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"Watchfam chats" ... but real life!
This post arrived unexpectedly in a WhatsApp chat yesterday, and I cannot articulate how excited I was when it did! Like many others, I speak often about how the relationships which arise from a shared passion for watches, are often some of the most meaningful connections we have - such a relationship is the origin of this post.
About five years ago, a follower reached out to me on Instagram asking me for my phone number. I followed him too, and we had interacted sparsely up to that point, but it was a bit unusual to have received such a request out of the blue. I wouldn’t ordinarily have replied with my number without further dialogue, but something about our previous exchanges suggested this fellow was a good egg; So I simply sent him my number. No questions asked. I would eventually get to know Daniel quite well, and if I had asked any questions at that moment - I know now, that he would have called me a c*nt and never spoken to me again!!! The fact that I sent my number straight away, and avoided the ‘wrath of Daniel’, is possibly one of the best decisions I have ever made in my watch collecting journey. Let me explain why…
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The importance of sharing my number starts with being added to a WhatsApp group created by Daniel, along with several other watch collectors. This was my first exposure to ‘private collecting groups’ facilitated by individuals rather than organised groups like Redbar and many others which have since been created. The most insane part about me being added, was that Daniel had a personal connection with every other person in the group - except for me. It turns out, because I spoke to a different collector on Instagram so often (@rolexrootbeer) - when he was added, he suggested Daniel adds me as well. For that, I will always be grateful (Cheers K!).
So why was this group important?
Well, the group was extremely active, and after a few months of daily interactions, we eventually arranged to meet up for dinner - I remember it well, at an American-Diner themed restaurant. I also recall the uncertainty about meeting strangers with valuable watches, and how this experience helped overcome the ‘mental block’ surrounding in-person meetings where the risk of personal loss or harm is amplified due to the ‘guarantee’ of high value items being present. Today, this is not even a consideration, and meeting strangers who share the passion seems fairly normal to me… but this moment will forever remain memorable… the turning point.
Many folks in the group have since had kids, and for the most part are still in contact - some more than others, and of course I now participate in many more such groups with people from around the world. Even more insane, is that the origin of this post is not even a watch collecting group!! Daniel is a well connected guy, and he created a separate group called “Leebay”. Turns out, there’s another legend called Lee, who has sources all over the UK to buy overstock and ‘un-retailable’ items for very low prices… this is for stuff with damaged boxes, or off-season, and so on… anyway, the point being, Lee was always getting new stock of random and varying items, so we created a group to see what came in, and buy random stuff at massive discounts. Anyway… It turned out: Lee of Leebay, was a watch collector! :)
Lee is an absolute legend of a guy, and we are both in another one of Daniel’s WhatsApp community groups which is sneaker-focused. This is possibly one of the most active groups I am in, and as a result, Lee and I have been chatting daily for years now. Lee has also been reading my blog posts for a while… So when I turned on the paid subscription feature, Lee was generous enough to actually become a paid subscriber! As I have said many times, I do not expect paid subscribers, and it is astoundingly humbling when anyone is kind enough to actually pay for a subscription - and it is even more heart warming when a personal friend does it… so when I saw the email, I phoned Lee to thank him. Coincidentally, he was scheduled to visit his Rolex AD to see the W&W novelties, the next day, and following that visit, he sent me the following WhatsApp message…
(copied from WhatsApp, unedited apart from spacing etc to improve legibility, and adding stock images to make the post more enjoyable lol!)
Yesterday I had a quick catch up with a good friend of mine who in his leisure time enjoys writing articulate and insightful blogs surrounding his love for watch collecting and the culture and psychology around it.
During our discussion one particular aspect of why he enjoys writing resonated with me. (This is not word for word quoted but the overall feel for what was said):
"Writing gives me something to reflect on and time to properly think about my thoughts and feelings towards that emotion or opinion on a watch. It gives me space to reflect and holds me accountable to what I wrote down at that time"
Completely butchered that quotation but I think you get the point here.
Writing allows you to take a moment from the 24/7 world we live in, create space in your mind for the sole purpose of providing deep thought and analysis, rather than a spare of the moment emotion that can quickly change.
So, here I am.
A phone call from my local Rolex AD inviting me to come and get hands on with the new releases with a 1-1 allocated slot.
First of all Rolex ADs have received A LOT of bad press recently over customer care, so I would like to stress the lady I met today isn't who I usually see and talk watches with.
I was greeted by a young lady named Wendi and she came to talk watches! So polite, enthusiastic and ready to chat away about every release, her customer service was bloody fantastic! It was actually a pleasure and one of the best experiences I have had with any watch brands AD.
I went in with the excitement of a child at Christmas for the exhibition of the new releases from watches of wonders. All I wanted from the moment I received the phone call was to see the new YachtMaster 42 in titanium. I own YachtMaster 40 rhodium dial (2022) and I absolutely adore it! My excitement level for the titanium release was off the chart!
The Black Bezel paired with the black dial felt like this was the watch Batman could wear and still look super fucking cool! Wendi wasted no time and presented me it in all its glory.
I picked it up.
