Biggest Watch Collectors in the World: Tips on Becoming a Pro

Watch collecting is popular among enthusiasts who appreciate the intricate design, craftsmanship, and history behind each timepiece. Some collectors focus on a particular brand or era, while others use watches as a means to express their style. As more people discover the joy of owning a fine timepiece, watch collecting has become increasingly popular.

You’re obviously one of them, that’s why you’re here. Want to be a watch collector but don’t know the first thing about the industry? The article below’s got you covered.

What Makes a Watch Collector? 

A watch collector is someone who has a passion for watches and has a desire to collect and appreciate them as valuable objects. There are several characteristics that make a person a watch collector. These include:

  • An appreciation for the art and craftsmanship that goes into making watches
  • A desire for knowledge about the history and technical details of watches
  • A passion for collecting and appreciating the value and uniqueness of watches
  • A view of watches as a financial investment 
  • An appreciation for the connection to history that watches provide. 

However, it’s worth noting that being a watch collector doesn’t necessarily require meeting any specific criteria or rules. Ultimately, anyone who collects watches and enjoys the experience can consider themselves a collector.

7 Big Watch Collectors in the World

Watch collecting is a passion for many people worldwide, and some collectors have amassed an awe-inspiring collection of timepieces. Here are seven of the biggest watch collectors in the world:

Claude Sfeir

1. Claude Sfeir

With a collection of over 2,000 watches, Claude Sfeir is one of the most renowned watch collectors in the world. His collection includes vintage, modern, independent, and historical watches. 

The collector cum gemologist and jeweler has a particular liking for Rolex timepieces. He has over 40 years of watch collecting experience under his belt, and he’s not ready to stop anytime soon. 

Auro Montanari

2. Auro Montanari

Auro Montanari is a well-known watch collector who has acquired some of the most coveted timepieces in the world. Also known as John Goldberger, he’s been a watch collector for over 40 years, collecting the most coveted timepieces all the while.

Some perfect examples are the Patek Philippe and Rolex watches he bought during the quartz crisis at a bargain, which are turning out to be highly valuable today. He has a keen eye for the best and owns a rare Rolex Daytona Cosmograph ref. 6265 (The Unicorn) watch that sold for over S$7 million in 2018. He donated the proceeds to a children’s charity.

Eric Clapton

3. Eric Clapton

The famous guitarist (he has a guitar collection, too!) who was part of bands such as Cream and the Yardbirds is also a passionate watch collector. 

He is known for his love of Patek Philippe and Rolex timepieces. He sold one of his most famous pieces- the Patek Philippe ref. 2499- in 2012. As expected, the watch amassed quite a fortune, specifically over S$4,000,000.

John Mayer

4. John Mayer

Another musician who is a big watch collector is John Mayer. The Grammy Award Winner has a taste for Audemars Piguet, Patek Philippe, and Rolex pieces. 

He’s particularly fond of vintage Rolex watches and has a collection that includes rare and unique pieces such as the Rolex GMT-Master II 11570LN, the GMT-Master II White Gold 116719BLRO (which is selling for roughly S$56,000 in the secondary watch market), and the Rolex Daytona 116500.

James Dowling

5. James Dowling

Fondly known as ‘Mr.Rolex,’ Mr. Dowling is a respected authority on vintage Rolex watches and a passionate collector. He’s been a collector for over 30 years, has written a number of books on the subject, and has a collection that includes some of the most sought-after vintage Rolex watches, including the Rolex Beta 21 ref. 5100 and Rolex Oyster cushion case.

Paul Newman

6. Paul Newman

The late actor cum racecar driver was also a watch collector and is known for his association with the Rolex Daytona chronograph. The “Paul Newman” Daytona is among the most desired vintage Rolex watches, and examples have sold for millions of dollars at auction.

Benjamin Clymer

7. Benjamin Clymer

As the founder of the popular watch site Hodinkee, Benjamin Clymer is a well-known figure in the watch-collecting world. He has a collection of vintage and modern watches and is particularly fond of Patek Philippe timepieces.

