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Watch Collecting

Watch collecting is a wonderful hobby to start and a journey that can last many years. Below is a terrific introductory article where you can learn the basics and how to get started. You can help grow our learning community by contributing your knowledge to the article. Just click on the edit tab in the wiki article below.

Use the white subtabs above to navigate the other Watch collecting resources. We have a Watch collecting forum where you can get your questions & doubts answered, a page with Watch collecting how-to videos, a page with the best handpicked links to other sites, and a page with the best Watch collecting books and products.

Good Luck and Have Fun!
Duncan Davis



Keeping time is one of those ancient traditions that has taken on new meaning in the modern age of fast food, fast meetings, and telecommuting. People seem to check their watches on a regular basis, so that they are certain not to miss an important date, meeting, or some other event.

Time is precious and mankind has been tracking and keeping time for thousands of years. From to ancient Mayans who used a complex formula to maintain a calendar that has more significance now, as we approach the year 2012, than in the past five hundred years, to the Anglicans in England who built Stonehenge with a precision alignment of the sun and moon and stars.

While these two examples aren’t watches or clocks, they highlight mankind’s fascination with the technology that goes into watches and clocks. Big Ben is one of the world’s most well-known clocks and Rolex is one of the most universally recognized wrist watch manufacturers in the world, though certainly not the most expensive,

Watch collecting for some people is a hobby that presents a number of opportunities, as well as challenges. Knowing watch history, manufacturing, and periods is important to discovering the great find at a tag or garage sale, and ending up with what looked like an ancient watch only to learn that it was just an imitation, a remake from a modern manufacturer.

Watches come in all shapes and sizes, just as clocks do. What can be exciting for any watch collector is discovering the jewel in a sea of the ordinary. Whether it’s a pocket watch from the time of Lincoln to a wrist watch that made it into space, there are gems located around the world just waiting to be discovered.

Watch collecting can be compared to many other collecting hobbies, such as stamp collecting and coin collecting, to name just a couple. If you are interested in watch collecting, then there’s no better time to start than right now. As far as hobbies are concerned, watch collecting is a timeless and fulfilling one that can last a lifetime.

An Overview of Watch Collecting

There are a number of groups that gather to discuss watch collecting, to trade secrets, and to simply enjoy the company of other people who share a common interest. While a majority of individuals don’t understand the appeal of watch collecting, those who have been bitten by the bug know what it can offer.

Watches are the time keepers for society. Mankind could certainly survive without watches, as it had for thousands of years, but the idea of the watch has made life much simpler, and more complicated at the same time. Without watches, men and women are subjected to averages, meaning meetings would take place in the morning or the afternoon, hopefully close to the right time.

Watches have changed through the years, moving from strictly analog (using the minute, second, and hour hands) to digital and then combining the two. Some watches incorporated a calculator for use by technical engineer types. Other watches offered the ability to know what time it was in different parts of the world while still others became capable of being submerged underwater.

Now there are dive watches that scuba divers use to tell time, measure depth, and air levels in a tank. There are aviation watches and naval watches. There are watches that track the constellations in the sky and even watches that will offer the latest headline news across a screen whenever something comes up. Watches can also be used to track the stock market, from anywhere in the world.

Watches have come a long way from the days of pocket watches attached to a chain and kept in the vest pocket of a wealthy man. Is time really all that important? Or is the fascination with time keeping and watches something that has evolved over time, changed with changing times, and ultimately led to the current fascination with it? That answer can only be arrived at by understanding the history of watches.

Types of Watches

A movement in watchmaking is the mechanism that measures the passage of time and displays the current time (and possibly other information including date, month and day).


Mechanical movements

Compared to electronic movements, mechanical watches are less accurate, often with errors of seconds per day, and they are sensitive to position and temperature. Mechanical movements also use a balance wheel together with the balance spring (also known as a hairspring) to control motion of the gear system of the watch in a manner analogous to the pendulum of a pendulum clock.

Electronic movements

Electronic movements have few or no moving parts, as they use the piezoelectric effect in a tiny quartz crystal to provide a stable time base for a mostly electronic movement. Electronic watches are often called quartz watches. Most quartz movements are primarily electronic but are geared to drive mechanical hands on the face of the watch in order to provide a traditional analog display of the time.

Getting Started: Finding the Right Support

When you’re ready to begin your watch collecting hobby, one of the first things that you should do is to seek out a group of like-minded individuals who share your passion for watches. Watch collecting is a popular hobby, especially in this modern age of technology and a sense of losing some measure of history.

There are a number of ways that you can set out to find a group with whom to share your interest, ask questions and, ultimately, offer guidance when you are at that place when you have more knowledge than other people around you. Since there is an enormous amount of information to know and understand when it comes to watches, wading through the waters by yourself is not necessarily the best idea.

