New York, New York – Reported by Michael Margolis for Elite Traveler, the private jet lifestyle magazine
I can honestly say that I wouldn’t be the president of a watch brand’s USA subsidiary if it weren’t for timezone.com. About 15 years ago, in the early days of the Internet, we watch geeks didn’t have many options. There was one watch magazine in English, a couple in Italian and Japanese, and you could buy a subscription to Sotheby’s auction catalogs. And then one day I stumbled across a site called Watchnet, which led me to timezone.com.
Over the next few years, I was like a sponge drinking in information and knowledge that really was not available anywhere else. That led me to be the moderator of Timezone’s Blancpain, Hublot, IWC and Vacheron forums, which led to my first job in the watch industry, which led me to where I am today.
So, I will assume for this article’s purposes that you are the dry sponge, looking to be filled with knowledge about wristwatches, and you want a little primer about where to go, what to do when you get there, and maybe what not to do as well. So let’s go…
First off, there is no shortage of watch discussion websites today, so I’ll break them down into four categories:
1. Manufacturer’s sites: IWC, Vacheron, Girard-Perregaux and more all have their own discussion forums. If you are looking for deep knowledge and factory support, these are great places.
2. Specific themed forums like dive watch or military watch forums, including brand-specific sites like Paneristi or Vintage Rolex. If you have a very specific interest, these are awesome.
3. General sites that offer a broad range of topics and forums, which usually also have sub forums for specific brands, vintage, for sale boards, off-topic discussions, etc.
4. Non-English sites, such as Forumamontres (French) or Relojes Especiales (Spanish)
Within the different forums, my first suggestion is to find one that seems to be a “fit” for you and your personality. Some are very general, catering to newbies and experts alike, and some are not very friendly to novices. Some are very movement driven, and scoff at ETA-based watches, while others even specialize in inexpensive watches. So, shop around and look for a forum that fits your comfort level.
Next, I would suggest you “lurk” for a while, until you start to learn what happens on that site. Here you can learn a tremendous amount and begin saturating your sponge. This may be as simple as what is the difference between a manual wind watch and an automatic watch, or as complicated as dating a watch based on the type face or style on the dial.
Here are a few things that I would suggest you avoid:
1. “How much is my watch worth?” The sites get clogged up with these questions, and honestly there is no real answer. You can go to eBay or Antiquorum and get comparables, and you can find out what watches like yours are selling for. But nobody wants to see the watch that you bought at a tag sale for $1 and help you discover that it’s worth $10.
2. “Which watch is the best investment?” Related to “How much is my watch worth,” this conversation goes nowhere fast. Truthfully, we buy watches because we love them, not because they are a substitute for our investment portfolio. For every $1,000 Rolex Milgauss, there are hundreds of other watches that have not appreciated in value over time. Buy what you love.
3. Start a discussion about a watch without a photo. Every site will have instructions on how to post a photo using a hosting site like Photobucket, and a picture really is worth 1,000 words. No amount of explanation can describe your watch like one simple photo. And your iPhone is fine for watch pictures, just take a bunch of shots and use the sharpest one.
4. “Is Rolex better than Patek?” Better in whose mind, better for what purpose? Ranking brands is really a futile exercise, because everybody would build their Top Ten list differently.
5. Selling your watch or company is a big no-no. Starting a discussion one day and then selling the watch the next makes you lose credibility, or jumping in and saying “I went to ABC watch and they are GREAT!” When it gets out that you own ABC, no one will believe anything you say from then on.
6. “Where can I get the best discount?” No dealer wants to be known as the cheapest guy around, especially on a public forum.
My best advise it to lurk for a while (see links below), contribute when you can, and offer help to others whenever possible. Be yourself, be honest, be helpful and be kind. There is a lot of good information out there, go and find some!
About the author: Michael Margolis is the president of America for the Sowind Group, encompassing Girard-Perragaux and JeanRichard. Born in the United States, Margolis always had an international sensibility, studying Latin American Studies and Foreign Languages at University of Connecticut and becoming proficient in English, Spanish, Portugese and German. His career includes stints at Nikon, timezone.com and Hublot.
Contact: Michael Margolis, (201) 804-1904; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.girard-perregaux.com