Barry Schwartz is an American psychologist, Professor of Social Theory and Social Action at Swarthmore College, and since 2016 has been visiting professor at the University of California, Berkeley. His work focuses on the intersection of psychology and economics… He is also the author of the book “The Paradox of Choice” and he talks about the concepts from the book in this TED talk. In this post I wanted to outline some of the key points he makes, and connect them to a watch collector’s decision-making processes.
A few days ago I was reading this post about how our preconceived notions might hinder our decision-making… I thought it was so applicable watches, and wanted to share it here with a few comments.
Yesterday, over lunch with the infamous @nycwatchguy and @f1ptb… … we discussed the concept of purchases under pressure. In the current environment this issue is far more pronounced, due to the rise of limited editions, the increased popularity of independent watchmaking (who have lower supply inherently) and because of general hype with any popular watches – often fuelled by the influx of profiteers into the watch game, who tend to pose as genuine enthusiasts or collectors. This also raised the question of what defines a “genuine” enthusiast anyway; and when is it ok to sell a watch without being labelled a flipper? Thoroughly enjoyed the conversation, and thought I would share a bit here.
Richard Thaler, Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky are the pioneers of the field called “behavioural economics”, two of them even won Nobel prizes for their work and the third would have too, if he was alive to receive it. The trio uncovered numerous ways in which people make poor decisions without knowing it. Here’s a short podcast where Thaler tells a number of stories that bring behavioural economics to life. I wanted to talk about some of their findings (again) and apply it to watch collecting in some way.
To summarise the concept; some people see the details in everything they do, like the fox, while others are great at having a singular vision, like the hedgehog. Going back to a critical distiction in the definition of the concept, Jim Collins says it perfectly: The Hedgehog Concept is not a goal to be the best, a strategy to be to be the best, an intention to be the best, a plan to be the best. It is an understanding of what you can be the best at. The distinction is absolutely crucial.
I have seen messages from journalists who are being contacted directly by the collaborator in this watch release, and they are being rudely chastised for something as simple as ‘liking a meme’ about the faulty watch! These journalists are being accused of, in summary, surrendering their own impartiality, by showing support to memes about the watch. Is this how low it goes?
After yesterday’s post… Someone reached out to me with his own experience and I will share it here today. These are simply screenshots of the various conversations, as-received.
Most collectors of independent watch brands will tell you that they love the watches, but more often than not, they deeply value the close connection or relationship they can build with the brand and the founders.
I recently shared a video from “Daily_stoic” talking about the concept of “enough” – this post is building on this idea, since the video resonated with many folks.
The term ‘imposter syndrome’ was first coined in 1978 by two US psychologists who called it the ‘imposter phenomenon’. They defined it as feeling like a fraud despite obvious successes and high achievements. Although this concept is mostly applied to workplaces and working professionals in various fields, it absolutely does apply in watch collecting, and I believe it signals a loss of one’s perspective – which just needs some recalibration.