Forum Dialogue: My watch experience and learnings so far....

Discuss Christopher Ward watches
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Viognier
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Forum Dialogue: My watch experience and learnings so far....

Post by Viognier »

This post is perhaps more like 10 bullet point musings and what I would do differently if i could rewind back eight years ago when I began my watch collecting.

I am hopeful that in sharing my insights it may be helpful for our newer members starting out or even some seasoned members contemplating a similar evaluation of their watch collection.

So here it is, Viognier's Watch Collecting 10 points of consideration:

1. Set a budget for your entire watch investment so it doesn't get away on you.

I've spent the past few weeks evaluating what i have invested in watches. A simple spreadsheet of what i paid, replacement value of the watches and servicing costs based on once every 7 years. It was eye opening for me. I didn't set an initial total investment cap and to say it's crept up to a significant amount of money is accurate. I went through the typical phases of buying quantity followed by fewer of better quality. That pattern of ownership was valuable to determine that I liked and what did not work but I wish I had implemented a hard funding cap in place to keep the financial side in check.

2. Paying more for a watch (perhaps from a big brand) doesn't make it better or candidly more enjoyable.

I've owned many watches from Parnis and Orient to Panerai and Omega. There is a difference in what you pay for a watch and the value that goes with it, but candidly that equation holds true to only to a certain point - after that the law of diminishing returns kicks in.
Advice: Have the HARD chat with yourself; are you buying the brand name? is it the in-house movement you're willing to pay a lot more for? Does the extra money really get you that much more watch for the extra cash outlay? I honestly enjoy wearing my Christopher Ward every bit as much as my Panerai.

3. Ferg (minimpi) has it right.....

Christopher Ward is absolutely INCREDIBLE value for your watch budget. Ferg's collection is mostly Christopher Ward watches. Ferg got it right in my opinion. My C60 dive watch does everything that my other "higher end" dive watch does and at 1/7th the price!!!!! Price point wise Christopher Ward watches are entry level luxury but I challenge that for each additional dollar you invest ensure that you TRULY are receiving significantly more watch than CW offers. Factor in their quick release bracelets, bracelet quality and straps into that commentary. Consider building your collection with only entry luxury level brands like CW (or other similar value for money entry level luxury brands) for your needs. I went down the slippery slope of higher end luxury watches and am now looking to invest fewer dollars into my watch collectiion and it will be the bigger brand names watches departing. Not the ones that offer exceptional luxury watch value.

4." Lease your watch"

To my knowledge no watch company offers a formal lease option. However isn't buying and flipping a watch (within months) essentially the same as leasing?? In doing that you get to enjoy the watch and are only paying for the portion of the watch whilst you actually own it. On the rare occasion you can even break even on the flip and you've enjoyed the watch at no cost. By "leasing the watch" (aka buy and flip) it is also possible to dodge servicing costs if you move on/ sell on a watch in the first few years of ownership. Consider "leasing" your watch with the buy and flip method. Few forum regulars here partake in this technique! (no names formally mentioned LOL)

5. Buy pre-owned ,where possible, but only within a safe haven

Pre-owned maximizes the amount of watch you can get for your budget and most of us obsessive collectors do not abuse watches but instead have them in a rotation, so the used watches are in excellent condition. That's the good news. Where you buy them pre-owned is a potential minefield. Is it a well done counterfeit being sold? Payment method that doesn't protect buyers (such as wire transfers or fraudulent bank drafts) to the extreme of robberies when meeting up to buy a watch. This forum ( and several others) have a very effective way of determining safe seller via past transaction feedback. The cliche is true: Buy the seller....if your gut instinct says it doesn't feel right then step back. Final safe haven tip that I do not deviate from: I conduct my sales with strangers at a local police station....Non Negotiable. I've had a few buyers go dark when I've insisted on that and if a buyer won't meet me there i have no interest, for my safety, in completing the transaction.

6. Stagger your acquisitions - watch servicing will add up (and it's inevitable)

The thrill of the hunt, the researching and finally acquiring a new watch is the best part of collecting! Learn from my mistakes and don't go wild with multiple watch purchases within a short period of time. Rarely does anyone talk about the 'ticking time-bomb" of watch servicing costs within our collection. Timepieces 100% will require servicing during long term ownership. Best case scenario you're looking at $295 CAD to have a complete service but for some more expensive luxury timepieces that jumps to $750-$950 CAD per watch! If all your watches come due at the same time that is a nasty bill. Recommend you space out your buys.

