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Face Value: How to Start a Watch Collection

Whether you opt for vintage or new, starting a new watch collection is a great way to invest in a passion.

New vs. Vintage

When it comes to new watches, the options can be dizzying. Explore your choices before you commit to a purchase and go with the one that best suits your taste.

For example, I have certain tenets of how I dress. I lived in Saudi Arabia until I was 16 and men there don’t wear gold. Consequently, I don’t own any gold—I own only silver. I also never wear black. It was really important for me to find a watch that would match my aesthetic—one with silver elements and a nice, weathered brown leather strap.

Next, make sure the watch is something that thrills you every time you catch a glimpse of it on your wrist. If you don’t absolutely love a watch, don’t buy it. This is important whether the watch is for your collection or for investment purposes. The biggest mistake new collectors make is buying something they don’t absolutely love just for the sake of having it. Don’t purchase watches solely based on their value or brand if they don’t appeal to you personally.

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Shopping for vintage watches requires even more research. Decide which brands you’re most interested in owning and research price ranges through online marketplaces like eBay. One of the best things about vintage watches is that there are great watches to be had at all price ranges, from a working, stylish Timex for less than $50 to a rare chronograph for $150,000 or more.

When looking at vintage timepieces, pay attention to condition. Focus on watches that are in mint, near-mint, or working condition and in need of nothing more than a cleaning. Buying a non-working classic could pay off if the price is right—just make sure the repair costs don’t exceed the value of the watch.

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