The Beginner’s Guide To Starting A Watch Collection, Even On A Budget



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Whether you’re a novice horologist or a seasoned aficionado, the world of watch collecting offers an exciting realm of discovery, style, and investment. This guide is designed to help you navigate the intricate world of timepieces, from identifying your unique style to understanding the nuances of watch maintenance. We’ll provide you with the essential knowledge and tips to build a collection that not only reflects your personality but also stands the test of time. So, fasten your straps and prepare to dive into the captivating world of watch collecting.

Understand Your Style & Preferences

Before you dive into the world of horology, take a moment to understand your personal style and preferences. Are you drawn to the sleek minimalism of a Bauhaus design, or do you prefer the rugged functionality of, say, a dive watch? Your collection should be a reflection of your personal style and the occasions you’ll be wearing your watches.

Learn The Basics Of Horology

Horology, the study of timekeeping, is a fascinating field. Understanding the basics will not only enhance your appreciation for your collection but also help you make informed decisions. Learn about the different types of movements (quartz, automatic, manual), complications (features beyond just telling time), and materials used in watchmaking.

Read: 5 hobbies IDEAL for challenging your curiosity

Start With Affordable Brands

You don’t need to break the bank to start your collection. Brands like Seiko, Citizen, and Timex offer quality timepieces at affordable prices. These watches are perfect for beginners as they offer a variety of styles and functionalities.

Buy Pre-Owned Watches

Pre-owned watches can be a great way to add quality pieces to your collection without paying the full retail price, and you can often find Swiss watch brands online for less than you might on the high street. Websites like Watchfinder & Co., Chrono24 and Authentic Watch Co. offer a wide range of pre-owned watches from luxury brands. Always ensure you’re buying from a reputable source to avoid counterfeit watches.

Attend Watch Shows & Auctions

Watch shows and auctions are excellent places to learn more about watches and potentially find great deals. You’ll have the opportunity to see a wide range of watches, from vintage pieces to the latest releases, and meet fellow enthusiasts.

Storing Your Watch Collection Safely

Proper storage is a crucial aspect of maintaining your watch collection. It not only keeps your timepieces safe but also helps to preserve their value and functionality. Here are some tips on how to store your watch collection safely:

  • Invest in a Watch Box or Case – A watch box or case is a must-have for any collector. It provides a dedicated space for each watch, preventing them from knocking against each other and causing scratches. Look for a case with soft, non-abrasive lining, like felt or velvet, to protect your watches from damage.
  • Consider a Watch Winder – If you have automatic watches in your collection, a watch winder can be a worthwhile investment. Automatic watches rely on movement to keep them wound, and if left stationary for too long, they can stop. A watch winder keeps them moving and ensures they’re always ready to wear.
  • Control the Environment – Extreme temperatures and humidity can damage your watches. Try to store your collection in a cool, dry place, away from direct sunlight. If you live in a particularly humid area, consider using silica gel packets in your watch box to absorb excess moisture.
  • Keep Them Clean – Before storing your watches, ensure they are clean and dry. Wipe them down with a soft cloth to remove any dust or moisture. If your watch is water-resistant and has been exposed to saltwater, rinse it with fresh water and dry it thoroughly before storage.
  • Store Bracelets and Straps Properly – For watches with metal bracelets, it’s best to close the bracelet when storing. This helps to maintain its shape. Leather straps, on the other hand, should be opened flat to prevent creasing.
  • Safe Storage for Valuable Pieces – If you have particularly valuable or sentimental pieces in your collection, consider storing them in a safe or safety deposit box. This provides an extra layer of security against theft or damage.

Watch Maintenance & Regular Cleaning

Maintaining the lustre and functionality of your watch collection goes beyond proper storage. Regular cleaning and maintenance play a pivotal role in preserving the beauty and precision of your timepieces and, ultimately, protecting your investment.

When it comes to cleaning, a gentle approach is best. For the watch case and bracelet, use a soft, lint-free cloth to wipe away any dust or smudges. If your watch is water-resistant, you can use a slightly damp cloth for a more thorough clean. However, remember to avoid getting leather straps wet as this can cause them to warp or crack.

For a deeper clean, particularly for metal bracelets or water-resistant watches, a mild soap solution and a soft brush can be used. After cleaning, ensure the watch is thoroughly dried to prevent any moisture damage.

Maintenance extends to the inner workings of your watch as well. Mechanical watches, both manual and automatic, should be serviced every 3-5 years by a professional. This involves cleaning, oiling, and adjusting the movement to ensure it continues to keep time accurately. Quartz watches, on the other hand, require less maintenance. A battery change every 2-3 years is usually sufficient.

Remember, each watch in your collection is a masterpiece of craftsmanship. By dedicating time to their cleaning and maintenance, you’re not only preserving their aesthetic appeal but also ensuring their longevity and performance.

Get Insurance

Once you start building your watch collection, it’s important you start thinking about protecting your investment. This is where watch insurance comes in. Watches can represent a significant financial investment, so they need to be insured. 

Because of this, you’ll need to keep a detailed record of your watch collection since it will make appraisal easier. The detailed record includes documents like purchase receipts, estimates, service records, and photographs of each piece.


After taking care of the outer part of your watches, you should also care for the mechanical parts as well. However, unlike the cleaning, this doesn’t have to be done frequently. For mechanical watches, servicing once in 3–5 years is more than enough. This servicing will involve cleaning, oiling, and calibrating the watch to ensure accuracy and longevity. 

For your quart watches, servicing could be as basic as changing the battery or re-sealing the watch to prevent moisture from seeping in.

The Bottom Line

So, there you have it, a comprehensive beginner’s guide to getting the most out of your watches by starting a collection. Starting out as a watch collector may not be smooth sailing. However, if you give it enough time, it’ll definitely grow into a pastime you’ll fall in love with.

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