Back in the day, starting a luxury watch collection was about as niche a pastime as you could get. Practiced exclusively by an impenetrable clique of the select few, it is only in relatively recent years that it has managed to shake off its image of very wealthy, very old men sitting around buttoned-down auction houses, living in a world completely closed off to outsiders.
Now, it has transformed into a buzzing community of likeminded and passionate enthusiasts, brought together by a mutual love of horology. It is a process that really only started in the last twenty-five years or so, as the worldwide adoption of the internet linked people from every walk of life and from every corner of the globe, all eager to learn from each other as well as share knowledge of their own.
Edit your Rolex collection to include only watches that you love
At a stroke it has gone from being a solemn, formal activity to one that attracts a much younger, more fun, and extremely well-informed crowd.
It also has an element of competitiveness about it, with collectors using the various social media platforms to show off their latest find or acquisition.
The best thing about it is that it is open to everyone. There is a whole raft of places you can go, both on and offline, to indulge your love of watches and discuss every aspect of horology with some very knowledgeable people.
Below, we’ll look at a few of the options open to you as a collector to connect with your fellow devotees.
Whether you have a broad interest in watches of all kinds or you want to learn more about your preferred maker, you will find a forum that caters to you.
Watchuseek.com is the world’s largest and most extensive horology forum
Joining a choice selection of these groups is one of the quickest ways to get any questions you may have answered. You are able to research the sometimes extensive numbers of previous threads or, if you find no luck there, you can post your own queries out into the open and stand a very good chance that one of the other participants will have the information you’re looking for.
The thing that continues to amaze is how generous the other members are with their time. Watch collecting is a pretty tight-knit community, and the snobbishness that used to be a factor in some of the forums is being replaced with a far more inclusive attitude.
If you are looking for a good place to start, watchuseek.com is the world’s largest and most extensive horology forum, covering just about every subject you can think of, as well as containing a dedicated sub forum for dozens of different brands.
rolexforums.com may not be much to look at, but it is one of the most popular Rolex forums in the world
Among the best devoted to a single manufacturer, rolexforums.com and omegaforums.net are both standouts for their respective marques, each with vast archives of reviews and resources covering modern and vintage pieces alike.
As with anything, the more you put into your time on these sites, the more you will get out of them. Getting involved and contributing your own opinions and expertise is the ideal way to become a valued part of the community.
The explosion in social media sites has been a godsend for watch collectors and the horology community generally.
There is very little else which can link so many people so effectively, and provide a near-constant stream of information.
Instagram is a great place to find a community of watch lovers
Of the various platforms, Instagram remains by far the most widely used, with its highly visual structure proving the ideal format for sharing images of the sort of luxury watches that qualify as minor works of art.
As a site that can only be updated through mobile devices, it has garnered a huge audience with younger watch fans, and its use of hashtags makes finding others with similar passions a breeze. It also allows users to generate a following by displaying both their collections as well as their photography skills.
Here you will discover not only other connoisseurs, but legions of influencers, resellers and bloggers, next to every major maison or startup microbrand out there.
The vast community of Instagram watch collectors means you will never NOT see amazing watches
Instagram owner Facebook also has a vast community of horologists, with hundreds of groups dedicated to both lovers of watches in general and some incredibly specific subgroups. Facebook’s focus is less on the visual and more on promoting in-depth discussions, with the effectiveness of each group obviously down to its contributing members. But no matter where your particular interests lay, the chances are you will find a community out there to accommodate you.
And for having real-time conversations and keeping up with the latest news in the watch world, Twitter is still the most efficient platform. Similar to Instagram in its use of hashtags, it is easy to find or start a discussion on any topic, and you can follow and connect with anyone to hear what they have to say.
As revolutionary as the internet has been for bringing together the world’s horologists into one virtual space, there is still nothing to compare with meeting fellow collectors in the flesh.
There has been a huge rise in both formal events and casual meetup groups, either devoted exclusively to watches or as part of a broader jewelry and lifestyle layout.
The Redbar Group is a rapidly growing offline group of horology enthusiasts
A real success story, and one only growing in stature, is the RedBar Group. Starting out as just two friends getting together once a month to discuss their latest favorites in a NYC bar, it has since gone on to become a worldwide phenomenon. It now has chapters all across the States, into Europe and Asia and as far afield as Australia. Renowned for its friendly and unpretentious vibe, free flowing conversation and helpful participants, it sums up the image of the modern watch collecting community. Chances are there is an active group near you or, if you check on RedBar’s own website, you have the chance to establish one yourself.
Among the more structured events, The Wind-Up show is an annual watch fair organized by online horology resource Worn & Wound.
Recently hosting its fourth show in San Francisco, it is now the largest of its kind in the U.S., a three-day extravaganza celebrating some of the best value for money brands from home and abroad. It is a great place for both experienced collectors and complete novices to rub shoulders, and carries on the same sort of down-to-earth ambiance as a RedBar get-together.
The Wind-Up is put on by Worn & Wound and is worth a visit
Free to enter and with dozens of exhibitors, the Wind-Up show is definitely one to add to the calendar.
Of course, the granddaddy of them all remains Baselworld, held every March for the last hundred years in the northern Swiss city of Basel.
Spanning over an entire week and with typically more than a thousand manufacturers vying for attention, it is the biggest and most attended watch fair of them all.
While it might be a trade show officially, it is open to the public and caters to more than 100,000 visitors each year, and some brands, most notably Rolex, uses it as its own personal springboard for debuting its latest creations.
The most important event on the horology calendar, and the one that brings more of the community together than any other, Baselworld is still at the top of most fans’ bucket lists.