The idea of people doing something because I do it has never sat well with me. I would never want somebody to like, want, or buy something simply because I like it. My goal is to explain things to people almost scholastically – and naturally, as a function of that, I discuss items I am passionate about. Don’t my passions merely represent my taste? If other people share my taste, then great, but why would I get upset if someone likes a different watch style than I do? The world has more than enough flavor for a myriad of acceptable palettes.
The variety of available flavors is why I got into watches to begin with. Being able to collect a broad spectrum of designs and concepts – all wearable on your wrist – is a huge reason why I continue to admire the hobby of being into watches. I believe this should be a driving force of all good collecting behavior. I never thought much of this until a few years ago I started to notice an interesting area of dismay in the watch collector community. More and more people seemed to have resentment toward the “watch personality community” for leading them into watches they did not actually end up enjoying. In essence, someone would do a video or write an article talking about some particular watch – and in the midst of that they would actually advocate that someone buys it. Sales-y watch coverage is nothing new, but the proliferation of influencer-style media that actually proactively suggests that consumers buy something is not a facet of the watch media space that I would have anticipated a few years back.
So, people were being told what watches to buy, and then they would buy them, ultimately suffering a less than enthusiastic ownership experience. Certainly, this was not without exceptions, since a great number of watches are so universal in their appeal that almost everyone will like them if they try them. Anything from a Casio G-Shock to a Rolex Submariner will easily have a 90% “I am happy with this product” rating. The problem is when a consumer is being told to purchase something that isn’t meant for them. And over the last few years, a lot of start-up watch collectors have expressed remorse to me because they purchased a watch someone else told them to get.
That this behavior does not lead to many happy watch purchases is not surprising. The problem, however, is that it takes a lot of work and time to truly understand why you desire one particular timepiece over another. It is theoretically easier to listen to expert advice on something you don’t know about in order to make a quick decision, achieve the emotional happiness you were looking for, and then move on with your life.
I will be the first to admit that choosing a luxury watch to get for yourself probably looks like madness from the side. Hours of time focusing on really small details, comparing and contrasting different models that more or less do the same thing… Watches, by and large, do the same things and perform comparably, if not equally. You don’t spend a lot of money on a watch for performance or durability.
In essence you are buying a story – and that story should have meaning to you. Otherwise the story isn’t worth it.
But we are entering another conversation, and I want to stick to the point at hand, which is the best way to find happiness when selecting a watch for yourself, and how to avoid getting derailed in the process.
The shortcuts we take to get through the day can be useful in overcoming the deluge of tasks that modern life gives us. More often than not, however, we find that there is no skipping the hard work. If watches are supposed to be a leisure pursuit, then we’d better make sure we actually enjoy the time and money spent on them. People who want to truly like a watch need to become passionate fans of that product. Fandom takes lots of exposure and experience to acquire. It is like that with music, cars, watches, and a million other things.
It is hard to tell exactly how many people out there are buying watches they don’t really like just because some influencer or salesperson in journalist attire is telling them to. I don’t think it is a crippling problem, but it does bother me that I hear more and more poor experiences about buying a “recommended” watch. aBlogtoWatch recommends stories about watches that you might like, but we are anything but product pushers. We are more like cheerleaders for the greater habit of finding joy through watch collecting. As long as you are wearing a watch that suits you, we are happy – but, on a personal note, I genuinely do not get any extra happiness by seeing people wearing the same watch as me. If anything, for the sake of variety, I prefer people to wear watches other than what is on my wrist.
For me, the moral of the story is that it is good advice to ignore anyone who tells you that you “must” buy any one item to find joy. Maybe that item brought someone else joy – but that is not a formula for ensuring that other people likewise find joy in those things. Distilling this concept down even further, I simply recommend that people largely ignore other people’s opinions about watches. Do learn from those people. Listen to facts, details, and insight.
The only opinion you should care about when wearing a watch is your own. Does the item on your wrist make you happy? If it does, then wear the hell out of it. If it doesn’t, then shouldn’t that watch be on someone else’s wrist?
To entirely ignore people’s opinions requires a lot of confidence. I know that. I’m telling all watch lovers right now that the mere intellect required to seriously be into watches should give you enough confidence to oblige my recommendation. You are good enough to have your own taste and opinions. If you really like something, then it probably does suit you well. I’m not saying you are perfect, but if you can fall in love with a wristwatch, the rest of the world will respect you for it. Your opinion is all that matters when it comes to selecting your timepiece.
I am being idealistic — I probably don’t follow my own advice 100% of the time. I think what is important is that to unwind a lot of the negative experiences that have come with the more deceptive areas of the watch media personality space, people should actively avoid listening to mere opinions. Take adjectives, for example: Beware of them. If you read an article about a watch (honestly, anything) that has more adjectives than sense, skip it. Adjectives to replace arguments is no way to lead a civilized culture. If someone’s entire menu for why others should like or do something is them serving you up a thick adjective soup, then don’t sit down for that meal.
Maybe telling people to ignore other people’s opinions and focus on the facts is easier said than done. I’ve been told that I possess a strange affinity for being able to ignore people’s emotions. But that isn’t why I am giving this advice. I’m giving this advice because I became a watch lover prior to social media having anything to do with watches.
I’ve seen a major difference in the watch enthusiast experience between people who grew up having to teach themselves and those who got into watches with help from Internet-connected communities.
Everyone likes watches for the same reasons, but people who started their watch collecting while also using social media have a distinct approach. There are plus sides, no doubt. Information travels faster in communities, and a lot of bad purchases can be avoided by gauging the experiences of others. That said, the fallacy of following social media communities is that people tend to believe that the entire world of watches is contained in the social media conversation. That simply isn’t true.
In reality, there are many stories, concepts, and products that really never get much voice time by most (but not all) parts of the community. Social media-raised watch lovers sometimes appear to have a form of tunnel vision that precludes them from going “outside” the conversation. That tunnel is created by the predominant opinions people have and the watches that are most shared. My advice is that to find true satisfaction as a watch collector, you must exit that tunnel and make choices that are your own. It’s hard, it is uncomfortable, but it comes with rewards. Ignore people’s opinions to find truer happiness in wristwatches. Merry watch collecting in 2021 and beyond, folks.