Fortis Stratoliner, ‘West in Space’ limited edition of 200 pieces, artwork by Andora, created in 1992.
This post I’ll be fine-tuning in the future – consider it a draft. But being at this for a while, it’s something that I’ve noticed and feel should be posted – if only on my personal blog. Behold: the stages in Rolex appreciation. Where do you stand?
At this stage, our subject -let’s call him Freddy- doesn’t know anything about watches. He’s a n00b, a newbie, not introduced into the Wonderful World of Watches at all. Freddy does know of Rolex though – they are the most expensive watches out there. They’re simply the best.
Freddy has begun to develop an interest in watches. Rolex is still number 1, but he has come to know a few other brands. Rolex does have a few competitors – there’s Omega, perhaps he has read about JLC, IWC and Panerai. There are other good watches out there. Contrary to his former beliefs, there are even watches priced higher than Rolex! WOW – who would’ve thought!
Freddy considers himself somewhat of a horologist. A cognoscenti. Freddy feels he knows watches. Reading blogs, browsing the forums. And he feels a Rolex isn’t all that impressive. They produce almost a million watches a year – how is that for exclusivity? They don’t do perpetuals. No repeaters. No tourbillons. Every other schmuck with a bit of money wears one. They’re obnoxious. Freddy thinks that Rolex is too pedestrian and timepieces by other brands display his wealth of knowledge on horology, his membership of the in-crowd, to a much bigger extend.
Whilst reading more and more, and getting immersed in the subject to the point of no return, Freddy begins to question his stage 3 beliefs. Yes, there are many other watches out there. Many are much more complicated. Much more expensive and impressive. Many will attract more attention at the WIS GTG’s he’s begun to attend. But at the same time, he’s noticing that a few of these others seem to break down on him. Depreciate in value beyond the reasonable. Freddy starts to question the stories told by the manufacturers marketing departments. Is Rolex really all that bad?
Freddy set aside his prejudices and went out and bought himself a Rolex. After all, what’s all the fuss about? After a while, his other watches are slowly getting less wrist time. Why? His Rolex runs like a champ. He doesn’t fear damaging it when knocking it about in daily life. Hey, it’s a pretty good watch. Good value too compared to many of the other brands too. Many of them boast their manufacture status, but is any of them really as in-house as his Rolex?
The Rolex appreciation starts to develop further. Are complications all that important? When reading up, he starts to appreciate the no-nonsense mentality of Rolex – bulletproof watches, built to last. And while not complicated per se, they do seem to have played a pivotal role in making wristwatches suitable for daily life, with their automatic winding, superb sealing of the crown and useful -though small- complications. Freddy finds out that they have been worn by many professionals in need of an über-dependable watch – amongst others the divers of COMEX, Sir Edmund Hillary, the Royal Navy.
Freddy starts to discover the intricacies of vintage Rolex. What starts with the Red Submariner and Double Red SeaDweller seemingly knows no end when he dives into big crowns, early chronographs,, rivet bracelets and Paul Newman, Sigma Stella, Serpico Y Laino and Arab-special order dials. Rolex is king. Is there any other brand out there that really matters Freddy? It seems to him that a life of collecting could easily be spent with just this one brand. The crown is there for a reason.
Wow. These rare Rolexes do command deep pockets. Freddy spent all his money on 5514, 6538, 6239, perhaps even a rare 6238 black dial, a Qaboos 1665 or FAP Newman. He side-stepped and bought himself an all-white-gold 1601 and a blue stella 1803. But the same money could’ve bought him a few perpetual calendar chronographs by Patek. Is it really worth it? Freddy feels lost.
I love my classics. Rolex, Patek, and Speedmasters in particular. A beautiful 6605, 1802, 5504 or 2998? Sign me up any day. But often I feel that many (would-be?) collectors take this little thing of ours way to serious. There is little room for laughter in their investment- and prestige-focussed minds. Why so serious? It is still a hobby right? Any collection should feature should feature a watch that’s bought just for fun – if only to take the edge off. Below a few stellar candidates. Moderation is key though – there’s a thin line between fun and plain wrong.
Any model will do. My weapon of choice is the Krono Bauhaus.
Disney-themed preferred. Gerald Genta is one of the all-time greats when it comes to watch design, so the name doesn’t hurt. Since the days of Ingersoll Disney watches have been a think. Jump hour is a cool complication. And they’re just plain fun.
Bubble. The weirder the better.The skeleton is interesting from a horological point of view, while the ones featuring lucifer, jokers and skulls are great conversation-starters.
SevenFriday / Dietrich
Cheap thrills, to be had new. A new niche in the making – focus on design while manufactured in Asia without hiding it.
The one with the globe. What is it, the 1521 or something like that? Exceedingly weird and unusual.
There can be only one: the Seamaster Chrono-Quartz ‘Albatros’. So ugly it’s intriguing. The Snoopy Speedy might be considered, although this one has a bit too much of real collectors potential and pedigree to be considered in this list. Non-cognoscenti might see it as fitting though. Moontime customs would be better candidates.
Skull Bang. Decent in size and height and ROCK ‘n ROLL! Don’t overdo it – no diamonds, no tourbillons please.
Cazzomir. Find one – I challenge you!