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Article: Watch Collecting 101: Must-Have Watch Types Every Collector Needs

Spence 12 Watch box holding watch collection of must have watches

Watch Collecting 101: Must-Have Watch Types Every Collector Needs

A well-rounded watch collection is a true reflection of a collector's personality and style. Whether you're an experienced horologist or a beginner enthusiast, the key to a remarkable collection lies in diversity. In this comprehensive guide, we explore the essential types of watches that every collector should consider adding to their assortment. From the iconic Rolex Submariner to the avant-garde Ressence Type 3 Black, each timepiece included in this selection serves as a representative of a type of watch that caters to different situations, needs and tastes.

Let's dive into the world of horology and discover the allure behind these must-have watch types.

Spence 12 Watch box holding watch collection with all must have watch types

Dive Watch

An embodiment of durability and functionality, dive watches are arguably the most universally versatile watch style. Attributes such as water resistance, a rotating bezel for timing purposes, a dial designed for exceptional visibility with luminescent elements, and a robust bracelet for lasting endurance make dive watches a great choice for an all-around timepiece. If your collection space is limited or you are just starting out and seeking a watch that encapsulates variability, the dive watch unquestionably earns its place as the one to consider.

The Rolex Submariner, with its inception dating back to 1953, is considered to be one of the most influential watches of all time. Its remarkable legacy extends to inspiring a multitude of sports watches and playing a pivotal role in elevating dive watches from functional tools to coveted style statements beyond aquatic realms. Its selection as the dive watch to represent all dive watches thus comes to no surprise. With a water resistance of  300-meters and an innovative Cerachrom bezel, the Submariner caters to professionals and adventurers alike.

Rolex Submariner dive watches

Dress Watch

While dive watches are useful for many different occasions, they usually do not pair well with a tuxedo. For situations that require a more refined look, it is crucial to have a dress watch among any well-rounded collection. These watches emphasize simplicity and sophistication and showcase a collector’s appreciation for the finer things in life. The Vacheron Constantin Patrimony epitomizes the grace of dress watches with its slim case, manual-wind movement, and timeless design. The inclusion of the Caliber 1400 movement displays the brand's legacy and commitment to traditional watchmaking techniques, making it an excellent choice for formal occasions.

Vacheron Constantin Patrimony dress watch

Pilot Watch

Why own a pilot’s watch if you’re not going to be the one flying the plane you might ask? Even though pilot's watches initially catered exclusively to aviators, this category has now evolved to encompass an array of practical and sturdy timepieces, each boasting its distinct form and function. From minimalist time-only models reminiscent of the 1940s and 1950s to intricate chronographs, the realm of pilot's watches offers a diverse spectrum of options. These timepieces not only evoke the thrill of flying but also embody precision and functionality. At the heart of a pilot's watch lies a fundamental requirement: optimal legibility for someone navigating an aircraft. While this criterion once translated to larger-than-life timepieces, it has since expanded to embrace smaller, elegantly designed alternatives that ensure clear visibility in the cockpit.

The IWC Big Pilot’s Watch, featuring a hefty case and a seven-day power reserve, pays homage to early aviation instruments. Its soft-iron inner case provides anti-magnetic protection, demonstrating a commitment to performance in demanding environments.

Field Watch

Field watches cater to adventurers and outdoor enthusiasts, making them essential tools for those who embrace rugged exploration. Built to withstand harsh conditions, these watches symbolize resilience and adaptability. The Rolex Oyster Perpetual Explorer, designed for mountaineering expeditions, boasts luminescent indices and hands, ensuring readability in low-light environments. The watch's robust Oyster case and self-winding movement epitomize durability and exactness.

Racing Watch

Racing watches are an homage to speed and preciseness, appealing to collectors who appreciate technical innovation and the fusion of engineering and design. While not everybody is made for the race track, adding a racing watch to the collection provides just the right rush of adrenaline.

No watch brand embodies the spirit of motorsports quite like Richard Mille, who describe their timepieces as “racing machines on the wrist”. Watches like the Richard Mille RM 40-01 McLaren Speedtail stand as an engineering marvel, featuring a split-seconds chronograph and a lightweight, skeletonized design. The RM 40-01’s Grade 5 titanium case and pusher construction showcase the brand's commitment to cutting-edge materials and technologies.

Richard Mille racing watch

GMT Watch

GMT watches cater to globetrotters by offering the convenience of tracking multiple time zones. These watches are essential for frequent travelers who require accurate timekeeping across different regions. The Rolex GMT Master II, with its bi-directional ceramic bezel and self-winding movement, ensures easy adjustment to different time zones. Its Parachrom hairspring enhances shock resistance and accuracy, making it a reliable companion for watch collectors on the go.


Chronographs serve as versatile tools, combining timekeeping with stopwatch functionality. They are essential for horological enthusiasts that appreciate technical complexity. The fact that the Omega Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch was the watch worn during the historic Apollo 11 mission to the moon in 1969 makes it an iconic part of human history and a default must-have for all watch lovers. Meticulously crafted to meet the demanding criteria set forth by NASA, the modern day Moonwatch is almost identical to the one worn on the moon, boasting the iconic Caliber 1861 movement, a manual-wind movement with a cam-switching mechanism. Its legendary Hesalite crystal and tachymeter bezel represent a sense of space exploration history and hence, make the Moonwatch a great addition to any collection.