These are just a few of the most well-known watch collectors in the world, and each has a unique collection that reflects their tastes and interests. Whether it’s vintage Rolex watches, rare Patek Philippe timepieces, or modern independent brands, these collectors have amassed some of the most impressive watch collections in the world.

5 Tips for Being a Successful Watch Collector

Collecting watches can be a rewarding and fulfilling pastime, but it can also be overwhelming for rookies. Here are five tips to help collectors succeed in their pursuit of horological treasures.

1. Develop a Personal Taste

Watch collecting is a personal journey, and it’s crucial to develop a taste for the watches that speak to you. Start by researching different styles, brands, and complications to get an idea of what you prefer.

Don’t be swayed by what others are collecting or what’s popular at the moment. Instead, focus on building a collection that reflects your personality and interests. Some quality pieces worth trying are Omega- specifically Omega speedmaster, a Rolex submariner, Seiko, and Breitling.

2. Have a Budget and Work Within It

It’s easy to get carried away when collecting watches, but it’s essential to have a budget and stick to it. Determine the amount you can realistically spend on your collection and work within those parameters. 

By setting a budget, you can control your spending and make informed decisions when purchasing a watch. Your budget should take into account your income, expenses, and other financial commitments. It’s important to remember that a watch collection is a long-term investment, so it’s better to start small and gradually build your collection over time.

Remember to upgrade your collection once in a while. You can do so whenever you get extra money (while still sticking to your budget).

3. Research As Much As Possible

Knowledge is power in the world of watch collecting. Take the time to research different brands, models, and histories to gain a deeper understanding of the watches you’re interested in. This ensures you make informed decisions when purchasing and get the best value for your money.

You can start by reading books, magazines, and online forums about watches or attending watch exhibitions and shows.

4. Seek Advice From Professionals

Don’t shy away from seeking advice from experts when building your collection. Watchmakers, dealers, and other collectors can offer valuable insights and help you navigate the sometimes confusing world of watch collecting. They can also help you identify fakes and ensure you’re making smart purchases.

Of course, the number of years they’ve been part of the community and how many watch collections they have matter. Strive to approach those with the most experience.

5. Start With Pre-Owned Luxury Watches

For many collectors, pre-owned luxury watches offer the best value for their money. These watches have already depreciated in value, which means that you can often find them at a fraction of their original cost. They also offer an excellent opportunity to own a piece of horological history and add to your collection without breaking the bank.

However, it’s essential to buy from a reputable dealer and to have the watch inspected by a professional to ensure that it is authentic and in good condition.

The Best Watches to Get Started

Here are our top watch suggestions to begin your collection with:

1. Furlan Marri ‘Castagna’ – Stainless Steel, Gray Dial ref. 1009-A

Furlan Marri ‘Castagna’- Stainless Steel, Gray Dial ref. 1009-A
  • Retail Price: S$827
  • Market Average: S$1,350
  • Secondary Market Dealer: S$950

They include 2 subdials at 3 and 9 o’clock, Breguet-style Arabic numeral hour markers at 12 and 6 o’clock, a mechaquartz movement, a double-domed sapphire crystal with five layers of anti reflective coating, and an asthmometer (5 respirations) scale.

  • Production Year: 2022
  • Case Size: 38mm
  • Materials
    • Dial: Gray, with silver-toned sword-shaped hands and Arabic numeral/ index hour markers
    • Bracelet: Italian brown leather strap with a steel deployant buckle
    • Bezel: Fixed, smooth steel
  • Function: Chronograph, Hours, Minutes, Seconds, Sub-seconds
  • Mechanism: Seiko VK64 mechaquartz (quartz) movement

It’s affordable and carries a piece of valuable history with it: The mechaquartz movement, which was first introduced in the late 1980s.

About

The Furlan Marri ref. 1009-A is a versatile unisex timepiece with a unique, exciting design. It has a 38mm steel case which matches its neat, deep gray dial. It also has a strong, stitched leather bracelet and chronograph function that bring out its sporty nature.


