The Collector’s Essay no. 1 – Hunting or Fishing?

by bulang - Mar 05 2016

The Collector’s Essay is a series of pieces we will be periodically running about the art of collecting, the passion of collecting, the pitfalls of collecting and the rewards of collecting. In this first instalment, Ross Povey shares his thoughts on the different ways we chase our prey…

How many times have you heard the collectors referring to ‘the chase’ or ‘the hunt’ when searching for a new watch to add to their collection. If we’re honest, one of the most exciting and exhilarating aspects of our hobby is the pursuit of a long-awaited piece. It is the same in all collectors’ mind-sets; cars, wine, toys, watches…the thrill is the seeking!

Hunting and Fishing

Chris Widener is a US-based leadership and development coach who developed a concept called ‘Hunting and Fishing’. Widener’s theory is based around people leadership or sales and focuses on when we have to sell an issue or concept and how there are two different ways that we can go about this. We can take the hunting approach, which is the aggressive chase and attack mode. A huntsman knows what he wants to ‘bag’ and goes in for the kill; the obvious result being that ‘the hunted’ flees, running for its life. The second approach is that of the fisherman. Fishing is the opposite of hunting, whereby the quarry is attracted or enticed towards the bait. Fishermen are patient and know how to play their lines to bring the fish in and hook them onto their bait; they don’t create that defensive backlash.

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The Collectors’ Link

So how can we apply this concept to watch collecting and how can the two different approaches affect the outcome of our procurement of pieces? We’ve all been there. You’re reading a magazine or a blog piece over your morning coffee or catching up on your Instagram feed whilst you wait for your meeting to start and ‘bam!’ you see it; the watch you’ve been looking for…the piece that will complete your collection…that’s what you need to balance your watch box. Sound familiar?

Huntsman

Your mind is made up and you decide that you need to acquire this watch. But how will you plan this acquisition? What’s your strategy? This where I believe Widener’s concept can be applied to watch collecting. Are you a Hunter? This is the more aggressive way to catch your prey. In simple terms it’s the loud and proud way of quickly finding and bagging your prey. ‘WTB (Want to Buy)’ adverts on every forum, phone calls and What’s App messages to all the dealers and brokers, Chrono24 searches and other methods to quickly and abruptly acquire your prize. It can get you a fast result, but can you also fall into the trap of impulse buying? There is nothing more dissatisfying for the seasoned collector than settling for a piece that’s not quite up to your normal standards.

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Fisherman

The fisherman, however, has the patience of a saint. He can quite happily sit or stand for hours, playing his line and waiting for his prey to come along. And when it does…he strikes and the prize is on the hook! This method of bagging your watch takes real patience and means that you might pass on the piece that isn’t quite right, but the satisfaction of finally getting your vintage Rolex Submariner, Explorer or Omega Military Seamaster is the best feeling…until you cast out for the next fish!

Patience Pays

I’ve so often been given the sage advice that patience pays and eventually what you are looking for will come along. Now I have to admit, that I’ve been both a hunter and a fisherman when striving to acquire watches. The aggressive hunting approach has landed me in a couple of situations, especially early on in my collecting, when I have rushed into buying a watch that wasn’t quite what I wanted or the quality wasn’t good enough. I can say, without exception, that all of those pieces were flipped quickly. Conversely, the most precious watches to me are the ones that I researched thoroughly and spent weeks, months and even years searching for…patience pays!

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This isn’t a value judgement however. The great thing about collecting is that there are no ‘rights or wrongs’ and each and every one of us is free to collect whatever we want in whichever manner we please. But there are some basic principals in life about not rushing and taking the time to get things right and it only seems sensible that this is applied to collecting watches…or cars, paintings, sneakers, toys or furniture. So sit back, relax and enjoy the wait!

Ross Povey