Oliver H. from London, UK asks:
Hi, I've just kick-started my collection of Swiss timepieces with a 2013 Panerai Luminor Base Logo (PAM00000), though I wouldn't go so far as to classify this watch as a "divers watch" since there is no rotating bezel, I consider this watch somewhat under that category due to the marine background of the brand. I'm aspiring to acquire an aviator-style timepiece like a Breitling next to add some diversity. I'd also like a classic dress watch, something that is more timeless in style and not so "sporty" for formal events.
This brings me to my question: when it comes to a beginner watch collector or any lover of Swiss timepieces, what styles, type or brand and model of timepieces would you recommend is a must in any collection?
Max, here. Hard questions since there are many paths to decent beginner collection. However, since you seem to enjoy your PAM, I'd suggest the following starting principles and additions based on my own experience when starting collecting:
1. go slowly. Enjoy each piece before adding new ones. Research, research, research (read aBlogtoWatch and other independent blogs and forums) each new brand and watch you are thinking about
2. every watch loses value once you buy it. There are rare exceptions, e.g., Patek and some Rolex and some rare other brands but that's about it. In 20 years could be a different story, however, who knows if one has 20 years, so buy for today because you enjoy each, unless you are super wealthy... Not sure that's your case.
3. based on 1 and 2, the main principle is to buy what you love. The watch you can't wait to wear because you love the style, the design, the brand, the material, the color, the history, etc. So again do your homework.
So based on these principles, I added most of the following to my collection when I started. My PAM (321) came later and I started with a Rolex GMT IIc. So, for you, I'd suggest the following to get started:
1. Rolex Submariner steel No Date. If you like the cyclops then the date Submariner is fine. If you can afford to buy gold, I personally would not, but the white gold with blue dial is cool by me.
2. Since 1. covers the diver's category, a good other one to have is a chronograph. For that I agree with your choice of Breitling. I have the Navitimer B01 and love it, so that would be my first choice. The Chronomat model with the B01 movement is also a good one. It's more expensive but can be used as a diver's watch and has versions in 41mm and 44mm and does not have the slide rule if you don't like that.
3. As a dress watch, there are many good ones but as you start and I figure you want to take your time, let me suggest the following depending on your price range: a) under $5,000 then get a NOMOS Tangente or Tangomat Datum, b) $5,000 to $10,000 get a Rolex Datejust steel or Cartier Tank steel (stylish and dressy, various models and sizes available), c) $10,000 to $15,000 then get a JLC Reverso (steel or best gold but might be a tad more than $15,000) or better a rose gold JLC Master ultra thin which should be in range, and c) $15,000 to $20,000 get a Patek Calatrava gold (any color) or Vacheron Patrimony gold (any color) --- for the later, the price range might mean you get an old new stock model or slightly used, and that's fine. Any Patek from a reputable authorized dealer should be as good as new.
Finally, while I hesitate to recommend buying on eBay and some online stores, I think part of the fun is finding the best price around. Just make sure you do your research on the merchant as much as you do your research on the brand and model you plan to buy.
Hope this helps. Have fun. Cheers.
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