If you like watches enough, you enjoy talking about them. Chances are however that you know more people that don’t care about them than those who suggest you go browse at a watch store. How is it that liking watches to us makes so much sense to us while the concept is lukewarm at best when mentioned to others?
I’ve pondered this issue at some length and identified at least three areas of interest or personality traits that should exist in each watch lover. Those are appreciation of engineered utility, art appreciation, and the propensity to be a collector.
You have to love machines and gadgets to like watches. They are the original gadget. A tiny machine you wear on your wrist always moving, that you need to keep alive. Be it by winding, wearing, to keep a battery within. You can constantly view it working as it tells you the time. A watch with additional complications will tell you much more than the time, but even when a watch only tells the time, you can appreciate a watch so much more when it is accurate, and tells the time in a straight forward manner. This is about admiring perfection in engineering for a particular purpose.
Few watches these days are mere faces with hands. The style and look of a watch are designed to make you feel something, just as art is. Watches have an amazing ability to say something about the wearer. So we love watches for their ability to not only communicate, but to evoke feelings in the wearer and any audiences. Of course some watches do this better than others, and that is why the observant lover of watches can easily tell the difference between a design that has thought or refinement put into it, and one which seems an afterthought. Any art lover can easily see how many watches can have an amazing aesthetic value.
Those who collect often share an appreciation for the nostalgic. and the rare. Seeing the story that something has behind it is always important in being able to have a collection. I find myself talking about the design process, or history of ownership in watches I have and realize that I have more than a set of watches, but a carefully selected collection of items that each have a special meaning behind it. There is also the dimension or rarity. Countless watches come in limited editions, or are just very hard to get. The process of obtaining a watch will often be as great a joy as owning a watch. In today’s world, using the internet made this process that much more rewarding, as connections are made which once would remain so very distant. Collecting watches can be difficult at times. Not only are there so many nice watches, but the hobby is often prohibitively expensive. A good collectors knows how to evaluate new acquisitions with the skill of a appraiser in determining what a good price is, and the relative value of a new watch to an existing collection. Not always an easy task.
In identifying these above personality traits, my hope is that people will have a better understanding of the propensities behind horological enthusiasm. And for watch lovers alike, to realize those things we all have in common.