Opinion: The "Watch Snobbery" Inquisition

The strange infatuation with the concept of “watch snobbery” both disturbs and fascinates me. The term “snob” is now being weaponized against free expression in the watch community, especially online. Many of these inquisitors perpetuate the notion that all watches are created equal. Although debate is extremely healthy and normal amongst a group of enthusiasts, some believe it “disenfranchises” those who own watches which come under scrutiny. Furthermore, the concept of entry-level watches being on par with haute horology is absurd. These ideas prey on our human desire for vindication, and our need to feel as though we have something fine, even if that is not the case. The truth is that “affordable” or “entry-level” timepieces are simply not the same as a high-end, quality timepiece.

“All Watches Aren’t Created Equal”

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Public Domain

Logical watch enthusiasts appreciate quality, history, and prestige. Moreover, humans appreciate things that are difficult to obtain. Not everyone can own a Rolex. That is why they are so prized by the general public. If one is under the impression that a Seiko SKX (despite being a great first watch), is appreciated just as much as a Calatrava 5196, you are being fed nonsense. If one is to adequately assess the watch world, he or she must be realistic, logical, and methodical. No matter how one spins it, there are good and bad watches. Of course, it can be subjective to an extent; but relative subjectiveness does not allow one to challenge the merits of objective quality. Unless Rolex goes rogue, the Submariner will always be objectively superior to the Seiko SKX. It does not make the Seiko a bad watch (far from it), but it does indicate a hierarchy based on the principles of quality, history, and prestige. Disregard for this natural and heathy hierarchy is prevalent, yet ignorant.

“There are Good and Bad Watches”

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Additionally, successful collecting requires diligence and intense scrutiny. It is not a “snobbish” thing to recommend not buying beginner timepieces and instead suggest spending more time learning than buying. Furthermore, one should consider saving up for a high-end timepiece — something that sticks around and is always worth repairing. It is worth buying a solid core collection. Instead of focusing on quality, a number of watch buyers, under a false impression, acquire “Shiny Object Syndrome,” and rush to purchase a massive variety of timepieces. This is done without regard to learning. When you start out, acquire knowledge, not watches. Moreover, purchasing too many entry-level watches can be financially fatal, as they almost never hold value and are hardly worth servicing if something goes wrong. These false philosophies could cripple a new watch enthusiasts; never giving him or her the chance to appreciate genuine horology. Pointing this out is not snobbery, it is the truth. If new watch enthusiasts were more open to being methodical about their early acquisitions, it could save so many enthusiasts from learning the hard way.

“Aquire Knowledge, Not Watches”

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Furthermore, real watch snobs are not putting themselves out online. Real watch snobs believe horology is a secret club. People who talk about watches in front of thousands of people obviously don’t believe this. Voicing ones opinions about watches is a good thing, no matter what they may be. Judging people because of the watch they wear or due to their opinions on watches is snobbery. Watch snobs are not relegated to expensive watch collectors. From my perspective, snobbery is more prevailing amongst the circles of collectors who are under the influence of the false impressions discussed before.

Colin CarpenterComment