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6 mistakes beginners make when they start their first watch collection

Don't start off your watch collection the wrong way

Person picking out a watch
Mister Mister / Pexels

There are milestones in every man’s life that become the moments we look back on fondly as our coming of age or maturing moments. One of those milestones is buying your first watch. We all had one of those cheap, make-it-look-like-it’s-expensive watches we wore with our prom suits in high school, but this is that moment when we are buying the first of what we hope to be an epic watch collection.

A lot is said about having the right watch for the right moment. Some men believe that their smartwatch is all they will ever need. Not only do you need a dumb watch just as much, if not more. But you need a whole collection of watches to ensure you always have what you need. Just like building a suit wardrobe. there are starting points and landmines to look out for. When it comes to building your perfect watch collection, there are many mistakes you should avoid.

Here are the six mistakes many guys make when starting a watch collection.

Don’t buy a status

Rolex GMT Master 2 Blueblack(Batman) 126710BLNR. on jeans jacket background
panlertb / Shutterstock

Look, we get it: There is always that drive for the luxury watch. Rolex. Patek. Tudor. Tissot. Omega. These names bring with them a status. They are an immediate entry into the club of men who rise above the rest. You may think you are a better man simply for having one of these brands, but the truth is, just because they are made in Switzerland, doesn’t mean they are right for everyone. You may feel like you are sending the right message with a luxury status watch, but no membership is worth it if you are just buying it.

What this leads to

What does buying for status lead to? The exact opposite of what you are looking for. Here is the truth about most men who own a Rolex: It is rarely the only watch they own. When you are buying for status, you likely are buying something overly expensive, and you may end up with something you don’t even like that sends a message you don’t even want to send. Instead, look for a watch you love, something you can wear every day.

Don’t outkick your coverage

blue and silver Patek Philippe watch
Diniy Salleh / Unsplash

Piggybacking on the first mistake, many men who are looking for their first watch don’t go all out for a luxury watch. There are multiple reasons for that which we will get into a little later. But the main one is that it is simply too expensive. We had a football coach in high school who used to have to tell our kicker that if he kicked it too hard, the special teams couldn’t keep up. People also tell men who married a woman out of their league that they have done the same. When you are first starting out in the watch world, buying a luxury watch that is too expensive may prove to be too much watch for you.

What this leads to

Expensive watches take maintenance. Upkeep for a luxury watch can sometimes be more money you are throwing at your timepiece. The truth is, if you are going above your means, you may end up with a watch you can’t keep up with and, therefore, are unable to wear it. That can leave a sour taste in your mouth and cause you to give up altogether. Know your budget and stay within it at the beginning. Don’t be afraid to build up to your goal watch.

Don’t follow the leader

Man wearing watch
Luca Nardone / Pexels

There are experts all over the place that are going to tell you “This is the best watch for you.” They will also tell you to avoid certain watches or watch brands because of X, Y, Z. Hell, we do that. Here at The Manual, we go to great lengths to tell you what we and our extensive research shows are the best and worst of everything you need in your life. But at the end of the day, you have to make up your mind about what you like.

What this leads to

Following what others tell you without finding out for yourself almost guarantees you put together someone else’s perfect collection. Following the trends of influencers and only grabbing the hottest watches on the market screams of being uninformed of who you really are. Figure out the message you want to send with your watch and tell it. Don’t ever tell someone else’s message because you put together their collection instead of yours.

Don’t skimp on the research

watches sitting on table
Kool C/ Unsplash / Unsplash

Wanna know how to figure it out for yourself? Research. Watches are a deep, expansive, and downright confusing industry. It is overwhelming to dive in head first and hope to stumble on the watch or the knowledge you seek. We do our best to break it down for you, but we could spend months churning out article after article and barely scratch the surface. Therefore, you need to be able to do the research yourself for more than one reason. First, you can’t call us in the middle of the night to ask for advice. And second, see above. This needs to be tailored to you.

What this leads to

A lack of research will always lead to miscalculations and frustrating setbacks. If you want your watch collection to speak for you, you need to know the watches you like inside and out. Is there a feature on the watch that drives you to it? Is there a great story behind the origins of the watch? Or did it catch your eye because of a movie? When someone notices your watch, nothing is better than you being able to tell them all about it.

Don’t practice brand loyalty

Seiko watch
Lewis Hayden / Unsplash

Here is the rub: no watch company has everything you could ever want. Some companies have a name like Rolex. Some have notoriety based on James Bond wearing them like Omega. Some watches, like CIGA, for example, have stellar unique pieces. And some are the best tool watches in the industry. Brand loyalty sounds a lot better than it is. Branch out. Enjoy the function of Hamilton, the history of Seiko, and the philosophy of Slow Watches.

What this leads to

If all you ever do is wear Rolex watches (other than dumping tens of thousands of dollars into a collection), you will undoubtedly lack a well-rounded roster of timepieces. Make a list of watch types that you are looking for: pilot watch, dive watch, field watch, everyday watch, dress watch, tactical watch. Then try and fill each one with a different brand. Not only will this diversify your collection, but it will also give you a bit of insight into the industry.

Don’t forget to have fun

watches on table
Shahrukh Rehman/Unsplash / Unsplash

At the end of the day, this is supposed to be fun. Dive deep into the legendary arrival of the Rolex Submariner. Learn something new by discovering Tudor was started by the same man as Rolex as a way to provide watches for the less affluent. Discover the deep ties to the military with field watches from Hamilton. Wear icons on your wrist with recreations of military classics with Praesidus. And slow the world down with the philosophy of Slow Watches. This journey shouldn’t be one of overwhelming bank draws and confusing terminology. Every time you buy a watch should be like watching a favorite movie for the first time. You should enjoy discovering every single one.

What this leads to

What this leads to should be obvious: a collection of watches that makes you happy and excited to put together an outfit and top it off with a timepiece you can’t wait for someone to ask you about. From luxury watches you have to save up for to invest into the impulse buy resulting from a cool backstory, every watch you buy should be a reflection of who you are and what you want to accomplish in the world.

Mark McKee
Mark is a full-time freelance writer and men's coach. He spent time as a style consultant and bespoke suit salesman before…
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