2023 on the Wrist of GP
A decade collecting and selling vintage watches has influenced what Menard and I collect in our personal collection of watches. We have gone through the gamut of Subs, GMT’s, Gold divers, etc and all have scratched a deep itch that needed to be scratched. But after 10 years of selling and collecting we have both ironically come to a similar space in what we are seeking now.
When we began collecting vintage Rolex specifically, many of the pieces that are grails today could be had for $5k-$6k. There was a level of affordability and discovery associated with these sport model references. As an example my first watch was a MKV Red Sub that was purchased for $6,500.
We enjoyed buying old watches that the majority of people were oblivious to and did not care about. These old GMT’s and Subs were never going to get us approached by annoying tik-tokers asking what we did for a living. And for the majority of vintage pieces today, their presence are still very under the radar to the mass public. But there is something special about hunting watches that only you and a select few in the world can appreciate. And over the years of selling thousands of vintage sports Rolex references we began really appreciating the smaller and often entry level pieces like the 1500, Air-Kings, and Datejust models.
Given the popularity of these smaller references, one would think that anything smaller than 36mm would be absolutely invisible to the general public, and to a degree it is. But this is the reason why we absolutely love these overlooked pieces. The minimalism of a watch without a bezel insert or a 40mm case or a thick frame leaves the enjoyment of these watches focused entirely on the dial. The dial importance is magnified and other extraneous features diminished. Thus, for under $10k you can often find a 34 or 36mm reference with a one of a kind tropical dial that has patina’d over many decades. The alchemy or recipe for watches that really get our attention is the addition of time and decay as an ingredient to the intended sterile watch that the watchmaker intended to make.
These watches exist only as a result of the time that has passed and the life they have lived. In the case of the 1500 Tropical Oyster Perpetual that I own, it can be theorized that this watch was worn on the right hand and under a right shirt sleeve. As a result, the crown side of the dial remains a silky dark brown to a deep black gradient. Conversely on Menard’s Datejust, the exact opposite transpired leading us to believe this was an orthodox accountant that wore his watches on his left hand.
I don’t ever think these watches will become main stream and we hope it stays that way. It’s a great reminder that the joy of collecting is not directly related to the price or rarity of a watch. It’s akin to a great inside joke, one that only you and your closest confidants can appreciate.
Cheers and happy hunting