I am an advocate for actually wearing watches, instead of just putting them in a safe or babying them. Recently I noticed that our friend and colleague at Revolution magazine Adam Craniotes using the hashtag #wearyoursh*t and that’s exactly how I feel. And this almost always used to be the case, until interest rates dropped below zero, that is, and people started to look elsewhere to “invest” their money. It is probably partly our own fault (the watch community) as we always told “the others” that our hobby didn’t cost us money, as watches often retain value instead of losing it. “The others” were neighbors, friends, colleagues, etc. And hey, who could blame them for listening to us in the first place?

There were always a few rare cases where people were just too scared to wear their watches. For example, I couldn’t believe my eyes when a guy showed me his Panerai watch with the plastic bezel protector attached to his watch. It wasn’t a new Panerai watch nor was it in its box, but on his wrist. With the plastic bezel protector. It was there to “protect his investment”. On the other end of the spectrum, we have friend-of-the-show Hank, who has been wearing his Patek Philippe Nautilus almost non-stop since he bought it many years ago.

I remember him smacking his watch on the counter of the restaurant back in the early 2000s and he didn’t even care to take look if there was any damage. Today, he is fully aware of the value of his watch, but it doesn’t stop him from wearing it, even not on a bicycle ride from The Netherlands to Italy. I’ve been wearing a Royal Oak for many years as well, and yes it did get scratches and dings, but in my opinion, it added character to the watch.

Wear your watches

The story of the Panerai and the stupid bezel protector is one from many years ago, probably close to a decade or so. But today I don’t think it would surprise me (as much) anymore. People seem to be buying watches for completely the wrong reason. These things were built to be worn and enjoyed, not sit in the back of your closet. At some point, I even noticed that people were actually buying protective stickers off eBay to put on their watches to prevent them from being scratched. Perhaps it sounds a bit harsh, and I might get some hate for this, but man, if you must be that careful with your watch because you’re too afraid to scratch it, and negatively affecting the value of your watch, perhaps you shouldn’t be buying luxury watches at all. Finding another less stressful hobby might be worth investigating.

Box with protective stickers for a Rolex Submariner (Photo from eBay)

Making the right decision

A watch that keeps its value is mainly nice because it doesn’t give me the feeling that I’ve just put some of my hard-earned cash into the paper shredder. I don’t buy my watch with the intention of flipping them, on the contrary, before I make a purchase, I often try to figure out whether it is something I will still like in 5 or 10 years from now. This might sound silly today, but it even took me quite a while to decide whether I wanted to have a Seamaster with a blue dial (the famous reference 2531.80) as I wasn’t sure it would stand the test of time.

Omega Speedmaster

Value over time

Although I am less cautious today, I keep this “5 to 10 years from now” strategy in mind whenever I am looking to buy a watch. Also, I don’t think it is a bad thing to sell a watch. Not at all. Sometimes you might see something else that you want and need to create some funds, or you just realized your taste has changed over the course of time. I see this topic entirely separate from the entire “investment” hysteria that is going on today. Keeping value, sure, that’s a nice thing (if it is the case), but it should be an investment in joy rather than treating a watch as a financial instrument.

I simply can’t imagine you don’t want to wear the watch you just bought. It’s the cherry on the cake, after spending so many hours researching the watch you want to have, to finally being able to put it on your wrist. Of course, there’s the impulsive buyer as well, but my guess is that we’re talking about a very small percentage here, given the high value of a (luxury) watch.

Desk Diving scratches are always welcome

I am not babying my watches, as you will see in the pictures in this article. It’s nice when a watch keeps its value, but that never stopped me from wearing them. I am careful with my watches, but that’s something different. I try to keep them safe from approaching shopping carts in the supermarket, doorframes, desks, walls, and I do take my (expensive) watch off when playing field hockey with my daughter. But as you can see, the unavoidable “desk diving” scratches can be found on the clasp and bracelet.

What’s the fun in owning a watch but not wearing it? When it’s solely an investment, I am pretty sure there are better things to invest in. I am also not referring to the flippers who act like grey market dealers, but to those who buy a watch and are too preoccupied with the resale value of a watch. In some of the Facebook watch groups, it’s a commonly asked question whether watch X or watch Y will keep its value. It almost sounds like you can’t afford to buy the watch when the resale value is so incredibly important to you. There’s nothing wrong with that, but I wouldn’t advise anyone to spend the last of his or her money on a luxury item, whatever it may be.

What’s the emotional value of inheriting a brand-new unworn watch?

I believe that the effects of social media are clearly visible here. More people take notice of famous persons who are wearing luxury watches and even those who didn’t have a clue about watches before, get sucked into the world of expensive watches and the fact that they (might) keep their value, unlike many other expensive things. And then I am not even talking about all the influencers being endorsing certain watch brands or watch models. I kind of miss the days when people just bought what they liked best, picked a watch that reflected a bit of their own personality, and just wear it. As I’ve often shared here on Fratello, the landscape of watches was more diverse in the years before social media.

But I will say that even if you go for that Rolex because it’s a Rolex (in the end it is your money so your decision), or a Limited Edition just because it is one, just make sure to wear it. Make it worth owning the watch and enjoy it to the fullest. In case you have children who will inherit your watch(es), I think it is nicer they will get something that shows you have worn and enjoyed it rather than something “brand new in box”. But that’s just my opinion, let me know yours in the poll and comments below!

Do you wear your watch?