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Hotnerd wrote, "I hope you will enjoy this video and most importantly, we hope it will lead to an engaging discussion." Since we can't post in that thread (https://www.watchuseek.com/f496/sihh-vianney-halter-video-advice-novice-collector-1457498.html), (at least I can't) I'm creating this one.

I did enjoy the video. I think his suggestions are spot on for new collectors.
  • Pursue your interests by figuring out how the things that you love can be translated and applied to watch collecting
  • Choose a theme and stick with it
  • Keep a good perspective when it comes to large and small watchmakers and their offerings
I think that's absolutely spot on. It particularly resonated with me for his suggestions are exactly the thing one must do if one is to take on collecting -- be it watches or cars, brassieres, or anything else -- if one is to pursue curatorial collecting. One must choose a theme, and hopefully the theme chosen corresponds to some aspect of one's interests and/or personality outside of watches. The more the theme aligns with ones penchant for "whatever," the easier it is to know what one wants to buy.

The other day someone posted a thread asking about grail watches. With a theme, one will have no trouble identifying a grail item when it becomes known to oneself. Also, with a theme driving the collection building, one will have no trouble seeing many a fine watch that doesn't correspond to the theme, recognizing it as a fine watch, but knowing one has zero interest in buying it.

I think a great many folks don't do as he recommends at all. I think folks just buy lots of watches and call it collecting. Were they in fact doing what Mr. Halter suggests, I cannot help but think we'd not see anywhere near the quantity of "what watch should I buy" threads. People would know what watch to buy because they'd bothered to think about what really interests them and do as Mr. Halter suggests.

For example, a bird watcher who also is "into" watches might well have a collection consisting of the following watches and it'd be a really cool and interesting collection because it's as much about the watches as it is the collectors and his passion for birds.

















Antique Hampden Gold Filled Pocket Watch





I think one can see such a collection would have a mix of fancy watches and not so fancy watches, but it'd be a great collection as a whole. It isn't really be about whether a watch is high end or affordable, quartz or mechanical. It isn't be about what's in-house and what's not. It's not about how large or small the collection is or will become; it'd be as large as the collector can manage. It wouldn't be about whether one can wear any watch in it on a daily or even regular basis. It most certainly isn't about whether there's an AP or Patek or Rolex in the collection. If Rolex never made a bird watch, there'd be no point in buying a Rolex. If they made only one, it'd be the one Rolex one wants.

The hypothetical collection above is about creating a collection that reflects how the bird motif has been depicted in watches. It's about what means and modes of bird depiction charm the collector. In short, to me, that's what it means to collect things. It's about making a statement. The matter is what that statement is. Hopefully, it's not just that you have good taste in watches. To use the bird oriented collection above as an example, the statement might be "I like birds and I like watches. I think these watches are really cool and the way various makers have chosen to portray many moods and types of birds is just amazing."

Why do I feel one needs a theme? Well, because without one, there are far too many really nice, cool, good looking, etc. watches from which to choose. Lacking a theme, how can one possibly decide? How can that upon which one decides ever become a coherent collection that does make a statement such as the one I posed above?

All the best.

To own a certain book - and to choose it without help - is to define yourself.
― Julian Barnes, A Life with Books
 

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Lacking a theme, how can one possibly decide?
How about a hundred "which one should I buy" threads on here? ;-):-d

Seriously though, nice post, but I think for a lot of folks around here there's a lot of things about watches that they like. I guess I'm saying that variety is one of the things they like. I know that's how it is for me - at least right now, still being less than a year since I actually started reading about watches. I want to get a chrono, and a moon phase, and a spring drive, etc. They're all very, very appealing, so I'm happy to try to decide which things - multiple - I like best and collect those.

Maybe that will change over time... I could definitely see myself settling on a space theme one day, and having moon watches, and astronaut watches, and meteor dials, and planetarium watches (if I could ever afford one), etc. But right now, that sounds overly restrictive.
 
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I like the fact you have highlighted "theme" as one defining aspect of watch collecting. Mine is to find watches from every country. I've ticked off Switzerland, Japan, Russia, India, China, and moving on to Germany, and other European countries. It'll be fun when I move on to South America and Africa. I have yet to see anything from there.
 

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Uhuru for S. Africa and Brazil has a small local watch industry that caters to locals...
 
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Very interesting idea, to collect based on a theme! It would for sure help decide what to get and avoid the need for "which should I buy" threads. A themed collection for sure would look very interesting, unified, and impressive.

Most people might not have a theme probably because there is no other great passion that supplies a proper theme. E.g. my other great passions in life might be instant noodles, (formerly) video games, and women. :-d I googled "noodle wristwatch", and the selection is limited or not really to my liking. I'd imagine it's the same for video games. I've seen watches with women/sex theme, so that one is more viable. My thought about this is that if someone has a great passion that inspired a themed watch collection, then he/she would have arrived at the idea of a themed watch collection naturally. Though bringing up the idea to people's attention does not hurt.

I think some people might be similar to me, who started "collecting" not with the intention of building a collection in mind, but rather ending up with a "collection" of watches as a result of buying the next one that one likes.

Based on personal experience and on seeing threads about people's change in taste, I think also over time, what one likes changes, and for a novice starting with a theme in mind, one might end up with a themed collection that one ends up not liking somewhere down the line. E.g. a collection of dive watches, then switching to dress watches. I don't mean to say that starting with a theme in mind is not good. It's a great idea, but with time, as what one likes changes, the theme might change too.

