Generally speaking, most watch collectors make some type of effort to keep their more expensive timepieces as pristine as possible. Even if they don’t view their watches as investments in any capacity, preserving resale value is still often a factor, because no one likes to feel as though they are losing money because they keep smacking their watch into things and putting big scratches on it.
With that in mind, despite the fact that I’m neither extremely wealthy nor ignorant to the importance of condition when it comes to determining the value of a luxury timepiece, the most expensive watch I own is easily the most beat up one in my entire collection.
I purchased my Rolex Submariner reference 16610 a number of years ago and to this day, it remains the most expensive watch that I own (although back then, prices were less than half of what they are now). Over the years, I’ve watched my Submariner steadily go up in value, almost to the point where I can’t help but view it as an investment, simply because of how much it has appreciated during the years that I’ve owned it.
Just like any asset or investment, it’s only natural to want to preserve it, and there are times when I almost don’t want to wear my Submariner because I know that additional marks and damage will ultimately detract from its resale value. However, I have to remind myself that a financial return is not the reason why I chose to buy a Rolex Submariner, and at the end of the day, its monetary value is almost irrelevant because I have no plans to ever sell it.
The reason I purchased a Rolex Submariner is because it was the watch that I always wanted as a kid. Back then, I had no idea that a Rolex was even an expensive watch; I just wanted one because it was the brand that my mother wore, and I wanted the Submariner because it was even more water resistant than her Datejust. Had I known about the Sea-Dweller back when I was in elementary school, I probably would have wanted one of those instead, since water resistance was one of the main reasons why I found my mother’s Rolex so much more interesting than my father’s Casio calculator watch.
As much as I’d like to say that I had great taste in watches at an early age, it is entirely due to luck that the timepiece I wanted as a kid isn’t something unimaginably childish or ugly that I would now wince at the thought of owning today. It also happens to be quite lucky that the same watch I wanted as a kid has gone up in value during the years that I’ve owned it, but even if my Submariner was now worth less than half of what I paid for it, I’d still be just as happy.
The fact that my watch has gone up in value is certainly nice, but I don’t enjoy owning a Rolex simply because I know that it’s an expensive watch. I enjoy owning it because I get to look down at my wrist and see the watch that I always wanted as a kid. In order for me to fully be able to enjoy it, I can’t be afraid of it getting a few scratches, and although it was hardly in mint condition when I first bought it, I’ve certainly put plenty of my own marks on it over the years. My Submariner will never be that mint-condition “investment” watch, but that is precisely the reason why I love it.
We spend a considerable amount of our time and resources accumulating possessions throughout our lives, yet we often forget that these material objects really only exist for us to use and enjoy. We often justify this behavior by saying that we are “saving it” or “keeping it nice” but what exactly are we saving these things for anyway? The next generation? I can almost guarantee that your family members would rather inherit a watch that they remember seeing on your wrist every day, instead of a sterile and pristine object that has lived its entire existence inside a safe and is completely devoid of any memories.
I’m not suggesting that you be careless or reckless with your possessions and wear your best suit in the rain or go off-roading in a collectible vintage sports car. However, life is short and you can really only enjoy your material possessions during your time here on this earth. If you really love something, it would only make sense for you to try and make it part of your daily life, but this also means that you cannot be too afraid of it eventually showing signs of a life well-lived. At the end of the day, none of us will look the exact same in another twenty years, and it is completely fine if our watches don’t either.
Written By: Ripley Sellers