It doesn't matter what sort of watch you wear as long as you like it. I talk to a few collectors I've gotten to know over the years about that piece of metal they strap to their wrists.
I've done minimal editing to their responses, so hopefully you can see their character from the tone and words used.
Today's collector is someone whom I met in my very early days selling my vintage watches. He's a (very) young collector in both sense of the word, and prefers an aged dial over NOS anytime. We met often to talk about watches, and I am sure his collection will be a formidable one in time to come. And boy, can he write!
Favorites from his collection
Seiko SKX007 This watch is my current go-to watch for everyday wear or whenever I’m feeling indecisive, because it goes with almost every outfit and can take anything I throw at it, rain or shine! My SKX is almost always seen on a NATO strap as I love the convenience of being able change up its look easily, as well as the militaristic vibe it brings to the watch.
I got this watch brand new back in 2016, after spending about a year with 3 vintage Seiko 5s (more on them later!) and confirming my interest in mechanical watches. The decision to get a new watch was primarily driven by the fact that the Seiko 5s weren’t nearly as accurate as I needed/wanted a watch to be (they were gaining/losing a couple of minutes every hour, I couldn’t stand it personally at the time).
I vaguely remember doing roughly a month of research, narrowing my search down to Seikos (as they were what I thought to be the best watches for my budget) before an article on Hodinkee convinced me to ditch considerations of the newer Seiko 5s for the SKX.
Perhaps what stuck out to me the most at the time was how simple and clean everything looked. I was also really excited about the ‘shine-through-the-night’ lume and ‘indestructible workhorse’ movement that I had read so much about in forums and articles.
The watch arrived sometime right before a trip to Iceland, and I was hesitant at first, but eventually brought it along out of excitement. I fondly remember spending way too much time being absorbed by the dial, the sweep, the glow, the weight of the watch (I couldn’t stop showing it to my girlfriend and talking about it – I was unsurprisingly placated with feigned interest stemming from thinly veiled apathy).
With the SKX on my wrist, I crawled through caves, trekked through rocky terrain, and trudged through rain. It was one of the most memorable trips I’ve been on, and I must admit this watch played a role in that!
Ever since then I’ve only grown to enjoy the watch more and more – the finishing on the case, the versatility of the watch, and how much of a tank it feels like on my wrist. I’ve recently modded it, swapping out the bezel with a MilSub-esque variant and the chapter ring to a polished aluminium to bring out the reflections/distortions of the hour markers in the beveled crystal (something I also really love about this watch). This is a watch I can confidently bring with me anywhere in the world and I can’t wait to make more memories with this guy!
Seiko 5s (6319-7000 (“Blue”), 6309-8170 (“Green”), 7009-2041(“Pinstripe”) While I’ve always somewhat enjoyed looking at watches, I can’t pinpoint when it started gaining traction as a serious obsession for me. But if I had to hazard a guess, it would be when I got these guys.
I guess its cheating to have three watches at once, but they collectively represent something for me and my journey with watches – the beginning of my foray into mechanical timepieces.
All 3 of these were acquired in rather close proximity of each other between mid-2015 and early 2016, from thevintageseiko no less! These being the first automatics and vintages I got, I honestly wasn’t sure what I was looking for, or what I should have been looking for, at the time and it was by sheer luck that I found Blue on Carousell (mobile buy.sell app).
A common thread between the decision to purchase all three pieces was how stunning each dial looked in their own way, perhaps because that’s the only way I knew how to judge them at the time.
However, to this day, these are still among my favorite dials in my small collection – the multitude of textures on the blue; the depth of the green and how dark or bright it could get depending on the lighting conditions; and the uniqueness of Pinstripe (my favorite of the three, if I had to pick one… don’t tell the others).
Now, I must admit that these watches aren’t really in my rotation anymore as they just aren’t as reliable as I want my watches to be; as mentioned above, they weren’t very great timekeepers unfortunately.
