What’s true and what’s not with so many watch experts around?
Nowadays it’s become so easy to reach out to collectors who understand your passion. We Rolex friends all do love the internet due to the immense possibilities to discuss watch details of which most other people are clueless about. It’s without doubt that the presence of the internet has pushed collecting vintage watches to a higher level then before. Over sudden it was possible for everybody to connect to fellow aficionados and discuss oddities you couldn’t explain by yourself. From the beginning everybody learned of the information that the watch community shared online. Now that there are hardly any questions unanswered, one could say thats it’s possible to become an expert out of your lazy chair? Or isn’t it?? My question is, what’s true and what’s not with so many watch experts around?
In the old days essential knowledge and information was hidden for the public, guarded by dealers but the internet changed everything. In the recent past I wrote an article about the importance of Instagram and the huge change of how we deal nowadays. When you know how to handle your keyboard, finding crucial information is indeed under your fingertips. Everywhere you read experts opinions although not always its true what they spread. Since there are no guidelines I noticed that it’s easy for people to give others the illusion that they are an expert. Therefore I like to discuss the risks of spreading false information, unintended or even intended.
Due to the fact the internet is for free and the information you can obtain there is also free, my observations indicate that there’s hardly any new collectors information added online. It’s all a matter of copy & paste and hardly any true information is added to the community. Many commercial websites use this info they find for free online, rewrite it a little bit without having any clue what they write and then pretend to be an expert, to sell their products. Newbies get confused, who to trust and follow they wonder. In the recent past we collectors shared our knowledge on specialist forums, nowadays we sadly see that the action has gone at forums. Social media took over and since there are hardly any knowledgeable moderators or official rules, over sudden everybody has become an expert.
Exactly this is the point I’m worried about. The thousands of people looking for answers don’t really find them anymore. Off course I’m aware we are living in a digital revolution and things change rapidly but this shift of the internet away from forums has become more of a threat for us instead of being an opportunity. Everything needs to be fast now and controlled and directed by giant companies behind the social media. Although many think we are achieving something, knowledge wise we are in a stand still, not moving anywhere. It has all become about the beauty of the picture with corresponding text nobody reads. I almost stopped adding detailed information at all on Instagram because the useless discussion often ends with a block.
Why are these forums dead? Because it’s not as fast as social media, it’s not easy to use and some forums are members-only and therefore Google doesn’t find their information for those that are looking. Uploading pictures to a forum is a pain in the *ss and after streaming company Photobucket recently changed their policy, millions of free pictures are lost for ever since they started asking serious money to store your scans. If you use google you maybe find the info as so far google stored the thumbnails on their server but once you click to see the post, all pictures and therefor all knowledge has gone forever, which in the long term could have a negative impact on our hobby. I tried to save as much important info as possible and share them here with you. One more recent article about “Learn to know the value of your vintage Rolex” could be an interesting read as well.
This volatility is the main reason why I’m concerned of our hobby. For instance, the amount of likes that fake vintage Rolex get from so called experts on Instagram or on Facebook leave me flabbergasted. From some collector friends that also ‘like’ those fake vintage Rolex I thought they would know the difference between good & bad. Apparently the online motto has become that it is better to ‘like’ a picture and being nice to everybody, collecting more followers, then using your eyes and knowledge and share your opinion with others so they might learn something, like we did in the old days on VRF.
The amount of nonsense remarks I myself for instance get on Instagram is almost a day job to delete. I refuse to deactivate the remarks section on my IG profiles because I still believe that one day I will learn something out of it. People hiding behind private accounts writing all kinds of baloney has taken the joy to share and that was never the intention of social media! Let me get this clear, I think it’s great that people have an opinion and share this but too often I come across self proclaimed expert opinions that are so far away from the truth, I wonder how they make up the sh*t they write. And as Rolex does NOT have a department that will openly respond to any vintage questions, its indeed hard for any novice collector to find the real truth.
“Tutorial to analyze the condition of your vintage Rolex” is yet another article I wrote to help you understand collecting vintage Rolex…
The internet made us independent, at least that’s what many think. But the reality is that you need the information of a well informed dealer or long time collectors, who both made expensive mistakes, to learn the subtle differences between right and wrong. You can’t step into the game of Paul Newman or any Daytona collecting if you never handled one up close and compared the differences. Those frustrated individuals who got banned from online communities pretend they know something but at the same time use their Instagram audience nowadays to spread their lies they make up when they’re probably high on drugs or something.
