There are several accessories that I believe a (starting) watch collector would benefit from, but one of the first purchases should be, in my opinion, a good quality loupe. In watchmaking, details matter, and getting up close and personal with them will add a whole new level of appreciation and understanding. It allows you to study the finishing of a dial or watch movement and take more pleasure in the effort watch manufacturers put in to create them.
It is a common mistake that only very high-end watches are worth watching under magnification. While it is true that a Lange or Greubel Forsey can give your goosebumps when you examine them with a loupe, even a modest Seiko 5 will impress in its own right. Watch manufacturers have invested significantly in fine-tuning their production processes, raising the bar time after time, and that shows. In most market segments, it allows them to pursue more intricate designs thanks to advanced production processes. At the top of the industry, skills were honed as well, although there usually applied manually. The bottom line is that there is hardly a watch these days not worthy of a closer look through a loupe.
The question is, what loupe to get? First, there is the magnification factor. Personally, I prefer a ten times magnification as it allows me to really dig into the subject and get very close. I wouldn’t get any higher, but I have some friends and colleagues who prefer a six or eight times magnification factor. I always avoided getting one that I secure between my eye socket or that I have to place around my head with a spring. Although they have their uses, I am not a watchmaker, and a simple handheld model serves me just fine. And although you can make it almost as pricey as you want, a decent loupe can be found for around $20— a modest investment that will significantly increase the pleasure you get out of your watch collection.
What is your favourite loupe? Let us know in the comments!