2. Seiko ‘Dress KX’ – Stainless Steel, Blue Dial ref. SRPE53

Seiko ‘Dress KX’- Stainless Steel, Blue Dial ref. SRPE53
  • Retail Price: S$367
  • Market Average: S$222
  • Secondary Market Dealer: S$250

Some of its best ones are an automatic movement, water resistance to 100m, day and date display at 3 o’clock, LumiBrite illumination on hands and markers, and a Hardlex crystal over the dial.

  • Production Year: 2020
  • Case Size: 40mm
  • Materials
    • Dial – Blue, with LumiBrite lume-applied hands and hour markers
    • Bracelet – Three-piece steel bracelet with three-piece fold clasp with push button release
    • Bezel – Fixed, smooth, steel
  • Function: Day, Date, Hours, Minutes, Seconds
  • Mechanism: Automatic Caliber 4R36 movement with manual winding

It’s affordable and super functional. What’s more, its average market price increased from S$216 on October 31, 2022 to S$222 on April 28, 2023, as per WatchCharts.

About

The Seiko ‘Dress KX’ ref. SRPE53 is part of the newer Seiko 5 Sports Collection. It drifts slightly from the norm by lacking a rotating bezel. Rather, it has a fixed steel one as well as a steel body and design. It looks like a dress watch, hence the name, but it’s a men’s sports watch with a reliable movement, gorgeous blue dial, and confidence to match.


3. Rolex Submariner – Stainless Steel, Black Dial ref. 16610

Rolex Submariner- Stainless Steel, Black Dial ref. 16610
  • Retail Price: S$9,849
  • Market Average: S$13,285
  • Secondary Market Dealer: S$14,385

They include a date window at 3 o’clock with a Cyclops magnifying lens over it, water resistance to 300m, a unidirectional rotating bezel, a Rolex Caliber 3135 movement, and a scratch-resistant sapphire crystal with a magnifying lens.

  • Production Year: 1989-2010
  • Case Size: 40mm
  • Materials:
    • Dial – Black, with lume-applied Mercedes-style hands, a lollipop-style seconds hand, and hour markers
    • Bracelet – Steel Oyster, with wetsuit extension
    • Bezel – Unidirectional rotating, with black aluminum insert and 60-minute graduations
  • Function: Date, Hours, Minutes, Seconds
  • Mechanism: Self-winding mechanical Caliber 3135 movement with a 48-hour power reserve

It’s a vintage timepiece that’s no longer in production, so it’s desirable among most watch fans. Moreover, it retains its value with time.

About

The Rolex Submariner ref. 16610 is a men’s luxury dive watch. It’s been in production longest compared to other models in the collection. It has a simple steel-black dial design, made interesting by its unidirectional rotating bezel and date window with a Cyclops magnifying lens. It also boasts an automatic in-house movement.


4. Breitling Avenger Chronograph GMT – Stainless Steel, Blue Dial ref. A24315101C1A1

reitling Avenger Chronograph GMT- Stainless Steel, Blue Dial ref. A24315101C1A1
  • Retail Price: S$9,214
  • Market Average: S$9,540
  • Secondary Market Dealer: S$10,005

They include three subdials at 12,6 and 9 o’clock, 24-hour indications on the dial flange, a red GMT hand with a luminous inverted triangle tip, a crown and chronograph pushers with a special grip pattern and Arabic numeral hour markers on all positions except 12,6 and 9 o’clock.

  • Production Year: 2022
  • Case Size: 45mm
  • Materials:
    • Dial – Blue, with lume-applied hands and hour markers
    • Bracelet – Stainless steel, with folding clasp with safety latch
    • Bezel – Steel unidirectional rotating
  • Function: Chronograph, Date, Hours, Minutes
  • Mechanism: Self-winding mechanical Caliber Breitling 24 movement with 25 jewels, a 42-hour power reserve, and 28,800vph frequency

Its price increased by at least 2 percent between 2022 and April 28, 2023.

About

The Breitling Avenger Chronograph ref. A24315101C1A1 is a sturdy, sports men’s timepiece. It has a commanding wrist presence and a large 45mm case that has a matching bracelet and bezel. It has a blue dial with black details and an automatic movement with a 2nd timezone function.


