March 21, 2017
by Ariel Adams
The world’s most popular watches aren’t merely from big name brands, but also watches which perform their duty as a watch really well. The most common type of wrist watch functionality I look at isn’t accuracy, but rather legibility. This is how easy it is for someone to read the information on the dial at a glance. Legibility is easily the number one thing people look at when choosing a watch, even if they don’t know it.
Look at the world’s most popular watches and what they all tend to have in common is a dial that is easy to read. I should add that watches with easy-to-read dials these days are the exception, not the norm. Oddly enough, a very large number of watches are produced each year that are difficult to read. It is weird, but true. Smart collectors know that companies too often release products which don’t do what they are intended to do well. That means watch collectors need to spend extra time and attention looking for those timepiece products which excel at being watches.
This sometimes makes more sense when you consider that we exist in a post “watches are necessary” world. These days, timepieces are, for lack of a better term, “fashion statements.” That means to most people their communicative value is more important than their utility value. With that said, they still need to have high utility value – even if we don’t strictly need that utility – for them to be “keepers.” Thus, because there are so many poor choices out there which do not emphasize good functionality, it is important for those interested in watch collecting to seek out those watches which, first and foremost, are great at being a watch.
If you are fortunate enough that the volume of your disposable income is not something you ever need to concern yourself with then ignore this advice. In that case, you may proceed to purchase as many timepieces as you have space to hoard. If you aren’t planning to make acquisitions for your own “watch museum,” then consider the simple fact that you don’t need to own all the watches you like.
Some collectors feel a propensity to simply “mass acquire” all the watches they feel are important to themselves or others, regardless of whether or not they want to actually wear them. I would suggest to tone down this compulsion if you are subject to it, and consider that some watches you otherwise like the stories of, might be best admired from afar. In other words, if you aren’t going to wear it, and don’t really want to look at it each day in some type of featured display in your home or office, then what is the point of getting it?
Really, why buy a timepiece you aren’t going to wear? To a large degree, this is about discipline. You can’t own every watch, so why try? There are only so many days in the year, so having too large a collection is pointless, and money doesn’t tend to grow on trees – so save your cash for purchases that you’ll actually wear. These statements should have the most impact with people who have purchased items they felt they liked, but after a short while of ownership realized that said items don’t really have a place in their life. I’ve been guilty of this myself, where I get timepieces I think I will like, but end up never wearing.
I’d like to suggest that buying too many watches you won’t wear is a sort of sin. It is a waste of a watch, waste of money, and really, a waste of your space. As some watch collectors mature, rather than grow their collection, they shrink it – offering more space those watches that they actually want to and do wear. Thus, my advice to anyone is to grow your collection slowly, make sure you will actually wear each timepiece you own, and remember that it is totally OK to appreciate from afar a watch that you otherwise admire the story of, but don’t personally think you’ll wear.
I see a lot of hate toward watches that people have never even held in their own hands – let alone put on their wrist. The internet might be the information revolution, but seeing something on a screen isn’t the same as on their own body. So don’t come to conclusions about a watch or brand until you’ve actually been able to see their items in person.
That isn’t to say that you can’t love something by viewing it remotely, but you won’t know for sure until you legitimize your relationship with a real world interaction. Conversely, you can’t really know that something isn’t to your taste or is not of suitable quality until you touch it with your own hands, and see how it feels and looks in the real world. As I said, the ability to discover and learn about new things on the internet has greatly increased the efficiency of our ability understand any given universe of products. However, it is entirely possible for people to come to false conclusions about items that they might otherwise like.
The reasons someone might not like something that they see online are vast and beyond the scope of this discussion. However, people need to remember that most products released do have at least a few people behind them who think they are amazing. We should first be open-minded to the notion that some people might know something we don’t (and thus have a foundation for appreciation an item that we lack) and, second, that we simply can’t make a rational conclusion about a watch or other product until we try it for ourselves.
I’m not suggesting that if you don’t like a watch or brand that you automatically should be more open-minded – I am sure you have your reasons. I am saying that I advise people to hold off on final conclusions until they have physically put a watch on their wrist and determined the quality, aesthetics, and how it makes them feel.
What makes me feel really confident about saying all of this is that I’ve been in a large number of situations where I’ve seen people become “converted.” This is when someone who previously didn’t like a product or brand (based on having read about it and seen pictures) puts it on or experiences the brand, and realizes that their judgments may have been based on false assumptions.
Conventional wisdom seems to suggest that confident people tend to be happier people. It would thus follow that confident collectors tend to be the happiest collectors. When I say “confidence,” I am referring to two things. First is the confidence to feel comfortable acquiring a watch that you know you want. One needs to feel confident that they can afford it, will wear it, and will actually like it.
Second is the confidence to defend their tastes against outside attack. Such attacks are usually not aimed at an individual collector, but rather the brands or models that they like. It can be a difficult experience the first time someone buys a watch from a brand they like, only to later read someone bash or otherwise criticize that product, and thus their purchase decision. It required confidence to say, “that person’s criticisms are wrong or don’t apply to me, I know that I made a good purchase decision.” If you indeed feel that such criticisms are justified, then one must have the confidence to admit they were wrong and that they will not make the same mistake in the future. So long, of course, that you are not being unduly influenced by other people’s subjective tastes.
Confident watch collectors are those that tend to make very independent decisions about what they like. They aren’t prone to having other people tell them what they should be getting, and they aren’t merely following the purchase habits of other collectors. Confident watch collectors know that in each timepiece they are buying a special blend of emotional considerations that means something exclusively to them. Even watch makers themselves cannot predict how people will react to the stories behind their timepieces. My suggestion is to be a collector inside of a vacuum (of sorts). In addition to reading the article I just linked to above, my advice is that even if you buy a popular watch, know exactly why you are getting it, and make sure to have the confidence to know that you are getting it because you and only you actually want it.
One of the ways we will be celebrating the 10th anniversary of aBlogtoWatch is with this beautifully hand-illustrated logo by Steeven Salvat that we are going to use in a number of ways throughout the year. In closing, I would like to hand it over to David, our Senior Editor, to wrap this already super long article up – but before I do that, I would like to thank once again everyone who has been part of the last 10 years either as a valued member of our world-leading audience or as part of team aBlogtoWatch… and here’s to another decade or more!
David: I understand this has truly turned into another typical aBlogtoWatch feature article – as in super long and, hopefully, informative and thought-provoking – so I’ll keep this closing very short.
It is almost exactly 4 years ago that my first article on aBlogtoWatch was published, and although I joined at a time when aBlogtoWatch had already been a renowned refuge for watch enthusiasts the world over (I’d been an avid reader long before I joined), I feel we have come a very long way since then. It makes me extremely proud and super motivated to see how we have grown not only as a global community but also as a team of die-hard watch enthusiasts who all share the same values and sincere fascination with the world of watches – with all the highs and lows that it brings.
We have multiple bold new projects in the making for 2017, and while we will bring those to you only when they are ready and worthy of your attention, what will remain the same is our utmost dedication to staying diverse, in-depth, and balanced… and, as Ariel has mentioned above and keeps reminding all of us time and again: “cover what we like, in a way that we’d like to learn about it.”Special thanks again to Steeven Salvat in Paris for beautifully hand-illustrating our special aBlogtoWatch 10th Anniversary logo.