7. Buy what you like and can afford

I've been caught up in this. You read a bunch of reviews, see pictures and it feels like the new trend is a certain watch. You buy the watch because you've heard so much about it. It arrives and you pop it on your wrist and it doesn't make your heart skip a beat. Later that week you find you're selling off the forum darling as it left you cold. Why did you buy the forum darling dress watch when you wear a suit but once a year?? You know what works for you...stick to your watch style and likes. This also ties in with number 8....

8. Impulse buys will mostly haunt you

If at all possible (as not everyone offers a 60 day return policy) try on a watch before buying it; be it from an authorized dealer, a friend's collection or maybe at a GTG. KNOW what watches work for you case size wise, thickness, lug width, STYLE, movement, bracelets, straps etc. Research them thoroughly so you've made an informed decision as the vast majority of impulse purchases will depart within months or worse be a regretted purchase for years. How many sales posts start " I'm selling as I have not worn this in months" ?? As Downer noted in his sage "learn from my mistakes" piece don't buy it just because its a good deal..my recommendation is it needs to play a specific role in your collection to warrant a purchase.

9. There will always be new watch temptations - your collection will be fluid

I submit that 99.5% of the population can easily survive with one watch or by using their smart phone. We forum members are the weirdos who collect watches !! I doubt if you're on this forum you can be a one watch person or keep your collection 'as is' for years on end. There will always be a new watch launched that captivates you or more likely your tastes change. Plan for it and evolve with it (stay within your set budget noted in point #1) and be at peace with the fact your collection will be fluid with a few mainstays.

10. Read "Downers rules on watch collecting" (http://christopherwardforum.com/viewtop ... es#p405841) and embrace his suggestions

This is candidly Richard's greatest literary work, one of the most read and referenced posts on our forum and absolutely SOUND advice!! I still read this post at least once a year as it's SUCH GREAT ADVICE even for the seasoned forum member.

So you have it my watch experience and learnings so far. This CW forum is for discussion, so please comment away on this post, some will agree and disagree thats fine. Simply please explain why .....that's where the value is in sharing with our forum members.

Other suggestions for new collectors ? What you've experienced when you rationalized your collection?? Please share them here!

Stay safe, healthy and enjoy your watches forum friends!
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Re: Forum Dialogue: My watch experience and learnings so far....

Post by jkbarnes »

Although I wouldn’t characterize myself as a watch collector, I can still recognize the brilliance of this post. All your points would apply just was well to guitars, which I have collected. I think every point you make is rock solid.

Interestingly, while I agree wholeheartedly with #8, and I am a notorious researcher and over thinker when it comes to big ticket purchases, it is NOT true of my two CW purchases. Both would definitely be considered impulse buys. As many on the forum know, my first CW was a wedding gift from my wife. When she offered to get me a watch, I went straight to the CW website to look at C60 Tridents, which I’d been admiring from afar for years. Then I sent her a link to the C65 Trident Vintage which I had never seen until I discovered it that very night. No regrets at all.

Second purchase was the C65 AM GT LE. The desire for a chronograph WAS NOT an impulse, but that particular one most certainly was. Again, no regrets.

Great post! I can’t wait to see what other sage advice others add.
Andrew
“I can't stand it to think my life is going so fast and I'm not really living it.”

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Re: Forum Dialogue: My watch experience and learnings so far....

Post by Amor Vincit Omnia »

A brilliant post, Lance, and one which I hope will give rise to yet more excellent watch based discussion of the type we have seen recently. Very well written.

I’m glad that you acknowledge the importance of Downer’s Rules in all this. I’m surprised that you describe it as Richard’s greatest literary achievement; surely you have read his trilogy of Restoration detective novels set in 17th century Manchester?

Broadly speaking, I think a lot of people will be in agreement with you – with some of the points you make it hard not to be. However, there are some points I would like to develop and perhaps even respectfully disagree with.

1. Unquestionably a good idea, but perhaps something of an ideal. I certainly didn’t envisage spending more than a few hundred pounds when I first became interested in collecting watches. As you say, it can run away with you.

