The Rules of Watch Collecting (Part II)

Part I of this series looked at the key factors that drive me to buying a watch. However, having written that first piece, I realised that a whole range of additional factors also affect me. Personal tastes play a huge role…..

For example, I was once asked how important I ranked the following when making a decision to buy: dial, case style, numerals, movement finishing, case material, complications.

This is a hard list to rank as it will vary from watch to watch. Having said that, if i look at my own collection, I can discern some very clear trends that guide my purchases. So…….


I am going to be looking at the dial more than anything else. The dial needs to be something that attracts me a lot. I like many different dial colours, but would have to say that I have a preference for blue and then black. Certain types of cream dial often appeal as do many steel-coloured dials. I am not a big fan of the unusual colours. The pink/salmon dial, for example, is not one I would enjoy enough to own. I also believe that the contrast between the case colour and dial is very important. For white metal, I like blue or black dials. With yellow or rose gold, I err towards cream as a preferred contrast.

Blue dials contrasting with white metal works best for me…. but a yellow gold with cream dial can be delicious too!

Case style

Case style is also crucial. Some cases suit me and others do not. I have virtually no rectangular watches in my collection. I have predominantly round watches in my collection. Actually, I like rectangular watches but they don’t like me and never look well on my wrist. I have a relatively small wrist, so watches that are slim (i.e. 12 mm or less) tend to work well with me. Similarly, curved lugs also suit a smaller wrist as they meld into the wrist well. There are always exceptions, but generally this is what works for me.

Circular watches work best for my taste. There is no right or wrong…..only what works for you!

Case material

Metal colour is another that influences me a lot. My preference is for white metal, and I love the heft of platinum. But I also love white gold and steel. Having said that, my reasoning for liking white metal is that its an under-the-radar metal. It doesn’t look expensive so I can get away with wearing it without worrying. Rose and yellow gold can look fabulous and for me it is about where I can wear them that determines the decision. For more formal or dressy occasions, I definitely want the option of rose of yellow gold cases. It brings just that bit of panache to the game.

With the right dial and complication, nothing much beats yellow gold


Complications come lower down on my list largely because I like most of them. My collection is based on diversity of complications. Having said that, there are some complications that don’t do it for me. Minute repeaters have never really appealed to me. Nor have annual calendars or annual calendar chronographs.

Diversity of complications can add a lot to a collection

The last two complications deserve some explanation. The annual calendar does, essentially, exactly the same as the perpetual calendar. But the annual calendar just doesn’t do it as well. The same is true with the annual calendar chronograph. It does almost exactly the same as the perpetual calendar chronograph, but just not as well. It is a small distinction but for me it is a crucial factor. For me it is the difference between a 911 and a Boxter. Many see the Boxter as offering fantastic value for money as it does almost exactly the same as the 911…… but not for me.


Numerals are very tricky for me. So much depends on how the rest of the watch is put together. Having said that, I do love Breguet-style numerals. I also love a total lack of numerals on a dial. Roman numerals are my biggest problem as when they fill a dial, the dial can look really cluttered. The VIII can look a disaster to my eyes. And a full Roman really can look a mess for me. Having said that, a dial that has just a Roman XII or a Roman XII and a VI looks absolutely stunning.

Breguet can be super-cool. But so too can be pure simplicity


In a really high-end piece like a Rattrapante, the finishing of the movement is very important. It is also important in any watch, to be honest, but I am not sure I would place its importance above any of the above as a general rule. My view would be that I am in the camp that is happy to pay a premium to have superb finishing in my watch but that it is the cherry on the icing on the cake….. but it is not the cake. In some instances though, it can be just astonishingly beautiful. I also love the fact that the finishing on Patek Philippe watches is always of a very high standard, even on the steel sports watches like the Nautilus and Aquanaut. Such high standards on a sports watch add a lot of extra spice.

Some final thoughts….

I will add some more generalised comments. I can find a watch that ticks all of the above boxes but it will still not be one I want to buy. More often than not, this is down to how the watch “comes across”. Some watches have more bling to them than I am comfortable with.

As a rule, I tend towards watches that are more conservative. Bling is not a winner for me. That always rules out watches with diamonds on the dial. It also rules out what I call the “second hand car salesman” effect. I can definitely think of some high end Rolex Daytona that tick all of the above boxes but actually when I look at it on the wrist, it has the second hand car salesman feel to it. It is the 50 year old guy still wanting to be in his 30s feel. Not for me. Just a personal bias, but its not for me.

These are what I consider my watch proclivities. These are issues that are purely subjective and reflect my personal tastes. Yet it is these issues that ultimately combine with my original collecting rules that determine what watches will enter my collection. To view the original “Watch Collecting Rules”, click below……..

The “revised” rules of watch collecting

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