The joys of watch collecting
An interesting peculiarity of human nature is that some people collect things. Why this is so is a bit of a mystery. I have collected, studied and – to be honest, am obsessed about vintage watches since I was a youngster. As someone who has been ‘bitten by the bug,’ so to speak, I can say that it is a curious mixture of both pleasure and pain.
The pleasure is in finding something new and exquisite, or coming across a long-desired specimen, like a vintage Universal Geneve or a fine Cartier Tank from the 60’s, for example. The ‘pain’ comes in knowing that the collection will never be truly complete.
While investigating the facts about collecting, I came across a number of reasons, both common-sense ones and psychological ones, as to why, exactly, people collect things. An article in The Guardian mentions emotional compensation as well as existential angst as two possible reasons. Well, I am no Psychologist, and I don’t know how true that is, in general, but for me the joy of collecting is more about my own personal interest in the subject, the knowledge that I picked up, and the thrill of the hunt.
In my opinion, collecting watches is a little different to, say – collecting cars, stamps or insects. Naturally, there are some things that all collectors have in common, but with watches and with me, it is more than just a quirk or an obsessive thing. At least, it’s not about staying home and admiring my trophies, rows of fine timepieces in boxes in the safe. No, rather, it has been something that has opened many doors, both socially and financially. Timepieces are also conversation pieces, and links to other people with other interests.
It’s so much more than just a hobby. It is simply a part of my life – and since founding Momentum, I can say that it is probably the biggest element in my life. From the day I laid my hands on my first Vintage Rolex, an Oyster Precision from 1961 I knew that I would be collecting Rolex, Patek, Vacheron, Longines – you name it – for a very long time to come. It’s still the same feeling today. Dubai is slowly catching on to the worldwide trend towards elegant horology, and if you want to stand out – now’s the time to join.
Collecting watches has its practical side too. The article mentioned earlier states: “There is also a phenomenon known as the endowment effect, which describes our tendency to value things more once we own them”. With watches, though, there is the added joy of seeing your loved collectible actually increase in value over time. Watch prices have been increasing in the last few years, both new and vintage, and there is something very thrilling about attending the annual Geneva Auctions, and seeing rare pieces fetch astronomical prices.
Staying on the practical side of things, there is also the issue of maintaining the collection. Whether you’re keeping your collection on display, or whether you love to wear them on the wrist instead, a vintage watch needs the proper care and attention. These timepieces were made to last more than one lifetime. Considering the care taken to design and to craft each tiny spring, lever and cog, it’s only natural that a little attention gets paid to the upkeep too. It is well worth the time and effort to bring your Rolex in for a service every four or five years.
So to sum up, whether you’re a collector or not, the fact that the timekeeping business is healthy and thriving so many years after its conception is quite remarkable. It is the ultimate combination of style and functionality. Mechanical watches have survived the quartz revolution, the digital revolution, and the tech revolution today, and if you ask me, they are the best things in the world to collect.
Tariq Malik is the managing partner and co-founder of Momentum watch shop in DIFC. Esquire and Momentum recently hosted our first Watch Collectors Dinner at the fantastic Qbara – www.qbara.ae Look out for more details in the July Issue of Esquire.