What type of collector are you? The “Modern Only” collector

Along the way, one meets a lot of different types of watch collectors. This will be the first in a series of articles that looks at “what type of collector are you?”

The first type of collector I would like to take a look at is the “modern only” Patek Philippe collector. This is a collector who only ever buys from the current production list.

There are a number of reasons that this type of collector adopts this process. Firstly, there is a lot of safety in buying from the modern list. The watches will have the most up-to-date technology and will come with the manufacturer’s guarantee. The watch will not need servicing for several years. There is a security in knowing that the probability of there being something fake or incorrect with the watch is actually zero. All this contributes towards providing a feeling of security when spending a lot of money on a new watch. It also means there is an implicit and active insurance policy against anything going “wrong” immediately after the purchase. Such security is often absent when it comes to buying vintage or pre-owned pieces from relatively unknown sellers.

Of course, with experience comes greater security, but notwithstanding this, the financial outlay on a new Patek Philippe watch is considerable and for many buyers (particularly those new to Patek Philippe), there is a feeling of comfort that comes with buying directly from the manufacturer.

Buying a brand new watch certainly generates lots of different feelings

A second factor behind the “modern only” buyer is that they want to create their own history with a watch. They want to be the first owner and create that history. Inheriting a watch from an ancestor is one thing as one inherits a known quantity but when one buys a vintage watch, one really has no idea what the history of the watch has been. Has it led a good life or has it not? Hence, for many, there is a pleasure in buying brand new and creating that history from the very beginning.

One knows, with 100% certainty, that a new watch is authentic and without “issues”

A third factor behind the “modern only” collector is that, as time passes, what originally started as a brand new watch eventually becomes a vintage watch. Seeing the evolution of new-to-vintage over the course of a collecting lifetime brings a very special appeal. It can be a very rewarding process to witness how a collection evolves over a 20-30 year period.

Yet, over time, brand new watches go “off list” and eventually become vintage. One creates one’s own history

Another factor behind the “modern only” collector concerns the issue of building a relationship with both the manufacturer and the AD. For many collectors this is just not important but to others it is an integral aspect of the collecting process. Over time, the collector and his tastes become known to the AD and the manufacturer. It is also true that the nature of the collector becomes known to the manufacturer. This helps in a number of ways that is mutually positive. From the collector’s perspective, he gains a much deeper insight into the manufacturer and the nature of the watches that he owns. From the manufacturer’s perspective, they soon learn which collectors see the watches as “flipping” opportunities and which actually build a collection.

There are, of course, a few factors that are not so positive. For example, some collectors just need to have the latest “buzz” watch on their wrist so that others can recognise their success. As ArchieLuxury eloquently puts it….”Look at me! Look at me!” It is more about “showing” than “owning.” One will often hear statements like “this is THE BEST reference that has ever been made” coming from the lips of this type of “modern only” collector. Partly, this stems from the fact that they happen to own that reference and partly because they tend to close their minds to what they don’t own.

It is so often the case that what people do not understand makes them negative about an issue. I know “modern only” collectors who call vintage watches “rusty” because they don’t really understand the vintage concept. Similarly, I know one “modern only” collector who sees vintage prices as a major obstacle and so he defines vintage as “grandfather” watches – this is just pure insecurity and needs to be pointed out whenever seen! Indeed, whenever I see a collector being outright rude about a genre of watches, it always makes me look at the collector rather than the genre of watch.

I think all collectors adopt a process that suits them. In financial markets, there is an old adage from a trader called Ed Seykota that goes – “win or lose, everybody gets what they want out of the market.” The essence of this wisdom is that we end up with what we truly want.

That may seem counterintuitive but I believe it is very true in financial market trading and also to a considerable extent in watch collecting. Collectors go down a particular path of collecting for reasons that are very specific to them. There is no right. There is no wrong. It is just a personal choice. The “Modern Only” collector certainly has plenty of positive factors underpinning this particular way of collecting.