It seems I have an affinity for subjective topics. How many watches you should have in your collection is one of these ideas that is deeply rooted in personal preferences, financial means, and overall depth of your inclination for all things horology. However, there is one universal concept that can be applied to watch collecting and that is the one of diminishing returns. Of course, you do whatever you want. I just would like to share a few thoughts about the pros and cons of having too few or too many watches and how it may impact how we collect.
Having Too Few Watches
Maybe we should start by talking in broad terms about the act of collecting anything before we laser focus on watches. According to Merriam Webster, one of the definitions of collecting—and the one that makes the most sense in this case—is the following: “To gather an accumulation of objects especially as a hobby.” So having just one watch does not qualify for a collection. There has to be two at the very least. Although some of us are drawn to the romantic idea of owning only one watch—which has been my self-appointed mission in life—we cannot, technically, call ourselves watch collectors if we only have one watch. In this case, we would just be “the man/woman with the watch.”
One thing I’ve learned over the past three years writing about watches is that it’s virtually impossible to know exactly what type of watch we will connect with if we don’t try more than one. I’ve heard countless stories of people spending several years dreaming of that one watch only to find out it wasn’t really for them once they had acquired it. Maybe we could only buy one watch but we wouldn’t know what we would be missing out on. As I wrote in a previous article, watch collecting is an emotional process. We can connect with watches we didn’t think we would like, and vice versa.
So what happens when we only have one watch (or too few) is that we can’t grasp exactly all of the things we could experience and like and dislike until we have tried a few more watches. Of course, I’m not suggesting to buy any watch we find somewhat nice to look at, but to at least be curious and visit different authorized dealers to try on different watches from various brands. While having one or two watches makes many things easier—for example, traveling with watches is better with just two and we only have to buy one or two extra straps—we may not be aware of certain gems of horology that we wouldn’t have come across should we only have focused on getting “that” one watch.
Having Too Many Watches
Conversely, having too many watches can have some drawbacks. First of all, we wouldn’t be wearing all of them on a regular basis and thus some of our watches would never get back in our sight, or we could fall out of love with some models because we haven’t worn them in a while. Imagine owning too many cars or having five TV sets in your house; you wouldn’t be able to use them all on a regular basis. We should think of this also from a financial perspective: the money we spend on watches we don’t wear is money we are not spending on good accessories for the watches we do wear. (LINK.)
The inevitable impact of owning too many watches is boredom. I remember when I was a teenager and had access to free video games through my friends. Instead of saving up and going to the store to buy a new game—which is something I used to love doing—I would get a free game more or less every week. What happened is that I started switching games every few days and never going deep with any of them. I became bored. Nowadays, we joke about spending 40 minutes browning Netflix in search of a nice movie to watch. Well, the same happens with watches. The more watches we have, the more bored we may become because we are not connecting deeply with a few of them and because we sometimes can’t make the decision of which one to wear.
Pros of having too many watches? We’ve got what we need to swap watches based on what we are up to. Having only one watch limits options to appropriately accessorize for the day. Would you wear a Patek Phillipe Ultra Thin to mow the lawn? Or would you wear a Rolex Deepsea Special for an evening out with friends? Most likely not, however it would be fun to see someone doing either of these two things with either one of these watches. I’m not here to say what is appropriate to do with certain watches, however, for I like to wear only robust tool watches wherever I go and whatever I do.
As I mentioned in the introduction, how many watches you should own is absolutely subjective and personal. No one should tell you what to do and neither should you pay attention to what people are saying. By writing this article I wanted to share some general thoughts about the pros and cons of having too many or too few watches. Since we are often changing our minds about things, we could start as only wanting to own one watch and evolve into owning 50. Whatever rocks our boats, because after all, watch collecting should be enjoyable and based on our personal preferences.Featured image: www.hodinkee.com