A year ago, downsizing my watch collection was just an idea, a concept that I had never explored thoroughly before. It sounded rational and inevitable since my budget wasn’t endless. I knew it had to happen so that I could keep featuring new watches in my #TBT column. But I honestly couldn’t imagine it happening…

Looking forward and making new plans for 2024 without providing a proper retrospective of what happened in 2023 wouldn’t be right. Last year, Nacho caught me unprepared when he asked me to write down my 2023 watch resolutions. I felt a bit surprised, even guilty, that I didn’t have any. When I put pen to paper, I realized that it helped me understand how I would like to shape my watch decisions for the year. It turned out to be a great exercise, and now we can look back on whether I managed to stick to the plan.


Formulating and vocalizing thoughts helps. Just putting the word out there can get the ball rolling. Last year, after years of accumulation, I felt it was the right time to consolidate my collection. “Honestly, I have no idea what portion of my collection I will let go of or how fast I will do so,” I said a year ago. Well, within a year, I managed to part with almost 50 watches. Yes, five-zero! It’s the first time I’ve counted, and that number seems monstrous to me. How did that happen?!

downsizing watch collection Seiko Voice Recorder

Go with the flow

Before 2023, no matter who approached me with a buyout offer for any of my watches, I simply answered with a polite “No, thank you.” Many times, I didn’t even read the messages properly as selling my watches was out of the question. However, since my collection grew to a huge number (for me), and many watches just sat in a safe without proper wrist time for two years, I realized that it was time to let some of them go. Downsizing was in order.

I didn’t have to do much advertising. Instead, I just started responding to requests from my watch penfriends. This was also effective in that I realized what I am sensitive to. First, it is all the forgotten watch complications like the Sperina Counter Watch, Seiko Voice Recorder, and Mido Radiotime. No one could touch these. But I was open to inquiries about a few Citizen and Tissot watches.

tourist radio-top

The “problem” of duplicates

There are some watches that I have multiple examples of. I found each so genuine that I decided to get another one when the opportunity came. That was why I had two Alpina Seastrong 10 divers. I also had two examples of the Angelus Chronodato, the world’s first serial-production chronograph wristwatch with a full calendar (day, date, and month). And still have a few more too, such as the dead-seconds Tourist Radio-Top, Sperina Regulator, and Vulcain Cricket.

Condition vs. provenance

Selling a watch can strip you naked and leave you facing the ultimate decision and related feelings. The second Alpina Seastrong that I got was almost perfect. I have never seen a better-preserved case back. You can compare them in the pictures above. However, when I had to decide, I couldn’t let go of the first one I got, even though it was in much worse shape. Thinking about what watch you may sell is one thing, but actually selling it is another. Oftentimes, simply thinking about it doesn’t end with a decision. When making a deal with a buyer, though, you have to follow through.


The original owner of my Alpina Seastrong 10 got it for his 16th birthday. He is now 75 years old.

When condition gives way to sentiment

Interestingly, this time, I cheated myself. The stamping on the case back was practically worn off, and there was a stain on a dial. Despite that, I decided to keep my first Alpina Seastrong. I realized that, for me, the watch’s story is more powerful than its condition. If it were in rough shape and I hadn’t bought it from the original owner, I would’ve probably sold it and kept the better piece. But knowing that a Swedish diving pioneer had received this watch when he was 16 and had worn it on hundreds of dives, I simply couldn’t part with it.

Ernest-Borel-Flash-Activated downsizing watch collection

A different decision

In August, I got an email from Andrew in the UK, and he asked if I would sell one of my Ernest Borel Flash watches. “My father found one in about 1960 in the woods in Germany where he was based. He had it for about 40 years before it got lost in a house move. I decided to let one go, but I couldn’t make up my mind about which one. It took me two weeks to make the final call. I knew that finding another would be tough, let alone finding one with such a unique patina. But again, I hadn’t worn it in months. I hoped that it would make Andrew’s dad happy, but a message that came from Andrew a few months later moved me.

downsizing watch collection Ernest Borel Flash new owner

Andrew’s dad when he got a watch he used to wear for 40 years

“I have given my dad the watch — it brought a tear to his eye,” starts Andrew, adding a picture of his father when he was gifted his “lost” watch. “My dad was a bricklayer before he retired. He was in Germany for two years as part of his national service with the British Army. He was based at an army camp in Monchengladbach, and he says that one day, they were out on exercise in the woods when he found the watch in perfect working condition. Although he handed it in at the camp, it was never claimed, so he was given it to keep, which he did for about 40 years.”

downsizing watch collection Ernest Borel Flash

Andrew said his father used to get the watch serviced and its battery charged at a local Air Force base called RAF Norton Aerodrome. The watch was always accurate, and he loved its simple and classical look. Interestingly, his old watch had developed a dark patina similar to his “new” one. His version had numbers and letters carved at the back, which were there when he found it.

Andrew’s dad wore his Flash daily as his only watch…until it got lost when he and his wife moved. He is now 84 years old, and he had always hoped that the old watch would turn up. Andrew started to think and realized that he couldn’t wait any longer. “I got my son to give the watch to my dad, and I’d like to think that, one day, it will be his to wear,” he adds.

The pleasure of letting go

I have to say that it is much easier to let watches go now. The most difficult part, I guess, was doing it for the first time. I also parted with a few pieces that I didn’t have duplicates of. For example, Michael from the US was interested in my Doxa. He was really excited about it as it was his first jump into mechanical watches. I realized that nurturing and growing the vintage watch community makes me happy. I imagined my Doxa sitting in my safe for another two or three years until it saw daylight again and compared that to the countless sunny days it would get on Michael’s wrist. It made my decision easier.

Citizen Alarm Date ALDS 52902-Y

Over the year, Michael also bought my Wyler and almost-NOS Citizen Alarm Diver. He contacted me recently to touch base. “I actually ended up wearing your Citizen Alarm Diver when I got engaged this summer. My fiancée picked it for me to wear that morning. We were on a boat, and it kind of has that nautical theme to it, so it felt like it made sense. And now it’ll always be sentimental to me. All the best!” And my day couldn’t end any better…

Not selling watches but moving them around

I like to learn a little something about the people I let my watches go to. In a way, it makes me feel like I am just relocating them. It’s different when a watch goes to a stranger than when it goes to a friend. Almost half of the watches I let go of this year went to a single watch-collecting penfriend, one by one, month by month.

A downsizing problem?

Well, I managed to part with almost 50 watches, but I also acquired 35 new ones. From a downsizing perspective, my collection only shrunk by 15 pieces, which is not that many considering that I have hundreds of watches. So, in terms of numbers, I didn’t succeed in downsizing, but I find it a good start.

What are my resolutions for 2024, then? Stay tuned for the next #TBT. I will share how I did with my one-brand focus and what specific vintage watches are on my target list for 2024. Happy hunting!