5. Rolex Submariner ‘Kermit’- 904L Stainless Steel, Black Dial ref. 16610LV

Rolex Submariner ‘Kermit’- 904L Stainless Steel, Black Dial ref. 16610LV
  • Retail Price: S$8,547
  • Market Average: S$22,737
  • Secondary Market Dealer: S$24,428

Some of its features are a green unidirectional rotating bezel, a Rolex Caliber 3135 movement, water resistance to 300m, a date window at 3 o’clock, and a bracelet with a Glidelock extension system.

  • Production Year: 2003-2010
  • Case Size: 40mm
  • Materials:
    • Dial – Black, with lume-applied Mercedes hands and a lollipop-style seconds hand
    • Bracelet – Steel Oyster, with a Rolex stamped clasp with clamshell and a Rolex Glidelock extension system
    • Bezel – Unidirectional green, with an aluminum insert and 60-minute scale
  • Function: Date, Hours, Minutes, Seconds
  • Mechanism: Caliber 3135 movement

It’s no longer in production, hence has a higher appeal level. Additionally, it retains its value over time.

About

The ‘Kermit’ ref. 16610LV was released in 2003 to celebrate 50 years of the Submariner line. It got its adorable name from its green bezel and black dial combo, which was pretty amazing for the time. It has an Oystersteel (904L stainless steel at the time) 40mm case that’s paired with a steel Oyster bracelet. The magic lies in its green bezel which sadly fades over time. It was discontinued in 2010 and was followed by the ‘Hulk’ ref. 116610LV.


6. Omega Speedmaster- Stainless Steel, Black Dial ref. 145.022

ga Speedmaster- Stainless Steel, Black Dial ref. 145.022
  • Retail Price: S$8,701
  • Market Average: S$6,764
  • Secondary Market Dealer: S$8,743

They include three subdials at 3,6 and 9 o’clock, a bezel with a tachymeter scale, a Hesalite crystal, a manually wound movement, and water resistance to 50m.

  • Production Year: 1968-1988
  • Case Size: 42mm
  • Materials:
    • Dial – Black, with Tritium lume-applied hands and hour markers
    • Bracelet – Stainless steel, with a steel deployant clasp
    • Bezel – Fixed, black, with a tachymeter scale
  • Function: Chronograph, Hours, Minutes, Seconds, Tachymeter
  • Mechanism: Manually wound Caliber 861 chronograph movement

It’s a vintage timepiece that’s highly sought after by most watch enthusiasts. Plus, it retains its value well over time and even increases in worth depending on the financial front.

About

The Speedmaster ‘Speedy’ ref. 145.022 is the sports chronograph that officially took the Moonwatch title. This is the case even though it was crafted a year before Apollo 11 astronauts first took the Speedmaster to the moon. It has a bulky 42mm steel case and thin matching bracelet, as well as a Hesalite crystal over its matte black dial and 19 links on its bracelet.


7. Furlan Marri ‘Rosso Grigio’- Stainless Steel, Gray and Red Dial ref. 1085-A

Furlan Marri ‘Rosso Grigio’- Stainless Steel, Gray and Red Dial ref. 1085-A
  • Retail Price: S$829
  • Market Average: S$879
  • Secondary Market Dealer: S$910

They include engraved pushers, a burgundy-colored strap, a gray dial with red details, subdials at 3 and 9 o’clock, a mechaquartz movement, and water resistance to 50m.

  • Production Year: 2022
  • Case Size: 38mm
  • Materials:
    • Dial – Gray and red, with sword-shaped hands and Arabic numeral/index hour markers
    • Bracelet – Italian burgundy leather strap with a steel deployant buckle
    • Bezel – Fixed, smooth, stainless steel
  • Function: Chronograph, Date, Hours, Minutes, Seconds
  • Mechanism: Seiko VK64 mechaquartz quartz movement

It’s a price-friendly reliable timepiece with a high-precision quartz movement. Additionally, it can last for years if maintained properly due to its sturdy construction.

