You can only give one piece of advice to a watch newbie – here is the advice you offered… You can only give one piece of advice to a watch newbie – here is the advice you offered…

You can only give one piece of advice to a watch newbie – here is the advice you offered…

Zach Blass

As watch journalists, readers often come to us for insights and advice. But, recently we flipped the script. On our Instagram earlier this week, we prompted you all to answer to the following: you can only give one piece of advice to someone that is completely new to watches. What would it be? In less than 24 hours, the post received over 500 comments with your suggestions. Below are some of the standout recurring themes.


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Always ‘buy the seller’

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This is a universally accepted adage within the watch community, something seemingly obvious yet crucial to emphasise. As the watch market and collecting community grows, so does the opportunity for malefactors to try and exploit those within it. With most watches losing value the second you walk out of the store, or it arrives at your doorstep, many first-time buyers who have been advised of the value opportunities within pre-owned watches will look towards the secondary market – but this is where you need to be the most careful. Listings for any given pre-owned watch might be a tad higher in price from big-name vendors like WatchBox, but the extra money can be worth the extra security. These established vendors have reputations to protect and therefore work extensively to authenticate and offer guarantees for their inventory. So, the best seller is often more important than the best price. Especially in a market where fakes and replicas have never been harder to spot. With new watches, this is less of a pitfall, so long as you buy directly from the brand or an authorised dealer.

Buy what YOU like

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Many of you commented with the advice of not succumbing to ‘groupthink’ and buying what you like. In an age of digital watch media, there is no shortage of watch commentary and opinions. With watches, there are certainly objective facts and figures. But, these truths can be clouded by subjective preferences. Ultimately watch-collecting is, ideally, an expression of individuality. Buying what you think others will like, rather than what you truly like will deprive you of a meaningful collecting journey. At the end of the day, it is your wallet and wrist, so you do not want to buy something you think you are supposed to like rather than what you actually like – it is an expensive mistake you could very well be stuck with.

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That being said, it is a bit of a platitude to simply advise someone to ‘buy what they like’ in the early stages of their collecting journey when they have yet to figure out what they like. This is why it is important to recognize that knowledge is power. You cannot develop your watch identity and preferences without educating yourself. Hopefully, platforms like ours help you in this process. Believe me, I would much rather be thought of as a storyteller and reporter than as an ‘influencer’. But, as with any source of news, be sure to distinguish what is opinion and what is objective.

Watch-collecting is not a sprint, it’s a marathon

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We’ve established with the previous two points that caution and education are paramount in watch-collecting. Therefore, another strong theme in the comments was the idea that this hobby is not a sprint, it is a marathon. Patience is key. With the hunt for a new watch often more exciting than owning it, it is very easy to fall victim to an impulse purchase – especially with so many limited editions coming to market. Along your journey, as you learn more your tastes and preferences will change. With each watch purchase, you have to attempt to envision how a watch will fit into your life, and if it is something you want for a ‘good time’ or a ‘long time’. If a watch will only offer you a short-term serotonin boost of satisfaction, it is best to avoid buying it. But, if it gives you forever vibes then there is a stronger cause to pull the trigger. Of course, having this sort of self-awareness, discipline, and foresight is much easier said than done. I have never met a watch collector who did not have ‘regret-buys’ in the early part of their collecting journey. In some ways it is inevitable, but the more aware of this you can be the less damage.

Quality over quantity

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It can be easy for seasoned collectors to forget how lofty and aspirational luxury watches are. Unfortunately, most people cannot afford the majority of watches they would love to own. But, with the above theme of patience in mind, it is good to remember that multiple smaller purchases, which may feel like wins in the moment, eventually add up. Do not go into debt, but also do not buy a watch solely because you can afford it. Say you want a US$1,000 watch, but you cannot afford to buy it. If you end up buying four watches worth hundreds of dollars each over the course of a year or two, then you have deprived yourself of the watch you actually wanted had you just held strong. Unless you truly love having those four watches more than the original one watch you had your eyes on, you will be left with regret once you recognize the math of what you have done. In a world with more and more exciting micro brands, it can be alluring to score multiple less expensive watches. I have certainly fallen victim to this, only to see a new Tudor hit the market that I really like and could have purchased had I not taken the route of quick smaller purchases and short-term victories.

It can be nice to own a wide array of watches, but you only have one wrist. Well… two wrists. But, I am not an endorser of double-wristing – though that should not deter you if it sparks joy. What I am getting at is the idea that it can be very dangerous to have a large collection. A contained, but loved, collection is better than a large collection that leaves you wondering what one watch you could have instead of the multiple pieces in your watch-box collecting dust.

Avoid homages and fakes, save up for the real deal

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A surefire way to eventually have a large collection you lament is with homage pieces. I don’t mean pieces that pay homage to an era of design, like a Furlan Marri. I am referring to watches that are a rip-off, near 1:1 visually, of a particular reference. Buying/saving up for a Tudor Black Bay in place of a Rolex Submariner is something I can endorse, but a Steinhart Submariner knock-off will not scratch the itch for long. In the same vein as what I mentioned above, buying multiple ‘compromise’ watches can ultimately add up to the cost of the actual watch you want.

To the second point, I will keep this short. Do not buy fakes or replicas. Do not compromise your integrity when there are so many genuine options worth your time, money, and wrist or watch-box real estate.

Watches are not financial investments (more often than not)

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@winewhiskywatches replied with a great comment that included three strong pieces of advice, two of which have been touched on so far in one way or another. But his second point regarding watches as an investment is all too true. I cannot tell you how many times people come up to me, like I am a stock trader, asking for an insider tip on a good watch to invest in (in the fiscal sense). The reality is watch investing is a one-percenters game. The only sure bets on the watch market are the pieces that are so ‘unobtanium’ that a constant demand of people willing to pay over retail for the watch is available. The majority of watches on the market depreciate the second you walk out of the boutique, only a few brands have sure-fire winners that will at the very least hold their value. And, with the volatility of the watch market, if you pay over list for these select powerhouse references, assuming that the secondary value can only go up, you would be dead wrong.

Nautilus performancce

Anyone who ‘invested’ in a Patek Philippe Nautilus ref. 5711/1A-010, a reference largely associated with being the ultimate investment and market performer, from the secondary market in February/March 2022 is kicking themselves right now, with the current average asking price effectively back where it was in February/March 2021. Of course, the lucky few who bought it new from Patek Philippe prior to its discontinuation stand to make a very handsome return. But those individuals are the 1% who somehow managed to navigate the enigmatic and alleged ten-year waitlist.

As always, we appreciate your engagement and participation! We really enjoy bringing the conversations we have with our readers and followers on-site when we can, and your participation ultimately makes that happen.