NOV. 27

The Ultimate Guide to Watch Collecting: From Novice to Expert


There are several reasons to collect watches, whether you're interested in building a wardrobe of luxury watches or you want to be involved in learning more about the role of watches in the history of clock making. Some collectors choose watches based on their appearance, while others choose timepieces that they love. These and other reasons are great ways to get started on creating a collection of watches that align with your values and interests. If you want to learn more about watch collecting, this comprehensive guide will tell you everything you need to know.

Reasons to Collect Watches

Besides simply loving watches, there are a wide variety of reasons to find the best timepieces, from vintage watches to luxury watches to everything in between. Experts say that there's a lot of emotion involved in choosing a watch, no matter what style or price point most attracts your attention. 

Your Personality

Historically, watches were something that only women wore. Men carried pocket watches instead. Over time, they became something that was more gender-neutral and in fact, the world of watch collecting is largely seen as a male hobby these days. The reason for this is that women wear more jewelry and for many men, the watch is the only accessory they wear on a daily basis. 

With that in mind, it's a good idea to keep your personality in mind when you choose a watch. The timepieces that you choose say a lot about who you are and what your style is. As your personality changes over time, your watch collection will evolve and may have a variety of independent brands, vintage watches and mechanical watches that showcase who you are. 

Love of Technology

There's something to be said about the simple watches of yesteryear, but many collectors are enthralled by the technology that abounds in the watch industry. Mechanical watches in particular have intricate inner workings that intrigue even a beginner watch collector. In terms of the history of clock making, these mechanisms have been around for centuries. They've been modified to fit inside mechanical wristwatches and many brands of luxurious wristwatches, including Audemars Piguet and Richard Mille. 

Combined with the style and look you gravitate toward, technology is a popular reason why people love watches and get into the community that collects and studies them. 

They're and Investment

It's no secret that luxurious wristwatches are an investment, and that's part of the allure for many collectors. If you're new to collecting, you may be staggered by the cost of some watches. A. Lange & Sohne is one example of a luxury brand that is a coveted addition to any collection. Rolex is another brand that makes a great investment.

If you plan to sell and/or trade from your watch collection, investing in high-quality pieces from big names will be the best way to get a good return on your investment, either breaking even or making some extra money. 

The Watch Community

Some collectors get into it because they love being a part of the community. The watch collecting community is like a club that welcomes members of all races, from around the globe. Vintage watches are especially popular right now, making them a branch of the collecting community that many are gravitating to these days. 

There are both online and offline opportunities to join the community. You can read blogs, interact on forums and join social media pages if you prefer to stay online. Offline, you can attend trade shows, join in-person groups and shop at exclusive watch shops and stores. 

The Hunt

For many, the thrill of the hunt is a huge draw. Looking for and finding the perfect watch is part of the fun of collecting. Maybe it's the holy grail of watches sought after by your watch collecting community. Or perhaps it's your dream watch.

It can sometimes take a while to find that elusive watch, but that's part of the enjoyment. Once you've found that one, you can move on to the next watch on your wish list. 

Being Part of the Story

All collectors are after different pieces. Some want to find a mint condition watch that has never been worn. For others, the life behind the piece is what makes it so alluring. Patina and scratches tell a story that they want to be a part of. 

Whether you want a blank slate or you would rather find a watch with character, keep that in mind as you search out the first pieces for your collection. 

Types of Watches to Collect

There are plenty of watches out there to choose from and if you want a diverse collection, you should consider at least one or two of each type. This gives you lots of options for styling your watches and pairing them with your wardrobe but also rounds out your collection so that it's comprehensive and enjoyable. If you're new to collecting, here are the types to consider starting with. 

Dive Watches

This is considered a universal watch and is a great piece to start your collection with. Some even call it the perfect choice for a one watch collection. Look for one with at least 100m of water resistance, a count-up bezel, a screw-down crown, and a legible dial coated in a luminous substance. Consider a leather strap or bracelet strap. 

Dress Watches

If you dress up on a regular basis, a dress watch is a must-have in your collection. Steel or precious metals are the most common choice in this category, but many also seek out a leather strap. There aren't a lot of rules for wearing a dress watch, other than that it shouldn't be so large that it takes over your outfit.

