The Collector’s Crossroads: Can I call myself a collector if I’ve never owned a Rolex? The Collector’s Crossroads: Can I call myself a collector if I’ve never owned a Rolex?

The Collector’s Crossroads: Can I call myself a collector if I’ve never owned a Rolex?

Ricardo Sime

Here’s a challenge: check your Instagram feed and see if you can go 24 hours without seeing a Rolex. Even though the brand itself post at a rate of once every two to three days, you’ll still find yourself inundated with pictures of dozens of references. Mind you, there is nothing wrong with this. Yet, I find it hilarious when someone argues this shouldn’t or doesn’t have an effect on collectors. With such an overwhelming presence, I recently asked myself: “Can I call myself a collector if I’ve never owned a Rolex?”

Just while typing that question out, I could almost feel the daggers that have been pointed in my direction. Charging from the left are naysayers who feel that a Rolex just isn’t worth the price of admission. From the right, pundits shouting down from mount high that there are much better options for that type of money. Neither group would ever admit that at some point in their collecting lives, they’ve probably pondered the same thing. So instead of just putting my head in the sand and acting like this is a ridiculous question, I’m going to share with you how, for me, it’s not.

My Story With “The CROWN”

For years, I was perfectly content in simply appreciating what it is Rolex has accomplished. They make tough as nails watches, that have a very strong following, with designs that have become iconic. Traits like that led to moments where I flirted with the idea of owning one however those thoughts would soon dissipate. I was happy with my collection and to be honest, I was in the anti-popular reference phase of collecting, so “Rolex Sucked”. But this changed when the things that had held me back from buying a Rolex were no longer barriers.

First, there was the cost of buying into the brand. That had always been an issue. Yet, through some success I experienced at my 9 to 5, Rolex pricing (at retail), suddenly was within reach albeit with months of saving still required.

Then there was the issue of comfort. Not comfort in terms of how the watch wears but in how I would feel with something so expensive on my wrist. The thing with Rolex is that the popularity of the brand is a double-edged sword. It means people notice what you’re wearing but that these aren’t always people with good intentions. However, my growth as a collector led me to realize that I couldn’t let this fear stand in the way of enjoying a watch.

And finally, there was the issue of aesthetics. For all it’s popularity, there are aspects of Rolex design that don’t sit well with me. The Mercedes hands don’t seem appropriate for a tool watch. I could also do without the cyclops. Though, as time progressed, I realized that these were design elements fully embedded in the brand’s DNA. They weren’t worth stressing over because there was too much there to enjoy otherwise.

Being Influenced

Rolex – The Official timekeeper of the US Golf Association

Once I got past all these issues, it was full steam ahead. There I was, a month back, on their website, browsing through dozens of references.  And when I found a reference I liked, I sold three watches in my collection to start a fund. It was smooth sailing until a week ago, when I added to that fund for the first time. At that moment, I stopped and asked myself why I was really doing this. Why did I just look for a watch like a shirt I was adding to my wardrobe? Why was I focused on the brand first before one of their watches actually caught my attention?

I started thinking about what was truly driving my actions. Subconsciously, I was treating Rolex like an empty box on a check list of things I had to do. Being so bombarded with the brand throughout my daily life, something that increased exponentially when I started writing for Time+Tide, also didn’t help. At some point, I had come to the conclusion that in order to “stomp with the big dogs”, I needed a Rolex in my collection. What the hell?


In Conclusion…

In the end, I decided to keep saving without a Rolex necessarily being the end goal. Looking back at my experience, I feel it’s something many collectors, whether they’d admit it or not, go through. Some have that same light-bulb moment. Some still charge ahead. In sharing my experience, I’m not trying to judge them for what they do. I’m simply trying to show how easy it is to be influenced into making such decisions. We don’t live in this perfect bubble. Shoot, before the lack of supply, was this not the brand of aspiration and success? That idea didn’t magically spring forth from our minds. It was fed to us and we gladly enjoyed the meal.

So at the end of the day, no, you don’t need to have owned a Rolex to be a collector. But I damn sure understand how some people could feel that way.