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The Ultimate Guide to Kick-start Your Vintage Watch Collection

Watch culture has exploded in popularity in recent times. Despite the onslaught of technology, there is an increasing appreciation for classic horology. Nonetheless, beginner watch collectors may find the various brands, types of movements and even bezel details rather intimidating and end up with an unsuitable timepiece. In this article, we seek advice from Tom Chng, founder of Singapore Watch Club (SWC), on the steps to consider when purchasing your first luxury watch.

    1. Choose the vintage route
      Vintage timepieces are usually more affordable and most importantly come with a great story. “The charm and allure of vintage, more often than not lies in its ‘imperfections’”, Chng explains. It depicts the makings of the watch and unique qualities that many vintage fans look out for and adore.
      He adds, “Watch collecting goes beyond just aesthetics and design; it entails the history behind it, a unique feature, exceptional craftsmanship, or exclusivity”.
    2. Select from an iconic collection
      It’s a rookie mistake to choose a high-priced timepiece when purchasing your first watch. Chng emphasises that “a watch’s quality is not determined by its price”. Instead, he recommends going for an iconic transitional piece, while keeping in mind the balance, movement, finishing, dial design, and complications that you’re looking for.Iconic collections tend to undergo a brand refresh every now and then. The differences could include a tweak in case size or movement. These transitional iconic pieces then become well sought after and worthy collectors’ items. These highly recognisable watches offer generally good value for money, giving you the option to upgrade at much less depreciation.Some of the iconic collections to consider are the Omega Speedmaster, Audemars Piguet Royal Oak, Cartier Santos, Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso or Patek Philippe Nautilus.

    3. Assess the watch’s condition
      Make sure to always purchase from a reputable source, with Maxi-Cash being a great place to start. Prior your visit to purchase, Chng highly recommends that you do your due diligence and research from both online and offline sources. Check how the originals look like to ensure that the watch you are purchasing is not overpolished, has a different dial type from its original, and the period is correct. Most times the original dial has been replaced with serviced parts to make the watch look new. Also, don’t be afraid to ask questions and not purchase it upon the first visit.
    4. Consider your personal style versus the collection’s theme
      Before purchasing your watch, Chng advocates that “it is important to learn about one’s likes and dislikes”. Personalisation may be popular in today’s trends, but we would discourage engraving the back of the watch, or altering it in any significant way. That’s because doing so could adversely affect the resale value and whether the manufacturer would service it.Instead, we would recommend having a theme for your watch collection. Be it a diving or weekend watch, pick a style that speaks to you and your lifestyle. After all, your watch says a lot about who you are.For day to night socialising, look for versatile dress watches that are understated yet iconic such as the IWC Portofino. For business meetings, consider watches with a long heritage and are of great value including the Omega Seamaster or Rolex Datejust, to reflect a polished, professional outlook.