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Feature: 10 terrible things people say about watches

I try my very best to offer nothing but the most valuable advice to both upcoming and seasoned watch collectors, predominantly based on the hard lessons I’ve learnt from making stupid mistakes. But I’m not the only one dishing out little nuggets of information, and some of those nuggets I’ve seen elsewhere are filled with gristle and toenails. So today I’m going to take you through some of the worst advice I’ve ever heard so you know to avoid it.

Don’t buy a watch on finance

At first that seems like great advice. Like “Don’t have a credit card.” Life without lending is one free of stress, but it’s hardly as practical as it seems. Not only can responsible borrowing improve your credit score and reduce interest rates on unavoidable loans like mortgages, it can also free up equity to invest instead. So whilst its good advice not to load yourself up with debt you can’t afford, taking advantage of very low interest or interest free loans can work to your advantage. And whilst many people would say that you must be able to buy something outright in order to afford it, it can pay to get ahead of the annual price rises that many watchmakers insist upon by financing if you aren’t quite there. Whatever it is you do, if you borrow money, make absolutely sure you can pay it back, even if your personal situation worsens. It’s not worth a visit to court over a watch!

You must get box and papers

I hear this one a lot because it’s historically been a fool-proof way to make sure a watch is genuine. After all, if a factory can fake the high-end, intricate, luxury watch so well it can’t be determined without original paperwork, then there’s no way they can fake the box and papers too, right? And there’s the big flaw with that argument. A flimsy piece of paper or a plastic card is the easiest part to duplicate by a long, long way, and so it is no longer the bastion of the safe purchase anymore. The other reason given for buying with box and papers is better resale value, but ultimately that means a higher purchase price, too. A watch on its own is cheaper to buy and also cheaper to sell, so after all’s said and done, you break even either way. Without box and papers, however, the entry point is cheaper.

Buy a fake instead

If a fake watch is almost as good, why not get that instead? Well, for a start, it’s illegal. And not illegal like jaywalking is illegal, but illegal like court, fines and maybe even imprisonment illegal. You have to remember, the brands making and selling the genuine watches really don’t want fakes to exist, so they are going to push every last letter of the law in making an example of people who go toe to toe with them on it. Is that worth it to have people think you own a Rolex? If the answer, by sheer incredulity, is still yes, then you’ll still have another problem to contend with. A watch isn’t a non-serviceable, sealed device. It’ll need a tinker once in a while to keep it going, assuming most optimistically that it does keep going. Then what? You can’t send it back to the fake factory, and you definitely can’t send it to the real brand!

You have to have a ___ in your collection

This is a passionate hobby, and some hobbyists especially are very passionate, and they might insist upon your collection mirroring their collection because they’ve done a lot of research and deduced that their collection is the best collection of all and so if your collection doesn’t match their collection then basically you’re saying their collection is worse than a flesh-eating parasite down the pants. Of course, that’s not true at all, because watches are incredibly subjective. But it’s hard, because passionate people can be very passionate—read: pushy—and it may be difficult to separate that enthusiasm from solid advice. Your collection should feature watches you like and not what other people have vetted as acceptable. Sure, lean on better-experienced buyers to share their thoughts, but if they have a shred of sense in them, they’ll be sure to tell you that it’s just advice and not a directive. They’d sooner be telling you which type of sauce is best for dipping your fries in, which is ridiculous, because we all know that’s burger sauce.

You should never have a ___ in your collection

Just as you shouldn’t let someone tell you what you should have in your collection, likewise you shouldn’t let them tell you what not to have in your collection either. Sure, they may have some strong, sage advice for you: some brands may offer poor value for money; others may lose money faster than a diamond ring; and others may simply be incredibly expensive to maintain, but unless a watch comes with a reliability concern—which these days is very rare—it’s really down to you what’s right on your wrist. If that watch just has the moves that make you groove, it’s your choice to overlook the downsides because buying anything else is going to be a waste of money anyway. So don’t let anyone else tell you otherwise.

Don’t worry about resale value

In a watch collecting utopia, we would all be able to buy what we want without worry of resale because we’d be able to keep every watch we ever got in our great, infinite watch boxes. Unfortunately, it’s more likely on planet Earth that buying a new watch will require the sale of an existing one. And the watch that says bye bye may well have been one that, when first purchased, was a sure-fire permanent addition. People get bored, new things come along and on the world turns. And so when it comes to making a purchase, it pays to wonder just how big a chunk of your backside it’s going to bite when it comes to moving it on. The purists will say that resale value is irrelevant in a watch purchase, and good for them for being liquid enough for that not to matter, but for everyone else, being a bit sensible is never going to be a bad thing.

Never buy the same watch twice

Ever owned a watch and moved it on and then realised you should’ve kept it? Yes, you and every other watch collector on the planet. It’s inevitable for an abundance of reasons. One, in the immortal words of musical legends Joni Mitchell and glam metal band Cinderella, you don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone. Two, because tastes change and change back again. And three, because it was cheap and easy to get hold of when you had it last time and now it’s really expensive and rare and you can’t have one anymore. With the impossibility of a repurchase in the last scenario, many would advise against double-dipping an old love, but really it’s an opportunity to better appreciate something you should’ve perhaps kept.

Get it because it’s great value

There are some watches out there that offer incredible quality and amazing complication all for a price that is scarcely believable. And that, of course, is the winning combination that automatically requires immediate purchase. Except, if you think all of that together looks worse than satan’s own varicose veins, then it doesn’t matter how hard it’s rocking its value for money, there’s just no point buying it. And anyone trying to convince you to like it using reason and logic is quite simply out of their minds. Imagine trying to do the same with food someone doesn’t like the flavour of? Like you can simply make them enjoy the taste by explaining who made it and how? It’s utterly ridiculous, and so is the notion of spending real money on a watch that ticks all the boxes on paper except the one that matters most.

Don’t put all your eggs in one basket

There are many collectors out there that believe the Almighty made watch boxes for a reason: because watches should never be owned in isolation. Well, thankfully they’re not Guinea pigs and do not need a social group to stay healthy, and so spending your entire watch budget on one watch instead of several cheaper ones is a perfectly reasonable thing to do. Just because others have spending habits they can’t kerb and hide it behind smaller purchases doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a one in, one out policy on your watches. After all, it means that singular watch is going to be of vastly greater calibre since it’s more expensive. Or maybe it won’t be, but it will still be the watch you wanted and not what someone else told you to want.

Put ketchup on your bronze watch

Okay, so if you’ve got a bronze watch and you want it to look like it’s been hidden in Davy Jones’ locker for the last century, please don’t put ketchup on it. It’s just weird and dogs will try to lick it.

What crazy advice have you heard from other collectors?