I mentioned in a past post that I have a small watch collection. I say it that way because recently, I considered collecting watches. I thought I had a fair collection – isn’t more than one a collection? I had one valuable watch handed down from my dad, four watches all of the same make, just slight variations, then two gifted watches that I didn’t care for. My plan was to start collecting watches I like.
A little bit of research online showed that that’s not what “watch collecting” means. Watch collectors are, put bluntly, fucking snobs. There seems to be only a couple of ways to garner the respect of a watch collector. Either already have a collection of high-end timepieces, or if you are starting out, ask for advice and say your budget is something like $5,000. So, my “collection” of sub-$100 watches is probably an insult to their art.
I had mused on collections in a really old post and came up with the decent conclusion that a collection really only has value to the owner, not to anyone else. (like hair, I said. Crazy.) I thought a bit more on it and considered the absurdity of the concept of collecting. Here I am buying $70-100 watches and there’s a whole lot of people out there that couldn’t (or wouldn’t dare) buy a single watch for more than $20. In that regard, I am very fortunate for my situation, but I certainly don’t have the audacity to look down on someone because they don’t see some perceived value in watches that I see.
And that’s kind of the point. Why do we collect things? The high-end watch collectors must be smitten with the amazing craftwork in a watch, and I can understand that. The issue is that the appreciation of the complexity of the watch is not what is conveyed to a potential fellow collector. And someone that is buying a watch for a new collection (with a budget of $5k), clearly can’t appreciate the device at the same level.
Really, after all is said and done, a watch tells time. A $20 Casio digital quartz watch is just as accurate as a Rolex, and doesn’t come with a regular maintenance schedule. If you’ve never known about luxury watches, yes, they do need to be serviced regularly. Pay a lot up front and keep paying on schedule. So, the argument “That watch will last for your lifetime,” loses its charm a little when you have to effectively pay the cost of a new watch every few years.
Given all the thinking I’ve done on this now, I am going to go ahead with my “collection”, although it’s not going to be classified as a collection. I’m not sure what else to call it. It’s just a set of watches that I like looking at and wearing and that have the expected purpose of telling time. As part of their purpose, they match my wardrobe and match the activity I have planned while wearing them. That’s a balance of practicality and fashion.
Maybe someday, I will have the desire to own a device with an amazing internal structure and will find the cost of owning it to be worth the reward. But that day is not today.