Downers Rules of Collecting

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Kip
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Downers Rules of Collecting

Post by Kip »

These "rules" were originally posted here by downer under the topic headed Learn from my mistakes?

Many of you know downer as a moderator here on the CW Forum. Downer is also collector of many fine watches and an excellent photographer as well. He has discovered, over the years, a formula that works for him in the collecting field. Many will find that these rules can be applied in one form or another.

Those of us that collect watches, whether it be few or many, have our own reasons for doing so. It is my hope that "Downers Rules" will help some of you along the way.

The watch-collecting journey - everyone has a different path, and likes and dislikes - but it is a journey all the same. Some of us have reached contentment, some continue to acquire at an amazing rate, others flip watches according to some seemingly random pattern, while others appear to have fixed goals which they aim for with unerring accuracy.

My own journey started in earnest in late 2008 - before that, I'd owned a few watches, but seldom really wore more than one for extended periods. In other words, before 2008, I think I was a pretty normal wearer of watches.

However, since then, my journey has been through many phases, and I have learned a few lessons. In the spirit of learning from others' mistakes, maybe it will help if I try to document mine:

1. More is not more.

For some of us, owning dozens of watches is a goal in and of itself. At one point, my collection reached around 40 watches. Here's a picture from 2010...

Image

At some point, I realised that I wanted to wear my watches, rather than keep them in boxes, and that therefore, I simply had too many. Since most of them were mechanical, I also realised that the servicing costs would be quite severe. Consequently, I decided to aim for a smaller collection - and I have to say it definitely suits me better.

Pretty much all of my watches are now in my collection for a reason, and serve a specific purpose. Consequently, they get used - which for me at least, is the main point of owning them.

2. Do not buy solely on price.

I went through a phase of buying 'bargains', where a good price was the main driver. I don't mean that I bought only cheap watches, but rather that I was buying because of the 'deal', rather than because of the watch. This led me to buy some pretty unsuitable watches, which of course, did not stay long. In some cases I was able to recover my outlay on sale (even making small profits here and there), but I also took some losses. In any event, owning a watch that you would not have bought at normal price is not too satisfying IMO.

3. Watch out for the herd instinct.

When you are a frequent visitor to watch forums, it is all too easy to get caught up in the clamour for the latest forum darling. I have certainly been guilty of this on several occasions - sometimes it's fine (Tudor Black Bay), and other times, I have bought the wrong watch (Seiko Monster, Seiko Samurai).

4. Buy what you like.

Almost the opposite of the above. It's easy to be swayed by forum opinions, and sometimes, for some reason, the crowd dislikes a specific watch. In the end though, if you like it enough to buy it, buy it.

5. It's not for free.

Like all hobbies, collecting watches has a cost. Of course, careful buying can minimise risk of heavy losses, but (with a very few high-level exceptions) watches do not make good investments. So buy, own, enjoy, keep, service, sell, whatever. But expect it to cost something.

6. Accept no substitutes.

Of course, within reason. If you have set your heart on model x, with strap y and a specific caseback, try to avoid buying something "close" to your ideal. Near enough is rarely good enough, and you will probably regret it.

7. The thrill really is in the hunt.

Taking time to decide what you want, searching for the right example, the best deal etc, is all part of the satisfaction. Rushing into purchases can often prove unsatisfactory.

8. Judge watches in your hands, not online.

I often read posts saying "I like everything about watch x, except the... (insert tiny little detail)" or "I like all watches made by brand X". From my own experience, looking at watch pictures is all good and well, and can definitely provide some background knowledge, but there is no substitute for handling them, trying them - even living with one for a while - to really discover whether or not that "tiny detail" is important, or that in fact some watches in the range of Brand X are not as good as others.

9. Experiment.

Despite all of the above, there are situations where you need to step outside the framework and experiment. This where you're on your own. You need to be streetwise, and most of all, know your own mind. In some ways, it's a combination of all the rules because you may be playing the long game, or you may be impulsive. Yet it's against them all at the same time. It's down to your own risk appetite. What's pocket money for one may be a big investment for another. But the experiment can be either the acceptance that resale may at a loss, or it may be a rock solid investment such as a popular Steinhart or a Rolex. Either way, you should go into an experiment fully informed, and with an escape plan.

How else will you really know what you like if you don't experiment?

