Collecting watches is about more than just amassing timepieces, says watch aficionado Yousuf Gargash
Many people have an urge to collect. It’s an itch that can only be scratched by the process of hunting, finding and haggling — often only after contacting everyone on your contact list. The art of collecting is also about achievement: it’s about perfection, of acquiring the seemingly unattainable. It also becomes addictive, going through the trouble of finding not only that perfect watch, but also haggling to get it at the right price.
I can say this because this is my passion, and I’m inspired by the art of watch collecting. I would consider myself a newcomer to the world of watches; I also consider myself lucky to have met all the right people in such a short period of time. Learning about the industry and making friends whom I have learnt from and may have in turn taught along the way has been immensely inspiring for me.
While I’ve had ample opportunity to obtain special and rare watches, I believe there’s a time and place for everything. My path to fine timepieces changed when I joined the Dubai Watch Club, a group of watch collectors with various tastes. It’s turned into a brotherhood or a fellowship of collectors, even more like a family — although it might perhaps seem like a dysfunctional family from an outsider’s perspective. It was through the club that I’ve been able to explore the various aspects of horology, and through the watch world I’m committed to raising the profile of the club.
Living in a world of technology, the acquiring of information has become a lot easier. The internet has facilitated learning about the latest watch, finding my next vintage gem, or even looking at the economic growth of the watch industry in general. There are various platforms where you can hunt for watches these days, including social media, online retailers and forums dedicated to watches. Of course, we still have the option of taking a more traditional approach, by going directly to reputable dealers, official retailers or auction houses.
I can say this because this is my passion, and I’m inspired by the art of watch collecting. I would consider myself a newcomer to the world of watches; I also consider myself lucky to have met all the right people in such a short period of time.
But I’ve found the online watch world to be an invaluable resource. I’ve met wonderful dealers on platforms like Instagram, which has grown into a massive marketing tool for watches. I’ve developed new friendships, and have even offloaded a few of my timepieces.
I remember scrolling through Instagram a few years ago when I had just started collecting seriously and a watch caught my attention. It was a vintage Heuer Camaro from the 1960s with a Valjoux 7733 movement. I still don’t know what about that watch captivated me, but I spent a lot of time pondering whether to buy it or not. Several months later a few members of the Dubai Watch Club were invited to a vintage watch event in Abu Dhabi. At this stage I was the only one interested in vintage timepieces — I was intrigued by the history of watches and their craftsmanship.
At the event I was drawn like a moth to a flame a collectors who had few Heuer Camaros; I couldn’t resist their cushion case and pump pushers. I asked the collector, who’s now a good friend, if I could try it on my wrist and that was that — I ended up purchasing eight different variations of the Heuer Camaro within two months. Some may say eight is excessive but, truth be told, I regret nothing; every time I buy another Heuer it fills me with a sense of satisfaction.
My personal collecting philosophy is: buy what you like. There is no such thing as a bad watch, just a bad price! This is a piece of advice I was given by Adel Rahmani, my friend, my brother and my mentor, and the founder of the Dubai Watch Club.
My personal collecting philosophy is: buy what you like. There is no such thing as a bad watch, just a bad price!
The hunt is never easy; you must use everything at your disposal, including sites like Instagram, eBay, chrono24 and Facebook. A great find is never in plain sight, and if it were it wouldn’t be cheap. If you buy from a dealer, make sure they have a good reputation. Remember, you buy the seller, not the watch.
On a final note, watch hunting is more than just another hobby; it’s another adventure and a story to tell — when you’ve scratched that itch and have your watch on your wrist.
The watch aficionado who goes by @YG_Watches shares some of the lessons he’s learnt collecting vintage timepieces.