Tuesday, June 26, 2012

One-on-one with a Sydney watch collector Part 1

One of the most common questions asked of watch enthuisasts is 'why watches?', so for both those who are already into watches, and those who are puzzled by the whole thing, we thought we'd have a one-on-one interview about this, and many other things, with a local long time collector. He wishes to be anonymous and will be known simply as 'Sydney Watch Collector' (SWC).

TheSydneyTarts: Thank you for joining me today.
SydneyWatchCollector: No worries. It's my pleasure.

TST: Let's start with an obvious one. How did you get started in watch collecting? Why watches?
SWC: To be honest I wouldn't really call myself a watch collector. I don't 'collect' watches so to speak. I buy watches (and I sell them). There is no theme nor a structure to my 'collection'. So, I'd say I'm more of a person with an abnormal appreciation for watches! Having said that, I think my interest in watches began when I was selling them, as my first job out of uni. There were a lot of down time, so I read up on watches to pass time and also to know more about them so I would be a better sales person. The more I read, the more I became fascinated with them, Then I discovered watch forums on the internet, and that was the beginning of my downward spiral. It began cheap - with a Swatch Irony Chrono which I still have, followed by a Longines, then straight into the deep end (at the time) with a purchase of a watch for over 4 figures.

The Swatch Irony chrono. It originally came on a bracelet, but has been swapped onto a strap

TST: Now you mentioned that you also sell. Are there watches that are off limits, or is nothing sacred?
SWC: I tend to hold on to watches that has a story attached to them. For example, that first Swatch Irony I still have. Although I don't really wear it any more, to me that watch was the start of my watch obsession, and it's the first watch I bought for myself (all the watches I've had before this one were all mostly el cheapos that were given to me). That first watch over 4 figures, also had a great story, and another one of my earliest acquistions, a Fortis chronograph I bought in New York, also had great stories to it too. So, watches like these I will keep. It's not a strict rule, but generally speaking those are the ones I keep. Well... there are also other ones that I keep simply because I can't sell them, unless I take a huge hit on the price!

The Fortis bought in New York. It was also the first automatic chrono in the collection. SWC feels he paid too much for this

TST: So it sounds like you have sold watches that had stories attached to them? (SWC nods) Do you regret selling any of them?
SWC: I like to think I only buy watches I like, so it's always very difficult to sell. There are various reasons for selling, of course. It could be because I needed the money to fund another purchase (usually a step up in price) or maybe because my tastes have changed. At other times it has been purely strategic, or taking advantage of an opportunity. But don't get me wrong. I don't buy watches to sell. All the watches I've bought were with the intention to keep. There are people out there that treat watches as an investment. It's not really. At best it's speculation. With watches you need to have the understanding that you WILL lose money on this. In extremely rare cases you make money, but let's just say if I break even over all on this hobby I'm laughing. But I digress. Back to your question, I don't regret selling any of my watches. It's difficult to decide to sell, but once it's gone, it's gone. I've had the opportunity to own it, and it's time for someone else to enjoy that ownership.

TST: Talking about regrets, are there watches that you regret buying?
SWC: Oh where do I begin!!! Since I was new to this whole thing I've been learning and as you learn, you make mistakes. Mind you I'm still learning and making mistakes in this watch thing. The worst ones would have to be the two Invicta watches I bought. I went through a phase when I thought as long as the movement is good, doesn't matter what the brand is. Less well known brand means cheaper prices for good movements, ja? How wrong was I! The quality was shocking and it was so hard to try to offload them. I still have one of them. The only saving grace is that now I have a perfectly good Valjoux 7750 movement that I'm planning to do a project watch on. When that'll happen I have no idea.

One of the Invictas. SWC believes that it's not bad looking, just poor quality. The dial says "Invicta-matic" but when you look through the case back that it's not "matic" of any sort... 

TST: So you've made some 'shocking' purchasing decisions. What would be your 'best' buy, or the purchases you were most happy with?
SWC: Two come to mind. One is the Omega Deville Co-axial chronograph and the other, much more recent, is the Swatch Automatic Chrono. Not only did I manage to get both pieces at really good prices, both watches are significant milestones in each brand's history. The Deville Chrono is Omega's first co-axial chronograph movement. This is the one they had quite a fair bit of issues with in the beginning and if you search the forums for issues on the Omega 33xx calibres, you'll find posts to last you many, many nights of bedtime reading. The Swatch auto chrono is Swatch's very first automatic chronograph. It's a new bargain basement auto chrono from ETA loosely based on the classic Lemania 5100 and exclusive to Swatch and Tissot so far.

Omega DeVille Co-Axial Chronograph

Swatch automatic chrono

TST: Do you have a 'grail watch'?
SWC: The term 'grail watch' has been bandied about too much it's lost all meaning. For me, the 'grail' is something that is almost un-gettable. It should be something that I would be willing to give up all the watches I have, just to obtain it. It would be the watch to end all watches. The one watch that I would be happy with for the rest of my life. So... no. I don't subscribe to the view that once you 'get' your 'grail' watch you move on to the 'next' grail.

TST: So in light of this, what's on your shopping list?
SWC: My shopping list right now:
  • Omega Seamaster GMT "Great White" 
  • AP Royal Oak 15300ST 
  • Dornbluth & Sohne 99.1 
  • PAM 372 
  • IWC Portuguese 7 Days 
and pending a real life sighting, Tudor Pelagos.

TST: That is a very diverse list!
SWC: I like a bit of variety. There is something good from everyone, so I don't want to limit to just a particular brand or style.

Stay tuned for part 2: Join us as SWC shares with us some of his favourites from his collection.

No comments: