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SDC Weekly 19; Maslow and watches; Do you have 'enough'?
Inside F.P. Journe's new facilities, new world records, why coin tosses are NOT 50/50, why superheroes wear spandex and the science of butt wiping!
“ Peace cannot be kept by force. It can only be achieved by understanding.”
Hello folks 👋
Is has been a relatively dull week in the watch world, but certainly not the case in the real world. Trust you’re keeping well, and welcome to this week’s SDC weekly! If you have not done so already, check out the previous editions here. If you’re new here, consider subscribing!
Last minute update: I just learned that Audemars Piguet and Richard Mille have pulled out of OnlyWatch 2023 - the links which are still in the Google cache, Only Watch - the official website now lead to nowhere - for example:
I guess we will find out more as this story unfolds…
Let’s get into it!
🔺 Maslow and watches
In his 1943 paper “A Theory of Human Motivation,” Abraham Maslow published his now-famous “Hierarchy of Needs:”
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs illustrates how human needs evolve over time; we must first satisfy our most basic needs, before we can begin to consider ‘higher-level’ needs such as affection, self-esteem, or seeking purpose.
Our brains are obviously advanced parallel-processing marvels, and so we might see the hierarchical nature of the pyramid as being too rigid; and it is true, various levels of Maslow's hierarchy can occur at the same time. Maslow spoke clearly about these levels and their satisfaction in terms such as “relative”, “general”, and “primarily”.
So he wasn’t being absolute, and implying we focus on one thing at a time. He was simply saying that a certain need will “dominate” at any given time in your life. He clearly acknowledged we could experience different levels of motivation and he focused on identifying the basic types of motivation as well the order in which they would tend to be prioritised.
The order, of course, is key: the needs can’t be met out of order. If you offered a homeless man at the bus stop some advice about finding fulfilment in his life, he would think you’re insane. All he needs is £10 for some food and drink, he isn’t seeking fulfilment.
Comparatively, a person who is enjoying a successful career and who seems to have it all figured out, doesn’t even think twice about spending £400 on a watch strap, let alone £10 on food and drink. This is a mere rounding error in their account.
People will only worry about their intrinsic needs after the extrinsic stuff is accounted for. It turns out, watch collecting kinda works this way too, but in reverse!
Related to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, there are two types of watch problems:
Type 1: Those which can be solved with the having enough money to buy plenty of watches, and;
Type 2: Those which only present themselves once you have collected many watches.
Type 1 problems are comparable with the lower ranges of Maslow’s Hierarchy: physiological and security needs.
Type 2 problems address the more nuanced parts of our psyche such as self-esteem, achievement, purpose, and reaching our potential.
We’ll focus on Type 1 first.
Type 1 problems are rather straightforward; this applies as you begin your journey as a collector, and you tend to buy watches for any number of reasons; Seiko as you get into mechanical watches, perhaps graduate to something nicer like a Longines, then perhaps a Rolex to commemorate a big achievement, or perhaps a Patek to mark the birth of a child… and so it goes on.
In addition, if you consider ‘financial safety’, this is also Type 1 problem, because more money in the bank gives one flexibility to meet any physiological needs regardless of life circumstances, and having enough money leftover to spend on watches will typically satisfy these base desires.
In fact, the idea that Type 1 is a watch specific problem might be too narrow. All Type 1 problems can be resolved with more money, not just desire for watches - but consider the watch problems for this discussion.
Importantly, however, this does not mean all money problems are Type 1 problems.
Take Alex Lieberman, for example who sold a newsletter company that he started in university, for ‘life changing money’. He shared his thoughts about financial anxiety on LinkedIn:
Scott Galloway is another example. He is a clinical professor of marketing at the New York University Stern School of Business, public speaker, author, podcast host, and entrepreneur… and is worth well over $100m. In a recent episode of his show, he was asked “When did you first feel financially secure?” He answered,
“I don’t. I passed 9 figures a long time ago, and by any objective measure I’m financially secure, and I have huge financial anxiety.”
The point is, people with money still have financial anxiety, and clearly the anxiety has little to do with having more stuff. The anxiety is related to the upper sections of Maslow’s Hierarchy: self-actualisation and esteem.
The same is true for watch collecting. Anyone who’s been collecting watches for a long time can attest to the usual vanilla options becoming boring after a while. They then shift to a more nuanced approach to collecting, perhaps seeking independent options, or creating ‘themes’ such as focusing on one particular complication, or having only one watch from each brand in a collection … whatever it is, we seek something more. Some further meaning, perhaps.
In Maslow’s world, when you’ve made enough money to ensure you will never be homeless or hungry again, that’s the bottom of your pyramid sorted. In watches, you’re officially a collector, you’ve got a bunch of watches, from all the mainstream brands. After a while, perhaps you still love watches, but you find yourself pondering a more difficult set of questions:
Is this hobby even enjoyable?
Should I be looking at other watches?
Is everything going to come crashing down?
Do I care what others think about my watches?
How does my collection compare with my peers?
Will I lose my social status if I no longer collect X or Y, or start to collect X or Y?
Type 1 problems are static: everyone has to start somewhere, and while this start will differ for everyone, every single collector eventually ends up realising watches are just … stuff. While they can become frighteningly expensive, remember value is relative. One' man’s Seiko is another man’s Rolex.
Type 2 problems are dynamic: these continue to adapt to your life’s individual and unique circumstances. A less affluent collector who has sufficient self-awareness will not require owning a Greubel Forsey or Daniels watch to reach the realisation that watches are just material things (though that does help, when you’re in the bubble of false beliefs).
At the risk of sounding too philosophical, the analogy here is quite straightforward; Just as we have a hierarchy of needs in life itself, I have found the our watch collecting hobby is scarily similar. In the same manner that material problems get replaced by intrinsic problems after you have a certain level of wealth; watch collecting becomes less about price and physical objects as you collect for a while.
In my opinion, what grows in importance is the value of relationships formed within the hobby, and due to the shared passion you have with others in the hobby. That’s the real promise land for true watch enthusiasts, which, ironically, has nothing to do with physical watches, other than being a part of the origin story!
The previous section lends itself well to this week’s theme I suppose, coincidentally, I might add!
“Don’t make stuff because you want to make money — it will never make you enough money. And don’t make stuff because you want to get famous — because you will never feel famous enough,”
“If you worship money and things … then you will never have enough. Never feel you have enough. It’s the truth,”
What does it really mean to “have enough?”
There is hardly a better answer than the one implicitly given by Kurt Vonnegut in a poem he wrote for The New Yorker in May of 2005, reprinted in John C. Bogle’s Enough: True Measures of Money, Business, and Life:
True story, Word of Honor:
Joseph Heller, an important and funny writer
and I were at a party given by a billionaire
on Shelter Island.
I said, “Joe, how does it make you feel
to know that our host only yesterday
may have made more money
than your novel ‘Catch-22’
has earned in its entire history?”
And Joe said, “I’ve got something he can never have.”
And I said, “What on earth could that be, Joe?”
And Joe said, “The knowledge that I’ve got enough.”
Not bad! Rest in peace!
Joe Heller couldn’t have put it more succinctly if he tried. Here’s a quote from an old post of mine:
…most of the time we aren’t unhappy because we have too little; rather, it is because someone else has more.
No doubt, some people do need more than they have, and so many humans on earth lack a safe and clean place to live, sufficient food to eat, and even running water. For those reading this, it is possible many of us are rarely satisfied and feel constantly slighted, even though – by objective standards – we have all we need to live a good life.
So today, take a beat to show some gratitude. Call your father or mother, tell them you appreciate them. Hug your kid one more time, and be grateful for their health. Put on your first watch, and consider just how far you’ve come in your collecting journey.
You won’t regret it.
📌 Links of interest
Human achievement has always excited me… and frankly, the numbers on this marathon world record don't do it justice at all. This legend, Kelvin Kiptum, slashed 34 seconds off double Olympic champion Eliud Kipchoge’s previous world record, to became the first man to run the marathon under two hours and one minute.
Consider a fit person can maybe run 1 lap on a track at this pace before feeling fkd up. An extremely fit person can maybe run 2-3 laps at this pace? This legend, Kelvin Kiptum, ran the equivalent of 105.5 laps in a row at this pace! Mind blowing.
🤩 Inside F.P. Journe’s New State of the Art Case and Dial Facilities in Geneva.
📖 A very cool piece on Europastar - “1933: The origins of Nivarox and Incabloc”
💸 Coin Tosses Are Not 50/50! (Wtf?!)
👖 How often should you wash your jeans? The Levi’s CEO settles the debate.
🎉 Why do superheroes wear spandex?
🍀 Bodegas: The small corner shops that run NYC.
💀 The varying scale of Sports Fields and Courts is pretty interesting to see.
🧻 A “senior scientist” of butt-wiping explains what he’s been up to.
🔚 End note
If you haven’t already seen it, I shared a new post on Friday:
Until next time!
🎁 Bonus link!
Appreciate that most of you reading this might have already seen this post I shared yesterday, but I thought it would be worth mentioning once more, in case you missed it!
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