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79 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
How I got interested:

It started in Geneva. I moved there in 1996 for graduate school. Watches were everywhere but somehow they didn't penetrate my vision. My father had given me his 1976 Rolex Oysterdate around 1992 and I didn't give watches any further thought until about 2003.

I was completing my doctorate. My family wanted to buy me a gift. They suggested a laptop. That lacked romance and permanence, and it had no symbolic power either. It was generous, to be sure, but it fell flat. In 3-5 years this thing would be gone, which made it a tool. Or worse, a sort of appliance.

So what might last? That's when watches appeared. I can see how some men might love a pen. This would also have been a perfect gift, but just not for me. I'd lose it. I wouldn't use it enough. I'd be afraid it would leak (I'm sure this isn't true when you spend $1000 on a pen, but still).

If I were someone else, then a knife, a gun, an antique, a piece of jewelry. I make no claim to one of these being the right gift. But I say they all are better than a laptop …

So, what kind of watches exist for $2500 (the price of a Macbook, all decked out at the time)? I hadn't a clue. I started looking around and starting falling in love.

This is what I started to understand: A time piece is an affirmative and creative act of engineering and beauty in response to a pitiless structure of functionality and form. A watch, after all, must tell time (at least). It can only be a limited size, weight, and composition. That structure creates parameters for the designers that challenge creativity — both aesthetic and mechanical.

I came to really appreciate that the act of designing a watch was truly something worth attending to.

I fell in love. I had my eye on a Tudor, but my father talked me into a used Rolex for (at the time), only $500 more. And so I ended up with a Rolex GMT Master II with red and black.

I chose the Rolex because my father always liked them; because I find the design of those sport models (the GMT, the Explorer, the Sub, etc.) to be beyond mere fashion. I chose the GMT because I am American and earned a doctorate in international relations from Switzerland, and so a Swiss watch with one hand pointed back to Boston seemed like a perfect solution.


I don't want to call it a philosophy, and I hope the thread (should this become a thread — or even a conversation!) does not devolve into a "debate." This is meant to be a chance to learn what is behind the activities of so many of us floating around here.

My approach is to buy a watch (almost always used, due to budget and preferences conspiring that way) when something truly memorable happens in my life as a way to celebrate it. This started, of course, with the GMT for the Ph.D. Then my wedding (a 1956 Longines). Then the birth of my son (a Bedat & Co. No 8, ref 888). Then my daughter (Baume Mercier Capeland Chrono, the one with the lovely numbers, not the indexes).

I just signed my first novel. It is a literary suspense featuring a watch repairman who takes a journey up river, and also back "down" one through time. I got an Anonimo Millemetri to celebrate it.

(more on this here if anyone's interested:

I have no idea when I'll get another. But for now I'm a very happy man!

Very interested to know what other people do. The folks with only one. Those with hundreds. Those with only inexpensive watches, old ones, rare ones, or sentimental ones.

Pictures welcome.



46 Posts
Until quite recently, six months, watches weren't on my radar. I wear a dress watch for work because everyone in my department wears a watch and it's part of the "uniform". I have about 3 or 4 other watches, fashion brands, in random drawers all over the house, all between $100 - $250, that I received as gifts. Come to think of it, until about a year ago, I had never bought a watch for myself.

As my 30th birthday drew near, my wife asked me what I'd like. My father-in-law who is a big watch enthusiast suggest a watch, a high end piece that I could wear to work and that I could hand down to my young son. So I researched watches and was truly surprised at what's out there. The engineering, craftsmanship, detailing is all amazing. It took me 3 months to choose my birthday present, 7 weeks after buying it from the AD, I'm still waiting for it to come in. In the meantime, in picked up a nice Lum-tec, which I no longer have (long story), to go along with the dress watch I wear most often. I've now got a long wishlist, but don't want to go crazy.

Approach: cautious
I've read a lot of stories about folks who flip a lot of watches trying to figure out what they like. If I bough everything on my list, I'd quickly grow tired of them. I'm very finicky. My watch purchases are very deliberate, I take weeks, sometimes months, to determine if I really like the watch. I read up on the maker, the movement, costs of maintenance, reviews, real-life pictures from other owners, etc.. I figure, if I like something enough, I'll go back to it again and again. Once I've zeroed in on something, I then try to find the best deal possible. Look at secondary market and try to negotiate with ADs as I take it as a separate challenge to get the most value.

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2,879 Posts

I like your story and your approach. I actually wish I had taken a similar approach and maybe this will be my newly adopted approach. I have a son who is due on January 6th.

Anyway, I got my first watch, a Seiko Tank watch with roman numerals when I was a young teenager. My mother bought me my second watch for high school graduation - a black faced Gucci. After that my love of watches grew and I purchased them whenever the desire hit me. By 21, I had a decent collection with a two-tone Rolex Datejust being at the center. Today I own over 80 watches. I don't sell or trade watches though I have given a few away when moved to do so. The reason I don't sell or trade is because I sold my Rolex a couple years after purchasing it and I have regretted it ever since and I vowed never to sell another watch.

While I love my collection, I like the idea of assigning watch acquisitions to life milestones. As I said, I have a son being born this January 6th; he will be my 6th son. I am an author also; I published my first and only book to date in 2009. I would love to be able to associate a watch with these and the many other milestones in my life.

Again, thanks for the story and the approach. I'm not a Facebook person but I would love to read the novel. Let me know when it hits Amazon or is available in the U.S.

1,396 Posts
I've been around watches all my life - technically a 3rd generation WIS. My grandfather was a serious collector. While everyone else would try to contact past relatives or find out about their future, I could see grandpa using an Ouija Board to question dead watchmakers: "Tell me spirit of Abraham-Louis Breguet, did you really invent the tourbillon or was it your assistant Hans?"

The watch bug stopped with our generation. One brother is a miser so he won't spend on watches. The other would rather spend his money on sports - triathlons, adventure racing, etc. so he has a Casio and a Tag...that's it. I only started appreciating watches very recently - in high school and college I wore Tag Heuer, but it was a status thing (exactly like why most people buy Rolex) rather than because I liked the watch.
One day, I walked into an AD with my dad and was taken by a Ball fireman chrono so he bought one for me as a graduation present. Ironically I thought something was wrong with the watch because it kept making that grinding sound when I moved my arms too quickly. So I started doing research on my Ball's movement and was introduced to a while new world of discovery. It was also awesome because it opened up a whole new avenue of bonding time with my dad and grandpa. My only regret is I wished this happened sooner so I could learned more from my grandfather before he passed.

Approach: moderate to Impulsive

I have a set plan when it comes to high-end purchases that revolve around my grails. All of my grail choices came from months of research and contemplation. They all represent an important aspect of my life (Rolex as a tribute to my dad, Zenith El Primero as a tribute to watchmakers who bother to design their own movements, JLC for my gramps, Blancpain 50 fathoms...well that's just damn sexy)

Cheaper watches (less than $200) I buy whatever strikes my fancy. I've only started collecting in 2011 so that stance will probably change as I accumulate more pieces - it's real easy to justify buying an orange faced diver when you don't have any! Figure any cheapies I don't like can end up as a birthday or Christmas gift. I will never cold sell anything in my collection - only to relatives or close friends.
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