We'll Always Remember Our First Watch
There’s always a first, right? The first person we fall in love with, the first job we get, the first trip we take. And there is the first watch we strap on our wrist. This experience of wearing the first watch probably was uneventful for most people as we got one at a young watch to make sure we would be back home from our friends’ house by a certain time. And it is probably true that most people don’t remember what their first watch was.
But watch collectors do remember what it was and probably still have it. Why?
The thoughts shared in this article are based on an ongoing research project I’m conducting about watch collectors. I’ve interviewed several dozen collectors, influencers, brand owners, journalists about collecting watches and one of the first questions I ask them is about their first watch.
How and When We Got It
One of my favorite parts of writing about interviewing so many collectors is that I get to ask :”What was your first watch? Who gave it to you? Do you still have it?” Without any exception, every person I interview remembers who gave them their first watch. A parent, an uncle or aunt, a grandfather or grandmother. The closer we are from the person who gave it to us, the more meaningful the watch is. We also receive watches from spouses, friends, and coworkers but never our first watch. (There’s a reason why.)
Knowing who gave it to us is followed by the question of when. Generally, people get their first watch between the ages of 5 and 15, which explains the “who.” The younger we got our first watch, the more likely it would be a grandfather/grandmother or uncle/aunt who gave it to us. And parents are the ones who usually give us a watch between the ages of 7-12 and teach us how to read time. They do so to help us be on time. Source: www.hodinkee.com
Typical First Watches
In the same vein, the younger we are, the more likely we were given a very simple watch. Best examples are colorful and toy-shaped watches that look like Transformers, a car or that have a superhero theme. Many collectors who get their first watch before turning 10 receive a Flik Flak and I am one of them. (In my case, this watch is long gone.) Suffice to say that any watch we get at a young age is powered by a quartz movement.
If we are a little older, we most likely got a digital Casio in the likes of the F91W. This particular model was very popular and still is today, and it’s quite amazing that one can still buy that exact same model for $15 on Amazon. Thus far, I have not talked to a watch collector who received a technical watch at a young age, but that doesn’t mean it can’t exist.
What Does This All Mean?
While most people born before the age of smartphones most likely had a watch when they were young, I don’t believe it’s true of the youngest generations. For them, they grew up around parents who had smartphones and who probably ditched their watches. I did interview a few young collectors (now in their 20s) who didn’t have a watch growing up but who bought their first one in their early teens to showcase their personality.
However, when it comes to anyone who grew up before the age of smartphones (or even the internet,) what is interesting is that not all people who had a watch became collectors, but all collectors had a watch at a young age. This is just a running theory of mine but I believe that getting a certain type of watch at a young age had an impact on becoming future collectors. Even more so when it was gifted to us by a family member who collected watches.
When I started interviewing watch people, I thought it might just be a coincidence that people who seriously got into watches—regardless at what age this was—were given a watch at a young age. But it became more than a coincidence when every person I interviewed went through the same experience, whether they are vintage watch collectors or created a successful independent watch brand. This goes to show that we as adults are deeply influenced by early childhood experiences, whether it be a traumatic one or a joyful one getting into horology.Featured image: www.watchgecko.com
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