Four Things You’ll Only See at a Watch Meetup

Anyone who has ever been to one knows that watch meetups are a lot of fun. You get to meet fellow collectors, handle watches you might not otherwise see in person, and hopefully even learn something new about the hobby we all share. But let’s be honest: they’re also kind of weird. A group of a few dozen people rolling into a bar on a weeknight clutching little canvas watch rolls and oh-so-carefully laying their contents out on tables is bound to confuse the waitstaff if they’re new to this whole thing. I often wonder what servers and other diners are thinking about the room full of people obsessively taking photos of their wrists at these things. We must appear absolutely insane. 

Between regular local meetups and other industry events, I’ve been to more than my share of meetups, get-togethers, and hangouts of all stripes over the course of my time in watches, so I felt like I could chronicle a list of weird things that you’re likely to only see at a watch event. This, of course, is an incomplete list, so if there’s anything critical I’ve left off, be sure to add it in the comments. 

The “Sex Pile” 

I think for the uninitiated, this might be the hardest to explain. The “sex pile” is the term commonly used for an arrangement of watches at a meetup into a single “pile” suitable for a photograph to then post on Instagram. It’s gratuitous even beyond the crude name as these photos inevitably include an obscene amount of wealth on display, but I have to admit a well composed version of the sex pile can make for a good photograph. 


There is literally no scenario other than a watch meetup where a group of people will take off their watches, arrange them artistically, and then huddle around as photographs are taken. This activity, in a vacuum, is psychotic. But at a watch meetup, it’s de rigueur. You might even ask yourself, if a sex pile hasn’t happened, did we even meet up? Ponder the absurdity of that sentence for a moment, and the ways it could easily be misunderstood outside the bounds of our community.  

To be honest, I can’t stand this term. It always gives me that weird creepy crawly feeling on my skin when I hear it – the definition of cringe. Can we, as a community, come up with something better? Less suggestive? I’m no prude, I assure you, but like peanut butter and sushi, some things just shouldn’t be associated together. 

A Bar Tab Made Up Entirely of Negronis

Folks, this one has gotten out of control. The Negroni is a perfectly fine cocktail, but it is loved all out of proportion by the watch crowd. I realize that this might be the most controversial thing I’ve ever said on the site, but I stand by it. The Italian apéritif, composed of equal parts vermouth, Campari, and gin, is refreshing and light on a hot summer day, but is entirely arbitrary in its relation to watches, and rarely the best option given a well stocked bar. Just one man’s opinion. 

In any case, I don’t think there’s another situation where you’re likely to see Negronis consumed en masse like you will at certain watch gatherings. I’ve been to more than one get-together where the drink has been mixed in large quantities ahead of time to accommodate Negroni mad watch enthusiasts. It makes me wonder: do other hobbies have their own signature cocktails? What do they drink at the philatelist meetups? 

Homemade Watch Rolls

Literally anyone can head to the internet and buy a watch roll. I’m fond of one from the Windup Watch Shop, but collectors certainly have many choices when it comes to portable, lightweight, watch storage solutions. Some collectors, however, are unsatisfied with store bought options, and decide to make their own. The homemade version of the watch roll is a fascinating phenomenon uniquely observed at a watch get together. Never let it be said that watch enthusiasts are not resourceful. 

Photo by Sherlin Beckham

Over the years, I’ve seen rolls made out of leather and canvas, and when they’re done well they can come close to approximating a roll that you’d buy from any of the usual sources. They are pretty simple, after all. But one homemade roll stands out, made by my pal Griffin out of the lining of a Barbour Bedale jacket. When I first saw this thing at a meetup, I couldn’t quite grasp what I was looking at. I’m pretty sure I literally said to him that I didn’t know Barbour made a watch roll. He explained to me that he made it himself, and it was not actually an officially licensed Barbour product, which could have fooled me and just about anyone else in the room. It just goes to show that there’s more to see at watch meetups than watches.  

The M.A.D. 1

Is there a watch better suited to watch meetup culture than the M.A.D. 1? I don’t think there is. If you acquire a M.A.D. 1 and have never been to a watch meetup before, I imagine your first order of business would be to scour the internet to find the nearest group of watch aficionados so that you might share your new Miyota powered fidget spinner with some like minded friends. But even more than that, I can’t think of a situation where the M.A.D. 1 is more at home than in a group of collectors. 

That’s because the M.A.D. 1 is, quite frankly, something of a ridiculous thing to wear in public. It’s enormous, red, and doesn’t immediately translate to the average person as a watch. Could it be some kind of new health tracker? Maybe it’s a wrist mounted GPS monitor that the wearer is required to don as a condition of his parole? Whatever it is, it’s going to garner attention, and might require an explanation if you encounter the inquisitive type while checking out at the grocery store. And then how do you explain such a thing?


We shouldn’t fear wearing ridiculous watches in public, but there’s a time and place for everything, and I think it’s clear that the time and place for a watch like this is in the nerdiest watch circle imaginable. If you bring the M.A.D. 1 to a watch meetup, not only will everyone know exactly what it is, but they’ll be genuinely excited to see it. It’s perhaps the ultimate inside-baseball watch, and I expect for as long as people wear them at all, they’ll be found most often in sex piles, laid out carefully on homemade watch rolls. 

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Zach is a native of New Hampshire, and he has been interested in watches since the age of 13, when he walked into Macy’s and bought a gaudy, quartz, two-tone Citizen chronograph with his hard earned Bar Mitzvah money. It was lost in a move years ago, but he continues to hunt for a similar piece on eBay. Zach loves a wide variety of watches, but leans toward classic designs and proportions that have stood the test of time. He is currently obsessed with Grand Seiko.