This year, in 2017, aBlogtoWatch turns 10 years old. Rather than simply pat myself on the back for a job well done, I felt that in addition to sharing this cool anniversary illustration I commissioned that you see above, I’d share some wisdom I’ve accumulated over the years as both a watch reviewer and watch collector. Wisdom that is designed to help you find and collect watches that you’ll actually want to wear. First, some background to help you appreciate the journey that got us all here.
I started this website originally as aBlogtoRead.com in 2007 when I was 25 years old, just weeks after taking the California bar exam – worried about what I would do if I didn’t pass the famously pain-in-the-neck test to become a lawyer. I had a full-time job at the time, and starting a blog was intended to be an outlet for me to communicate and connect with other people who shared similar passions – i.e., I didn’t have enough watch nerd buddies “in real life.” I didn’t think it would make me much money, if any, let alone of doing it full-time, and I certainly didn’t think I would end up running a big internet magazine rather than drafting legal contracts and shaking a lot of hands while wearing a suit. Actually, I still do a lot of that save for the wearing a suit part. Apparently, I famously “dress casually as much as possible.” I am from Southern California, after all.
A little-known secret about my desire to segue from blogging as a hobby to making it my full-time gig is that I did it for scheduling reasons. That’s my way of saying that I wanted to free myself from regularly waking up early, a practice I utterly despise. I’m a rather dedicated night owl – which in many ways works to my advantage – and the appeal of setting my own hours was significant in my decision to dedicate myself to this blogging thing. Thus, I’d like to credit my desire for going to sleep whenever I darn felt like it with helping aBlogtoWatch to be where it is today. The tradeoff is actually that I typically get far less than eight hours of sleep per night and that I work way more hours than most people. Though, I am working for something I love.
aBlogtoWatch began with zero visitors and grew to the many millions of people all around the world we reach each year. I’m so unbelievably proud of the guidance and feedback the community has given myself and the larger aBlogtoWatch team about how to make this place better and more useful. I started doing all this as a means to share my opinions about watches as a consumer with other people buying watches, and later realized that my goal was for aBlogtoWatch to become a serious and reliable consumer resource. Nothing quite like this existed at the time, with the available media either being very inclusive for club-style internet forums, or more specific and niche in their focus with the handful of other watch blogs that existed at the time. With that said, in 2007 as blogs in general matured as a medium, you started to see a real demand for watch reviews and other useful information by timepiece consumers. This was still a time when many major watch brands either had no internet presence or merely an embarrassing one.
When aBlogtoWatch started, it was a goal of mine to take feedback seriously, as well as to ask myself “what information is it that you actually want to read, Ariel?” The editorial policy at aBlogtoWatch, from the beginning, was “talk about products you have a personal interest in, watches that you personally find interesting.” That means the editorial compass at aBlogtoWatch is “cover what we like, in a way that we’d like to learn about it.” This is actually a developing concept as our team, interests, and maturity level changes. Though, it is something we remind ourselves of on a more than regular basis.
I started aBlogtoWatch as someone who bought watches, and today, surprisingly to some people, I still love and collect watches [check out Ariel’s interview with Crown & Caliber about his collection here – editor’s note]. I’ve matured as a collector over the years and learned countless lessons and tips that helped me to become what I think is a rather seasoned, and discriminating collector – though perpetually under-budgeted. Without asserting my own tastes and preferences on others, I’d like to share 10 tips on watch collecting that I’ve learned after 10 years of running aBlogtoWatch. In that time, I’ve not only encountered other collectors from all around the world, but also handled some of the most desirable and interesting watches in existence.
You don’t need to be fabulously wealthy to have an impressive collection of watches – but it does rather help. It takes dedication to keep educating yourself, patience to find the right watch at the right price, as well as the confidence and maturity to be open-minded to new things and expand your interests as time goes on. Before we get to the 10 pieces of advice, I would like to say thanks to everyone who has helped make aBlogtoWatch great after 10 years. We will be celebrating in various ways over the rest of 2017, so stayed tuned to find out what we come up with. If you have ideas on how we can make the most of the aBlogtoWatch 10th Anniversary, do let us know in the comments.
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At the Everglades National Park where future watch straps can be found in their natural habitat. Really nice place for a bike ride. You can't miss the many alligators. Camo Nubeo works well here. #nubeo #watches #ablogtowatch #camo #camostrap #everglades #womw #luxurywatch #rare #alligator
Good Watches Can Come From Unlikely Places
It is, perhaps, not particularly surprising that big brands with big marketing budgets sell the most watches. If anything, this has less to do with their actual products being that much better and more about the ability of these brands to reach more eyes and ears. Many watch collectors begin and end their collections with watches from big brands, typically shy or totally oblivious to the world of small or even micro brands that exist out there.
Smaller brands can have crappy products, for sure, as many do. Still, some of them have fantastic products that are unexpected in both design originality and quality. The conventional logic seems to be that the bigger brands put more effort into refining their product designs, and have a greater ability to afford quality production and finishing techniques for the products themselves. Like I said, in many instances this is true.
Nevertheless, it is worth paying attention to each “little guy” brand that you come across without immediately stereotyping them or jumping to conclusions. Not all little watch brands are trying to steal a piece of the mainstream pie, and some are trying to do something truly different. The last 20 years saw the rise of the independent high-end watchmaker as a desirable source of novelty among watch collectors, though a number of people who know and can afford the MB&Fs of the world are still rather small. So my advice to people at all budget levels is to focus on big brands as well as smaller or newer ones as you never know where something amazing might come from. Then again, you will need to sort through a lot of trash for the treasure.