In As You Like It, Act 2 Scene 7, William Shakespeare identified the 7 Ages of Man with remarkable prescience and understanding, and his summary of the seven stages Man goes through in his life are as relevant and recognizable today as when they were first defined by him some 418 years ago.

Irrespective of actual chronological age, these same stages Shakespeare outlined can also be identified in watch collectors. Many may recognize these stages in their own journey as a watch collector. Many more may never advance to full maturity in their horological ambitions simply because life, wife and kids come along and thwart the appetite.  At which stage are you?


Mickey Mouse

No interest in watches at all, you will happily profess that you can tell the time just as easily from your mobile phone or your kitchen clock. You have been known to boast of never wearing a watch in your life. Your idea of a cool watch is something ironic with Mickey Mouse on it.


Hugo Boss Chronograph

Newbie, newbie, haven’t got a Scooby (as in Scooby Doo = clue). You’re starting to get interested in watches but still you’re woefully ignorant. Many newbies start out believing if a clothing brand has kudos, so will its watches. With few exceptions, top fashion designers tend to approach the likes of Fossil to churn out branded watches for them which are merely affordable accessories. These watches will cut no ice in the world of watch collecting. In the world of watches Fossil doesn’t depict old, it depicts greenhorn.


Invicta Speedway 200

By now, while extremely energetic and passionate about watches, you’ve made a few silly watch purchase mistakes along the way but you’re starting to learn. With some exposure to the classic and highly collectable watches, some without the means to afford them will look to the next best thing ; either an outright copy watch, or a tribute watch which looks a little like the real thing. The problem is, in the case of a copy watch it’s anything but the real thing. Some will be content to stay at this honorable ‘homage’ stage and that’s ok, but others will be mad keen to progress.


Urwerk UR-110 RG

At this stage, Watch Collecting Man is brash and sometimes still rash. You are confident and even a little arrogant about your watch knowledge and like to show off both your watches and your expertise. Those that do progress to this level sometimes make the mistake of thinking all that glitters will turn to gold and all expensive Swiss watches are destined to become a great investment. This is also a time when watch collecting can descend into a wow factor competition with other well-heeled watch oriented friends. It’s all about what’s on your wrist, and flashing a piece that expresses your knowledge, expertise, daring and the spending power of your indefatigable credit card.

But the truth is, while watches can be good investments for knowledgeable buyers who take the time and effort to become proficient and canny in their acquisition of them, for the average non-professional watch collector they are far more likely to see a better return on a safe, blue-chip mutual fund.


Voutilainen Observatoire Limited Edition

Wise and experienced, and past the showing off stage, you’re now happy to share your views and ideas on watches with those further down the rungs of the seven ages. Prosperous and respected, your expertly judged collection is at its peak. This stage of the journey is probably the zenith (no pun intended) in most collectors’ lives. They have learned from their mistakes, impressed a few fellow collectors with some rare gems, and spent plenty of time and money learning what is exceptional. It’s time to sit back and delight in watching the carefully accrued watches rotate in a top of the line Buben&Zorweg watch winder.


Rolex Ref 6239 'The Doctor'

Now you’re getting into the grandfather business, you may consider handing down horological heirlooms and giving gifts of time and watch wisdom to sons and grandsons. If you have reached this far in your watch collecting career, congratulations. You have probably by now acquired the collection you really wanted, you have some highly sought-after pieces. Now it’s approaching the time when you need to think what should become of them.


Your love of watches is still there, but increasingly your thoughts turn to a time where there is no time. The one concept we hold so dear in this world has no value in the next, and the passionate collecting has long since drawn to a close. If there’s no interest in watches in the family, the time has come to put the best pieces up for auction.

Voutilianen Observatoire Limited Edition pic courtesy Watch Xchange