Why Collecting Vintage Watches Took Off During the Pandemic

One of the more common psychological side effects of the pandemic has been a distorted sense of time. With work and school schedules upended and things like birthday parties and holiday celebrations canceled or curtailed, we’ve lost many of the ways we used mark time. Worse is the way time has seemed to alternately slow down and speed up as the virus rages, retreats and repeats, in a kind of disorienting and disquieting déjà vu.

So perhaps it isn’t surprising (at least not to psychoanalysts or behavioral economists) that demand for objects that tell time, particularly vintage watches, has exploded during the pandemic. Indeed, some of the most coveted watches today are those that not only tell time but also tell of someone else’s life and times. Sleuthlike, savvy collectors and dealers track down archival evidence of watches’ provenance, posting the stories online, significantly increasing both interest and value. Call it genealogy with gears.

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