The collecting watch business is still a very young market developing to a higher level each year. The recent auction records indicate that we are far away from the point of saturation. Actually I think we’re at the beginning of a rollercoaster that will continue to show us higher prices for true exceptional pieces. Matching patina will be the key fact for future collecting. But it doesn’t help us all when watch bloggers give up their day job and start writing what clients pay them to say. Sadly the independence of watch journalism is nowadays hard to find.
So where do you as newbie search for correct info when most online moderators are as clueless as you are? You would think that for instance one of the bigger platforms in the watch market, Chrono24, could offer you some decent info and deals. But nothing could be further from the truth then trusting them. In spite of the many emails I have send them over the years to point out the fake Rolex being offered or scammers being actively using their platform, they never took any action against it. Their trusted label can be bought once you became their client and it’s therefor no insurance you will do a safe deal with them. And honestly, who needs a trusted check out if every dealer you promote is trusted? It seems that with every new owner of that company the amount of new features they introduce is only there to make money. There are no watch experts working at Chrono24 and the content they share has been written for them. Just like with E-Bay, no hardcore knowledge is available and yet lot’s of people use it anyways.
Now that the vintage Rolex market is hot and makes it to headlines on international newspapers, the logic question is who you can trust? Are all watch dealers trying to screw you? And are all auction houses trustfully? No they are certainly not because not everyone has a real expert with years of experience behind them to check all their offers. Regular watch dealers jumped on the vintage watch wagon to make extra money and sadly not all auction houses or watch platform invest in hiring people with real knowledge to approve their offers. There are some exceptions in this on the auction front: Phillips Watches, Christie’s and soon hopefully Sotheby’s & Antiquorum are back at the game again and on dealers front my logic choice would be the 100% trusted RPM Marketplace of 20 worldwide renowned vintage Rolex dealers. Guys that always have been happy to share their experience with others. Eagerly educating their clients and advising them what to buy or not often ends in a long friendship and mutual trust.
Should important information be free of charge for everybody? It’s a difficult question and personally I’m against any closed forums, chat groups or databases because I believe in the power of sharing information and that’s why I invest my precious time to type this article for you. Nevertheless I do understand why one of my trusted vintage Rolex dealers, Stefano Mazzariol, decided to close his Rolex blog to the public and opened an archive that is only accessible by paying a € 100,= for 1 year of entrance because it’s a reasonable price he asks. If it helps you to determine only 1 vintage Rolex, you got your money back.
Stefano invested a lot of his time into setting up this archive. Time he could have used to deal in watches which most possible would have made him much more money then he gets from his subscribers today. For the small fee he’s asking, you get access to some 100.000 of his Rolex pictures taken over the years and lots of written information about all Rolex references. 1 year of almost free learning for just 100 bucks. Another problem is that people don’t really want to learn as it has to go fast and easy: just upload a picture and ask if it’s ok to buy or not. Even if it’s a total fake, it seems like nobody is ashamed to go viral with their silly questions nowadays. I always wonder what they think after reading the comments. Do I really look that stupid now? Doesn’t matter, tomorrow the world has forgotten and I can ask again somewhere else to get my 5 minutes of fame. Could I have known that answer by myself if I had invested some more time or is this my old fashioned way of thinking? After seeing yet another victim of an obvious vietnamese fake dial, why are many become this lazy in finding real answers I wonder?
For those that are still interested to read, here’s a evening full of vintage Rolex knowledge from my classic post” The Vintage Rolex Buyers Guide“….
My advise to you is to always believe what your own eyes see, never trust an opinion you can’t verify or seems to be un logic. Ask me by email or any true trusted vintage Rolex dealer who is always happy to share his knowledge with you and accept the fact that you can’t know everything by yourself. I myself do make mistakes and I still do learn each day from the internet, which I find really great. Many thousands of emails you have send me over the years and to each and everyone I take the time to answer them as good as I can as if I was the one being on that crossroad of buying or not. Don’t automatically “like” every post you see online, you could instead take your time to look closely to the picture and not the person who puts it there and like what you really see. Nothing is more important in this world then true and honest information!
Best regards and enjoy wearing your Rolex!