Watch collector? Moi? Not it! In my mind, a watch collector is someone who has a particular interest in horology, actively seeks out special items and values them above normal use. I barely do any of these things . . .
At some point in college I stopped having just one watch – never to return to what I assume to be the norm for the portion of the watch owning population that has more than zero. I think I have eight or nine watches in my possession now. Oh wait, another came in the mail today. So add one to that.
But really, I’m a dilettante with a vague interest. Obviously, I read this site every day. Every now and then I fall into the watch-related Youtube rabbit hole. I read a little something elsewhere, mostly when I’m writing reviews.
But I’m not obsessed. I can’t rattle off model numbers or years or movement specs. My general reactions are akin to the stereotypical woman’s attitude toward performance or luxury vehicles.
I possess half-hearted opinions on style. A watch is “pretty” or “ugly” or the default “I don’t like this.” I have a mild interest in heritage, features, specifications or other bragging rights.
I maintain a mild disdain for excess capabilities (a.k.a., complications). I tend to focus exclusively on one or two traits, and find myself in a constant state of bewilderment and apprehension about expensive watches. If you hadn’t already noticed from my reviews, I don’t possess any high end watches, or even middlebrow pieces.
I do shop around online for watches and bands a bit, but my search is general and not specific. To continue the above analogy, I’m looking for the cute little car, not some exact elusive model.
Despite the typical rotation issues, every watch I own gets worn in a standard fashion and used for the primary purpose of telling time. Yes, style and aesthetics and general appreciation run a very close second, but I don’t wear a watch that doesn’t show the correct time.
Perhaps the most disqualifying aspect for entry into the “watch collector” community is how I store my watches. No automatic winders, no display cases. My watches are randomly strewn on a dresser top, or on the ironing board (if that’s where I took it off).
I’m egalitarian enough to admit that one can have a collection of objects that aren’t rare, costly or even particularly interesting.
When small children start collecting coins, say state quarters, that is a collection. It may resemble the swear jar, but they have a certain interest. They’re seeking specific things, and removing them from normal use.
Returning to car analogies, Jay Leno is, indisputably, a car collector. He’s obviously profoundly interested, seeks out certain vehicles (despite a broad interest) and there’s not a daily driver to be found – despite his admirable insistence on keeping everything in running condition and actually taking them to the road.
Is somebody a car collector if they have a few cars? Not necessarily. If each car was acquired for a particular purpose (truck, a nice car, and a fun car), that’s a fleet. For over a decade up till recently, that was my triumvirate of watches: beater, dress watch, fun watch.
Quantity doesn’t equal collection, nor does value or exclusivity. If some child really wanted that Burger King SpongeBob SquarePants watch, got it, and kept it unworn by his bedside, that is a collection in my book.
Some bored multi-millionaire that randomly purchases the most outrageously rare and expensive watches on luxury shopping sprees may have an array of items you’d kill for, but is it a collection, or more specifically is it his collection? I’d say no.
Interest is a certainly a component to qualify as a watch collector. I’ve heard the tales of fanatical motorcycle enthusiasts who had a special devotion to some subset of … screw it, it’s usually a Honda CX500. They love the things, know all about them, look all over for the perfect example.
When they run across somebody riding a CX500 they’re usually dismayed to find that the rider knows little of the Honda Guzzi. It’s basic transportation to him, casually picked up nearby for cheap; he treats it like a disposable old bike. Here you have the collector without the collectible, and vice versa.
Similarly, I know a man that inherited daddy’s Rolex. It sits in a drawer. When he mentioned this to me, I asked what kind. Stop me if you know where this is going. I’ll wait while you write down what you think he said. Okay, is everybody back? Yes, he said “an old one.” Not sought out, no particular interest.
Again, I don’t consider myself a watch collector, just an amasser. We all have more shirts than we truly need, but I doubt any of us consider ourselves shirt collectors. The better question: am I an enthusiast? Yes, I’m enthused about watches and, especially, writing about watches. I’ve already admitted that I’m a dilettante, so let’s just say I’m a light enthusiast.
Of course this is me self-identifying. Others have a totally different opinion, again based on relativity. Some who’ve read my work here think I’ve become a horophile. Whether man is known better by himself or others is deeper than I can go with this. They might be right, but that means I’m right about you out there. You are a watch collector. And I doubt you object to the term.