My friend Gary made a great post on PuristSPro detailing the pieces that he has added and subtracted from his collection recently. Not only is the collection fantastic and the photography top notch, but the notes and introspection add a glimpse into the true power of watch collecting.
Recently I had a somewhat tongue-in-cheek twitter discussion with Jack Forster about the concept of "owning" a watch. I generally think of myself as experiencing rather than possessing and therefore move fluidly between experiences.
And for me, this fluidity is where the real magic of this hobby takes place. First in terms of personal growth, each step is a process in honing one's own tastes. You begin to first learn what interests you and what does not. Later that turns to what is important and what is not. And finally it ends with the simple question: WHY? The lessons I have learned in this journey have helped me untangle mysteries in every facet of my life.
And even more importantly, being open to new experiences opens you up to the community. I looked through my database yesterday. Over the last decade I have corresponded with over 500 people privately about watches - sharing advice, looking to buy or sell, etc. Many of these people I now consider close friends.
I often think about what the point of these objects is, and this is the best answer. They are an excuse to celebrate the creativity and life's work of amazing creators, to facilitate introspection, and to foster communities of self-selected individuals. The watches themselves really become secondary in the grand scheme of things.