Today we are going to discuss something that really seems to be on a lot of watch guys minds….is watch collecting still fun? Is this hobby that we all love (or once loved), still enjoyable? I just opened Pandora’s box with this one, didn't I?
I have recently seen a lot of disgruntled comments online and I couldn’t help but wonder: Have the impossibly long waitlists, complete lack of available stock, gray dealer nonsense, ridiculous auction prices, and general rigamarole sucked all the fun out of watch collecting? This feeling that watch collecting may no longer be fun may be true, but it also may be very false. Let's get down to it.
Let’s point out two groups of watch people who really shouldn’t count in this discussion. The first is the “flipper.” That isn’t a collector, it is a guy who sees an opportunity in the watch market and wants to make a quick buck. Frankly, this person isn’t collecting anything. I don’t particularly like this area of the watch world. It makes me kind of cringe actually. This part of watch society isn’t helping the actual industry, nor the community. Again, this is someone who is trying to create a small side gig, not a collection of memories.
The other person who shouldn’t be counted in this discussion is the person who only wants one watch, such as a Rolex Submariner. They don’t have an interest in collecting anything else but this specific piece and then quit. This part of the community is great for the watch industry in my opinion and needed to keep watch brands alive. However they really shouldn’t cry when overpaying in the secondary market if they feel the wait is too long at an AD. Here is why, if you can afford a $10,000 watch you can afford a $13,000 one. Yep, I said it. Just buy it, and move on. A few thousand dollars isn’t much when you plan on wearing it for your entire life. So, pay a little extra and start enjoying that one watch you have always wanted.
The group I am talking about are people who want to have a collection of watches. Maybe three to five pieces. Maybe thirty to fifty of them. This is the group I am talking about—these are watch nerds at their finest. People who want to collect and enjoy watch collecting. I want to ask you: are you still having fun? The real question is…are any of us having fun doing anything these days?
The short answer is yes we are, we are just in a slump - but this too shall pass - we got this. Does it absolutely suck to get told “no we don’t have any Rolex watches in stock” when visiting the local Rolex AD? Of course it does! Does it make you think it’s madness when you see a Patek 5711 go for $100,000? Um, ya! But, that is life and recognize that this has to be short lived.
What about all these super cool micro brands that make awesome stuff? What about the fact you can still get some absolutely amazing brands like Omega and Tudor now anytime you want at normal prices? Panerai and Breitling have killer watches that you can get for a steal on the second hand market. I could go on and on here. We may have to look past Rolex, AP and Patek if we want to enjoy this hobby.
I remember when I started to really collect watches in 2014. I found a Rolex Submariner 16610 for $4700.00 on the second hand market. I fell in love and still have it today. I did not care about the resale value, I just cared about having my grail watch. Today, we have to remember that we did not care about resale value five years ago - so why is that so important now? Watches used to drop in value after you bought them, now they increase. Does it make you enjoy them somehow less? As I said before, maybe it is time to look outside the old faithful brands and try something new. And I can only speak for myself, but I’m definitely still having fun.