HomeCollectingWatch Hunting: A Perpetual Quest

Earlier this week I polled on Instagram about what should be the next blog post and, by a very short margin, “Thoughts on watch hunting (why it never stops)” emerged as the winner. So here we go.

When you start owning more than a few watches, the purpose of conveniently telling time is not what you’re after. It’s a passion, an emotion, and basically the business model of the current Swiss watch industry. 

The interest can take many forms, including reading, visiting museums, joining forums and attending events. But ultimately, owning and wearing watches is at the center of it all. And while looking after watches already in your possession is a huge part of the fun, hunting for a new one is a unique sensation.

That’s why you see Patek and Rolex owners chasing a Seiko deal online. Or people like me who severely dislike owning too many watches at a time remain on the constant lookout, even if a new acquisition means letting go of a previous one. Like most things in life, it’s all about the journey. 

When it comes to watches, the definition of new is pretty broad. It doesn’t necessarily mean something shiny that’s never been used. Whether it’s fresh off the production line or a century old, what makes for a new watch is that you are the new owner. 

The prey can first come to your attention in various ways and forms. Passing by a window, looking at someone’s wrist, reading a review, being targeted by an ad… You may immediately spot a single watch you want or rather be considering a set before further zooming in. 

You search for reviews, read them, possibly more than once. You go to YouTube, to get a sense of the watch in motion, under many angles. You scroll through forums or Reddit for opinions not tainted by the business relationship between the brand and the reviewer. If you can try it on nearby, through a friend or an AD, you rush to the opportunity. And of course, you consult your savviest watch buddies for advice, even if you don’t follow it.

The financial question is rarely far. You compare prices between old and new, full set and “watch only”. You look at the gray market, at different countries, taking into account shipping and customs. You consider alternative models that may scratch the itch for a fraction of the price. Resell value, just in case, is top of mind.

All scenarios have their pros and cons. Gray market is cheaper but what about the experience and relationship with the AD? Second hand will save a lot, but a lot less if you need to send it in for a service immediately, and part with it already. Importing could be a winner but what if customs are a nightmare, or there’s a defect and you need to ship it back? 

During this whole phase, you are studious, focused, persistent and precise. You do other stuff during the day, but really, all you can think about is that watch. You can almost smell it around you, feel it on your skin. Your desire is at its peak. 

The final decision can be stressful. It may include complex financial calculations, a difficult discussion with your better half, or parting with a watch you already own, or five. But that is a small price to pay for the immense excitement that has taken you over. Whether it’s a five minute walk to the AD or a week waiting for UPS, that moment between the decision to proceed and actually holding the watch is a deep, intense succession of dopamine rushes. No matter what now, bliss is on its way.

The first time on the wrist is, well, exactly that: a first time. I’m not comparing, of course, with the other “first time”: a new watch is a lot more important than losing your virginity! Just kidding of course although, I heard a story about… Let’s not go there. Bottom line: the first time on the wrist is intense. All the thinking, planning, searching, calculating, saving, they all bundle into an implosion of feelings as you stare at the watch where it now belongs.

Sometimes, things don’t go exactly as planned. Maybe it looks bigger, or smaller, than you had anticipated. Perhaps some scratches that didn’t show in the picture are now all you can think about. The worst is when you suddenly start questioning the provenance, or the authenticity. The good thing is, the more you’re advanced in your watch journey, the more mistakes you’ve already made, and the less likely you are to be fooled again.

So here we are. The honeymoon phase. No wristshot can truly do justice and yet, you’ve taken more pictures of it in a day than of your entire family over a year. You discover details about the watch you had no idea of, making you love it even more: the smoothness of the clasp opening, the sharp indices in daylight, the unique shape of the case hugging your wrist and of course, as you enter the parking lot or your bathroom, the crisp and bright lume. The watch won’t leave your wrist for an entire week.

Then, after a while, like in any relationship, things start to become more normal. Eventually, you put on another watch you’d almost forgotten about and realize it’s amazing. That’s when your new watch is, well, no longer new. It becomes part of your collection, here to stay or eventually to be let go of. But everything you experienced acquiring it, and wearing it for those first few days, that was special, and is yours forever. For that alone, it may have been worth it.

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1 year ago

His story is very interesting and inspiring

1 year ago

Top! Great article, best wishes for you Alfio

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