This is not an article that is designed to be critical of watch collectors, far from it because some of the best offer the most informative insights into what makes the most popular watches so wonderful.
However, when I look at watch collecting from the outside I sometimes struggle to understand why the same watches pop up over and over (and over) again. Examples are-
Zenith El Primero
And as you get some more money in your pocket-
Patek Philippe Nautilus
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak
…and so the list goes on to the point where some watches can only be bought by a handful of people.
All of the above watches are examples of masterful watchmaking and they are arguably excellent value for money depending on your point of view. The point I am trying to make, however, is that there are unlimited watch brands and models available today and yet we see the above watches appear again and again when the most well-known watch collectors discuss their collections. Just watch a few Talking Watches episodes over at Hodinkee and you will see what I mean.
I understand that there are watches that command the most money and attention, and for good reason. I understand the legends such as the Sub and the Speedmaster will always be hankered after, but why spend so much on a watch that every other collector has? It feels a bit like Pokemon and that if you do not tick off the big players your collection is somehow lesser than others.
Not for one minute do I believe that someone ever buying the watch they want is a bad thing, but is the Submariner (for example) really the best of its kind and does it deserve to be the watch that serious watch collectors absolutely must have? Does it make sense to collect the watch that everyone else already owns or is it down to being part of the club to the point that it is the watch to have rather than to actually want?
It goes further though. The Seiko SKX- you must own one because it is brilliant! Well, it isn’t as it goes, but that doesn’t matter because it is one of the watches in the small circle that must be bought or your collection is somehow incomplete.
OK, I’m not being completely serious here, but I do wonder why there are staples in the watch world that are so all conquering and so prevalent and if it is somehow a collusion among the watch media, the brands and other parties, a bit like we saw in the past decade with some Heuer watches.
Is it just me or would it be more interesting to see a much wider range of watches being collected for their diversity rather than a smaller group for their similarities?