In his newest book, Bernhard Strohm a.k.a. Herr Strohm, prominent watch blogger and author ironically warns about risks of addiction and megalomania and provides practical information to help (about to) watch enthusiasts make the right decisions.
Herr Strohm: Put bluntly: “greed conquers the mind”. The pursuit and purchase of a long sought-after watch is something very emotional and often devoid of rationality. In such cases, desire obstructs the contemplation of basic questions: Is the offer realistic? Is the supplier reputable? Is the watch as worthy of collecting as presupposed by self-asserted experts? Although foolish decisions are made everyday, don’t let it be you that make them.
Montredo: You yourself have been collecting for many years. Your passion for high quality watches began with the inheritance of one. What changes do you think the collector has faced in the past two decades?
Herr Strohm: Above all, the degree of access to crucial information pertinent to purchasing decisions has changed. Whereas formerly the collectors’ markets, the print media or the “old timers” were responsible for (dis) information and (personal) opinion, today the Internet is the absolute source of knowledge. Price comparisons, customer reviews, video tutorials, bloggers, and last but not least, serious online stores allow enthusiasts hearts to beat faster. But even now it remains important to be smart, to be able to accurately asses info and watches.
Montredo: You don’t go into much detail regarding the mechanical aspects of a watch, offering little more than flea market anecdotes. If it’s not the technical components, what is it that fascinates you?
Herr Strohm: With 30 years of experience in collecting under my belt I can allow myself to make decisions based very much on emotion. However, I constrain myself within a well-defined price segment and maintain clear quality requirements. Although I have, as a watch collector and blogger, already possessed and therefore had experience with more than 70 brands, there are still many brands that interest me. Within clear boundaries, follow your gut. That’s my motto, so to speak.
Montredo: When is a watch personally collectible in your eyes?
Herr Strohm: My mother always said, “Attraction defines beauty.” The watch must fit into MY collection, no matter for what reasons.
Montredo: …and when one tries to create an objective framework? What current watch models from well-known brands do you consider to be particularly collectible at present?
Herr Strohm: This question takes aim at an often-debilitated point – what defines the value of a watch. In my opinion, watches are particularly valuable when the model has hardly changed over years and even decades and is only slightly modified or optimized optically and technically. Of course, the brand image also plays a decisive role. A Rolex Submariner and Daytona, a Breitling Navitimer, or a (Tag) Heuer Monaco, are not “classics” for nothing, and are traded amongst admirers as a safe investment. Sporadic or drastic changes to watch models catalyzed by what’s in fashion, or the neglect of traditional values and buyer strata, have already driven brands to the brink of destruction – or even beyond.
Montredo: In your book there is a typology of watch collectors, in which the collector community is divided into categories. Is there a feature that unites the categories of watch collectors that simultaneously differentiates them from collectors of other items, of stamps or classic cars, for example?
Herr Strohm: On the contrary, I have experience (and a survey), showing that wonderful Oldertimers are to be found in the garages of many watch collectors. Good wines stored away in basements, and shoes stacked to the ceiling in walk-in wardrobes. A passion for something beautiful and exclusive is often not limited to one area of collection.
Montredo: What type of collector would you describe yourself as?
Herr Strohm: I’m the curious type. I don’t collect to own. I am fascinated in the most diverse range of watches for the most mottled set of reasons. My collection covers the entire bandwidth of watches. Not least in order to report about them in my blog, herrstrohmsuhrsachen.de.
Montredo: The illusive but much discussed Final- or Holy-Grail-Watch therefore, doesn’t exist in your eyes, as there is always just the next dream watch to muse over. What watch, then, would you say is your current Holy-Grail watch?
Herr Strohm: The last of my watches is still far out of sight. That said, I’d probably mortgage my house for an Omega Silver Snoopy or Rolex Daytona Paul Newman. But then I’d want a (Tag) Heuer Monaco Vintage, a Tudor Submariner Snowflake; the list goes on and on and on…
Interview: Peter Bodenbenner