Where to keep (or should that be how to keep) one’s watches is very much down to personal preference, which can (of course) be influenced by the size of one’s collection, one’s lifestyle, and one’s financial or spatial means. Unless you only own one watch, such as a Rolex Submariner, and wear it every day, you will likely need a place to keep your watches when they are not on your wrist. Watch storage options can include the original boxes, display cabinets, cases, wraps, wallets, winders, safes, and others so let’s explore a few of the most common and the positives and negatives associated with them.
This one is probably not ideal for many people and is a suggestion I would only advocate if space were severely limited. Keeping the original box and papers of a watch you have bought yourself or managed to obtain pre-loved is essential should you ever wish to sell the watch for its maximum secondary market value, but using these boxes as storage systems is not a good idea on several fronts.
Firstly, overusing a box (opening, closing, handling, for example) will only harm its condition and reduce its value. I store all of my original boxes in a separate box in a cool, dry location, away from any kind of light to prevent the exterior fading or becoming laden with dust.
Secondly, it just looks a bit messy. You can’t see the watches at a glance in most styles of packaging, and in some cases, boxes from the same brand have no distinguishing marks to give you a clue as to what you’re about to see when you open it. For me, as soon as a watch comes out of its original packaging, it shouldn’t return there until its time to send it off to a new home.
A display cabinet is a bit of an old-fashioned concept in this slick, tech-heavy world in which we live, but for those who prefer to arrange their watches behind glass in a static position, it is still an option. Individual watch stands are ever more available (with a new model from Watch Pod hitting the market just recently) and can make for a characterful display when marshaled with care and attention.
This is my preferred method of “long-term” storage. I like to see my collection in front of me, so I have it spread across three sizeable Peli Cases, which are capable of standing up to all kinds of abuse, as well as feeding into my love of industrially-styled, utilitarian items. The downside to this model in the past has been obtainability. The kind of case I would advocate has been hard to find with pre-cut foam inserts of sufficient quality. Luckily, after a few conversations with the product development team at Peli, this may be about to change, so watch this space for new options in this style hitting the market soon.
Wraps and Wallets
One of the reasons I favor cases is because I am often on the move, and sometimes need to travel with a large number of watches in my possession for fairs or RedBar meet-ups. However, sometimes traveling with 15-20 watches is not only unnecessary but simply untenable due to luggage restrictions. Here watch wraps and watch wallets become essential pieces of kit, and while I wouldn’t leave my Rolex timepieces in either for a significant period, I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve relied on these light-weight and durable options to get my beaters from A to B. Possibly the best watch wallet I’ve ever had the joy to handle was made by Schofield Watch Company, which has a fantastic range of exquisitely designed curios in its online store.
And now on to the big two. Watch winders have become a bit of a “must-have” accessory for neophyte luxury watch owners, but I’m personally not a huge fan. I think the environment (with the watch well protected from all sides and mounted on an adjustable carrier) is excellent, but I don’t believe it is necessarily good for watches to be running constantly.
Look, it is certainly true that leaving a watch unused for a long time is unhealthy for it (the delicate oils may dry up or coagulate through inactivity), but for a few days or a couple of weeks at a time, it makes no practical difference. Conversely, leaving a watch running constantly obviously increases the wear and tear sustained by the components, which are of course working harder and for longer than is necessary.
The key to whether a watch winder is a good thing for your collection comes down to its size and composition. If, for example, you have watches that are very rarely worn, it’s not a bad idea to give them a little activity every couple of weeks to make sure that the lubricants are still being worked around, but there is no need to leave the winders of these seldom donned models running in perpetuity.
However, speaking of perpetuity, certain models would benefit from life on a watch winder, and those are very complicated models featuring things like perpetual calendars or complex moonphase indications that can run for over 100 years without needing to be reset (assuming the watch never stops). Watches with this kind of complication (should they be automatic, of course) would very much benefit from a watch winder and are the main reason for their existence in my mind.
Probably the very best place to keep your Rolex collection (if you can afford it) is a top-quality safe. There are some stunning options on the market these days with sections for automatic watches, manual watches, spare parts, straps, original boxes, and literature, and offering external finishes to die for.
Polished wood, laser-cut metal, leather-clad steel… There are many, many luxurious options available to those with an effectively unlimited back balance. Brands such as Brown, Stockinger, Savoy, Döttling, and Buben and Zorweg stand out as market leaders. Although the price tag for such stylish security is high, it could end up looking like a drop in the ocean next to the cost of replacing or repairing watches stolen or damaged due to insufficient storage solutions. Along with insurance and keeping your watches in good running order through regular (although not excessive) servicing, finding them a home in which they can live happily and healthily for many years to come is not an endeavor at which to be sniffed.