I’m going to share something that’s been on my mind recently. I am not a watch journalist, but merely a collector who has recently been thinking about consolidation and focusing. My particular style of collecting does not follow a single brand, nor, do I collect a single genre of watches. My taste is rather eclectic and my interests are quite broad.
What I have been thinking about recently is the concept of a “2-watch collection” for each brand, where the two selected watches would be representative of that maison’s ethos, history, culture, etc.
Let me try to explain this with a simple mental exercise.
Close your eyes and think of a watch brand you admire. ANY watch brand.
(Obviously, if you are currently driving, operating a chain saw or staring at an air traffic control monitor – DO NOT CLOSE YOURS EYES! Seriously)
So, here’s my challenge. Whatever brand you were thinking of. Can you picture one model that in your mind epitomises that brand? The ONE model, that if owned, could leave you relatively satisfied if you never bought another piece from that brand again?
I bet you might be finding it a bit challenging (am I right?)
Now, what if I let you pick two models from each brand?
It gets easier, doesn’t it? I reckon I can pick 2 models from just about every brand I care about, and owning those 2 watches would gratify my need to “experience” the brand and what it stands for.
Try this with me:
- Patek Philippe – Calatrava / Nautilus
- Rolex – Day-Date / Submariner
- Vacheron – Patrimony / Overseas
- IWC – Portuguese / Pilot
- Omega – Speedmaster / Seamaster
- Breguet – Classique / Type XX
- FP Journe – Chronometre Bleu / Resonance
- Oris – Atelier / Divers 65
- etc. (you catch my drift).
Perhaps unsurprisingly, in almost all of these examples, the 2 emblematic models I hold in my mind divide along the sports/dress dichotomy, with Omega being the sports-heavy exception, and FP Journe leaning towards the more dressy register. However, I can also foresee, someone picking a more sombre Omega as his or her second choice (eg. Constellation), or a more casual second choice for FPJ (eg. Elegante).
Now, I have no problem doing the above exercise for some brands, because I feel that they have a strong sense of purpose, direction and legacy. In fact, I have owned watches from just about all of them in my time.
However (and this is where controversy might strike), there is a bunch of maisons who fail that test for me. There are MANY brands with a very strong first watch (but no obvious second – TO ME at least).
In my mind this is a problem because that makes those brands much less appealing to me, as well as potentially more vulnerable to changes in trends or collecting habits. Possibly even a lack of repeat custom from previous buyers.
Here are some lonely examples: (*orphaned picks in my mental file)
- Panerai – Luminor / ???
- Girard Perregaux – Laureato / ???
- Hublot – Big Bang / ???
- Piaget – Altiplano / ??
- Bvlgari – Octo Finissimo / ???
- Jaeger LeCoultre – Reverso / ???
- Tudor – Black Bay / ???
- And more …..
(This medium is not immediately interactive, but all complaints, outrage and hate mail can be addressed directly to the Scottish Watches Offices).
These are the brands I grumble about to my (long suffering) wife or fellow watch nerds at meet-ups. There are MANY more than the ones I listed above (you can ask her).
To me these are the brands that are “one trick ponies” and “oh no, not another version of their <insert iconic model>” every Baselworld (or other not-imperilled trade show).
Now, I care about these horological houses. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t be writing this!
I guess you care as well, or you wouldn’t have read on until now.
We want a wide array of healthy, exciting and engaging watch manufacturers.
I would LOVE for all brands to stretch and expand and give us second models to complete the set. Wow us! Give us something more to love! Take risks!
Which brings me to Audemars Piguet. They certainly get an honourable mention for the Code 11:59. I’m not saying it was perfect, but it was definitely NOT a Royal Oak! Well done, AP for having the “rubies” (finally a horological pun) to do that!
AP – you’ve made my day! I might finally be able to complete my AP set.
So to summarise, 1 iconic watch per brand is not enough. And 3 may be just a touch too many.
After all, it takes 2 to tango!
ROMAN S is from the land of Oz and can be found at @TimesRomanAU