Fashion or passion? What drives the collecting process?

Guest contributor – Watchguydotcom – has kindly written a post about his collecting process. Many thanks to him for providing this owner’s insight.

Personal tastes change – for sure. But how much of this change is due to current fashion trends and how much is true change- i.e. individual rather than group or peer pressure?

I have been collecting for years. In fact, longer than I care to remember. I have always had a thing for Rolex Princes and still do. I know that these pieces although currently undesirable and out of fashion are still tugging on my heart strings. I will go to the ends of the earth to find a decent unmolested Prince – this is becoming harder and harder to find but I love the chase and I trust my judgement when I see one.

I have learned that looking at pictures is no substitute for seeing the watch in the flesh.

I am the original bubbleback and Prince collector

Princes and Bubblebacks tug on my heart strings

But there are other pieces that I have bought that I passed up when I first saw them.

I was initially offered a Ref 5070 brand new from the Paris boutique. I really did not like it. Too big and looked like nothing I had ever seen before. It did not look like all the other Pateks that I had collected.

As time went by, I started seeing more of them. I saw a friend’s one – admittedly the platinum model but I liked what I saw. I started looking for one. Prices now were way higher than when first offered in the late 1990’s. I would have to stump up some serious cash for one. I liked the white gold model. And when one became available I bought it for considerably more money than I would have paid had I bought it new from the boutique. My tastes had changed and I had to pay the price if I wanted one. I did and am not sorry.

Tastes change and evolve.

There are other models I have never really liked from Patek, such as the Aquanaut. I have never hankered after one. Even now when they are “hot” I am quite happy to let collectors pay vast and significant sums of money for one.

The Nautilus is another model that I never really took a liking to. I had seen a few and never thought the reference belonged in my collection.

I was even shown a Ref. 3700 about 7 years ago. And passed on it, as I felt it was not for me.

The hype around stainless steel sports modes is now at fever pitch. People are trading kidneys just to have one. Nuts I say….

But something is happening and I am thinking that maybe the Nautilus is a lovely watch to wear. Being stainless steel, automatic with a steel bracelet makes it quite utilitarian.

Chic. Steel. Automatic. Utilitarian. A lovely watch to wear?

What I cannot work out and thus the reason for this article is – “Do I like it because everyone else likes it or have my personal tastes changed so much that I am now willing to pay those stupid and nose-bleeding prices that are being asked?”

It is the original nose-thumbing watch. High end, but in stainless steel. Based on the porthole of a ship. Designed by no other than Gerard Genta.

Powered by a JLC ebauche 920 but highly modified to the cal 28-255.

How do I know I am not just following the herd?

I know I still love my Princes.

I know I still love my 9-90 collection and would not be willing to let any go unless I could find a much better example.

I know I love my 12-600 collection. Prices of these incredible models are so under-priced it is ridiculous. There is not a massive demand or following for these watches but I still desire them and continue to look out for more examples.

I first saw the Ref. 3417 30 years ago and knew I had to get one.

Some watches I just knew I had to own immediately I saw them.

When the Ref. 5235 was shown, I was first in line as I fell in love with it.

Ref. 5235 was another love-at-first-sight watch for me.

BUT the Ref. 3700- I just don’t know. I know I want one now but I cannot separate my feeling of wanting one from the crowd who are now clamouring for every example.

If they were not desirable, would I still want one – who knows?

Am I buying one because I think it may go up in value- heaven forbid!!

And is it relevant to my collecting habits? I would feel saddened if my collection was driven by crowd behaviour rather than my true passion.

 A stainless watch watch is now more desirable (and expensive) than a platinum perpetual Chrono- that is just sad.

Fifteen years ago the Ref. 3970 was the hottest thing in collecting. Debates were had and posters were banned because of the uncivil discourse about which model was the best. Who would have thought that fifteen years later they are really hard to sell –for the record I never bought one. But now I could buy one in platinum for the same money as I am looking at for the Ref. 3700.

I have never been a world timer collector. I passed up the Ref. 5575 when it first came out. I was offered a Ref. 2597 and passed because I was not in love with this piece.

I did eventually buy a Ref. 5575 on the grey market but I am not sure if I bought it because I liked it or because it was desirable and available. I do like it……though hardly ever wear it.

Some watches take a while before they grab you…..

Maybe buying one piece that everyone wants does not cheapen my true passion but I would be disappointed if this trend continues.

So the soul searching and brow-beating continues.

Yes, I know first world issues. I get it. But this dilemma can apply to anything. Whether it be a pair of shoes, a restaurant, a car or which brand of peas we buy.

How much of our decision is directed by trends and marketing?

How often do we really stop and think – am I buying this product because I really want/need/desire it? Or is it my true passion for this shirt/watch/pen that is driving my purchase?

Passion or Fashion? It is difficult to separate.

Most pictures are mine but also credit to Christies for Ref. 3700.