2 & 3. I think this is perhaps your most contentious pair of assertions. You cite an example of a fantastic single brand watch collection. I have huge respect, but it’s not for me. My iconic classics from a couple of slightly more upmarket brands are the core and pride of my collection, and I know that I couldn’t get anything like them from CW.

4. I have bought and later flipped watches on a number of occasions, usually occasioning a slight loss of revenue. However, I never start out buying a watch for this purpose, or to see if I like it. For me every purchase is intended, at the beginning at least, as a keeper.

5. Generally, yes. Though sometimes buying new can be rewarding as well. I’m not sure that our local Constabulary would be supportive of the idea of people using their premises as a watch trading post, but then I haven’t asked them! I think much might depend on where you live, and not incidentally where the person you are trading with lives.

6. Too right!

7. I would agree, buy a watch because YOU like it. I did buy something of a Forum Darling in the earlier days, but I held onto it for over four years, really liked it and was probably a bit of a chump to let it go.

8. Agreed. I have done it on a couple of occasions (mainly with vintage watches) but my major purchases have certainly been well considered.

9. Trying to avoid temptation at the moment, though there are always things that light a little spark within you, especially on a watch forum when people keep posting such lovely pictures in the Daydream Thread.

10. I have and I do – frequently!
Steve
The half minute which we daily devote to the winding-up of our watches is an exertion of labour almost insensible; yet, by the aid of a few wheels, its effect is spread over the whole twenty-four hours.
Charles Babbage


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Re: Forum Dialogue: My watch experience and learnings so far....

Post by strapline »

Firstly, thank you Viognier for this post, very palatable indeed, like the grape variety that you use as your user name. I like threads like this, it's one of the main reasons I'm on this forum. You can learn a lot from this type of discussion. You offer some very useful advice, some of which I agree with, some not. Personally, I do not agree with your notion of 'leasing' made in point 4. When you buy a watch you are stumping up the payment in full at the outset, whether it be a new or second hand purchase, you are not paying a rental so to speak. The moment you take possession of a new watch it becomes a second hand item from a resale point of view (unless it's a Rolex or the like) and, in any subsequent sale, it depreciates in value and you lose money on your original transaction. Of course buying used watches is a way to mitigate just how big this hit is, if you're lucky you might even break even ( hence no cost of ownership to you and, I guess, your leasing analogy).

If I was compiling a similar list of my tips, my No 1 rule would be 'buy what YOU like, not what popular opinion dictates', you bring this to the fold at point 7. I think there is a lot of external pressure on watch fans to fit in to preconceived notions of what constitutes a good or valid watch collection.

The last point I'll make here, it'd possibly be my point 2, 'enjoy the thrill of the chase...and thoroughly research it'. Remember, this whole hobby boils down to our notion of time, what's the hurry? Compare, contrast, covet, then covet some more. A well informed buying choice offers its own rewards.

Oh...and point 3 from me,'there are no hard or fasts', dig your own furrow and plant your own seed, see what grows from there.

Thanks for what I think should be a well contributed to thread. :D
I'm a tool watch kinda guy; bezels and pushers for me. I used to dive, I used to climb mountains. I spend too much time looking at watches.
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Re: Forum Dialogue: My watch experience and learnings so far....

Post by nbg »

An interesting post. :thumbup:

Some parts I totally agree with, some partly and some not at all. :)

1. Difficult and impractical to do at the start, as you never know where the journey will lead. However after collecting for a few or many years I think it’s a good idea. I have reached the stage where I have no desire to sink more into the hobby. Yes there are still a few I am interested in, but will fund from sales of those I already have.

I don’t though like use of the term “investment” in the context of watch collecting. It’s a hobby with a cost. I view the amount I have tied up in the hobby as the amount I would achieve in a short notice sale to a dealer. That said I wouldn’t spend money on watches that I thought I may need in a likely worst case scenario. Watches are trinkets not essential items. I.e. do not fall into what seems to be fashionable thought in an era of low interest rates, using watches as a proxy for emergency funds, savings or long term investments.

2. & 3. My view agrees completely with AVO.

4. I do admire the flipper mentality of a couple of forum friends, although it isn’t an approach to collecting that I am likely to indulge in.

