Confessions of a Collector: Taking Only One Watch to Watches & Wonders 2022
Today is the true story of how I had a one-watch collection for over a week at the watch industry’s largest trade show.
Last month, it was announced that the 2023 edition of Watches & Wonders will take place from March 27th to April 2nd. And the news reminded me of a little experiment I performed at Watches & Wonders 2022: I only took one watch with me for a week in Geneva. That watch was the Oris Rectangular.
And while lots of people write “a week on the wrist” articles, the circumstances and outcome of this story has stuck with me since last March.
Yes, the primary purpose of watch fairs is discovering new timepieces, but they are also a chance for enthusiasts to show off their collections. Plus, Watches & Wonders is a bit of an endurance sport. So, attendees tend to bring multiple watches to wear throughout the show.
It’s a lot to ask of one timepiece.
How It Started
I’ve been amassing watches since I was in high school. Which means my collection is vast and diverse. I don’t have a lot of vault queens because each piece feels like an extension of my personality.
My collection also reflects my curiosity. So, when Oris asked me if I wanted to borrow a watch for review, I decided to borrow a red Rectangular. There were a couple of reasons I chose this piece. Namely because I’m a sucker for a Tank-like watch, but I was also curious about experiencing something from the brand that was outside of its better-known dive watches.
The timing was around Watches & Wonders, so when the brand gave me the blessing to take the loaner out of the country, they added a stipulation: “Wear the hell out of it.”
That was when the idea of taking only one watch to the fair first sparked to life.
In the past, I usually brought a whole roll of watches that I could swap out as appointments and events demanded. However, I also had my watches stolen at Baselworld one year. It’s one thing to lose your watches, but I was worried about having a borrowed piece boosted. So, my thinking was that if the Oris Rectangular never left my wrist, there was little chance of theft.
Travel these days is fraught with drama. My flight to Geneva included much anxiety about flying internationally for the first time since March 2020 and a record-breaking gate-to-gate sprint to make a connecting flight.
Between the psychological and physical stress, the Rectangular passed its first test with flying colors – even when getting banged up trying to find space in the overhead for carry-on luggage. It kept me on time, even when the airline didn’t.
And it was during this game of luggage Tetris my borrowed Rectangular received its first compliment from a flight attendant helping me jam my bag into the overhead. “Nice watch,” she said.
This year, I sat out the nighttime dinner and party circuit, but I still needed to dress professionally (another thing I hadn’t done in two years). In this regard, the Rectangular was the perfect traveling companion.
Oris describes the Rectangular’s case shape as tall and broad-shouldered. I like this wording because it encapsulates the crossover appeal of this watch. It’s traditional enough to wear with business attire, but its unconventional silhouette also works with super casual traveling clothes.
However, it didn’t blend into the background either. My loaner had a red dial and strap. On day one of Watches & Wonders, another visitor to the fair approached me for a closer look. From a distance, he thought that it was a vintage Reverso.
How It Ended
Ultimately, I learned I won’t ever be the type of person who can do the three-watch collection. I need to express my moods through my timepieces. At the same time, being a one-watch woman for a week was easy thanks to the versatility of the Rectangular.
One discovery was that an all-red watch worked well with my basic black work wardrobe and my more colorful off-duty clothing.
When Oris said, “Wear the hell out of it,” I thought the greatest challenge would be matching it to my wardrobe needs. However, the biggest test of the timepiece turned out to be the extreme March weather.
We went from sweltering heat to snowstorms during our time in Switzerland. As a result, my loaner got wet. A lot. Eventually, the red dye from the strap transferred onto my skin. But that was only noticeable when I took the watch off.
I also learned that I am vain. I don’t think I’ve ever worn a watch that has attracted so many unsolicited compliments before. And I liked it.
An all-red watch stands out. The elegant shape, polished finish and traditional dial design also make it look (as one person observed) expensive. Priced at $2,400 Canadian (I am from Toronto, after all), it isn’t cheap, but compared to a Jaeger-LeCoultre, it’s a bargain.
I was very sorry to have to return it, which is one reason why I’m reluctant to do loaners. I bonded with that Rectangular. The watch and I had adventures (including a couple of post-W&W days in Lausanne, hanging out with the Watchonista team, eating great food and admiring beautiful mountain vistas). And we looked good together. It was the closest I’ve ever come to being faithful to one watch.