In my journey, I went from not knowing what I like, buying some dress watches, being gifted some watches with styles that I don't necessarily like, and realizing that legible sporty watches probably suit my liking and usual dress style the best. My "collection" is a hodge-podge of watches. One thing I like about it is that it's mostly Seiko watches, which I like, and I'm glad that I was turned on to Seiko via watches from my Grandfather because Seiko makes great watches. So my theme is apparently Seiko! Though in the end, my aim is just to have one or a few watches that I like, and not necessarily to build a collection.
 

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Very interesting idea, to collect based on a theme! It would for sure help decide what to get and avoid the need for "which should I buy" threads. A themed collection for sure would look very interesting, unified, and impressive.

Most people might not have a theme probably because there is no other great passion that supplies a proper theme. E.g. my other great passions in life might be instant noodles, (formerly) video games, and women. :-d I googled "noodle wristwatch", and the selection is limited or not really to my liking. I'd imagine it's the same for video games. I've seen watches with women/sex theme, so that one is more viable. My thought about this is that if someone has a great passion that inspired a themed watch collection, then he/she would have arrived at the idea of a themed watch collection naturally. Though bringing up the idea to people's attention does not hurt.

I think some people might be similar to me, who started "collecting" not with the intention of building a collection in mind, but rather ending up with a "collection" of watches as a result of buying the next one that one likes.

Based on personal experience and on seeing threads about people's change in taste, I think also over time, what one likes changes, and for a novice starting with a theme in mind, one might end up with a themed collection that one ends up not liking somewhere down the line. E.g. a collection of dive watches, then switching to dress watches. I don't mean to say that starting with a theme in mind is not good. It's a great idea, but with time, as what one likes changes, the theme might change too.

In my journey, I went from not knowing what I like, buying some dress watches, being gifted some watches with styles that I don't necessarily like, and realizing that legible sporty watches probably suit my liking and usual dress style the best. My "collection" is a hodge-podge of watches. One thing I like about it is that it's mostly Seiko watches, which I like, and I'm glad that I was turned on to Seiko via watches from my Grandfather because Seiko makes great watches. So my theme is apparently Seiko! Though in the end, my aim is just to have one or a few watches that I like, and not necessarily to build a collection.
Your visions will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.
― C.G. Jung

Red:
Admittedly, if one if going to go with a motif sort of theme like birds, women or food, the hypothetical food one you mentioned is quite likely not "romantic" or idealized enough that there's going to be much to be found. Motifs, however, aren't the only types of themes. 3Puttjay offered a conceptual theme -- geography in his case -- and that works too.

There are plenty of others...perhaps based around one's favorite color, or perhaps one is into animals in general rather than just birds, say. Avid travelers might build a GMT/multi-timezone themed collection. Perhaps watches that make sounds is a theme that appeals to folks. Maybe one is "into" a certain pattern or shape. A geologist might opt to focus on watches having stone dials or made from stone. The options are many, but as you pointed out, some themes may not really get one very far with watches.

The thing is that one has to identify what it is that provides inspiration and then start looking for it. Finding the first one will almost certainly lead to finding another. The more challenging, rarely reflected, the theme, the more one needs to be as much into "the hunt" as "the having," I think. I'm not at all into "the hunt," and my theme in part embodies that aspect of my character insofar as it makes it very easy for me to choose a watch.

My own theme is not motif oriented at all but rather a mix of geography, complication (or actually lack thereof), low price point (usually) and watchmaker impact/place in horology (this last aspect is "as determined by me" not by what other folks think on the matter). All the same, it allows for me to choose a "motif" watch if I happen to want one. The thing about my theme that makes choosing pretty easy is that I choose a maker and then pick a watch from that maker, so I'm never perplexed over whether, say, I should choose the Seiko or the Rolex, or the JLC or the Girard-Perregaux. I just need to determine whether I think the maker belongs in my collection, and if so, pick an uncomplicated watch from them that fits my taste and budget. Trying on the watch makes which one I prefer very obvious to me. Mission accomplished and I'm on to the next maker.

Green:
I could be the oddball in that regard. My tastes in things fashionable haven't changed much at all in some 35 years. Although, my aesthetic taste is pretty broad, but I don't like everything either.

Blue:
Yes, there is that. I don't think everyone necessarily starts out with the intent to collect with some sort of curatorial aim. I know I didn't. The theme came about when I realized I had to have some way to "narrow the field." It worked just fine for that.

Of course, with a theme, at some point, one's collection is "done." At that point, I think one can pretty well just pick stuff that appeals, but having satisfied the collection building goal, one quite likely doesn't feel the same sense of urgency about buying more watches. By the time one finishes the collection, one should have a bunch of watches that one likes and that one can wear when the mood strikes. I know in my own situation, I wear a very mundane watch day to day, but I wear my "collection" watches from time to time as well. I know if I were the owner of that hypothetical avian themed collection, I'd probably feel the need to have at least one more conventionally styled watch to wear when I didn't want a bird on my wrist.

All the best.

I have been and still am a seeker, but I have ceased to question stars and books; I have begun to listen to the teaching my blood whispers to me.
― Hermann Hesse, Demian: Die Geschichte von Emil Sinclairs Jugend
 
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