I believe self-education and hard-earned watch-buying experiences are major parts of what makes watch collecting so fascinating and entertaining, for most of us. It is an ongoing process, in which the journey, itself, is often more important, and more exciting, than the destination. That noted, here are three pieces of advice I would give my novice watch collector self — advice that would not have meant cutting fun corners in collecting, but tips that would have helped me focus on making better calls in real-world watch-purchasing decisions. This advice would have also saved me from longing after watches which, in hindsight, did not deserve my attention.

Jay-Z showing his co-branded AP before he’d be rapping about “New watch alert, Hublots”

Do Not Buy Into The Hype

To be clear, I am not saying “do not buy popular watches.” What I mean is that purchase decisions primarily based on the fact that “others like it,” “XYZ has one,”  or “it’s selling over retail” do not necessarily entail a long-term, quality ownership experience. Sure, if a luxury watch’s first and foremost purpose in your eyes is that it functions as an effective status symbol — which, consequently, requires frequent replacement, in which case you will hardly care about the wearing and ownership experience — then I rest my case. The malicious side of hype is that it disguises itself as a form of popular demand. “Influencers” and others in the spotlight (within or outside the watch industry) and apparent demand exceeding supply are factors that might tempt your next watch purchase.

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However, if you wish to make an educated purchase decision that factors in medium- to long-term ownership and you do care about how that watch will make you feel throughout that experience, then establishing a purchase decision on the grounds of hype and/or a high premium over the sticker price will likely leave you dissatisfied. Why? I think the main reason is that you cannot wear hype. You cannot touch it, you cannot use it, you cannot look at it — it’s an intangible, non-tactile “experience,” or lack thereof.

rolex gmt master ii pepsi

Although reselling a hyped watch can, at times, be easier than selling more obscure pieces, this isn’t the aspect we are looking at right now. To be able to filter all this noise out, what I recommend are two basic techniques. First, try to separate the true and well-deserved praise a watch might rightfully receive from the hype it might get from those who will be on to the next hot thing moments after your payment clears. Seasoned watch enthusiasts will certainly live with nearly any opportunity to voice their support and praise of a watch and, chances are, they will be neither pushy, nor flighty about it.

Second, try to define what has driven you to the watch. Was it a massive ad at the airport or the fact that you’ve seen the watch on the wrist of your favorite athlete or celebrity? These partnerships are designed to build hype around a product, and that they certainly do. However, in reality, there are very few watches that can feel special on the wrists of us mortals for the same reasons said watch was worn by someone else. Select watches that have been worn in space, in the most heated and dramatic moments in sports and motorsports, or on military and rescue missions, are those that, in my experience, can bring a smile to one’s face. Thinking “A watch, precisely like this one has been to space, and it worked,” or “This watch survived a 130G crash,” and so on, can be fun to wear, even in the long run.

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I don’t know about you, but chances are no one will nurse a lasting passion for a watch simply because it was momentarily name-dropped in songs, or worn by a “friend of the brand” (just before he or she moved on to the next watch).

A keeper for me, therefore lots of adventures already with this Grand Seiko SBGC001.

To Keep Or To Flip? Make Up Your Mind Before Buying

I’ll set this one off on a side note: One of the worst feelings a first-world consumer can experience is buyer’s remorse. Show me a watch collector who says he’s never experienced it, and I’ll show you a liar — or one very, very lucky son of a gun. As you are running deeper and deeper into the rabbit hole of watch collecting, you are pretty much destined to, sooner or later, make a purchase that you wish you had not. Now, unless you are fond of giving expensive and probably ill-fitting gifts to your loved ones, you’ll probably want to get rid of said watch — and it is here that resale value comes into the picture.

To give this one a twist — and this lands me on the original point I intended to make — I learned the hard way that it’s very important to decide early on whether a watch is going to be a keeper or a seller in the foreseeable future. If you know all the watches you’ll ever buy are keepers, because you have the means and willingness to support a continuously expanding collection, then feel free to jump to the next segment straight away. However, if you feel you will either not be able and/or willing to keep all the watches you’ll ever buy, it’s a very good idea to make up your mind, early on, which watches you will likely want to see gone at some point in the not-so-distant future.

I say this because the way a watch is bought, then consequently worn, is affected by an educated decision regarding its intended fate. If you are buying a watch you are planning on eventually selling, you will want to buy it at the lowest price possible, thinking ahead to the ease with which you will be able to move the piece. Also, you will probably want to wear, and possibly even store, the watch and its accessories differently from the way you store the keepers. A watch in a badly worn state is always a tough sell when the marketplace is full of watches in better condition than yours. “It’ll buff out!” some say.  Sure, but I, personally, would hardly even consider buying a re-polished watch because there is only so much material you can remove from a case, bezel or bracelet, and with every move, you are eradicating both the original beauty and value of the watch (a bonus piece of advice, that one).

Completely Ignore What Others Might Think Of The Watch Of Your Choice

This advice is one of those very few things I managed to figure out early on as a watch enthusiast — and I have not regretted it ever once since. A watch, and especially a watch that you love and intend to keep, is  highly personal. It should, in my opinion, be a reflection of its owner, and not just in a superficial way. It takes a lot of watch-buying, as well as years (if not decades) of ownership experience before one can migrate to a watch one finds to be the perfect match, not just in a specious or cosmetic manner, but in a truly definitive and meaningful way.

The moment you factor in what anyone — and I do mean anyone — thinks about the watch that you like and you choose, you will almost certainly deviate from finding the one that is just right for you. I’ve found that even those who know me well often don’t quite understand the watches I go for; and it was only after plenty of occasions of friends seeing me wear a watch through a long period of time that they grow to accept my choice — in some cases, they never do.

And that’s all good. Wearing a watch to gain the approval of others is like always thinking what others would want you think. Wearing a watch like that will drive you mad – or cause deep frustration, at the very least.


I hope some of this advice will help novice collectors make better watch purchases. And when it doesn’t work out, I hope you’ll find a relatively easy and painless way out by successfully reselling. I would genuinely love to hear your thoughts on the above, as well as the advice you would give your own novice collector self.

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