5. I agree with buying preowned from trusted sellers. But I also happy to buy some watches new from ADs, where that is clearly more appropriate.

6. Ideally yes. But if I had a few on a long term target for list and they cropped up as prices too good to pass, in a short period of time I would go for them.

7. Agreed. Not sure why anyone would do any different.

8. Agreed. However many of my CWs remind me that I didn’t always stick to my own advice. I have though always managed to stick to trying on (usually more than once) before buying, all the watches that I have ended up wearing on a regular basis.

9. Yep there will always be temptations. My current filter is quite clear: At what ever price point I will now not buy a watch, unless I am confident at the outset that it will be worn more than (ok, or as often as) most others that I would categorise as similar price points in my collection.

10. Agreed a post with many excellent points.

Regardless of any of the above I think the most important points for anyone is that the only view about collecting that really matters is your own. Just make your own mind up and don’t take it too seriously. Buy them, wear them, enjoy them. :)

Neil
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Re: Forum Dialogue: My watch experience and learnings so far....

Post by Bahnstormer_vRS »

Do we still have a 'Forum Post of the Year'?

If we don't, we should have, as this is it.


Thank you Lance for such excellent advice, the essence of which (with a couple of exceptions) I follow to the letter.

It offers an interesting perspective to ponder how I would have viewed your advice, had I read it when I started on my (proper) watch collecting journey with my first CW back in 2012.

Guy

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Re: Forum Dialogue: My watch experience and learnings so far....

Post by strapline »

Bump...

I think this post deserves more contribution from the forum. Be great to hear what others think to some well made pointers.
I'm a tool watch kinda guy; bezels and pushers for me. I used to dive, I used to climb mountains. I spend too much time looking at watches.
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Re: Forum Dialogue: My watch experience and learnings so far....

Post by Martin »

A most engaging and thought provoking post and thread. I realise that I have not been a watch collector, only someone who once wanted something other than another £25 Citizen quartz. The internet allows you to gaze at hundreds of watches without moving! Those of you over 60 like myself will remember having to travel into a town or city centre to look in a shop window. Even then the range on display would be tiny in comparison to today’s googlings. It was Google that brought me to CW and this forum. My watch knowledge was nil and I remain in debt to those fellow members that shared their experiences and expertise so freely and readily.
I think men by some quirk of their nature are acquisitive and fascinated by ‘things’ or ‘stuff’. Look at the topics. in ‘off topic’: cars, music, drinks, meals and many more. There is in some of these a degree of competetiveness I think that is also a part of the male condition. It doesn’t in general, preoccupy women much. Apart from shoes. Oh, and handbags.
My watch journey began with a C1 quickly followed by my C5 Aviator. Dreams about more watches followed over the years. I now know what I like and what I don’t like. I look at the pics on non CW watches every day and admire a very few, dislike about the same number and remain fairly indifferent to the majority. The big difference now, years later, is that I understand why I like one watch and dislike another. A clean legible face with no complications at all, not even a datewheel, is what I am looking for. The moonwatch was my aspiration for years and when funds allowed I tried one on. I went away and thought about it and was rational enough to admit that I did not need or want all of the complications. I still look at it and read about its history in the Apollo context but I no longer want to own one. The Seamaster 300 I do own is perfect and I know why.
I think my watch journey is now almost over. I realise that all I could do now is buy another watch to sit in its box in a drawer.
I have enjoyed the journey considerably.
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Re: Forum Dialogue: My watch experience and learnings so far....

Post by Amor Vincit Omnia »

Martin wrote:
Tue Nov 10, 2020 9:55 am
The moonwatch was my aspiration for years and when funds allowed I tried one on. I went away and thought about it and was rational enough to admit that I did not need or want all of the complications.
My Moonwatch only has one complication, as it’s the hand wound no date version. Just the chronograph, and I must confess that I do actually use it from time to time. The tumble dryer is out in the garage, the watch also gives me an idea of how long casseroles have been in, and so on. I’m also still doing a bit of teaching and it’s really useful for short timed tasks during lessons.

