Disclaimer: I believe that everyone should wear what they want, when they want, and with whatever they want. That being said, I don’t think this topic is discussed enough, so here goes.
My first mechanical watch was a Hamilton Khaki. The American heritage was there, the quality was there, I respected the armed forces connection because of my own military service, and I was completely fascinated by the the knowledge that the Swiss did it best. It felt like a no-brainer to me.
Or Was It?
As we all now know, a lot has changed over the years. Swiss watches are no longer unanimously considered the best in the world. Not everyone’s a veteran, so the military connection may not mean as much to enthusiasts as a whole. America doesn’t have the watchmaking power that it used to. And if I can be so bold, you can get great if not amazing quality from tons of different watchmakers. Not everyone cares where watches are made anymore. It can also be argued that some of the best quality comes from all over, regardless of where they’re made or the price point.
As time went by, I started noticing all of these changes in the watch world and tried a little bit of everything for a while. I gave micro brands a chance, I purchased an homage (and threw it away), I got back into digital, quartz, and even budget watches (but not for long). I wanted to soak it all in. I definitely did that… to a fault.
I did the whole Vostok thing, I swam with affordable Seiko divers, I obsessed over G-Shock, I gave Yema a chance (I wish I hadn’t), I built an Orient collection (I wish I hadn’t), and I spent $900 on a Vero Crown Point (which I also don’t own anymore). I did all that stuff. I’m actually having a hard time thinking of all the different phases I went through. The point is that every one of those phases ended up being a mistake. All of that was a mistake because I learned what I liked early on, but I… just… couldn’t… stop. I was TOO open minded, if that’s a thing.
During some very stressful years, cracking open those clam shell watch boxes made me feel alive. It was like a drug. And unfortunately, me trying to chase the dragon that is watch collecting came with one of the major down sides of drug addiction. The more I indulged, the less time the feeling lasted. The more I needed it. And you know, the more money I spent and ultimately lost.
Fast forward several years, and 97% (Yes I did some half assed math even though math is stupid) of my collection has either been gifted or sold. But not my Hamilton Khaki. Not that watch. Not the watch that made me an enthusiast. Why? Because that watch meant something. My Khaki was a reward. It was a symbol. It represented something that I had been trying to prove to myself for years. It represented the importance of quality over quantity. But the unfortunate truth is that the opposite became a reality from then on. I was buying anything and everything. Now I know that we’re not omnipotent. I wouldn’t know that I was wrong until I made the mistakes and learned from them. I learned a lot over the years, and I can finally say that I know what it takes to build a solid watch collection. You ready? It’s patience. It takes wisdom too, but patience is a virtue. I feel like a journey through watch collecting could be a metaphor for so many things. But I digress.
Why was I in such a hurry? Why are all of us? Why do we make so many mistakes early on, and just not seem to recognize the harm we’re doing until it’s possibly too late? I tried half a dozen Seiko 5s, I pre-ordered micros, I bought watches on recommendations, I got caught up in the Tissot PRX hype and almost pulled the trigger three times. I’m really glad I didn’t. It’s a cool watch, but I don’t find it all that special. It may be someone’s grail, but it just isn’t mine. It would’ve never been worn, and I would’ve been too hard-headed to return it.
They say that it’s about the journey, not the destination. That isn’t always true. The destination is where I am now. It’s way better. The journey was what got me here, true, but that journey may have killed a weaker man. I’m stronger, more patient, and wiser now. The journey almost caused me to quit that journey altogether. Everything would’ve been for nothing if I hadn’t given myself a break. If I had just kept going, I would’ve burned out and caused possibly irreparable damage.
I won’t go on about how awesome Hamilton is. Most of you probably know that I’m biased. What I will say is that whether you know it or not, there is that watch out there that will make you look at the hobby differently from the moment you strap it to your wrist. I don’t do anything halfway. I don’t just “like” stuff. My hobbies are a part of me. My hobbies don’t just consist of things. My hobbies are an extension of myself. I don’t know any other way to do it. Our choices make us who we are. Our passion allows us to keep going. If you’re not passionate, why do it? Why do anything if it’s just to do it? You’re only existing at that point. You’re not living. Live a little. Try it.
In closing, I just want to say that this has been my personal experience. The watches that I’ve let go don’t matter. They never did. I wanted them to, but maybe I only thought I did because I’m conditioned to make things that I do count. Looking back on it, I see that the last several years could be considered out of character for me. That’s the problem. Stay true to yourselves and don’t force change. Organic change is good as you grow. You become more responsible, more financially stable, wiser, more affectionate, more deliberate, and more tolerant. Or less. But remain yourself. Damn the majority. There’s only one you. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; a hobby is personal. Be secure in how you choose to interact with it. The people you meet along the way is just that see through case back that you never need, but makes it all the better.
I’ll go back to being a jerk and judging your watches next year, but until then… Happy New Year, everybody. Be good to one another, but more importantly, be good to yourself.
P.S. Most of what you see here are no longer in my collection. Nevertheless, enjoy the photos!
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