Pilot's Watches

A pilot's watch is one that was designed for pilots flying planes, but its rugged appearance is exactly what many people are looking for. A legible face and functional design are the primary concerns when choosing a pilot's watch for your collection. 

GMT Watches

This watch takes into account the Greenwich Mean Time, allowing you to see the time in more than one time zone. Like pilot's watches, these were designed for pilots and others who traveled a lot. You can find them with an independently adjustable hour hand or an independently adjustable GMT hand. Personal preference will drive which option you choose. 

Digital Watches

There are loads of watches in this category and what sets them apart from the others is the digital readout of the time, rather than the hands of a traditional watch. Digital watches come in a huge variety of options in many price ranges, so it's easy to find exactly what you're looking for in this category. 

Field Watches

A field watch is basically a simplified version of a dive watch. They're created for the outdoors, so they are durable and rugged. A field watch, however, is much simpler and tells only the time with a fixed bezel. They come in a variety of styles so you can choose the one that best fits your wardrobe.


Finally, chronographs are watches that are essentially a stopwatch that you can wear on your wrist. These watches typically come with a higher price tag and are ideal for someone who wants to add an investment piece to their collection. 

How to Get Started

This process will look different for everyone, but the elements are the same. Considering the factors that play into selecting a watch will help you make your first addition to your collection. Ultimately you want something reliable, but that you love. Here are some things to keep in mind as you start seeking out your first watch. 

  • Your passion (investment, outdoor sports, flying,)
  • Understand the basics of the watch (function, performance)
  • An icon (brand or style)
  • Trade value (trade in or up in the future)
  • Stick with an interest area (genre, brand or time period)
  • Set a budget (don't spend more than you can)
  • Look only at reputable sellers (shops, trade shows, online)

Moving to the Next Level

Once you're comfortable with your collection skills and have a good handle on what you want and where you're going with your pieces, consider taking it to the next level. If you find that your passion for watch collecting is waning or you struggle to find the pieces that you want, you know it's time to step it up a notch.

This is the ideal time to branch out and try brands that aren't so recognizable. Maybe that means leaving the Rolex and looking for the ideal Audemars Piguet. Maybe it means opting out of finding another Patek or Omega and looking for an independent brand to round out your watch collection. 

Not only does this mean finding a watch that was made by the name it has on it, but you can also find some unique creations that aren't sold on the common watch market. This can be a fun way to add pieces to your collection that no one else is going to be wearing. 

Watches to Start Your Collection With

Below are some specific watches that are good choices if you are just starting out your collection. 

TAG Heuer Carrera

 Legibility and functionality are the name of the game with this watch. Combined with its signature elegant design, this is a watch that you can wear for many occasions, as well as to the office every day. It's available in several colors so you can choose the one that best suits your wardrobe. 

Breitling Navitimer B01

The circular slide rule of this watch makes it a premier pilot's watch. It can also handle flight calculations and has a navigation timer. Even if you aren't a pilot or don't fly a rocket ship, this watch is a great choice for a serious collector.

Omega Seamaster Diver 300M 007 Edition

 Here's a dive watch that makes a great first choice for a beginner collector. This icon has stood the test of time and is a highly sought after watch. Not only that, but this is the watch that graced the wrist of the world's greatest spy, James Bond. 

Norqain Independent Wild One

If you are interested in starting your collection with a Swiss timepiece, this one is the way to go. This brand is a newer one, but is making a big mark on the watch collection community and is sure to continue to grow in prominence and popularity as time goes by. 

Rolex Submariner

No watch collection would be complete without a Rolex. This model is a premier status symbol you will proudly wear on your wrist. Not only is it the height of luxury, but it also lends a touch of tradition to your collection.


Collecting watches can be both a fascinating hobby and an investment that you may decide to cash in on one day. With so many options available, it should be no trouble at all to curate a collection that speaks to your personal style and the aspects of timekeeping that are most interesting to you.

In maintaining and building your watch collection, there will be times when you want to sell a particular timepiece. Come to for fair and attractive valuations. 


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