If you want a totally unencumbered dial, though, I can see why it wouldn’t suit you. I have learned to ignore the chronograph hands completely when I’m not using it as such. I just see the time.
Steve
The half minute which we daily devote to the winding-up of our watches is an exertion of labour almost insensible; yet, by the aid of a few wheels, its effect is spread over the whole twenty-four hours.
Charles Babbage


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Re: Forum Dialogue: My watch experience and learnings so far....

Post by albionphoto »

Great Post Lance. Points 7, 8, 0 and 10 are particularly relevant to me.
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Re: Forum Dialogue: My watch experience and learnings so far....

Post by strapline »

Martin wrote:
Tue Nov 10, 2020 9:55 am
The big difference now, years later, is that I understand why I like one watch and dislike another.
Enjoyed your thread, made me think about how much the experience of buying a watch has changed since I was a boy. I remember gazing in those watch shop windows, you couldn't compare it to the vast virtual shop window the internet provides today. I also remember looking in the window of Watches of Switzerland in my home city of Cambridge, UK, and thinking the Rolex's and Patek's were way beyond my purchasing power. Little has changed on that front.

I now know a lot more about watches than I did when I was a boy, and the journey that got me to that point has been a lot of fun. I like the idea of having one very carefully chosen and costly grail watch further down the line. By the time that becomes a reality I will probably be too old or just plain ol' gone off the idea. A mobility scooter or stairlift might be more pressing, not to mention practical. :lol:

Des
I'm a tool watch kinda guy; bezels and pushers for me. I used to dive, I used to climb mountains. I spend too much time looking at watches.
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Re: Forum Dialogue: My watch experience and learnings so far....

Post by rkovars »

strapline wrote:
Tue Nov 10, 2020 7:29 pm
I like the idea of having one very carefully chosen and costly grail watch further down the line. By the time that becomes a reality I will probably be too old or just plain ol' gone off the idea. A mobility scooter or stairlift might be more pressing, not to mention practical. :lol:

Des
I went in the opposite direction. My most expensive watch was the first one I bought (almost 30 years ago). :lol:
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2 More CW's on the short list! (This is pretty much a lie - I have at least 10 CW Tabs open at the moment!)
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Re: Forum Dialogue: My watch experience and learnings so far....

Post by strapline »

rkovars wrote:
Tue Nov 10, 2020 7:44 pm
strapline wrote:
Tue Nov 10, 2020 7:29 pm
I like the idea of having one very carefully chosen and costly grail watch further down the line. By the time that becomes a reality I will probably be too old or just plain ol' gone off the idea. A mobility scooter or stairlift might be more pressing, not to mention practical. :lol:

Des
I went in the opposite direction. My most expensive watch was the first one I bought (almost 30 years ago). :lol:
Funny, eh. Why do we have the idea that expensive/luxury will be better. A well chosen watch that you have a connection with, that has accompanied you on many of life's journey's...well, in all probability...that's your grail watch right there.

Des
I'm a tool watch kinda guy; bezels and pushers for me. I used to dive, I used to climb mountains. I spend too much time looking at watches.
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Re: Forum Dialogue: My watch experience and learnings so far....

Post by MiniMpi »

Lance I really enjoyed your post, highly interesting and makes a lot of sense too.

Thank you for the compliment by the way !
Viognier wrote:
Sun Nov 08, 2020 11:08 pm
3. Ferg (minimpi) has it right.....

Christopher Ward is absolutely INCREDIBLE value for your watch budget. Ferg's collection is mostly Christopher Ward watches. Ferg got it right in my opinion.
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Re: Forum Dialogue: My watch experience and learnings so far....

Post by Viognier »

jkbarnes wrote:
Mon Nov 09, 2020 12:18 am

Interestingly, while I agree wholeheartedly with #8, and I am a notorious researcher and over thinker when it comes to big ticket purchases, it is NOT true of my two CW purchases. Both would definitely be considered impulse buys. As many on the forum know, my first CW was a wedding gift from my wife. When she offered to get me a watch, I went straight to the CW website to look at C60 Tridents, which I’d been admiring from afar for years. Then I sent her a link to the C65 Trident Vintage which I had never seen until I discovered it that very night. No regrets at all.

Great post! I can’t wait to see what other sage advice others add.
Andrew thank you for your comments and I'll have to set up a Zoom call to connect and see how you decide your impulse purchases! :D I can learn from you, as mine bat about a 10% success rate!!
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