March 21, 2017
by Ariel Adams
This tip is particularly relevant to me as I find myself as an excellent example of this concept. In short, the watches I end up really loving are watches that I did not find too much interest in when I first learned about them. Thus, my affection for watches is almost never “love at first sight,” which implies I see something new and immediately like it or want it.
The lesson here is two-fold. First is that people should not trust their initial reaction to a product as a signal of whether or not they really like it. Allow brands, models, or designs to grow on you, saving full judgment for later. The second part of the lesson is that you should always spend time looking at watches you haven’t focused on in months or years to see how you feel about them. It won’t happen all the time, but I think there is a good chance that your favorite watches might end up being those which you already knew about, but simply didn’t give enough attention to the first time you saw them.
What I find more interesting is how the reverse is also true. There are some watches that I immediately like, only to find myself being much less interested in those watches in the future. It isn’t as though I hate them, but end up finding a series of reasons why they are not appropriate for long-term appreciation.
Thus, for at least myself, love of a new watch that I want to acquire rarely happens after I first learn about it. It can take years after initially discovering a timepiece for me to finally find a deep appreciation of those that I end up wanting to add to my collection. I’ve learned to be both patient as well as to regularly revisit models or even entire brands to see how I feel about them after a break in my attention. Try it and see how this tactic works for you.
This tip is very simple, but is important to remember. Watches that are comfortable to wear will be those that you end up wearing. I know – profound, isn’t it? Nevertheless, you’d be surprised how often people have watches they genuinely like the looks of, only to have them mostly sit in a box, drawer, or on a table or shelf. The vast majority of the time, this is because they bought watches they enjoyed visually but hated ergonomically. If a watch doesn’t fit comfortably on your wrist now, then don’t assume you’ll “get over that quirk” and somehow later want to wear it.
We wear watches that are comfortable on the wrist… and will prefer a comfortable watch that we have less aesthetic appreciation for over an uncomfortable watch that we have more aesthetic appreciation for almost all of the time. Uncomfortable watches are those with straps or bracelets that pull hair or pinch the skin. Watches that are too loose or too tight on the wrist, and watches which are too noticeable or need to be re-positioned on your wrist too often. If you encounter a timepiece you otherwise truly love but it ends up being uncomfortable, I advise you to seriously think twice about adding it to your collection. Tip for watchmakers here that ergonomics and wearing comfort is extremely important in helping consumers make lasting purchase decisions.
Are uncomfortable watches that common? You bet they are. I would say that 50% or more of the watches I’ve ever worn are uncomfortable enough that I almost immediately want to take them off my wrist. Some of this will depend on your own personal anatomy, of course, but just be aware that not all wristwatches are designed to be worn comfortably on all – or any – wrists.
Ask a watch collector why he added a particular piece to his collection, or why he or she has a particular fondness for a piece. In most all instances you’ll get a long and probably detailed explanation about production methods, history, complications, and other platitudes which are in actuality all second to the most important factor: visual attractiveness.
Beauty is a subjective assessment, but it is something that you have to make before you end up loving a watch. In my opinion, aesthetics make up 70% or more of why someone likes a particular watch. That person might not say it, but I’ve gotten even the most passionate watch collectors who intimately understand the technical details behind their most precious timepieces to admit they wouldn’t have gotten the watch if they didn’t like the way it looked.
Don’t let price or peer pressure sway you into getting a timepiece that you simply don’t like from a visual perspective. If I haven’t said it before, I’ll say it here, “life is too short to wear ugly watches.” Moreover, if you find a watch ugly, you probably won’t wear it. If it doesn’t go without saying, I don’t think there is much use in collecting timepieces unless you want to wear them. You might consider us watch collectors as being superficial beings for focusing on looks more than anything, but I would advise against looking at the situation that way. Rather, admire how important it is that we wear watches (or anything) that makes us happy to look at them, and focus on collecting timepieces you find visually attractive before involving yourself too much in the stories and technical details related to the watch – that are, at the end of the day, mere “plus factors” after looks.
OK, one more cheesy line about watches to avoid. “Life is too short for boring watches.” The opposite of boring watches are controversial watches – and, in truth, a well-rounded watch collection consists of them both. Another term for boring watches is “conservative” watches. These are models which are marked by being both inoffensive and often classic. By this, I mean they blend in well and don’t often call attention to themselves. Conservative watches can be beautiful, but they are most always boring.
Controversial watches add an element of “not everyone will like this” to a design or product. I find myself especially being attracted to timepieces which have something about them that I know for a fact not everyone will like. Controversy comes in many forms, ranging from novel designs, to rare materials, to contentious themes, and sometimes merely bold colors. The beauty of controversy is its polarizing effect. By this I mean to say that while some people really disapprove of the controversy, other people embrace it. Not all watches should be meant for everyone, so controversy is good because it helps attract people to the watches which more subjectively appeal to them, while at the same time offering a visual reminder of who they are.
If you find yourself “disagreeing” with a controversial watch, that is totally fine, of course. It simply means the watch embraces a value or theme which doesn’t define who you are as a person. So simply keep an eye out for watches that you love, even if that watch causes ire in someone else. It takes a degree of confidence to embrace controversial watches (or anything, for that matter), but what you get is something to wear that better defines you than something conservative, boring, and generic. Timepieces these days, for the most part, are about making a statement, after all.
I know I said that people mostly like watches which they admire visually – what I should have added is that when choosing between a few watches of “equal appeal,” the story behind a timepiece is the tie breaker. Put a group of watch collectors together in a room and you’ll hear an awful lot of talking. What the group is doing in many instances is sharing the reasons why they like one watch versus another. These reasons include technical details such as the construction or complication of a movement, or the history of a particular piece or its collection.
I collectively refer to the details surrounding a watch as its “story.” This includes why the watch exists, how it is made, and what makes it interesting or perhaps unique. These stories serve as an emotional justification for wanting to wear something that is attractive on one’s body, but that also has a level of symbolic value. The precious items we wear tell both the world and remind ourselves about a value that we want to reinforce. In short, there are a lot of attractive watches in the world that will compete for your attention as a collector. Find those among them that have stories you are sympathetic to because those will lead to the most passionate ownership experiences.
There is even a good way to test this. Take a watch you like and then show it to a friend. If you can’t find at least three to four really compelling things to say about it, then there is a good chance that you won’t have much fondness for the watch in the future. If, however, you find yourself speaking for 10 minutes straight (or much longer), then you’ve easily identified a watch with a story you want share time and time again.