Do you care about my thoughts on collecting watches? Probably not. Did anyone ask? Nope. But I'm going to write this anyways.
Long before my watch collecting really took off, I collected guitars and amps. I've been playing my entire life, and as soon as I could afford what I dreamed of throughout my teenage years, I went out and hoarded gear. But I still don't own (nor have I ever even played) my holiest of grails:
a beat up 3TS 1959-1962 Fender Stratocaster with a rosewood fingerboard (if you happen to own one you'd like to donate, please reach out!)
Not wanting to spend a year's salary on a single guitar, I sought out the best gear I could find at prices I could afford. This led me down a rabbit hole filled with Japanese made Gibsons (Orville), Japanese/Mexican Fenders, among a host of other brands.
I would read comments on forums about how these were all inferior guitars simply because they had a different stamp on them. These comments made me feel I was playing second-tier instruments.
But one day I realized that I was collecting due to my absolute love of playing each instrument for what they are - not to impress some random person on the Internet. And then I realized that some of these "inferior" instruments actually played and sounded better than their "real" counterparts.
HOW DOES THIS RELATE TO WATCH COLLECTING?
Having been around the major watch forums for years, I've read it all. I've read comments that educated me, informed me, and at times, even altered my perception on a watch design.
Watch forums are also littered with many critique comments such as:
- ..but it was made in XYZ country;
- it only has an XYZ movement;
- not another dive watch!;
- it's just trying to be XYZ;
- it's not this...;
- it's not that...;
While everyone is 100% entitled to their opinions, I also fully understand every collector collects for different reasons. (I'm also guilty of having a "My Opinion is Fact" attitude towards things.)
If i were to sequence the changes in my reasons for collecting watches over the years, it would look something like this: flexing/impressing -> finding the perfectly patinated dive watch -> rare, slightly junky dive watches.
What's odd is the fact that most of my watches all kind of look the same. Every time I show my wife my latest find, her inevitable response is: "Oh, that's really nice...but it looks like every other watch you have". As usual, she's completely right...
But also completely wrong. :)
While I'm grateful that my wife never complains about my watch obsession, she doesn't see the intricacies in the small details of designs the way I do.
To me, each watch I buy/pine for is significantly different from anything I own. I'm a collector who would "pay anything for seemingly insignificant variations on design and materials".*
I may own 10 of the "same thing", but it's the slight differences in details that drive me to collect them. It's odd and wonderful at the same time.
But of course, not everyone sees it this way and this is why there are so many different types of watches and collectors out there.
If there's anything I've learned in this crazy hobby of ours, it's to keep an open mind; I've literally thought a watch is fugly for years and all of a sudden it turns into the coolest thing I've ever seen.
Try new things. See designs from a different perspective. Have some fun. And lastly:
Forget all the noise and just wear what you love.
*This quote is from @john_at_mjolk (you should check out his amazing store Mjolk too), a fellow watch and guitar collector I chatted with when I reached out to him because he bought the very watch I had been eyeing. He was referring to guitar and watch collectors like us.