About

The Furlan Marri ref. 1085-A is a sexy unisex timepiece with (mostly) feminine vibes. It joined the Furlan Marri family in 2022 and is appreciated by a growing number of watch fans for its complex gray-red dial and beautiful strap. Its asthmometer scale, mechaquartz movement and chronograph function make it a reliable everyday timepiece.


Comparison Table

The following table shows the watch picks above plus their key features, launch price, current original price, and pre-owned price.

Model

Key Features

Launch Price

Current Original Price

Pre-Owned Price

Furlan Marri ref. 1009-A

  • Breguet-style Arabic numeral hour markers at 12 and 6 o’clock
  • Double-domed sapphire crystal with five layers of anti reflective coating
  • Asthmometer (5 respirations) scale

S$750

S$827

S$1,350

Seiko ref. SRPE53

  • Automatic Caliber 4R36 movement with manual winding
  • Day and date display at 3 o’clock
  • Hardlex crystal over the dial

S$295

S$367

S$222

Rolex Submariner ref. 16610

  • Date window at 3 o’clock
  • Water resistance to 300m
  • Unidirectional rotating bezel

S$1,643

S$9,849

S$13,285

Breitling ref. A24315101C1A1

  • Three subdials at 12,6 and 9 o’clock
  • 24-hour indications on the dial flange
  • Crown and chronograph pushers with a special grip pattern

S$7,967

S$9,214

S$9,540

Rolex Submariner ref. 16610LV

  • Green unidirectional rotating bezel
  • Bracelet with a Glidelock extension system
  • Water resistance to 300m

S$900

S$8,547

S$22,737

Omega Speedmaster ref. 145.022

  • Three subdials at 3,6 and 9 o’clock
  • Bezel with a tachymeter scale
  • Manually wound Caliber 861 movement

S$950

S$8,701

S$6,764

Furlan Marri ref. 1085-A

  • Engraved pushers
  • Burgundy-colored strap
  • Gray dial with red details

S$780

S$829

S$879

The most expensive luxury watch on the list is the Rolex Submariner ref. 16610. Meanwhile, the Seiko ref. SRPE53 is the most affordable.

Our favorite feature is the Furlan Merri ref. 1009-A and Furlan Marri ref.1085-A’s asthmometer scale. It shows the number of respirations each minute. It’s calibrated on 5 respirations and the chronograph hand stops after the 5th respiration.

FAQs

1. What is watch collector called?

A person who collects watches is commonly referred to as a watch collector or a horologist. They are individuals who have a passion for watches and enjoy acquiring, studying, and appreciating timepieces.

2. Is watch collecting a hobby?

Yes, watch collecting is considered a hobby for many people. It is a way for individuals to express their style and interests while investing in a valuable and timeless item.

3. Who is the biggest watch collector in the world?

It is difficult to determine who the biggest watch collector in the world is, as many collectors prefer to keep their collections private. However, some well-known and respected collectors include Eric Clapton, John Mayer, and Rocky star Sylvester Stallone.

4. What is the difference between a watch enthusiast and a watch collector?

A watch enthusiast is someone who has a strong interest in watches but may not necessarily collect them. They may enjoy reading about watches, learning about different brands and models, and discussing watches with other enthusiasts. On the other hand, a watch collector actively acquires timepieces and builds a collection over time.

Final Word

Watch collecting can be overwhelming if you’re new to it. However, with some research and guidance, avoiding common mistakes and building a collection that brings joy and satisfaction is possible.

Key Takeaways

  • Developing a personal taste for timepieces before you buy your first watch is crucial in becoming a professional watch collector as it helps you focus.
  • Creating a budget before embarking on a watch-collecting journey is crucial as it prevents overspending and helps you make informed decisions. 
  • Consulting professional watch collectors and researching goes a long way in being an expert watch collector as they widen your knowledge on different watches and help you stay updated.

Looking to buy or sell your luxury watches? Watch Book is your one-stop destination for trading Rolex, Patek Philippe, Tissot, Sinn, Zenith, and other luxury timepieces. Find your next watch today or list your item for free!

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