Watch Collecting : A Beginners Guide

When you’re starting a new hobby there’s a lot to get your head around.  Lots of people with opinions aplenty and before you know it, you could actually find yourself living out someone else’s hobby rather than your own.


Some hobbies seem to suffer from this more than others and many could be forgiven for thinking that an intrinsically technical interest like watch collecting naturally treads dangerously towards this cliff-edge of pretentiousness and ‘hobby-snobbery’ but I’m writing this to tell you, it doesn’t have to be like that at all!



Making a Start


For any collector, the first watch is usually a gift or a purchase made more out of necessity than desire in any case you may glance at the watch thousands of times before you actually think ‘what makes this tick?’.  The likelihood is also that after a few hundred or thousand glances, you’ll notice more and more about it’s design and form over function.  You may enjoy a moment of appreciation based on what’s on your wrist and when you notice something else on another watch, either in a shop window or an advert or even someone else’s wrist, well then you’ve taken your first steps to becoming a collector.  Don’t fight it, resistance really is futile.  Come in and immerse yourself on some of the most beautiful and mechanically perfect machines mankind has ever made.  Enjoy the miniature classic lines, shapes and colours similar to how car ‘officianados’ do and start to learn about some of the makes and models that you’ll probably hanker after for many years before actually owning but will you allow me the opportunity to share one critical piece of advice early on?


Value ≠ Cost


It’s only too easy (in any sphere of life) to know the cost of everything but the value of nothing and if you only look at watches as objects of $$$ then you’ll only be the kind of collector that jewelers and sellers superficially ‘respect’. Why not start your collection by collecting second-hand (no pun intended) vintage pieces that don’t cost too much but still give you chance to develop a distinct style and approach too.  Let the actual value of the watch as an object, almost with it’s own ‘soul’, appeal to you in it’s own right and before you know it, your collection will be growing along with your knowledge of brands and technologies.  You may even find that you still have some money left over for things like, let’s say bills and food.


Growing your collection, growing your hobby
The likelihood is, once you’re on the journey you’ll start to notice what other people wear on their wrists too and once you’re known as a ‘collector’ you’ll also find many more people who share this wonderful hobby.  Keep doing your research, try not to sell watches from your collection unless you absolutely must and finally remember to enjoy your hobby without getting stressed about what you don’t have or can’t afford. The magical day will come along when you get that ‘special’ watch, only to find it was something of a ‘mirage’ and another one appears in the distance for you to trek towards and so, I’m happy to report, your hobby continues!


Book Review : The Magic of Watches, Louis Nardin

I read a lot of books.  I suppose it’s a prerequisite for most writers however I’m sure some of us won’t mind admitting that sometimes it’s a bit of a chore. Especially when it comes to complex or technical subjects, like horology.

The Magic of Watches from Louis Nardin could certainly be described as technical.  It covers one of the most technical hobbies one could have yet straight from Lous’ very personal introduction, I realised that this book was going to be a delight.

All set…

The book flows seamlessly from the introduction into a section which will help the reader take their first tentative steps into watch collecting proper.  The book helps the reader to learn more about the history of timekeeping and the technical developments that have lead to some of the miniature marvels that can be worn on the wrist today.  Watches that where unthinkable a few decades ago can now be found in high-street jewelers and believe it of not, some won’t break the bank when it comes to cost either.


One of the main purposes of the book is to help us demystify, not just the terminology of watch-collecting but also to encourage us readers not to get too pretentious about it either.  Any collector with bottomless pockets can easily amass a collection to make most of us turn a shade of (Rolex) green, but Louis reminds us that watches come in all shapes and sizes and at various price points too.  You can start your collection with just about anything and many of us have indeed started with graduation gifts or Christmas presents that carry more sentimental value than cash value and it’s this approach to collecting that gives the watch it’s ‘soul’.  The back story to how you acquired  it invariably shapes your view of the timepiece itself and any collection that has grown over the years is rich with tales of first paychecks, hard work bonuses of even family heirlooms or generous friends, some tales even include classic timepieces piced up for an absolute steal at the local flea-market.

Time to Get Technical

The book doesn’t just remind us to enjoy the hobby regardless of budget, it also gives us a very helpful overview of pretty much everything that goes in to most wristwatches.  There’s helpful diagrams and illustrations that will teach anyone how watches actually work and although the information is sometimes kept superficial, there’s enough to get anyone started with plenty of help on where to find more should you so wish.


its this complete approach to the topic which helps explain why the book took Louis Nardin so long to write.  It would be easy to cobble something together that holds limited appeal with collectors who have similar tastes to Nardin’s but that isn’t what’s happened here.  Instead we have a book that invites us all to take a broad look at wristwatches, how they are made and why they represent some of the finest engineering acheivements of the last two hundred years.  You will finish this book with added enthusiasm for your hobby and Nardin is always encouraging you to do your homework before splashing the cash, you may even decide that your next purchase represents better value than you first thought.


The Magic of Watches, A Smart Introduction to Fine Watchmaking, Louis Nardin is available via Amazon