5 Watches To Hold On To For The Next Generation, fratello.com counsels. SPOILER ALERT! The frat boys recommend the A. Lange & Söhne Lange 1, Laurent Ferrier Galet Classic Micro-Rotor, Moritz Grossmann Tefnut, H. Moser & Cie Streamliner Centre Seconds and the L.U.C. Chopard XPS Twist QF Fairmined. Nice watches – as well they should be at prices ranging from $20k to $45k. Ridiculous advice. The unspoken truth about watch inheritance is . . .
the next generation won’t be wearing a traditional watch. Why would they? They can’t even read a traditional watch. Not to mention the fact that the smartwatch has rendered the traditional watch obsolete.
Willing an expensive luxury watch to the next generation is like leaving them a well-preserved muscle car. It’s a wonderful, delicate thing that will be used, at best, rarely. More likely, it will gather dust and disintegrate. At some point, its new owner will get the idea that maybe it would be best to sell it. You know, to someone who can enjoy it as it should be enjoyed.
Nooooo! I hear the Greek chorus wailing. My watch inheritance has priceless sentimental value! It would be like selling a piece of my heart! True story. But there are a couple of problems with that perspective.
For one, the generation after the next generation will not have seen your watch worn on a daily basis (see: above).
No matter how much family history matters to your descendants, “This watch [which doesn’t do anything but tell the time and date] belonged to your grandfather” won’t have a lot of emotional pull.
For another, if you leave a watch collection to your progeny no one timepiece will have sufficient cross-generational appeal to withstand the obfuscatory mists of time.
I know: there are families of watch collectors. Is yours one? If not, it’s only a matter of time before your beautifully built horological buggy whip finds its way to the open market.
I’m not making this shit up. One need only look at the fate of fine American pocket watches to see where this is headed.
At the end of the World War I, returning soldiers embraced the practical and economic advantages of wristwatches (previously considered a woman’s purview).
Tens of millions of inherited pocket watches ended up hidden away, unused, unloved, slowly sinking into rack and ruin. Sold? That too. During the depression, millions of gold pocket watch cases were melted down, their movements discarded.
I’m sure the majority of the pocket watches in my collection were passed down from father to son. Although I generally avoid monogrammed cases, they’re sobering proof of how quickly sentimental value becomes [diminished] commercial value, how soon our possessions lose their connection to our lives.
OK, that’s all a bit depressing. Good news! There’s a better way to approach this “holding on for the next generation” watch inheritance business. Two, in fact.
Pass on a tool watch
The problem with leaving a watch as wonderful as an A. Lange & Söhne Lange 1 or Laurent Ferrier to your kids: they’re going to be afraid to wear it. That’s especially true if they’re used to wearing disposable smartwatches.
Equally, is he or she going to take the time and expense to have your meisterwerk serviced every five years (or less)?
If you wear a daily beater, there you go! Leave them that one – a watch they connect with you that doesn’t require kid gloves or $1k service intervals.
Pro tip: to make ensure your beater isn’t neglected, tell your kid “I’d really like it if you’d wear this watch on days that were special to us: my birthday, your birthday, Thanksgiving, Elvis Week, whatever.”
Pass on a simple dress watch
The watches named by Fratello slot into the dress watch genre. Ben Hodges chose his five high-priced timepieces on the basis that they’ll still be cool long after you’re pushing up the daisies. For the most part, he’s not wrong.
But again, for the reasons stated, high horology is wrong the way to go. More than that, will your inheritors inherit your ability to discriminate between a $20k Patek Philippe Calatrava and a $495 Timex American Documents (above)? Will they care?
Remember: the chances are high that your watch inheritance – the traditional watch you leave behind – won’t be worn on a daily basis. But it might be worn for special occasions (e.g., hot dates, weddings, graduations, etc.) as a fashion statement.
So whether you go high or low, if you want to leave a watch that will actually enjoy some wrist time, leave one three-hander per child. Done. Except for this: if you don’t have your watches in your will, sort that out at your earliest convenience. Or sooner.