How Much Should I Spend On My Watch Collection?

“How Much Should I Spend on My Watch Collection?” is a bit of a presumptuous title if I’m being completely honest, but this question is being asked all over the internet. It’s not that simple – you can’t just ask the internet how much money you should spend on YOUR collection. It’s not the internet’s collection, it’s yours. You get to decide. And honestly, it’s a tough question to answer. For anybody. Especially yourself. However, I truly believe that half of the work is done once you decide one very simple thing. What kind of watch collector am I?

I’ve workshopped several different ways to write this. I considered an empathetic approach, a sympathetic approach, and a blunt and honest approach. In hindsight it probably wasn’t a good idea to spend too much time on the how part, because you’re going to irritate or offend somebody no matter how you do it. Collectors who’d rather fill half-a-dozen twenty-four slot watch boxes full of garbage are going to feel one way, the collector who only buys microbrands is going to feel another way, and the watch snob is just an asshole anyway, so why bother with the “how”? Right? Right. On that we probably agree. So let’s work with that.

Let’s Be Honest

We all like a little bit of everything. That is an absolute truth. There is no denying it, but I’d say more times than not that we all have a style. We dress a certain way, we present ourselves a certain way, we all have checkboxes that we need to fill before purchasing our next watch, and some types of watches excite us more than others. Some of us consider ourselves horologists and are fascinated by the history of telling time. Some of us really love one manufacturer and believe that they can do no wrong. As misguided as that is, I get that. I love Hamilton, but I think that their watches are overpriced. Some of us want to make our buck go as far as humanly possible so that we can fill every friggin’ slot of that new watch box that we just bought. Some of us are obsessed with divers or dress watches or field watches. Some of us have been brainwashed by YouTube to love everything Casio. God, I wish that would stop… but I digress. We like what we like. Some of us truly believe in quantity over quality (I’m looking at you again, Casio lovers), but they have their place.

Buckle Up

I was told that I may ruffle some feathers with this next bit, but like I said earlier, that’s going to happen anyway, so let’s do a little word problem. Yeah, I know, math is gross, but I promise that I’ll never ask you to do it again, I swear to God.

Math is Hard

For the sake of simplicity let’s pretend that we all have a watch box with six slots. Wrap your head around that scenario for one second. That’s a good number. There are tons of boxes out there like that. It’s actually kind of a standard. Got it? From your current collection think about what kinds of watches you want to fill it with. Now consider the type of watch collector that you currently believe you are right at this moment. What does that box look like now? I could be wrong, but I really don’t believe that I am. Unless you are dealing with some hardcore delusional issues, you’ve chosen your six best/favorite watches. Right? Now this is hypothetical, I know, but I’m trying to prove a theory here so bear with me. But I’m right… right?

This May Hurt

Now for the hard part. Assuming that I’m correct, and you in fact have chosen your six best watches, what now? Why do you have the others at all? Do you wear them? Do you even remember the last time that you wore one of those? Assuming that I’m correct again, how much did you spend on each watch? It’s simple math. For me math has to be simple, so this is the best that I can come up with. That’s how much you should spend on each watch. For me, and I know everyone’s budget is different, it’s around $800. Retail. I wouldn’t sell or trade a single watch in my watch box now.

Taking My Own Advice

About two years ago I started this process myself, for real. The hardest realization for me was that I had twelve or more watches that never got any wrist time. I also discovered that the average price for the remaining watches was about $800. Remember, that’s retail. I didn’t spend retail on everything. The watches that I CHOSE to keep averaged about $800. Check this out too, one of them is a Hamilton Intra-Matic. This particular Intra-Matic is a Swiss, automatic chronograph. We all know how much heritage, automatic chronographs cost. So if you think about how much of the total retail was made up by this particular watch, the average watch cost in my collection is about $500. Does that all make sense? Do you agree? Disagree? Do you at least see the point that I’m trying to make? If you chose the contents of this box based on anything other than a misguided recommendation by some random watch community guru, you now know exactly how much money you need to spend on a collection piece by piece.

Because you’ve done this, you now know how much you have to spend in order for a watch to be a “keeper”. That’s the real goal isn’t it? To be proud of every single watch in your collection?

How This Affects Your Collection In The Future

The other thing that I learned is that with an average purchase price of, let’s say $500-$800, I’d have to be more patient. I couldn’t pick up a new watch every month or every two months or even every three months. Hell, I probably can’t even justify buying a new watch every year. I may still do it, but now I know that whether I decide to regularly add to my collection or not I’ll be buying watches that will stay in my collection. Patience is my weakness. It may even be a weakness of yours, but it pays off. That’s where I am now.

Breathe

Let’s change gears here for a second. I really wanted to tell you guys that you’ve been doing things all wrong. I wanted to tell you to stop listening to the online talking heads who continually boss you around and make you feel bad about what’s NOT in your collection. Believe it or not, I want you to feel good about what IS in your collection. I can really only be “that jaded guy on the internet” for so long. I actually want this to be a place where you can come and listen and NOT be judged. I mean, I’m gonna judge you, at least a little bit, but “he who is without sin”, right? Some of us won’t be able to stick to one box, I know that, and I’m not throwing shade at people who want a large collection, but just keep this last thing in mind.

In Closing

Trim the fat and fall in love with what you chose to keep. I’ll admit that I have the watch that I wear to the range (in my rifle bag) and I have the watch that I wear when I’m bumming around the house (in a drawer in my office), but those watches are replaceable. They’re everywhere. I didn’t buy them because I felt I needed them, I bought them to meet a specific need. They aren’t in my watch box because what’s in my watch box is special. Filling that box took time, guts, and research. There was a lot of trial and error. There was guilt, disappointing looks from my wife, and disappointing looks from myself in the mirror. A lot is attached to that collection. My soul is in there. And I wouldn’t change that for the world.

For more like this check out the rest of the blog here. Consider signing up for the newsletter and I’ll see you soon.

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