A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about my love for the Blancpain Perpetual Calendar I had recently acquired. It was meant to be a personal article highlighting what I felt to be an underrated reference, but unfortunately, it attracted a tad of blowback for a singular reason – I happened to be selling the watch that I had waxed lyrical about.
I was immediately branded by some as a flipper. “If you love the watch so much, why sell it so quickly after getting it? You must be looking to make a quick buck,” was the general gist of the negative comments.
In the interest of transparency, the reason why I’m selling the Blancpain is simple: a vintage perpetual calendar is simply impractical to own, at least in my current financial situation. I visited the Blancpain boutique to set the watch, and was informed that a simple servicing would cost upwards of $3000 – and that’s if no spare parts are required. In other words, if I happened to drop the watch, or the movement simply dies on me due to wear and tear, I’ll have to pay the equivalent of a Tudor Black Bay just to get it fixed.
Does that diminish my love for the watch? No it doesn’t, because it’s not an inherent fault of the Blancpain. Whenever I wrist it, my heart sings, and I feel blessed to be able to don such haute horlogerie. But it’s also a ticking time bomb, where I felt I had to baby it, afraid that something as simple as being caught in a downpour would incur a hefty repair bill. In the end, my logical brain simply decided that the watch was not worth the trouble, especially if I could move it on and reinvest the money in other watches on my wishlist.
With all the hyperbole surrounding skyrocketing watch prices, it can be easy to forget that even “affordable” entry-level timepieces like a Longines or a Tudor cost the equivalent of the average Singaporean’s monthly salary. And with the avalanche of watches being released on a weekly basis, our attention span is getting shorter. One can be fixated with a particular watch this week, but enamoured with another the next. Gone are the days where all new releases were announced in a singular trade show (RIP Baselworld), and collectors could plan their purchases for the year accordingly. It’s the era of the internet and social media now, and that means unexpected releases from online brands such as Ming and Kurono, or secretive collaborative drops like the recent Hodinkee X Unimatic collection. And with big brands cranking out models month after month, and microbrands launching on Kickstarter every other week, there are more options than ever before, often at a short notice. The result: you might have to sell something you got last month for something that caught your eye today.
Anyway, I digress. This article isn’t about why I’m selling the watch. Honestly, I’m someone that’s pretty unaffected by online comments, so I had absolutely no intention of responding, at least publicly. However, it did make me more aware of such “flipping” accusations on social media, and I happened to notice such a comment on a local watch Instagrammer’s post. The context and allegation were similar – the Instagrammer posted a photo of a new acquisition (a pretty sick Lange 1), but had already listed it for sale.
Personally, I don’t there’s anything wrong with that. Unless you’re buying the watch (and have an issue with the “inflated” price), or the person propositions you with the sale, I don’t understand why some in the watch community think they can, or should, police what others do with their property.
And I empathize with the Instagrammer in question. As an Instagrammer, you want to keep your feed fresh with a variety of watches. No one wants to see the same few shots of the same old watches repeatedly. To increase followers and engagement, it makes complete sense to constantly obtain new watches to photograph. But once again, unless you’re born with a silver spoon, the reality is that new purchases are funded by letting go of past purchases. It’s simple economics really.
It also begs the question – why are some so fixated with why people are selling their watches? Reasons could be aplenty – selling to fund another watch, selling to pay bills, selling because well, there are more important things in life than watches. It’s sad that collectors selling their watches feel the need/pressure to explain their sales to others.
In fact, it’s a pattern that, as far as I know, only exists in the watch community. In no other community does there exist such a stigma against “flipping”. Take sneakers for example. When someone resells the latest Yeezys, no one bats an eye. In fact, do it well enough and you might end up being featured on CNA as a successful entrepreneur. I can’t even imagine someone doing what Remus (featured entrepreneur in the abovementioned CNA story) does but in the watch world – said person would probably be blacklisted and outcasted to the darkest depth of watch purgatory.
I also think there’s a false dichotomy between “flippers” (defined loosely as someone, usually a seller, that’s into watches solely for profit) and “enthusiasts”. In fact, some “flippers” are probably the most knowledgeable enthusiasts in the industry. Take Christian of Theo & Harris, or Nico from Pride & Pinion as examples. Their job is essentially buying watches for cheap and reselling them at a substantial profit. Does that mean their interest and love for watches isn’t genuine? I don’t think so – they are probably more passionate about horology than the majority of so-called “collectors”.
At the end of the day, I think it’s important to remind ourselves not to take watches too seriously. Collecting watches, like any other item (stamps, sneakers, BTS X Mcdonalds packaging) is meant to be fun. As long as you’re not preventing others from owning/enjoying the product, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with selling one’s watches, and definitely don’t see why those who do have to feel obliged to explain their actions. It’s a free market after all – willing buyer, willing seller, and everyone’s happy.
And since I’m already on the topic, anyone who’s interested in purchasing the Blancpain Perpetual Calendar can send me an email at email@example.com.
P.S Do check out the new “Discounts!” page for exclusive discounts for Wah so Shiok readers! More brands will be added very soon – stay tuned!
P.S.S.S Shiok is a common word Singaporeans use to express admiration or approval. As of 2016, you can find the definition of the word in the Oxford English Dictionary.