These past 2 years have been difficult for everyone. With all of the uncertainty brought about by the pandemic, the watch industry was very much affected by it in so many ways. Watch brands had to radically increase their online presence especially during the early days of the pandemic when widespread lockdowns and restrictions on movement were common around the world. Most collectors also had to change their spending habits depending on the stability of their respective sources of income, and even had to factor in the difficulty of getting some watches shipped from another country due to COVID restrictions.
Given all of these previously mentioned challenges, I would say that getting physically cut off from people was probably the most difficult thing during the pandemic. For watch enthusiasts and members of the industry, attending virtual watch fairs and Zoom events were the highlights of our existence during the past few years. On the other side, it’s also true that information dissemination probably got better during the pandemic since everyone had to work and market online…. even traditionally brick and mortar companies such as certain watch brands.
Despite these improvements in making online watch events a lot better than before, nothing beats the real, physical thing. The excitement of attending the online version of Watches and Wonders Geneva back in 2021 simply paled in comparison to being physically present at one of the many watch model or watch boutique launches I attended here in the Philippines before the pandemic. It’s just not the same.
Probably one of the most important things in watch collecting is sharing your passion with a group of like-minded people. This simple yet important interaction with fellow enthusiasts was kept alive during the pandemic by social media, but then again, nothing beats the real thing. It may be a bit nostalgic, but I can still remember those ‘COVID-free’ days when my friends and I would meet up after dinner at one of our houses and stay up until well past midnight talking about watches and different hobbies.
Just this Monday I was privileged enough to meet up with some old (and new) friends and experience again this priceless joy of physically being in the presence of other watch enthusiasts. Though my watch collecting has drastically slowed down over the years, seeing new and beautiful watches and talking about them with similarly passionate individuals in the flesh is more than enough for me to rekindle that childlike joy in this fascinating hobby.
Watch collecting does indeed have a social aspect. Just like people say that there’s nothing like sharing a good meal with good friends, the same holds true with watch collecting. Appreciating and talking about watches together with friends is arguably the most enjoyable and important part of this hobby.