Watch Out.

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.

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