I really tried to stay off the beaten track when putting together my current watch collection. And yes, I definitely have a few watches that you don’t see every day, but last week, I added the Rolex Explorer to the stable. Then, I looked at my watch box, and I realized something — I am a total sucker for the typical classics. Why is it so damn hard to avoid those evergreens?

I now refer to them as my classic quartet — the current Omega Speedmaster Professional, the JLC Reverso Classic Medium Duoface, the Cartier Santos Galbée XL, and the Rolex Explorer ref. 114270. And maybe my 38mm Blancpain Bathyscaphe and the Seiko SPB317 should also be part of that classic lineup. But especially those first four, at least in my eyes, are such iconic pieces. It’s almost boring to bring them to any watch meetup because everyone has probably already seen them multiple times. I mean, they’re great watches, and I feel lucky to have them in my collection, but there are so many great watches out there. Why go for the usual suspects?

Starting a watch collection with €10K

Timeless designs

I think a few factors come into play here. The first one is the design of these classics. To me, they all are very attractive, and their designs have certainly stood the test of time. The Santos was one of Cartier’s first wristwatches at the beginning of the 20th century. The Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso’s design basically hasn’t changed since its introduction in the 1930s. Similarly, the current Omega Speedmaster Professional looks almost identical to the Speedmasters from the ’60s. Furthermore, the design of my Rolex Explorer has been around since 1989 and was even brought back last year with a few minor (though important) tweaks.

So yes, these watches are very attractive, which is important if you wear a watch all day, every day. But apart from that, their designs are also utterly timeless. This is crucial for an object that could outlive anyone on Earth and will likely be handed down to future generations. And I buy my watches with the intent to keep them, not to sell them. In that case, I’d better get a watch that I almost certainly won’t get tired of after the honeymoon period ends. In this light, the attractive and timeless design of these evergreens is a critical aspect.

The hall of fame

But another thing that I think is also important here is their fame. Over time, these watches have claimed a kind of superstar status. All of them have a cool origin story. For the Santos, it all started with early aviation, and the model was, in essence, the first pilot’s wristwatch. The Reverso, with its signature revolving case, was supposedly designed for polo players to protect their watch crystals during games. The Explorer was a tribute to mankind’s conquest of the highest mountain on Earth, and the Speedmaster was and still is being worn in space. I know that some people feel these stories are a bit exploited, but somewhere in the back of my head, they do still matter to me.

And the fact that these watches have been around for so long also means that they are recognized all over the world. Of course, I like to be unique in a way, but I also very much enjoy the familiarity around these icons. Wearing one causes people to notice the watch and start telling stories about their own experiences. Basically, these watches are very good conversation starters, and if there’s one thing I love besides collecting watches, it’s talking about them with other people. And those people don’t even have to be watch collectors like me. In any case, the stories behind these iconic pieces and others’ connections to them add another dimension to the ownership experience.

Well-built machines

The third important factor is quality — incredibly high quality. It doesn’t matter which of these four watches you pick up; each one feels like it was very well made. Yes, even though the Explorer has a folded clasp and hollow center links, it still feels like a high-quality product almost 20 years after it was produced. The same goes for the Santos, which has one of the best bracelets on the market and fantastic finishing on its svelte but sturdy case. And although the Reverso feels like the most fragile of the four, I have yet to detect any signs of play in its swiveling mechanism.

And when it comes to the Speedy, what can I say? If it can survive a trip into space, I guess I won’t have to worry about it at all here on Earth (except maybe when I’m around deeper waters). But especially on the new bracelet, it feels like an outstanding product, and that’s something I greatly appreciate when I put any one of these four watches on my wrist. Simply put, they all just feel great, time and time again. But that quality comes at a price, of course, and that brings us to the fourth important aspect — value.

Value retention

At first, I was going to say “value for money”. But that’s a term often used for more affordable watches or products in general. These four icons are clearly luxury watches, and as such, they come at a luxury price. Yes, they’re expensive, but what I do appreciate is that they all tend to retain their value quite well. That’s especially true if you can make a good deal at an authorized dealer or on the pre-owned market. If you had to, you could sell them for close to the purchase price and basically wear these watches for free. And in some cases, you can even make a profit. As I said, I buy watches with the intent to keep them, not to flip them and make money. But still, to me, it’s reassuring to know that these watches will hold their value in the long run.

Final thoughts

To summarize, there are four important factors that I think played a critical role in my decision to add these four evergreens to my collection. First of all, of course, is their attractive designs and the timeless nature of them. Second, there’s the fact that these watches almost certainly spark a conversation in any situation because of their superstar status. Third, I think that these watches show some of the highest standards of build quality in the industry. And finally, it is nice to know that my money won’t be going down the drain if I have to sell them later on.

This is a personal reflection, yes, but I suspect that these factors play a part in the decisions of other watch enthusiasts too. What do you think? Why do you go for the evergreens and not for something a bit more unique? Let me know in the comments below!

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