Collecting Classic Watches: How To Keep It Real

Here is the second installment of our interview series with The Watch Whisperer.  We aim to chronicle the exploits of a committed watch collector over the course of these interviews. For everyone who is a committed watch enthusiast, we have plenty to learn from a gentleman with over 35 years of experience buying, collecting, and selling watches from every conceivable corner of this earth.  We are honored that he agreed to speak to us, share his knowledge and allow us to enjoy his world vicariously. 

In the first installment, we discussed the watch collecting ethos and how he sees a difference between a watch collector, a collector of watches, and a watch trader.   The difference may be semantic to some, but the distinction is crucial for a true collector.

Here we find out what his first watch was and explore in more detail his process for buying watches. In particular, how he learns about a watch before purchasing it and the impact the internet has had on the classic watch market.

What struck me as he described the process was the level of detail achieved in charting the history of a specific watch. We begin to understand the level of scrutiny a credible watch collector will put any watch under before purchase. This requires a completely different mindset and analysis from a journey down to the local watch store.

The Watch Whisperer enjoys the history, revels in each watch’s stories and the rarity of each piece. What is clear is that this is not an area you want to jump into without doing your homework. 

Let’s dive in.

It Is Always Personal


You mentioned that you bought your first mechanical watch when you were about 16?

The Watch Whisperer:

No, it was a gift. It was a gift from my father. 


And you remember what that watch was?

The Watch Whisperer:

It was a Heuer Daytona, so it was closely related to motor racing. It was a chronograph. It ticked all the boxes that I look for. The Heuer badge was on the sides of every Ferrari on a race track in the late seventies. It was quite a special thing as my father had one as well.  I think that is an important aspect for me, that my father had the same watch. 

Classic Ferrari
Classic Ferrari and Classic Watches go Together for The Watch Whisperer.

I see that now with my son suddenly. The things that your father owned take on a special significance. Even if it is last year’s iPhone or whatever, my son would much rather have that because it is the one I own, rather than the latest one.  I just think of that as he has been badgering me about it recently. Obviously, this is personal and significant for him, and I seem to remember a similar reaction when I received the Heuer Daytona from my father.


Do you still have that watch?

The Watch Whisperer:

Funnily enough, I have a version of that watch. Sadly I lost the original one, it is really annoying, but I lost that original watch while I was at university. I did buy another one, another identical version.

It is not that it is a particularly valuable watch. It was not particularly expensive, but it was an expensive enough watch for me at the time. It is not a particularly collectible or valuable watch, so it is still not particularly expensive to buy or own. It is just a shame not to have the original piece that I received from my father. 


When you are looking for watches, are there specific makes or brands that you focus on?

Where Interests Converge

The Watch Whisperer:

Because my watch collecting goes hand in hand with my car hobby, I tend to look for pieces that bridge the gap between the two. Most of my watches tend to be chronographs because I like tiny equipment, and chronographs were most closely associated with motor racing. So brands like Heuer and Rolex are probably my two favorite brands, and obviously, Omega Speedmaster is also a beautiful chronograph. But then, of course, like everybody else, I get distracted by beautiful watches from makers like Patek Philippe, IWC, F. P. Journe.   

That is part of the problem with a hobby like this if you are not careful, you can end up being a bit of a magpie and just start looking around. There is always something new or something interesting to discover, which is hard to resist. That is the other problem I have; it is hard to resist when a beautiful timepiece comes out. It may have a beautiful design, but it has to be more than just aesthetics for me. The key for me is to combine my passion for watches and my passion for historic motor racing or classic cars or that world because obviously, I also like to collect classic cars. They both seem to go hand in hand for me.

Rolex Sky Dweller Two Tone
Rolex GMT Master II 116710LN

How To Not Become A Magpie


You mention that you are always attracted to the next shiny object on the block – how do you differentiate which is worth your time to investigate and potentially purchase or not?

The Watch Whisperer:

That is the interesting thing about this hobby, so much of it is driven by education, and it is a very, very, big subject.  You may just think, “Oh, it’s just wristwatches,” but what I have found is that the more I investigate and research, the more I realize how much I do not know. Even though I have been collecting watches for 30 years or more, I still consider myself a complete amateur.

What happens is that I meet other collectors, and they will tell you the story of their watch in the same way that I might tell you the story of one of my watches. By doing this, we learn from each other. Then I am intrigued by an interesting story and start looking into the watch myself. 

It is partly the company’s history and partly the history of the individual timepieces that draws me in. It is just like any hobby. Once you are interested in something, you get a new bit of information, and you want to delve a little bit deeper and understand a little bit more.  It is that quest for a little bit of information that takes you on a journey.

That is probably the driving force for me. Obviously, this is not so much the case with modern watches. Modern watches are just shiny adverts, and I do not feel there is a lot of depth there. That is a different way of selling products. For the classic watches, I think the stories behind them, especially stories that are not so obvious and quite difficult to uncover, are more interesting. It is the same for the cars I collect. I would rather buy an interesting car with an interesting story than the obvious car because I just think the story is an essential part of both the watch and the car as we can relate to the human story behind the object.  

It Is A Community Effort


How do you go about uncovering that story? 

The Watch Whisperer:

It has become a lot easier these days because of the internet, which has meant that everyone has access to un-quantifiable amounts of information. This is especially so because so many people are very generous with their time and their knowledge and put their knowledge on the internet for free.

