Fresh Set is an ongoing series where readers follow the newest StockX Watch team member, Hadjj, as he learns more about the in’s and out’s of watches.
One would think that a watch person and a sneaker person were two of the most unlikely groups to be in a room together. Just like any group, there are negative stigmas surrounding them. Watch people are thought to be snobby caviar eaters that play polo on the weekends. Sneaker people are believe to be radical collectors that care about affording the rubber on their feet more than the roof over their heads. But both couldn’t be farther from the truth! As a sneakerhead developing into a watch nerd, I come to realize that our similarities outweigh our differences. This article is to highlight just some of those shared personalities that bring us niche collectors together.
Picky on Specific Details
When I first started collecting sneakers in high school, I was just happy to get any sneaker. But the longer I developed my eye for kicks, I started to get really nit-picky with what I liked to see on a silhouette. For example, I was disappointed with the recent release of the Air Jordan 6 ‘Infrared’ mainly because the hits of infrared on the midsole were not fully painted and did not cover the peaks to its 2010 retro version. But that is a very VERY specific detail that many people would glance over. When I purchase something with my money, and it is something that I am passionate about, I make sure it is to my liking.
Watch people are the exact same way, and for good reason too. Watches and sneakers are the LEAST affordable hobbies that any person can take on, with items hitting over the thousands! Timepiece collectors make it a point to observe and tinker with every aspect of a watch to make sure everything they paid for is authentic. One of StockX Watches veteran experts, Blake Buettner, told me that he always checks the case height, in addition to the diameter, which to him, is a better indicator of wearability. He says, a watch isn’t something you should notice on the wrist, until you need it, that is. Only someone in the “game” would pay attention to something that specific.
Before we had such resources as Sneakernews.com, Solecollector.com, and Twitter to provide us all with the latest drops, there were online forums. Forums, like NikeTalk and SneakerFreaker, were hubs for aficionados and newcomers to learn more about and enhance sneaker culture. These sites were rampant with opinionated comments on recent releases, information on the location of specific grails in local shops, and a bunch of other organic content that helped build a community of sneaker experts.
Just like sneakers, there are an abundance of watch forums filled with passionate and knowledgeable collectors that just love watches. Every day, there are people bringing up new topics and developments in these forums. Just like any sneaker forum, some conversations get extremely heated, but that only speaks to how important and unique these objects are to the individuals that collect them. On sites such as Watchuseek, WatchTalk, and TimeZone, watch lovers can choose to converse on specific watch types, from dive, tool and even women’s, creating an inclusive space for every and all collectors.
A lot of sneaker collectors will tell you that their obsession started at a young age. With the power of the internet and social media, collectors are getting younger and younger. By using these resources, kids nowadays can acquire thousands of dollars by trading and selling sneakers online, helping fuel their collecting habits. Without the power of reselling, a lot of people would not be able to afford such grails as Supreme Nikes, OG Air Jordans, and Yeezys.
Despite popular belief, not every watch collector is rich, and there are a lot of normal, working, everyday people in the watch community that just love collecting. Each of which do what they can to fund their habit. Just like anything, it is possible to save up for a watch, but that can take years for some models. For example, a Rolex Submariner can run anyone up to $6,000+ on the secondary market. A lot of collectors rely on reselling as well to help them reach their dream watch at a faster rate. With sites such as StockX, people can sell their watches and get paid instantly, helping supply funds and add to their collection (subtle plug).
If you’re like me, you appreciate a good box. The box of a pair of shoes adds just as much value to the release as the trainers themselves. Whenever Boston based sneaker boutique Concepts releases a collaboration, they treat each project with a great deal of detail, and are known for delivering on dynamic boxes that continue to supply context to the concept. I know as a sneakerhead I always feel extra special receiving a nice, crisp box. A box also tells a lot about the authenticity of a shoe as well, with some of our authenticators being able to spot a fake without even looking at the shoes.
Watch enthusiasts go crazy for a good box as well, even better when it comes with papers. Just like Jordan Cards that came with some OG silhouettes, watch papers are just as essential to watch packaging. As I stated in the first Fresh Set article, I remember seeing the watch team smelling the packing from a brand new, double sealed Patek Philippe coming straight from Switzerland to get a whiff of the European air. It’s the little things such as that that really make getting a new watch that much more exciting! Fakes are easy to spot as well when it comes to the packaging that a watch comes in. Our head of watches at StockX brought in a Rolex box one day to teach me how to spot a fake Rolex based off of its poorly constructed packaging.
Whether it’s the minuet details in stitching and watch dials, or the eccentric way that we go about finding an item, watch and sneaker people are more common than one may think. It is unfortunate that outsiders, and even those within both communities, have preconceived notions of either parties, but it is important to inform those on how these collectors are just passionate about what they like. Once that becomes highlighted, maybe then we will start seeing more and more collectors from each side dip into each other’s obsessions, sneakerheads turning watch nerds and vice versa.