A Primer on Collecting Watches
Why We Buy The Stuff We Do
Copyright, 1998, 1999, G. J. Buhyoff and K. Fox
This paper evolved from e-mail correspondence between the two authors concerning future watch purchases they have considered. It was decided that in order to make a reasoned purchase decision, one must at a fundamental level understand why the purchase is being made in the first place. It is hoped that an understanding of the rationale for watch purchases may help the reader avoid making some of the expensive mistakes that have been made by the authors. Unfortunately, neither author has much faith this will be the case, since watch purchases are often beyond the control of the purchaser, and as such are manifestations of disorders beyond the scope of this paper!
Why do we buy the watches we do? A few of us are bone fide watch collectors. For the sake of this discussion, we will define a collector as someone who has and continues to amass a “collection” of watches, with some sort of overriding theme. This collection must be more than a mere amalgamation of “stuff,” of timepieces that tell time. There must be some sort of theme, some basic reasoning behind it, so that it is more than a disorganized pile of things that tell time. The “collector” must be someone who approaches his collection in a serious, plodding manner. He does not act impulsively, rather his moves are planned. He knows what he is acquiring and why, and he is willing to wait, however long, to get what it is he knows he must have. His collection has synthesis; it makes sense as a collection, both to the collector himself and to others. The whole is greater than the sum of the parts, and each part was chosen for some definable reason.
The authors have put their collective heads together, and were able to come up with only a handful of people they know that they would define as bone fide collectors. This is not an impressive number. But the authors know the great majority of the “regulars” on Timezone, and this was the tally. There may be others lurking in the shadows unknown to the authors, but there are probably not very many of them. For the record, neither author considers himself to be a collector of contemporary timepieces under the above definition.
Since the authors have arbitrarily determined that you are probably not now, nor destined to become, a watch “collector,” what are you? We would call you a watch enthusiast or fancier, or possibly a “watchnut” or “watch idiot savant,” (W.I.S.). Perhaps you have a better term. We will use the term “Watch Enthusiast” in this paper to define the group most of us fall into.
Like any classification system, ours has sub-classifications to present for your consideration. We would like to say that none of these classifications were modeled after any one individual, but rather are a composite of behaviors we have noticed both within and outside of the Timezone Forums. Most watch enthusiasts will exhibit behaviors which fall in more than one category, but will tend more towards one category than the others.
In case anyone is interested, the authors have used these defining characteristics to categorize themselves. Time Flies is an aesthetics/utility guy – he has defined over the years what he really likes after having been in the “been there done that” category for many years. Each acquisition must now serve a purpose and fit some minimal aesthetic standard. He knows what those standards are for him — others will have different standards. Foie Gras has passed rapidly (and expensively!) through the “been there, done that” category, and currently resides primarily in the “aesthetics” category. He has little “need” for timepieces and enjoys them for their own sake, especially if others who might notice will not recognize the watch he is wearing.
There are, to be sure, certain individuals who cannot be easily shoehorned into one of these categories. Some people just keep buying watches and reselling them with reckless abandon, seemingly having learned little or nothing from the experience. Some just like to gloat about their latest acquisition, and then move on to yet another.
Our point in writing this piece was not to try to pigeonhole our friends who buy watches and participate in this forum. Rather, it was our hope that by reading this you might gain a little insight into why you buy the things you do, and to evaluate future purchases with an eye to how they might better meet your needs, whatever they are!
Time Flies and Foie Gras