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Watches, Conversations, and Friendships

Robert-Jan Broer
26.11.2016
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Omega Speedmaster Group Wristshot
Robert-Jan Broer
26.11.2016

Normally, I keep the articles I write for Chrono24 Magazine as objective as possible. My taste doesn’t have to match your taste and I try to keep articles interesting for everyone who visits Chrono24 Magazine. However, this article about watch conversations and friendships touches on the human aspects of watch collecting and sometimes it can get personal.

This article doesn’t cover watches, but rather the pleasant side effects of our mutual hobby and passion for watches. Watches are great conversation makers, just like (vintage) sports cars, wine, high-end audio, and for women, a fine pair of Louboutins or a Chanel clutch. The watch world mostly consists of men, but you will also find quite a few women who share the same passion for beautiful watches.

I also find watches to be the base of some great friendships, some lasting for many years now. In the last 20 years, I’ve met some of my best friends through my interest in watches. Also in the last 20 years, I’ve inspired some of my best non-watch friends to develop an interest in watches and have seen them buy great pieces, both men and women. At the end of this article, I’ll share some experiences of friendships that have originated from a mutual interest in watches.

Conversation Makers

Group Wristshot

Group Wristshot, Image: FratelloWatches

It must have been around 2000 or 2001, I was in a local theatre with my then-girlfriend and I sat next to an older man wearing a Heuer Carrera. I wasn’t working as a watch journalist in those days, in fact, I was still a student, but I immediately recognized the watch and bluntly asked the gentleman about it. He told me that he bought it in the 1960s and never took it off except when he was near water. At the time, he didn’t realize how special his watch was, especially considering it was in worn, but original condition. I didn’t want to spoil his fun of wearing it every day, so I didn’t say a thing.

That is just one of the many experiences I’ve had of people talking about their watches. Sometimes, people ask me about the watch I am wearing. When it concerns people who are not into watches (the so-called ‘non-watch people’), I usually leave out the nerdy details, but I do try to determine whether they are getting more enthusiastic during my story or if it is just some superficial interest in a watch. I enjoy these conversations with non-watch people as much as I enjoy in-depth discussions with people from the watch industry.

Just give it a try; I bet if you ask a random person in the street who is wearing a nice watch, you will get an interesting, and most of the time very personal story about the watch and why he or she bought it.

Just recently, I commented on someone’s watch while just passing by. He was sitting on a terrace with his young daughter and I called out, “Nice watch!” He smiled from ear-to-ear and although I was already 10 meters past him, he raised his voice and said, “Thank you, you know your stuff!” I didn’t have time to stop and talk to him about it, but I could’ve and I am pretty sure he would’ve had a nice story to tell.

Patek and Seiko

Seiko Prospex

Seiko Prospex, Image: Bert Buijsrogge

The interesting thing is that in most cases one’s background is not very important. One can have unlimited resources and a marvelous collection of Patek Philippes, A. Lange & Söhnes, and perhaps an MB&F on the side, and they still become enthusiastic about someone’s IWC Aquatimer or a €2,000 Seiko Marinemaster that required a year’s worth of saving by its owner. It’s all about passion for watches and mutual respect for each other’s choices. Here is how the true watch enthusiasts are separated from the ones who only buy for status and brand name: Spending time and effort to research and admire someone else’s watch, even though the brand name isn’t one that will increase one’s status in the cafés of Saint-Tropez.

Friendships

Watch Collectors Table Shot

Watch Collectors Table Shot, Image: FratelloWatches

As I wrote in the introduction, I’ve met some of my best friends via a shared passion for watches. Most friendships are based on some kind of mutual interest or interests. In the past years, I’ve made some great friends through my interest in watches and we’ve long passed the stage where all our conversations just revolve around watches. What I also find interesting are the friends who also work in the watch industry. In my previous working life in the financial industry, a manager once told me that you could have buddies at work, but no friends. I found that to be true, though some people might think or have experienced otherwise. In the watch industry, even though there is competition, there are certainly some people I consider to be friends; be it from brands, colleague journalists, watchmakers, or dealers. The industry and the people that passionately work in it are something I’d never experienced before. Those people who are only in it for the money can quickly be identified by their focus on the money and not on the watches.

Also, some of the friends I’ve made outside of the watch industry have converted to watch enthusiasts. The passion and enthusiasm for watches is very transmittable to others. Friends I’ve known since college have now bought their own share of watches; some had started back then, others only recently.

Some of the friendships that have originated from a mutual interest in watches have grown to be very close friendships indeed.

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