Omega Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch

Vintage Watch

Vintage watches have been experiencing a major resurgence among watch lovers. They offer a glimpse into the past, showcasing timeless aesthetics and traditional watchmaking techniques that continue to captivate collectors around the world. With their smaller dimensions, these watches exude a classic elegance in line with the contemporary rise of quiet luxury, and provide wearability that perfectly complements both formal and casual attire. Adding a vintage watch to your collection allows you to integrate a piece of horological history into your everyday life and showcases your appreciation for legacy craftsmanship. The Patek Philippe Calatrava is a perfect example of a vintage watch serving as the emblem of classic elegance. The Calatrava features the manually wound Caliber 215 PS movement, which is a testament to traditional horological expertise. Its hobnail-patterned bezel and guilloché dial showcase Patek’s meticulous attention to detail that transcends the test of time.

Independent Watchmaker

Beginner watch enthusiasts often gravitate towards renowned legacy brands like Rolex and Audemars Piguet. However, as both your horological knowledge and your collection expand, it is worthwhile to go beyond the obvious choices and explore the vast offer of incredible timepieces from independent watch brands. Incorporating independent brands adds a unique touch to your collection, since these timepieces often showcase extraordinary craftsmanship, innovative designs, and limited production runs. By acquiring independent brand watches, collectors gain access to wearable works of art that not only reflect horological ingenuity but also provide a deeper connection to the creators' vision and passion.

The Ressence Type 3 Black captivates with its innovative design. The unique fluid-filled dial replaces traditional hands through 35 micro-components working in harmony, creating an illusion of time moving on a smooth surface. The inventive oil-filled chamber eliminates refraction, offering a distortion-free view of the dial. Crafted by Belgian designer Benoît Mintiens, this avant-garde, sleek timepiece challenges conventional watch design and appeals to collectors who appreciate artistic ingenuity and minimalist aesthetics.

Ressence Type 3 Black

Pop of Color

Watches with vibrant colors add an invigorating touch to a collection, making them essential pieces for the summer, an art gallery outing or any time you need a bright eyecatcher to complete your look. The Patek Philippe Nautilus "Tiffany" edition is the perfect example of a colorful fusion of luxury and artistry. Adorned with Tiffanys’ iconic striking turquoise hue, this timepiece demands attention. Its technical prowess is underscored by the Caliber 324 S C movement, ensuring precise timekeeping. A true collector's gem, this watch not only adds a unique sense of sprightliness to any collection but also encapsulates the heritage and excellence that Patek Philippe represents.

Digital Watch

Even in a world dominated by smartphones, the appeal of digital watches remains steadfast. These timepieces offer more than just timekeeping; they embody a blend of technological innovation and functional convenience that complements modern lifestyles. With features like notifications, fitness tracking, and world time functions, digital watches provide a seamless extension of our digital lives while retaining the timeless essence of a wristwatch. Their rugged build and water-resistant capabilities make them versatile companions for active individuals, and the Casio G-Shock Full Metal GMWB5000D-1, for instance, perfectly exemplifies this harmony between tradition and technology. Its solar-powered module and Bluetooth connectivity enhance usability, while the stainless steel construction pays homage to the original G-Shock design, creating a harmonious blend of tradition and modernity.

Heart Piece

The heart piece of a collection is a watch that holds sentimental value. Whether it’s an heirloom or a memento of a major life event, this watch encapsulates memories and emotions, making it a cherished addition that transcends traditional horological categories. While it might not have the highest monetary or prestige value, it is a watch that represents the true essence of the joy of watch collecting: getting to form personal connections with the timepieces you own.

Curating a watch collection that spans diverse styles and genres is a journey that reflects your passion, taste, and appreciation for horological artistry. Each watch type outlined in this guide, from the iconic Rolex Submariner to the avant-garde Ressence Type 3 Black, contributes to a rich and varied collection that captures the spirit of timekeeping history. As you embark on this horological voyage, remember that a collection is more than just a compilation of timepieces; it's a tangible expression of your unique story and love for the art of watchmaking.

Proper Watch Care

Any art collector showcases pieces in beautiful frames and makes sure that the exhibition space matches the artwork. Similarly, a watch collection requires a display that matches its level of refinement.

This is why Charles Simon has designed the Spence 12 Watch box, a high quality watch accessory that safely stores and elegantly showcases an entire collection of up to 12 watches. The Spence 12 Watch box features a robust yet lightweight carbon fiber and anodized aluminum frame to keep your watches protected, as well as an exterior made from fine French young bull leather for a timelessly sophisticated look. The interior of the watch box is lined with durable yet incredibly soft Alcantara and includes 12 removable watch cushions, which are available in various dimensions to accommodate wrists of all sizes.

Spence 12 Luxury Watch Box for your watch collection

The Spence Watch box goes beyond merely storing a watch collection. Instead, the watch accessory is infused with engineering expertise, designed to exhibit Charles Simon’s distinct, sleek aesthetic and crafted by hand in Canada by a team of passionate craftsmen to not only display, but elevate your watch collection in a way that mirrors the contained timepieces’ exquisiteness.

The Spence 12 Watch box allows you to integrate your precious watch collection into your home design by giving it a designated, elegant exhibition space. No more searching for your watches in different drawers and boxes around the house, because with the Spence 12, each timepiece has its distinct, cushioned space that protects it from the scratches and harm that build up from storage on harsh surfaces.

Just like every watch collection is a unique reflection of the collectors personality and taste, the Spence 12 Watch box allows for individual expression through a selection of multiple styles and colorways, from classically elegant to daringly bold. In addition, the Charles Simon Bespoke Service allows you to completely personalize your watch box, including special material combinations, name engraving and custom sizing.

Spence 12 Watch box for up to 12 watches

Explore our wide-ranging collection of watch boxes and find the right Spence 12 for you here.

Equipped with the knowledge on the different essential watch types and how to properly store your watch collection at home, nothing stops you from embarking on your own horological journey.

In case you already own a few timepieces but have not built a full collection yet, your watches still deserve to be taken care of. Check out our complete guide to watch accessories to discover the right Charles Simon watch accessory for your needs.

Written by Elizabeth Hanisch


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