The definition of who is a watch collector is subjective. On the one hand, a watch collector could be someone who only owns one watch. On the other hand, it could be someone who owns 100 of them. This means each and everyone of us have different goals when it comes to acquiring watches. In this article, we will take a look at the four major types of watch collectors, based on the results of a survey I recently conducted on the fan base of a prominent independent brand.
The Limitless Collector
Probably the most common type of collector is the one who has a large collection of watches of many types. From divers to pilot watches to vintage references to dressy timepieces. This collector has them all. Each piece could cost $100 or $10,000, it doesn’t matter. The limitless collector voraciously collects any type of watch because he/she is passionate about horology in general. He/she may have a preference for a brand—which in itself would constitute a fifth type of watch collector—however in general the limitless collector just collects watches. They could have 100 or 1,000 watches in their collections.
The limitless collector could therefore be described as having versatile taste. This type of collector likes to have watches for every occasion, whether hiking or going to a black tie event. Having such a large collection then offers flexibility and versatility. Having more than one choice for each type of watch (e.g., diver, dress, pilot) would also mean that the limitless collector buys watches at various price points. He/she could have a great time wearing a $15 Casio F91W to mow the lawn as much as sporting a $9,000 Submariner for a barbecue on the weekends.
The Curious Collector
The curious collector is the one who owns one watch per genre. So, one diver, one pilot, one beater, one travel, one dress, etc. The curious collector is similar to the limitless collector in that he/she likes to have options. Having one watch per genre means being able to go anywhere, do anything knowing that he/she has the proper watch for the job. Although the curious collector might have 10 watches at the most, he/she nevertheless enjoys having options. And versatility is key here as well.
Furthermore, the curious collector is more targeted and deliberate than the limitless collector when it comes to buying watches. Since he/she only owns one watch per type, it means hunting for the right watch takes longer and he/she is more considerate of the quality vs. value ratio of each model being added to the collection. For example instead of spending $15 on a beater watch, the curious collector might be spending $100. Instead of spending $300 for a dress watch, the curious collector might be spending $1,000.
The Targeted Collector
Now we’re getting into a different genre of watch collector. The targeted one focuses on one type of watch. For example, that person would only buy divers or dress watches. This means the targeted collector is more curious and dives deeper into each model before making a purchase. (Pun intended.) Only buying pilot watches, for example, means the targeted collector is highly knowledgeable about pilot watches and related iconic references. Furthermore, the targeted collector knows a lot about various brands and the history of this type of watch.
This also means that the targeted collector has a flexible budget. Looking at divers, he/she could have a “beater” diver that costs $100 and a “dressy” one that costs $10,000. In other words, the targeted collector sees his collection like any other collector—having different watches for different purposes—although the key difference is that he/she only collects one type of watch. The targeted collector could most certainly be knowledgeable and own vintage references.
The Resolved Collector
Perhaps the type of collector I identify the most with, the resolved collector is the one who only owns one watch. Or, at the very least, whose goal is to only own one. This type of collector has an affinity for vintage watches and might be of an older age (although I don’t consider myself that old at close to 40!) Perhaps we could describe the resolved collector as having a romanticized view of watch collecting since he/she loves the idea of having one watch that rules it all. One watch that can be worn in any and all situations and perform well.
The resolved collector might be the most peculiar and deliberate of all types of collectors since he/she spends an extremely large amount of time hunting for the right watch. Because in order to find that one watch that can do it all, he/she must spend considerable amounts of time researching brands and models, what type of movement is reliable, what kind of design is versatile and timeless, as well as what are the ideal dimensions for that one watch.
The survey I conducted collected the answers of over 3,700 fans of that independent brand. While I’m not at liberty to share which brand that was—and acknowledging the fact that 3,700 people is a small sample of the watch collecting population—these results echo anecdotal information I’ve collected over the past two years I’ve been looking into this topic. Perhaps I should have mentioned in the introduction that this is not an exhaustive list as they are, for example, people who only collect vintage watches. Or only watches from one brand.
I would be curious to know what kind of collector you are!
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