10 'Must-Haves' for any watch collector.
Collecing watches is an excellent hobby, with a huge horological world out there to explore and an endless amount of printed and online material to sift through. If you are beginning to build a collection, here are some things every watch collector should have, to maintain your watches, protect them and fully understand what you are buying.
1. Proper Tools
Investing in good quality tools will save you a lot of time, money and potentially damge to your watches. Cheap tools tend to bend, snap, slip and break as soon as any real pressure is applied. Speaking from experience I went through 3 packs of cheap Chinese made jewellers screwdrivers before spending a little bit more and getting a good quaity solid set. I've also snapped 3 or 4 link removal tools on stubborn pins, and blunted blades on cheap case back openers. If these slip off a screw or off the lip they will inevitably scratch your timepiece.
2. Watch Winder
Another worthwhile purchase is a watch winder. This is simply an electronic device which can hold multiple watches and once strapped on simply turns around to keep the rotor moving in an automatic watch and the power reserve topped up. This way even if you do not wear a watch for a few months there'll be no need to give it an initial wind. This is also good maintenance for the moevemnt as moving parts ensure lubricants are evenly distributed.
3. 'Cape Cod' polishing cloths
This has a very good reputation amongst watch collectors for shining up polished surfaces on watches. These cloths are inpregnated with an oil that contains a very fine cutting compound and while this will not polish out deep scratches or engraving it removes all the tiny micro scratches that dull the look of polished steel, gold ori silver. Care must be taken not to accidentally polish a brushed surface, though when done carefully with enough pressure, it will bring up any surfaces to a near mirror finish with just 10-15 minutes of rubbing with your hands.
4. Timing app/machine
The main reason for this is to test any changes in time keeping that may indicate it's time the watch had a service. There are apps for tablets and smartphones that give a consistant and fairly accurate timekeeping reading (and are free). If you prefer more accuracy and information, you can buy a machine specifically for timing watches (Timegrapher).
5. 'Clip on' macro lens
These can be bought very cheap online and provide excellent close ups and much higher magnification than an eye loupe. They simply clip over the top of your smartphone and allow you to take very close up photos, which you can then zoom in on afterwards. For hallmarks, crystal etchings, movement numbers and examining precious stones this is excellent.
6. Magazines and apps
There are many sites and magazines dedicted to informing watch collectors regardless of your budget or specific interests. Some examples are Hodinkee, Worn and Wound, Escapement, WatchTime and there are many many more. These give advice, updates and expert opinions on a number of watches, brands and the industry as a whole.
7. A safe (or hidden place)
As you probably already know, one of the frst things a person will look in the event of a burglary is jewellery and watches. For this reason, either keep your watch case in discreet place or purchase a safe to keep your watches in. Also ensure any higher value pieces are covered under your home insurance policy!
8. A trusted watchmaker/repairer
If you plan on sending your watches back to the manufacturer, then although you will get there guarantee and work carried out by a specifically trained watchmaker you will also get a rather hefty invoice. You may also choose to go through a high street jeweller who will then add their cut on top too. If you can however find a thrid party, trusted and experienced watchmaker (like we have at About Time Watches) . Whatever you do though do not hand your watch to 'Bob down the road who used to fix pocket watches during the war' and has a couple of old tools in his shed. It's often best to meet the company/repairer and get an upfront quote on cost, timescale, process and guarantee on any work.
9. A 'Beater' watch
The term 'Beater', refers to a watch that you wear when you either do the gardening, take the bins out, walk the dog etc. You probably wont want to do the washing up wearing a vintage dress watch. A lot of people opt for a dive watch, as these present good water and shock resistance with luminous markers and easily readable dials. Seiko make some exllent affordable diver watches.
10.An understanding partner
One of the biggest constraints with watch collecting is that it is often not a cheap hobby and generally they are luxury items which are wanted more often than needed. Therefore gaining the approval from your partner that you do indeed need 17 watches can be tricky so always have a good excuse planned before letting your partner see your new watch!