want to collect, and determine if you are buying a piece to keep for the rest of your life, or for a potential investment. By narrowing down why you are purchasing a watch, you should avoid any buyer’s regret, even if you end up selling it or trading it down the road.
In the end, if the stress and heartache over the monetary cost of a watch begins to outweigh the pleasure you’ll derive from owning it, accept that it might be out of your budget for now. Collecting watches is about the enjoyment and pleasure you get out of the watch on your wrist and the value it brings to your life, not simply the act of adding it to a collection.
Buying New vs Secondhand
There are two big reasons to buy secondhand: supply and cost. If you find yourself looking to add the Rolex Submariner 116610LV — known as ‘The Hulk’ thanks to its green dial and bezel — to your collection, you will have to purchase it secondhand. Rolex announced on September 1st, 2020, that the extremely popular piece was going to be discontinued. This created new demand and a rising price tag as the iconic watch suddenly became more exclusive.
Not all secondhand watches have an inflated price tag. Many are much cheaper than buying new, with few, if any, drawbacks. If you purchase a watch secondhand from a reputable seller, there is no significant difference from buying retail.
The secondhand route is an excellent option for collecting watches, but there are still some risks involved. Sellers of fake watches are always on the lookout to scam novice buyers. There are also less apparent risks, however. Some watches are sold damaged and you’ll find yourself eating the cost of repairs if you’re not careful. Other watches have been damaged and then repaired with the wrong parts – they may work fine, but their value will have dropped significantly. Caution is the golden rule while collecting watches for beginners.
To Wear Or Not To Wear
Will you be wearing the watches you collect? The 2022 Rolex Submariner is a diving watch rated for 300 meters (1000 feet) below water. The Bell & Ross BR Phantom pilot watch is a heavy-duty accessory built for pilots. What will you be doing with your new watch?
Patek Philippe’s Celestial 6102P is a beautiful watch that will stand out in any room, so much so that many collectors only wear it on special occasions. Other collectors might simply keep it on display to ensure that it is not accidentally damaged. You might find it ridiculous to buy an expensive watch and not wear it daily; whether or not you will be wearing the watches you collect drastically affects what particular watches you should buy.
Collecting watches for beginners doesn’t have to be too complicated. The most important aspect of collecting is to ensure you are truly excited about the watches you purchase. Understand their appearance, their construction and history, and how you will use them. Try on watches before you buy. If you discover that you don’t like the feel of a watch with a leather strap, you’ll appreciate knowing that before you commit to purchasing it.
Every watch collection begins with one purchase — be sure that you are happy with your first piece, and you should be in good hands to begin your watch collection in earnest.
What are the Best Watches To Collect?
Many of the best investment watch collections begin with some of the most iconic watches from famous brands, like the Tag Heuer Monaco or Omega Speedmaster. The Rolex Submariner also tops the list — it’s hard to go wrong with vintage Rolex, whether it is the Rolex Explorer 1016 or the Rolex Oysterdate Precision 6694. From there, countless other vintage watches would be a great addition to any watch collection, like the Tudor Submariner or the Jaeger-LeCoultre Memovox.
Rolexes tend to hold and even grow in value often enough. There are vintage Rolexes that have had their production discontinued, so their value is secured with their limited supply. New Rolex watches that are highly sought after have had their production slowed to increase demand, causing collectors to pay premium prices. At the same time, the average Rolex is always available to purchase, so selling secondhand is often not worth it. In the end, the best vintage watches are the ones you discover and fall in love with for their history and beauty.
When you start your collection, it should be with a watch you love. Ensure that you appreciate its style, that it matches your wrist, and that the history it brings with it sweeps you off your feet. Whether it is the same Rolex Submariner model that guarded the wrist of Sean Connery, the latest evolution of the Cartier Tank, or even a vintage Mickey Mouse timepiece like the one worn by Robert Langdon in Dan Brown’s popular books, start with a watch you are excited about (and one you can afford).