I was with Raymond of El Kapitan Coffee learning more about the nuances of coffee and the machinery around it. He has some pretty strong views about people who talk about coffee from a position of authority. And his views were spot on.
He felt that someone who is an authority has a responsibility to educate and bring people forward. Opinions have a place, he says, but they should be presented in a way that doesn’t too easily alienate or put people off.
He was right. Of course many people will not feel that way, and that I guess is fine. But for a good portion of the world, responsibility comes along with how you communicate. Raymond felt that those that have the honor of being able to speak to many people also have a responsibility to do so properly.
So that was coffee, what does it have to do with watches?
I have often been faced with loud voices that say all Swiss watches are overpriced, only Japanese are worth it. We have also had loud voices saying Swiss is the only way to go. Or a number of different variations on that theme.
Yet in today’s world we are happy to see that there more people than ever who are interested in watches. And the age range is rather wide. I have seen care and joy as someone picked a watch from a stall in a mall and thoughtfully made their choice. I have seen people walk into a boutique and watched their eyes light up as they picked up the watch they have been waiting for. One of those cost less than 50 US dollars, the other cost more than 10,000 US dollars. It was heartening to see both.
We now have the ability, more than ever before, to find pieces that speak to us more specifically than in the past. Small makers are making small batches of watches, large makers are lowering their minimums. We as consumers are far more able to pick and choose as long as we are open. If you only want the same overhyped watch that everyone else does, then that’s fine. But there’s a whole world out there of things to choose from.
I recently saw a chance encounter between a relatively new and young watch enthusiast, an academic traveling with a Ming watch on his wrist. He was talking to a very seasoned collector and enthusiast who had on his wrist exactly the type of watch people complain about not being able to get, but for this person it took all of a day to get. So two completely different enthusiast profiles.
They met in a tiny watch shop in London that sold playful and inventive pieces that are generally around 200 or so US dollars, and had printed discs instead of hands. Everyone, including the very knowledgeable people in the shop, had a wonderful time talking together.
What does this say? It says that the watch world is getting bigger and more diverse. If you limit yourself to what most people talk about, widen your field of vision. If you are buying the hot watch so you can tell people you have the hot watch, then maybe you aren’t buying a watch for the joy it brings you yourself. Switch that around.
The most intelligent collectors and enthusiasts have always bought what they loved. Do the research, yes, and make good financial decisions, yes. But if you buy for what others will see, you are only discounting yourself. And if all you talk about is price, or retail, or where did you get one, then those are very narrow conversations. Talk about quality, talk about finish, talk about history, talk about journeys.
Do what the smart people do. Make your time mean something to you and those you love.