10. Always buy on the bracelet.

Bracelets are usually much more expensive to buy separately, so always consider buying the bracelet with the watch, even if it takes you over budget or you don't fancy it right now. Aftermarket straps are usually easy to match to watches with standard spring bars, however non-OEM bracelets rarely look the part.

__________________________________________________________________________________________

This list is not intended to be lecture, and for sure some of it will not suit you, but it took me a while to learn some of these lessons, so I thought it may be worth some consideration.

Post by downer » Fri Dec 26, 2014 12:10 pm
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Re: Downers Rules of Collecting

Post by Bahnstormer_vRS »

Thanks for reposting this Kip, it's a great piece that needs to be handy for easy reference.

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Re: Downers Rules of Collecting

Post by Simmo »

Some very valid points will definitely keep a few in mind when making my next purchase!
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Re: Downers Rules of Collecting

Post by Serlo »

Thanks for pinning this topic as I these rules cannot only be applied to watches, but to collecting in general. I am sure they will be of great value to new members (and to some of our beloved serial flippers :lol:).

It has actually changed the way I think about watches now... But that's a different story.
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Re: Downers Rules of Collecting

Post by MadJam250 »

Some excellent thoughts. .thanks for posting and sharing
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Re: Downers Rules of Collecting

Post by ronjohn »

great post
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Re: Downers Rules of Collecting

Post by blowfish89 »

If I followed those rules, I may have to hold off on buying for very long periods :D
But rule 9 provides me an out.
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Re: Downers Rules of Collecting

Post by scooter »

Set 'em in stone.

But not in a Miliband sort of way.

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Re: Downers Rules of Collecting

Post by Caller »

But is that list complete? On various threads Downer mentions things like, 'too tall', 'too big', too similar' etc. I'd say the guide is an excellent set of ground rules, but each person will have a tale as to why their collection is how it is.

I'm with him completely on 1-5, 8 & 10. I'm past (9) the experiment stage!
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Re: Downers Rules of Collecting

Post by Amor Vincit Omnia »

My favourites are 3 and 9, but I would also respectfully add a Rule 11:

"Remember that there are times when you need to chuck the rule book out of the window and go with your gut feeling!"
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Re: Downers Rules of Collecting

Post by downer »

Caller wrote:But is that list complete? On various threads Downer mentions things like, 'too tall', 'too big', too similar' etc. I'd say the guide is an excellent set of ground rules, but each person will have a tale as to why their collection is how it is.

I'm with him completely on 1-5, 8 & 10. I'm past (9) the experiment stage!
When I wrote this list of ideas, they were generic, rather than specific. I was trying to think about the "mistakes" I had made and how to avoid them - in a very general sense. For sure, dimensions, aesthetics and "fit in the collection" are very personal topics, and there is no way I would try to articulate those aspects. :D
Amor Vincit Omnia wrote:My favourites are 3 and 9, but I would also respectfully add a Rule 11:

"Remember that there are times when you need to chuck the rule book out of the window and go with your gut feeling!"
Absolutely! My latest two or three watches have been more "gut" than "spreadsheet". :D
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Re: Downers Rules of Collecting

Post by Aifo »

I echo the importance of rule 9 - experimenting, what looks great on the picture, excellent on the sheet and wears well on the wrist may still not be a keeper afterall. Ironic admittedly, some watches are, simply speaking, just not meant to be. I believe Scooter and his Reverso is a great reference for any aspiring collector, and I also learnt the same lesson with the Navi, Zenith Winsor and Black Bay.

I am pretty sure at some point of the journey I will experiment with the Omega Sea Master Professional and the AT, both watches I have admired for a long time but never ended up getting.
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Re: Downers Rules of Collecting

Post by RAC »

As someone just starting to collect watches this is great advice!!! Thanks so much.
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Re: Downers Rules of Collecting

Post by Dancematt »

Very Interesting to sticky this now and now taken out of context of the original moment perhaps. Quite a hinderance to the odd CW sale but imo rule 4 and 9 should be set in stone.
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Re: Downers Rules of Collecting

Post by Kip »

This was posted (sticky) because I thought the generality of Richards rules can apply to so many of us. I have had multiple requests to make this an addition to the FAQ/How to section. It just didn't seem to fit in that area so this seemed a better alternative. These rules have been referred to many times over the past several months so it seemed it was time to make them easy to find.

As to context...I am a bit confused as to what you refer. :?
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