There is no right or wrong way of starting a watch collection. But you have not a clue in the world on where to start. Where to learn about watches. Maybe you do, and have a few pieces already. Most watch collector stories begin with being handed something down from their father, grandfather or other person in close relation to them. Then they get into their first job and want something new. Perhaps this is where you are at in your life, or you’d like to celebrate an achievement. A promotion, a child, a marriage or any significant event that means something to you. Either way starting your collection is perhaps the easiest yet hardest part. Once you’ve been bitten by the watch bug it’s hard to stop. This article aims to help first timers get into the market, those who maybe have a few pieces and are considering something new, along with those wanting an upgrade.
Where To Start Your Watch Journey
Whenever you enter a new market of watches, be it the first watch you buy for yourself or your first luxury watch - always start simple. Don’t dive head first into a blue dial chronograph or a moonphase complication because you may end up drowning. The problem is that the sheer range of what you could buy is endless so there’s a lot of noise. Often we don’t know who we should listen to. Think heavily on what you should buy and be patient. Quality over quantity, versatility over niche.
For the sake of your first watch Casio is a great place to start. The Japanese electronics company was founded in 1946, shortly after World War Two and is headquartered in Tokyo. Casio produces a variety of products ranging from musical instruments (such as keyboards), mobile phones, digital cameras and the calculators you would have used during your tenure at school. Their watches became an instant hit after their release in 1974 with the Casiotron. It featured a small computer-like screen that offered the time along with the date, back then this was technology far beyond its years. Since then Casio has pioneered the mass production of quartz watches which are run electronically versus using mechanical engineering. The only servicing you’ll require is to replace the battery. Casio evokes a simple design language that is retro yet futuristic.
Particular models such as the Casio F-91W and the Casio DB380-1 are great options to get something on your wrist. You can beat these guys up and won’t be afraid of wearing them. I personally wear my F-91W to the gym or with more sportswear attire such as Nike sneakers and shorts. Most mall jewellery retailers such as Farmers, Pascoes and Stewart Dawson’s will carry the full catalogue of Casio watches, otherwise visit their official website.
Time For An Automatic Watch
The next step within your collection would be to include an automatic watch. This is a mechanical watch where the natural motion from you wearing it (kinetic energy) provides power to wind the mainspring. Mechanical watches are the crux of watchmaking. Every single component and part that goes into a movement (the engine of the watch) is carefully produced, placed and installed. There are considerations that need to be made when purchasing your first mechanical watch. You probably will need to wind the watch from time to time and set certain complications such as the date or day. All and all this is part of the process of why people love mechanical watches.
As for brand recommendations you can’t go wrong with Seiko. Founded in 1881, Seiko is a Japanese watch manufacturer highly regarded in the horological world. They are known for their precision, value for money and diverse market offering. Originally Seiko watches were produced by two separate factories, the theory behind this was so Seiko could hedge risk and create competition between the two. It also reduced production delays and allowed Seiko to spread production demand. Personally Seiko is one of my favourite watch brands, dare I say in my top three.
Purchases to consider from Seiko today would be their Seiko 5 Sports Line, they are great everyday watches that are built for anything life may throw at you. You can find these are most mall watch retailers and I highly recommend trying them on. Other options to look into if you’re after something more special are the SARB033, SARB035 and the SKX007 - all personal favourites of mine and are highly regarded in the watch world. These can be found at second hand dealers, eBay and TradeMe from time to time as they are no longer in current production.
Purchasing A Luxury Watch
Your first luxury watch isn’t just a purchase, it’s an experience. Arguably the stakes are higher due to the large sum of payment, however this should not deter you as what you’ll have is an item you will love and cherish for the rest of your life. Firstly, set a budget of what you can afford and think about what your lifestyle says about you. Consider if you are an active person, if you have to dress formally often or even if you travel overseas regularly. These types of questions will help narrow down your choices and inform your purchasing decision. As for complexity of the watch itself, just a date complication will do, as mentioned simplicity when buying your first. Doing so will naturally allow for a wider range of dress occasions and give you more wear per cost.
After your research and budget allocation go try some watches on at an authorised dealer (a retailer that officially sells certain watch brands) or a trusted seller. This process will give you a better idea of the actual piece such as it’s weight, size and how it feels on the wrist. In-store experiences also give you an opportunity to ask the sales people questions, build rapport with them and know if there may be a waiting time on the watch. As for specifics I would consider the below:
Cartier: Tank Solo or Santos
Grand Seiko: Heritage Collection
Jaeger-LeCoultre: Reverso or Master Ultra Thin
Longines: Conquest, Flagship, or Heritage Collection
Omega: Seamaster Aqua Terra or Seamaster Professional
Tudor: Black Bay 58 or Black Bay 36
If none of these cut it for you and you’re wanting to go straight to Rolex I’d highly recommend you do more research and at least try on some of the above watches. There’s a misconception that surrounds Rolex and often people jump head first into the brand and miss out on all the other wonderful alternatives on the journey. After you have tried on a few of the above and you are still firm on pursuing a Rolex then take a look at the Explorer I and Datejust 36.
Remember at the end of the day a watch is just a tool to tell the time. Certain pieces and brands that are fawned after are only perpetuated through marketing, hype and exclusivity. These are all aspects that shouldn’t make you choose a piece over another that you may love. At the utmost choose something that reflects you, your life and your needs. The suggestions within this article are a pathway to learn and do your own due diligence. Building a watch collection should be fun. It will grow, shrink and develop over time. A piece could be on your wrist for years so it’s better to buy one you’ll actually like.