Building a watch collection isn’t as effortless as it looks. With factors like utility, efficiency, occasional brand power, craftsmanship, and sometimes even heirloom value coming into play, watch collections have transmogrified into more than just an exercise in self-indulgence. There is more to building a watch collection – it is an expression and extension of one’s creative alter-ego. When we think of how to build a watch collection, queries vary from what kind of collection to build, where to purchase from, how much to spend, and most importantly, where to start investing in good watches.
These horological choices are not random, not even impulsive, but more research-based and clinical. The more unique the feature, the more its power. While it can be an expensive affair, if built right and done with the correct guidance, one can really create a masterful watch wardrobe. From IWC to Chopard, we spoke with four of modern watchmaking’s biggest names and got notes on how to build a watch collection.
How to build a watch collection: Expert’s guide
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“Building a watch collection is first and foremost a very personal and subjective topic. Each watch echoes to your inner self, your aspirations, what you want to show (or to hide) to the world,” says Mehdi Rajan, IWC Regional Brand Director for Middle East, India and Africa. “There are no ideal collections I believe, each one is individual. That is why a watch collection should never be stuck in time, or be rigid or fixed. It should evolve along the year, grow with you as your taste and understanding of watchmaking gets more refined.”
“However to start a collection I always advise to start with icons, timeless pieces that are part of the history of watchmaking, that are beyond the marker of time or seasonality. An IWC Portugieser Automatic 7 days power reserve holding an impressive double barrel with a white dial and golden hands and featuring a Santoni hand-painted strap is always a good option.”
“A watch is a very personal expression of one’s style and personality. A gentleman should conduct his research before selecting his first watch. It is a deduction that requires an understanding of not only what is out there, but also of one’s own personal style. Building a watch collection is a process that may take a few years and can last a lifetime,” says Karl-Friedrich Scheufele, co-president, Chopard
“Watches come with features that also display other functions such as the phases of the moon. Besides perpetual calendars or moonphases, other complications include alarms, power reserve indicators, and minute repeaters. The field of motorsports and racing has raised the popularity of chronographs worldwide, so if you are into sports, you should include a chronograph in your collection. Using the chronograph and tachymeter together allows a user to calculate all sorts of things like speed, distance travelled, or fuel consumption (when you’re driving or flying). How many and which complications you want in a watch is a matter of preference. From my point of view, building up a collection is about creating a patrimony and transmitting it to a later generation.”
“Vintage watch buying is enjoying incredible popularity. Antique watches also represent great value, the chance to wear a piece of history and, if you’re lucky, a good investment,” adds Scheufele. “The most interesting vintage watches are those that were developed for a specific purpose like our Mille Miglia Collection. My personal love for classic collector’s cars, which has been the reason of 30-year relationship between Chopard and the Mille Miglia, one of the world’s most famous open-road endurance races that sees more than 400 historical cars covering a one-thousand-mile route from Brescia, Italy to Rome and back.”
“My love for watches came from my grandfather. He was a big watch collector, but he only had manual watches,” recalls Zaim Kamal, creative director, Montblanc. “So he collected watches from the 40s to the 70s. Once a day, his watches would be put out. He taught me how to wind them, he told me how to take care of them. There were two watches that particularly stood out, for simplicity and beauty. So whenever I design or work with a collection, I look for the simplicity of it.”
“You should find consistency. You need emotion. Express yourself,” says Philippe Delhotal, artistic director, La Montre Hermès. “Understand the aspects of style and creation. When you look at something, you should say , this is my choice and I will commit to it. I don’t want others to pick a watch for me or influence my choice; I would just listen to myself.”
All images: Courtesy brands