So, you want to get serious about watch collecting. Maybe you started out with an inexpensive quartz watch and now feel naked without one on your wrist. Or maybe you always admired your uncle’s collection – a different luxury watch for every occasion, each one with its own unique story. The fun thing about watch collecting is that, while it starts with a love for the object, it’s totally personal and evolves as we do.
While some collections start very organically, others start with the intention of building up value (and having fun along the way). I’m not going to bore you here with facts like “stick to good condition” or “focus on value.” While entirely true, both can be subjective to the buyer and the market. Plus, these are relatively small factors to consider, when you should be thinking about the bigger picture. With these tips below, you should be able to start a killer collection and help set yourself up for success with good buying habits. Let’s get started!
1. Ask yourself where you want to take your collection
You probably know why you want to start a collection. But, it’s also important to have an idea where you want to take this passion. If you already have a certain model you want to collect, or a certain theme you want to stick to, set some goals.
Maybe in 10 years you want to be able to work up to a coveted, $20k vintage. Or maybe it’s something much more simple – that you want to own one example of each reference number. No matter what, your collection and passion is going to evolve over time. But if you set some goals, it can help spur some good decision-making now as you’re starting out.
2. Set a budget and stick to it
It’s great to have goals, but don’t start your watch collection with too much ambition. Collectors build up their collections, they don’t blindly amass them. Set a reasonable budget for yourself that you can afford, and don’t let yourself go over it. You’re going to have plenty of time to shop the market and upgrade your collection. For now, just focus on collecting solid pieces that are in good condition. Ideally they should be able to hold their value or even appreciate over time; however it is most important that they are watches you love to wear.
3. Think about your lifestyle
Watches aren’t the kind of collection you can just hang on the walls and show off at dinner parties. Well, you can show them off at dinner parties, but you should do so while one is on your wrist. Watches are meant to be worn, loved, and integrated into our lives. So when you start a collection, don’t just think about what is going to add the most value, consider what watches you’re going to want to keep wearing over and over again.
That means you should also think realistically about the watches that will actually fit into your lifestyle. If you have to keep up a refined appearance around the office, gritty tool watches probably won’t end up getting a lot of wear – even if they are absolutely wonderful timepieces.
4. Do your homework
Now that you know your budget and have an idea where you want to start your collection, it’s time for the fun part – shopping around. Don’t be in too big of a hurry to make your first purchase. Start researching what’s on the market, checking out where the value is, and seeing what you can get for your money.
You can do endless research on the specs and provenance of watches, but if the market isn’t meeting your budget or needs, it’s not going to work out for you. So be patient! By shopping around and understanding the market, you’re going to ensure that you get the best watches for the money while starting your collection.
5. Don’t be afraid to upgrade
One of the biggest mistakes novice collectors make is not upgrading their collection. Particularly if you’re working with a limited budget, you may need to free up cash for new pieces by selling old ones. If there’s a watch you just don’t wear much any more – or its value has really gone up, now could be a great time to sell it and keep building your collection.
Remember that your watch collection is a living, evolving thing. Building it up should be a fun journey. And hey, it’s even better when the watch you sell goes to someone else that is just starting out.
BONUS: Start pre-owned
There’s a big misconception out there amongst new collectors about pre-owned watches. Worn and loved, but not necessarily vintage, pre-owned watches represent some of the beast value in the industry.
Some people who are just starting out can feel apprehensive about adding pre-owned pieces to their collection; however many of them don’t realize that new watches are a lot like cars. The minute you buy a new watch and walk out of the shop with it, it takes a hit in value. Investing in pre-owned watches not only allows you to get more bang for your buck, but it allows you to completely avoid the initial deprecation.