However, I really enjoyed having them on my wrist for the year that they were in rotation! I remember sitting through a really boring internship briefing with Green, rotating my wrist like an idiot behind the seat in front of me, watching the green dial turn from deep algae to a brilliant emerald and back again as the light swept by.
I remember having both Blue and Pinstripe with me right before a gig I was playing in school, spending a bit too much time deciding which to wear; a detail perhaps only perceivable by myself, but an important detail no less.
I remember the frustration and disappointment of the day I realized that these watches just weren’t performing well enough for me and that I might have to swap them out.
I still take them out from time to time to admire the dials and reminisce a simpler time in my watch appreciation journey, where all it took to get me hooked were some of the most beautiful dials. Despite their very short lifespan on my wrist, they are definitely pieces I treasure very much and hope to be able to get these back in working condition sometime in the future (or at least find some use for)!
What makes a watch special?
I find joy in different aspects of each of the watches that I own! The patina on the dial, the history and heritage of a watch, the sweep of the second hand, the lugs, the functions in the design. I don’t think there’s any one aspect which makes watch special, but its more of a collection of little details that makes a watch to me.
But if I had to mention one right now (and especially at this juncture where I’m reading more about the design philosophy behind watches and their movements), I’m really drawn to the utilitarian and technical aspects of its design.
Take the Vostok Amphibia for example – a watch I consider to be quite the marvel of engineering on the part of the Russians, especially considering the price point. The compression system on the caseback and crystal (which works to increase water resistance as the watch goes deeper), as well as the wobbly crown (meant to decrease wear on the stem) are all aspects of the watch which made it something I really enjoyed reading up on, and I’m glad to have been able to get my hands on a really nice piece to enjoy for myself.
Despite these costing less than a hundred bucks, every time I wind it up, it feels like a significant piece of horological history on my wrist; this is something I appreciate very much! Watches which are boiled down to their most basic, utilitarian function appeal to me the most as I feel that this is what watches are (and were originally) made to be – tools to be used in the specialised field they were designed for.
Despite these, I’m sure almost every collector will agree with me when I say that sometimes a piece just makes you feel something different; an intangible, unexplainable vibe that draws you to it. They say love is blind; and with watches, sometime it is. At the end of the day, maybe it’s simply the stories you get to make with the piece on your wrist that makes it special; that’s something that no one else can lay claim to.
Looking out for anything?
I’m in a really weird place right now in terms of how I want to progress as a potential watch collector. I am currently a student and on a tight budget, and have thus far been picking up relatively cheap watches (my collection is somewhat of a mess), but I think moving forward I would actually like to figure out what kind of pieces I’m looking for. I’ve always enjoyed the idea of specializing in collecting a certain brand (it’d probably be Seiko for me), with a few exceptions of course!
That being said, two watches which I would really like to get (perhaps within the next few years, after I’ve started actually earning money) are the Seiko SDGM003 and the Tudor Oyster Big Rose (crosshair please, but these are so rare).
In the much longer run, my end goal has always been to get a Speedy (would love a 2998; but God knows how I’m going to afford one… One can dream right!?).
And how much will your collection change in the near future?
I’m still pretty young, and I think the considerations for collecting will change once I get a job! I have no doubt that my collection is going to change drastically in the near future, with what I hope will be a good mix of both vintage and new pieces!
While I’ve always thought vintage watches would be the sole focus of my collection, some of the modern offerings from established brands like Seiko and Tudor, as well as newer products from brands like Nomos and Farer are pretty exciting to me!
However, I think a huge barrier for me will be what to do with the older ones! I’ve always been easily attached to things I’m passionate about (eg. my guitars – can’t bear to sell any of them!), and I think it’ll be pretty tough letting go to make room for newer pieces.
Hopefully it won’t get to a point where I have to start a site to sell them!
Anything to share with other collectors?
I think I'm a bit too new to this to have much to offer to other collectors but I feel ultimately it's perhaps most important to have fun in the process!
Collecting for me would be quite pointless if I'm not enjoying the research, the hunt, and of course the watch itself.
Stay tuned for more "From the Collector" profiles!
If you're interested in being featured, feel free to drop me a message!