Episode #16: A combined knowledge of cars and watches can only result in one thing, a whole lot of fun!
Cars and watches. They just go together, don’t they? And that’s ultimately how and why I find myself sitting here writing this. From a young age I was fascinated by travelling quickly, which is why I regularly used to push my bike to the top of the steepest hill and then zoom down it as fast as I could. Even the occasional face-plant didn’t matter: who needs a chin anyway? When I became older (but sadly, no wiser) I made a career out of it, writing about cars and then moving into public relations.
And so I was drawn ever closer to that fascinating intersection between cars and watches, getting a chance to use my experience in the world of journalism to write and talk about all sorts of global time-related adventures. I’m privileged to not only write articles on these pages, but also help shape WatchGecko’s marketing strategy into the future.
1. Let’s start with something everyone is always interested in: what’s on your wrist at the time of writing this?
Right now? A Heuer Autavia. Sadly not the original version, as worn by 1960s racing drivers, but the 2017 TAG Heuer heritage reissue – which is nonetheless faithful to the spirit of the original. I’ve had it from new and absolutely love it: the Autavia is the archetypal driving chronograph, with its classic reverse panda dials. Like a Daytona, but with less of the attitude.
2. What was the first watch you remember that left an impact on you?
I’ll nominate two, as I can’t remember the exact model of the first one. Suffice it to say it was a chunky Casio digital watch, in burgundy. I got it for Christmas when I was very small and I particularly enjoyed the smell of the rubber strap (I was a strange child, with all the hallmarks of a future deviant). When I was much older, I was given a mirror face Swatch in the 1980s – a game-changer at the time, and my first ‘proper’ watch – which I still have now.
3. How did you start working in and around watches?
As happens so often in life, through meeting a friend of a friend. I was introduced to Jon Quinn, the owner of WatchGecko, just over two years ago by a friend working in motorsport. We chatted about watches in general and my interest in them, so Jon suggested I do a bit of writing and some public relations support for WatchGecko. Everything just grew from there, and now I feel incredibly fortunate to be part of the family.
Finish the following sentences:
4. The best-kept secret in watches is...
…that there are so many secrets! Most people have only really heard of the big Swiss brands but look beyond them and there are so many other fascinating names out there from all over the world, many of them with a quality and a heritage to match anything from the big players.
5. The one watch that got away from me was…
Thankfully, lots get away from me, otherwise, I’d be bankrupt. Most recently, I bid on an Enicar Sherpa Graph and lost, but the watch I really should have bought was a Panerai Luminor that I was offered for an unfeasibly cheap price a few years ago by a friend who needed some fast cash. At the time it was still just a little bit too much money, but in retrospect, I should have just robbed a bank or something. An offer like that won’t happen again.
6. If I wasn’t working in watches, I’d be working…
With cars in some shape or form – which is what I also do. When I was younger, I wanted to be a pilot, but quickly changed my mind when I found out how much maths and physics was involved.
7. What is one thing you think is missing from the watch industry today?
Creativity, both when it comes to the way that watches are designed and sold. There are too many people jumping on bandwagons and blindly following trends, often leading to releases that are somewhat predictable. Similarly, they’re often marketed in exactly the way that you'd expect. I’d call it ‘deja-vu’, if I hadn’t seen it all before...
8. Tell us about one watch that took your breath away recently?
The Jaeger-Le Coultre Reverso Quadryptique: the most insane thing I’ve ever heard of in the watch-making world. I’m not even sure I like it, but as a conceit of engineering, it's monumental. This ‘Reverso within a Reverso’ features four faces, 11 complications (a few of which you need a degree in astrophysics to understand) and a price tag of over a million Euros. Enough said.
9. What is your most prized possession in your collection?
An unfair question, like having to pick your favourite dog. But I’m going to go for the ‘pie pan’ gold Omega Constellation from the early 1960s, because it means so much to me for all sorts of reasons. Not to mention the Rolex Oyster Perpetual from the 1970s, which was the first ‘serious’ watch that I owned, and still treasure.
10. Date or no date?
Depends on the watch. No fixed preference either way.
11. What was your most recent watch purchase?
A well-priced Citizen Promaster Eco-Drive Tough ‘Ray Mears’, which my friend and colleague Richard put me onto. It’s an incredible watch for what it is: truly ahead of its time thanks to the light-powered movement, with solar cells mounted under the dial. The specification and capabilities of this titanium watch make it a true unsung hero of the watch world – and it looks stunning on a ‘James Bond’ NATO strap.
12. And the next watch you’ll be adding to your collection?
The Squale Sub-39 GMT Vintage. It’s described as the ‘Traveller’s Diver Watch’, which ticks all of my boxes, from an Italian-Swiss brand that I’ve been fortunate enough to visit in person. I really like the skin diver look and the heritage of Squale. With an ETA movement and perfect proportions, I don't think it will be coming off my wrist for a while.
13. What is something you feel passionate about in the world of watches?
Stories and personal connections. You buy a watch for what it makes you feel and the stories it might be able to tell you – some of which you’ve created yourself. As a journalist, you’re a born storyteller: and what makes a watch come alive for me is the real story that goes with it.
14. What is one piece of advice for people out there looking to make it in the world of horology and watches?
Do it for the right reasons and follow your passion; think more about the journey rather than the destination. Talk to as many people as you can, never stop learning, and always keep an open mind or you’ll never make an objective judgment. Also, read Jack Heuer’s book: “The Times Of My Life”.
15. Tell us about something you’re working on that is really exciting?
FORZO: a brand that’s going to break new ground by bringing authentic motorsport pedigree into high-quality watches that are nonetheless affordable. We’ve got some amazing partners and carried out painstaking research into what was real at the time, without compromise. It’s an incredibly genuine brand with all the ingredients in place to become a big success.
If you'd like to see how other people answered our 15 Questions With, make sure you click here to check out their answers!