Possessions are part of what makes us human, especially in modern societies. It is a human trait to want to accumulate certain items and at some point, accumulating turns into collecting. The list of things people will collect is seemingly endless and includes objects ranging from the worthless to the priceless, whether it is coins, stamps, autographs, all the way up to great works of art. The act of tracking down and securing them is nearly all about emotion rather than logic, and the same applies to watch collectors.
Watch collectors consider a watch to be a timeless accessory for women and more so for men, and the variety in their designs allows the wearer to express their personality and uniqueness in a different way.
Why do people collect watches?
People collect watches for the same reason they collect other things they find fascinating. However, there are different reasons that drive the collector’s passion.
The Story and the History
What charms most collectors is the glimpse to the story of the watch. Scratches on cases or a faded bezel – these can tell you a life story and no two watches or two stories are the same. Every previously owned watch has a unique character, a life of its own, and there are also watches that have done so much more than tell the time and been an important part of many historical moments like OMEGA Speedmaster which explored the surface of the moon. The Rolex Explorer was the first to make it to the summit of Everest and survived the extreme conditions. Collecting one of these amazing timepieces ingrains a kind of connection to these momentous occasions, a celebration in honoring them. People want to own something that is part of history, something which can make them fell a part of it. Moreover, the lasting nature of watches allows them to be passed down within families from generation to generation as heirlooms – that is when they truly acquire their sentimental value. They stop being just watches. They become a very personal possession of someone’s heritage and a living (working) memory of beloved family members who are no longer with us.
The Mechanical Art
Almost in every grown man there is that little boy who is fascinated by gears and springs and the perfect blending of form and function which is one of the things about watches that attracts more men than women is the nature of their technology. The mechanical calibers of the watches can be considered miniature works of art. They are masterpieces. The craftsmanship and expertise that is required to build them makes them something truly distinct. The mechanisms, with hundreds of tiny parts working in unity, require incredible skill to put together. It is this micro-engineering that collectors see as fascinating, with the age of technological progress, with new wonders emerging almost every day but despite that, or even because of it, collectors are becoming more intrigued in the antiquated methods of traditional watchmaking. While a smart watch can also be appreciated, with the mechanical movement we are actually able to see the hundreds of components working together and we stand in awe of the dedication and the level of craftsmanship that has gone into its creation. It is primal, and extremely satisfying for a person who likes to collect watches.
The Thrill of the Chase
Most collectors share similar kind of obsession, always hunting that elusive piece. Some psychologists suggest it’s a throwback to the caveman’ days and the fight for survival or it may be just the adrenalin rush of finding something that they have been seeking for months, years on end.
For many collectors, the chase is far more fulfilling than the very acquisition. Some watch collectors are passionate about certain brands, certain functions or aesthetic details. They will search, perhaps for years, for particular pieces to complete their collection. It could be that they’re waiting for new launches or are searching for limited edition or vintage models. That is why they can spend a significant amount of time and even more substantial amounts of money securing their own personal precious watch.
Speaking of the thrill of the chase, watch collecting cannot be discussed without the name of Claude Sfeir. He is the star among watch collectors, the man who wears a watch on each wrist, and has an incredible collection that can fit in a museum. One certain type of the watches he likes to collect is the vintage watches with historical links. For example, he has the Lemania chronograph wristwatch owned by Winston Churchill. He also owns the Rolex Submariner of Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, the last shah of Iran, and all the watches worn by the six actors who have played James Bond in the film series – timepieces he recently lent to the “James Bond Time” exhibition at the Espace Horloger in Le Sentier, Switzerland. Mr. Sfeir is known for his passion about his collection which he never sells and he is planning to have a safe place where he can show his collection to the people free of charge.
Watches are often given as gifts, which makes them a special object right from the start. They’re also likely to be purchased when a professional milestone is reached, where they can make for a meaningful symbol of achievement. So at some point, all of us have a small collector inside of us who appreciates the luxury of these precious items.
–By Mariane Wolf