I didn't smile, I didn’t get all hyped up inside … no. In fact, all I felt was... empty. The extra 2mm actually made it huge next to my 40mm, the brushed titanium looked like a cheap AAA grade fake from China. And to be expected it was light, but my god it felt lighter than my Casio and not nearly as cool.
I couldn't even hide my disappointment, Wendi asked enthusiastically “what do you think” to which I replied “it feels like a toy” and was immediately reminded of that Swatch Omega collab I wasted my money on last year.
On one hand I was so disappointed, on the other, it made me appreciate just how much I really do enjoy my current 40mm YachtMaster as it knocks the socks off of this. But now I had anti-climaxed what I was so excited about … and we got onto viewing the other releases...
GMT Master 2 full gold on jubilee… Well, it's a GMT which is fucking awesome!
It's all gold on a jubilee I mean, what do you want me to say here it was the absolute business! If I could afford one, I would have one … end of!! What a stunning timepiece.
Everose gold YachtMaster on Oysterflex… Stunning, simply stunning! The everose gold has to be appreciated in person, it is not like any other rose gold you have seen. The craftsmanship knocks the socks off the 42mm titanium making it look and feel even cheaper, having held this.
In fact I'm beginning to wonder if the titanium Rolex was even genuine because the quality difference between my own actual 40mm and the 42mm everose compared to the titanium are monumental … the more I think about it.
Again, if I could afford it I would buy it in a heartbeat. In fact, I would purchase it over the GMT it was that damn good looking!
Daytona anniversary platinum with ice blue dial, baguettes and open caseback... Well well, is it a masterpiece? No. It's brilliant and the open caseback is just delightful and I hope to see Rolex roll it out on more watches in the future. But it isn't worth 77k, again the GMT and the everose YachtMaster felt superior to the Daytonas in nearly every aspect. A beautiful watch that, at a different price point, would be a lot more appealing, but 77k buys me a lot of other great watches.
Which leaves me with the final watches of the day, all 3 variations of the new Rolex 1908:
White gold black alligator strap silver dial
Yellow gold brown alligator strap silver dial
Yellow gold black alligator strap black dial
This… now this caught me completely off guard. Rolex’s replacement for the Cellini. Apart from me looking a donkey calling it a “chelinni” with the CH highly pronounced many times to the lady, the 1908 was an absolute belter of a watch.
This has been the watch on my mind since leaving, and yet, didn't cross my mind once before today.
Zero interest on announcement, not even a bat of the eyelid.
That all changed once it was in hand.
Super thin profile.
The clean uninterrupted dial that oozed elegance and sophistication paired with 18k gold hands with only 3 giant numbers placed at the 9,12 and 3 to display time while staying minimalistic.
It's cased in 18k Yellow gold with a thin delicate fluted outer Bezel case running around finished with elegant fine lugs gave it such a vintage yet classy modern look that just screams “VIP but I don't brag about it.”
When you flip it over it is arguably more impressive, with Rolex's first open caseback on a general retail model, displaying the mechanics fine tuned with precious metals and Rolex etchings … cementing top tier horology workmanship. Granted, it is still mass produced, but what they do at this scale is impressive nonetheless. It's a sight I'm not sure you would ever get tired of … or stop trying to show every man and their dog that might care.
So why did I even bother writing this?
Well today taught me two valuable lessons that will serve me well on my watch collecting journey.
Lesson 1: Never purchase a watch without first seeing it in person and actually trying it on! From finishing, to how it sits on your wrist, to the feel in your hand … it is essential, before purchasing a watch, to go and take the time and get hands on. Especially if you consider it ‘an expensive purchase’! I was near 99.99% sure I was going in for that YachtMaster in titanium, and now I don't even think I'll look at it online again.
Lesson 2: Purchasing a watch requires time, patience and a level head. Buying something like a Rolex is not a spur of the moment decision for most of us mere mortals, so take your time and really make sure the watch is everything you want it to be.
Maybe try and write down your impressions or make a folder of images on your phone and check back while saving that hard earned cash … be sure that it still makes you feel every bit of excitement you expect it to, just as much excitement as the day you said.. “I want that one!”
Please excuse my spelling and grammar
1.. I'm poorly schooled 😂
2.. I wrote it on my phone on the loo... sat here a while to long
This is a direct result of our conversation yesterday so only write you read it first 💪🏻
Can you imagine receiving such a long message on WhatsApp, out of the blue? To say I was blown away with excitement, is an absurd understatement. To quote my immediate reaction: “That is FUCKING PHENOMENAL”. Aside from taking the time to even write all that, I thought Lee’s style of storytelling was enjoyable, and the ultimate lessons/reflections seemed like they would definitely resonate with other collectors… so I asked Lee if he would let me post his words online - happy he agreed!
I have definitely said the same before… that we should always try to get hands-on with a watch before buying it - clearly Lee agrees. What I loved the most, was the advice to take pause… to make sure you feel the excitement and to make sure it isn’t a fleeting feeling. This post was about Lee, so I will stop there. Thanks for taking the time bro, appreciate you.
What do you think? Any other lessons or advice you’d share with collectors? Comment below!