Using the Internet, you can join any number of watch aficionado groups throughout the world, sharing your passion with people whom you might never otherwise have met. The Internet has offered hobbyists of all types the opportunity that our fathers and forefathers could never have dreamt about.

Get online and begin searching for groups within your are first and then for groups around the world.

What You Need to Get Started


First and foremost, you need passion. If you don’t have a passion to learn about watches, then watch collecting is not going to last long for you and in all likelihood, you will end up wasting your time in the long run. For those individuals who plan to collect watches for the sake of profitability, there will still need to be a great deal of research conducted on your part and while it may seem as though you are going to find some diamonds in the rough, so to speak, odds are you will lose interest long before you stumble across that great find.

Watches have history, as you may have read earlier and as such, they have a lot to teach us about how time is kept, managed, and even structured. The efficiency of a quality watch is something to behold, so make sure that before anything else, you have a passion for watch collecting.



Before you head out and purchase your first watch to add to your collection, you need knowledge about what you’re planning to buy. Do you understand the most basic difference between analog and digital? Between functional and dress watches? How about some of the most general terms, such as the crown, the dial, bezel, and even movement?

If you don’t then you will likely stumble into an unnecessary quagmire of questions and while a good support group will be more than happy to help you move through this passion for watch collecting, many will grow wearing of doing the heavy lifting when it comes to learning and research for you.

Educate yourself on the basics. Here is a brief rundown of the most important concepts to watches and watch collecting:

-Crown: the crown is a protrusion from the side of an analog watch that is usually situation in the three o’clock position, and is used to wind the watch and to set the time.

-Bezel: the bezel is basically the metal surface of the watch that allows the person to quickly read the time. Some watches do not have a bezel and instead the individual must decipher the time from the basic hand positions.

-Dial: this is also referred to as the face of the watch and is the main focal point of the watch. The brand of the watch, the numbers or notches for the hour and minute hands, and some other information is generally located on the dial.

-Movement: this is the term for the mechanical device that powers the watch. Analog watches consist of winding mechanisms, balance wheels, and a mainspring and escapement. These produce power and move the hands around to tell the time.

The more you know learn about watches early on in your watch collecting hobby, the easier time you will have in locating quality watches and starting your collection.



While some people will immediately assume that resources means money, this isn’t necessarily the case. While many people will prefer to sell their old watches for cold hard cash, there may be other bartering items that someone may find of interest. If you are tight on finances, it doesn’t mean that you can’t begin your hobby of watch collecting.

What you should do is make of list of items that you may be willing to part with in exchange for a quality watch, or what services you might be willing to provide to someone who may have what you want. Washing windows or taking care of the lawn are simple services that elderly individuals may enjoy having done for them who might also have that precious watch you’re interested in.


A starting point

Whenever we begin a new hobby, it’s important to have a starting point and reasonable expectations. Don’t jump into watch collecting expecting to find a Rolex at a garage sale or a historically significant pocket watch worn by one of the presidents of the United States.

Think small and reasonable. You can find a number of wonderful antique watches at antique shops. While some of these watches may be expensive, there are also great deals to be found.



If you want to truly invest your time and money and effort into watch collecting, then you can consider purchasing a few cheap watches and dissecting them to see how they work from the inside. This will give you great insight into watch mechanics and what to look for when buying watches for your collection.

Frequently Asked Questions

I don’t have any watches. What should I purchase first?

It doesn’t matter if you have any watches when you set out to begin watch collecting. This hobby doesn’t require the person to have any real working knowledge or equipment to start. The best thing that you can do when you’re ready to begin watch collecting as a hobby is to read and learn about watches, from the early days to modern digital watches that are designed for space travel.

As far as what you should purchase first, that is entirely up to you. Travel around town on the weekends and visit garage sale and tag sales, as well as flea markets, and look for inexpensive watches. With enough attention, one can find some great classic watches. Just be certain that you don’t purchase an imitation watch while thinking that it is actually an original antique.

I don’t have a lot of money to spare, can I still start watch collecting?

Absolutely. Many people begin their watch collecting hobby by bartering and exchanging items they are willing to part with, and that those with the watches would like themselves. Money isn’t the only method of payment and there are services that can be offered in exchange for a particular watch.

Even if there is a price tag on the watch you want, it doesn’t hurt to ask the owner to find out if they are willing to work out a different arrangement.


Watch collecting celebrates the history of watches and time-keeping techniques that have evolved throughout the course of history. From sundials to grandfather clocks, from pocket watches to modern digital machines that can display a full television picture on a screen that still fits on the wrist, watches are an integral part of society.

Collecting watches is a way to celebrate mankind’s uniqueness from the rest of the animal kingdom. And it can forge new friendships with people who share a common interest.