Why would anyone go into collecting vintage watches and why did I in particular venture that way? There is of course an easy answer, I just blame my friend Blomman, but then there is also a deeper answer to that as well.
As most collectors, I started off with just an interest in watches without much knowledge, just a fascination and a hunch that this is something I want to get into. And as typical, I bought what was readily available (modern) and what I liked. With some iterations and learning, I narrowed in on Girard-Perregaux, collecting some 10-12 modern watches before I became active engaging with the watch collector community.
At that time, my understanding of history and the connection of modern watches with vintage models was still very vague. Learning some of that has been fascinating but did it trigger to collect vintage watches? Not immediately. From an outside look, vintage watches seem like a minefield and they probably are. They are believed to be not as reliable as modern watches, can be tricky to service or even to verify originality and are in various states of “used”, from totally destroyed to NOS if you’re lucky to find one of those.
So why go there? Would it not be enough to study the history and take note of it and then enjoy a reliable and excellent condition modern watch? For some that may be the case, but I had to admit to myself that I needed to go deeper. I think the poison always starts with meeting other (vintage) watch collectors and putting your hands on that precious vintage watch and realising, hmm, that is rather nice and charming…I think I need one as well.
The rest is like an avalanche, impossible to stop and growing bigger and bigger. As there are almost endless possibilities to find yet another vintage watch you desire, or should I say must have, this is a game that won’t end I’m afraid. The charm of those vintage watches and the amount of knowledge you can acquire with discovering the history of a brand and how it is connecting past and presence is very rewarding.
Do I wear all my vintage watches? Not really, at least not regularly. However, I do wear vintages watches in regular rotation and I always feel much more distinguished than with a modern watch. Even with a modern Girard-Perregaux, you already have something not so often seen on other wrists, with a pristine, super-rare vintage watch, the feeling is just exponentially higher. I also find vintage watches more of a conversation starter than modern watches.
In general, I think people give you more respect rather than envy when it comes to a vintage watch, a bit like with cars. A (yellow) Lamborghini Gallardo would be seen as a bad taste poser car, yet a classic 1960s sports car that may cost 10x as much, would be highly admired as would be its owner. I think vintage has a certain sophistication that cannot be bought by money. You need to be passionate , knowledgeable and persevering to obtain that wonderful vintage grail, all character traits I highly regard.
But in the end, it was all because of Blomman I started with vintage watches!