Of course, there are many misleading stories, often posted up by unscrupulous dealers trying to sell a product they have. In general, though, it is quite a small world, and people can not get away with posting incorrect information very easily because there is, thankfully, somebody else who will read that piece and say, hang on, this is not right. 

What never ceases to amaze me, especially because I can not do it, is that people must spend hours, weeks, months, years of their lives taking the information on watches and posting it on the internet with detailed descriptions and pictures. Of course, this happens for all hobbies and subjects, but I am not sure I would ever find the time when I see the detailed information and the quality of the work. I am delighted to share the information personally when I meet people, but to sit down in my office at night and write it all out and post it up on the internet is a very different proposition.

I find that quite hard to do, but many people do it, and because of the people like me can learn a lot more because it is a constantly evolving subject.  For example, we thought many things were accurate 10 years ago, but we now know are not accurate, or more information is uncovered that makes your understanding more nuanced. 

Books are only so useful because they are already a little bit out of date as soon as they are published.  That is not quite true because, obviously, historical books are handy for the background, but new information comes to light over time, especially many less obvious stories. As you uncover more information through the reach of the internet and the specialist forums, suddenly someone will join a discussion and say, “Hey, I know the story of this.” So I know where that watch came from, or who wore it, or I know the person who wore it. Suddenly you realize that maybe things are different from what people had originally assumed.


So when you are researching, are you researching a specific, single watch, or are you looking at a certain watch’s production run?

The Watch Whisperer:

There are brands that I particularly like, as I mentioned previously, so I try to learn as much as I can about all their timepieces and focus on the ones that I find aesthetically interesting. Maybe a particular watch has fascinating engineering, but ideally interesting engineering and aesthetically interesting. These are the considerations that drive my research. It is very much like anybody’s hobby, you get focused on what interests you, and it does not seem like work – it is fun. 

It is strange because my background is in investments and banking, and I used to get very bored sitting in a company working on investment ideas, learning about companies, their stocks, or watching the markets. It was fun for a while, but I felt I had done enough of it after a while. Whereas with a hobby, because this stuff has my interest, I can spend hours and days and months doing research, and it does not feel like work. It is just fun. It is interesting. So, in the same way, other people become interested in art or wine or a whole manner of different things, I am captivated by classic watches. 

Next Time

Last time we looked at how a hobby turned into a passion and then a passion that paid the bills.  We took a very brief look at the purchase process (don’t worry, we will come back to this in a lot more detail), and next time we are looking at how The Watch Whisperer decides when to sell a watch, something he agonizes over as I am sure you can imagine.
In the meantime, take a look at one of the seminal works of watchmaking that will give any aspiring watch collector a fantastic grounding in the basics of time, time measurement, and the physical mechanics behind theory – and it is FREE on us!

Share this article

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

More Blogs

Swiss Made

SNGLRTY was only possible because of all the watch innovators that went before us and the accumulation of their skills and knowledge in Switzerland. We celebrate their achievements by being proud that each of our watches is “Made In Switzerland” so you can be confident that it is engineered and assembled with longevity in mind.

30 Day Money Back Guarantee

We are so confident that you will enjoy Seeing Time Differently every single watch comes with our Money Back Guarantee so you can buy with confidence. If you have any concerns after your purchase, just let us know within 30 days of delivery and we will refund your money. After all, Daniel and Steve want everyone to enjoy wearing SNGLRTY on their wrist.

Free International Shipping

UPS will whisk your beautiful new SNGLRTY watch from Bern, Switzerland to your front door – and you will be able to track it every step of the way and reduce your waiting to the minimum.

2 Year International Warranty

Where ever you are, if there is a problem with your watch (and we seriously doubt there will be), we will make sure it is put right so you can buy your SNGLRTY watch without any worries, wherever you live.

Hour Numerals Color

I like to think the color of the hour numerals creates the personality of your SNGLRTY watch. We have the basics, black and white, but if you would like to have your watch glow in the dark we offer a range of colors in Swiss Super-LumiNova. We always use Grade X1 for the best luminous effect but the daytime colors do impact the ultimate performance of the Super-LumiNova. If you want the brightest possible luminous effect choose Swiss Super-Luminova White, and if you want more please contact us.

Color Of The Hour Ring

The hour ring is the largest surface area on the SNGLRTY watch face so sets the tone for the rest of your design.

Date Display

Each of our watches can be configured with a date display, or without. Due to the mechanics this is the first decision you need to make in your journey to create your SNGLRTY watch.

Comparison Ohi2 vs. Ohi4

The OHI movements, or One Hand Indication, are unique to SNGLRTY. During the development phase of the watches Daniel and Steve used this moniker before naming it SNGLRTY. There are two distinctive movements to choose from, OHI-2 and OHI-4.

The OHI-4 movement is built on the Decorated and Fully Adjusted SW-300 tractor movement from Sellita. On top of the tractor movement the SNGLRTY complication plate is assembled and incorporates the “reverse minute gearbox” that is available exclusively from SNGLRTY. Depending on your selection, the complication plate will also relocate the date wheel from the top of the tractor movement to the top of the complication plate. Relocating it in this manner increases the size of the date disc and moves it closer to the top of the watch face improving its readability considerably.
The OHI-2 movement is the same as the OHI-4 movement except that it is built on a standard execution Sellita SW-200 movement.

Finally, depending on the movement you select the watch case will have a different profile as the OHI-4 movement is thinner than the OHI-2 movement. The key differences are that the case for the OHI-4 movement has a double domed crystal and a flat caseback. The OHI-2 case has a flat crystal and a curved caseback. All the details are in the product page.