Team Watchonista’s Resolutions & Predictions for 2023
As 2022 draws to a close and in honor of New Year’s Eve, the members of Team Watchonista want to share with you what they’re looking forward to in the coming year and give some insights on how they’d like to see their personal watch collections evolve in 2023.
If the last few years have taught us anything, it is to expect the unexpected and prepare for anything. Still, as you’ve read about on the pages of Watchonista, the watch industry is alive, even as the auction market has cooled.
That is why we asked some of our team members to give us their resolutions for 2023. And we’re not talking weight loss, dieting, or exercise. We’re talking watches!
Due to out-of-control auction prices, my resolution for 2022 was to stop bidding and open my mind to watchmaking territories that don’t grab as many headlines, like lesser-known independent brands. As a result, throughout 2022, I looked for watches that didn’t have any speculative hype. Instead, I looked for true witnesses of era-specific style and technique, like the Universal Genève Polerouter Date and the Jaeger-LeCoultre Etrier from the 1950s or the Bulova Accutron Spaceview (signed Ecole d’Horlogerie Le Locle) and IWC Ingenieur Titan Quartz from the 1970s.
For 2023, I plan to continue my quest to find watches that are unexpected gems and have value due to being innovative for their times and not concerning myself with their monetary value.
Regarding the market, the tricky questions for 2023 will be: 1) How many of the big players on the pre-owned, resale, and gray market side of watch sales have significant stockpiles that they bought at too high and are unlikely to see prices rebound in the upcoming months or years? And 2) How big are these white elephantine stockpiles?
Why should we care? Because without an answer to these two questions, it is impossible to know when and at which level speculative and actual prices in the pre-owned, resale, gray market, and auction spaces will stabilize. In fact, I think some actors on the secondary watch market could represent a systemic risk for the continued reduction in speculative prices to pre-boom levels because, at some point, they will need to sell their stock to recoup as many losses as possible.
Last year I resolved to focus on the upkeep of my existing timepieces over new acquisitions. And I mostly succeeded. However, to keep my mind off buying, I borrowed a few pieces, and as a result, I can’t stop thinking about the Oris Rectangular I took for a test drive at Watches & Wonders 2022.
So, I’m saving up my pennies to bring her back home.
Let’s start with my New Year’s Resolution: I want to pare down my scattered collection to refocus on two categories. First, I want watches that I have a personal connection to; and second, I want to shift my focus to automotive history watches. So, what does this mean?
Regarding the first category, I have only ever bought four new, straight-from-the-manufacture watches. And each of them owns a unique place in my heart. In terms of the second category, these are watches owned, issued, or worn by giants of the automotive world. Watches like my Omega owned by H.H. Curtice, a 1578GM Patek Philippe, or (my grail for this category) a real Omega Speedmaster “A.C.P.” Dial!
My prediction (and hope) for 2023 is that we as collectors can use this cooling off of the watch market to work on three things: 1) Refocusing on the joy of collecting; 2) emphasizing the importance of learning about a watch’s past and present; and 3) most importantly, having fun.
Perhaps the most unfortunate consequence of the rising cost of watches has been that we are too often concerned with the “investment” and the “resale” value of pieces. This chase for hype and status has damaged our sense of community and choked off the joy that collecting watches can bring us.
I, too, reflected on my watch industry predictions/resolutions from last year. And I have to say: I didn’t do that bad; The industry has continued its trend towards generalist/less-gender-specific design, more steel models from fine watchmakers, and a spike in non-circular watch design.
For this year, let’s replace my desire for steel with a hope for the increased and more-interesting use of titanium, buoyed by an example from 2022: The colorful, fun, exquisite Zodiac Super Sea Wolf Pro Diver Titanium Edition, which brought a new coolness and accessibility to the material.
As for non-circular watch design, Hublot’s show-stopping Square Bang Collection revealed at Watches & Wonders 2022 in Geneva not only redefines what a Hublot can be, but it also redefines what a square watch can be. Let’s see more makers break the circle a bit with new geometry!
I am extremely interested in the futuristic side of the watch industry but to fully appreciate these amazingly tiny pieces of machinery demands a certain level of technical understanding that I current lack.
So, after substantial technical releases from the likes of MB&F, Hermès, and De Bethune in 2022, one of my resolutions for the next year is to take a deeper dive into the technical side of horology by immersing myself in the watch literature. I feel a strong need to obtain a deeper understanding of the mechanics and engineering behind watches.
One of my highlights of 2022 was attending NOMOS Glashütte’s third annual Forum in its hometown of Glashütte, Germany, which focused on nurturing and protecting local watchmaking savoir-faire.
In this post-Baselworld era, the Bauhaus brand showed me exactly how watchmakers can use in-depth, in-house events to present novelties, to provoke thought and stimulate discussion, and to make authentic connections in a manner for which trade shows, with their “drive-by” format, are not best suited.
Just as memorable was the intimate, informal dinner on the evening prior to the Forum: It was a real pleasure to exchange with NOMOS’ passionate and down-to-earth team about life beyond watches. In 2023, I hope to be able to experience more watch brands in such an authentic and human way.