How Many Timepieces Does A Man Need?

TimeCaptain's collection of watches

TimeCaptain’s collection

This, my friends, is a popular debate. How many timepieces do you need? Do you buy the next decent piece you can afford? Or do you wait, save and try to buy your grail piece? Do you wear one single expensive piece every day? Or do you build a collection of average pieces? Which is the right strategy?

My buddy, Glen, and I discussed this recently. He suggested the following mathematical formula for calculating the optimal number of pieces for a man’s collection.

Optimal Number of pieces = n + 1 , where n = the current number of pieces in your collection.

Over the past years, I was mad about acquiring every timepiece that I fell for. Everybody warned me that this was a mistake- that it’s better to be patient, wait and save for the BIG score. The grail piece. Well, I ended up selling off most of my collection in order to acquire MY grail – a limited edition Panerai Luminor. I now have only four mechanical pieces after having as many as 10. And I think four is a better number than 10.

Basically, what I’m saying is that I ended up agreeing with all my watch buddies. I consolidated my collection into a leaner and higher-end collection. I took losses on MOST of the pieces I sold, but I ended up with pieces that I enjoy more.

So what was the motivation for acquiring as many as 10 pieces in the first place? For me, it was about trying to have one of every type of watch- divers, pilots, dressy, retro, etc. etc. But the problem with having so many watches is that you hardly wear each one! I’d have pieces that would sit for weeks without getting worn. Eventually, I looked at one piece and realized that I hadn’t even worn it in over a month. And it was like my money was just sitting there all tied up in this watch that wasn’t even getting used. It was nice to see my watch case full of wrist candy, but it really bothered me to be ”wasting” such expensive equipment.

And while I had been accumulating this collection, I kept dreaming of that Panerai Luminor. Each purchase pushed me further and further away from that dream. Until I managed to sell and trade my way to the grail.

I still think you need more than one piece. At a minimum, you need a black strap, a brown strap and a stainless steel strap. Probably something on a rubber strap, too. You also need at least one chronograph and, if your budget allows it, you need one or two complications. For me, I think the ideal number of timepieces is somewhere between two and five, depending how high end you want to go with each one. This allows a bit of variety while making sure that you can squeeze each piece into your weekly rotation.

I guess it’s the old saying – quality versus quantity. Sort of. Believe it or not, I am not even considering another purchase any time soon – because I am enjoying four different timepieces that I can wear on a weekly basis. Oh, for sure I would love to acquire more pieces in years to come. But, after learning my lesson, I think I’ll be patient. Wait. Save. Build up the anticipation. And go big.

As always, my friends, the fun is in the search.

Yours truly,


TimeCaptain is a self-confessed timepiece junkie.  He spends nearly all of his spare time buying,  selling,  trading,  researching, admiring and trying different timepieces. He's also a fanatic Formula 1 fan, having followed every single Grand Prix since 1991.  He switches to NFL football in the fall and roots for the Green Bay Packers. A child of the 1980's, TimeCaptain is mad about 80's music,  TV, cinema and pop culture.  Another interest of TimeCaptain is space exploration and the study of distant planets and galaxies. When asked about his favorite watch,  TimeCaptain remembers Enzo Ferrari's answer as to his favorite car- "the one I haven't built yet."