15 Questions With: Richard Brown, WatchGecko Writer

15 Questions With: Richard Brown, WatchGecko Writer

Richard Brown

Episode #12: Our colleague and friend with a forte for tool watches and the great outdoors waxes lyrical about his passions...

From training Special Operations teams in the deployment of combat weapons to writing for WatchGecko magazine. You could be forgiven for thinking there are absolutely no parallels between these activities – but you would be wrong. Both industries attract passionate people who love the subject matter and want to fully immerse in every detail of it.

Writing for WatchGecko, is an ongoing learning experience and a real privilege. We get to see and test all of the latest models from brands you know well to some you have not heard of. Or we may delve into a vintage world where you are genuinely fortunate to get hands-on. There is always a like-minded person on the other side of the office or a Zoom call away just itching to chat watches in detail with you.

Sharing my interest with regular and new WatchGecko readers is a great experience and I hope you enjoy this brief insight to the person behind the articles.

1. Let’s start with something everyone is always interested in, what’s on your wrist at the time of writing this?

A 32mm 1968 Timex Mercury. Not my usual fare. I eventually concluded that I could not justify the cost of a “year of birth” Rolex Explorer ref: 1610 however a colleague at WatchGecko suggest a fun alternative. How about a nice example of my first watch also from the year of my birth? After a long search I found a manual wind Mercury which is now proudly in my collection. It is fully serviced and in mint condition with the shockproof Timex V-Conic escapement. I am thrilled with this little watch, and it cost about £8000 less than the Explorer.

Timex Mercury

Richard's Timex Mercury - Image Credit: WatchGecko Online Magazine

2. What was the first watch you remember that left an impact on you?

A stainless 1980s Casio 100m Analogue/Digital Diver ref: AMW 320D-9EV. I bought it in Oman in 1989 after my cheap 30m watch filled with moisture due to heat and humidity. A year, and several knocks, later I was amazed at the continued capability and ruggedness of the model. It changed my perception of watches forever.

3. How did you start working in and around watches?

Since the above mentioned 80s Casio I have been fascinated by capable watches and taken great delight in collecting them but had no professional connection. Four years ago, I received a nasty injury which left me in a wheelchair for the best part of a year. During one particularly dark hospital physio day, I caught myself staring at my Rolex Explorer II which had been on the same ZULUDIVER Military strap for years. I was struck by how the strap was still looking as good as new, despite being hammered in desert and jungle, and was suitably impressed.

I decided to email ZD and tell them how excellent their strap was. I was delighted to get a response the same day from Jon Quinn. In the conversation I mentioned I was a writer so Jon asked if I would like to pen a feature about my Rolex and its strap for WatchGecko. I have been a regular writer and podcaster ever since.

Finish the following sentences:

4. The best-kept secret in watches is...

Do not be fooled into thinking that weight equates to quality. Some manufacturers would have you believe that if a watch weighs as much as a Sherman tank makes it must be rugged, strong, and dependable. This is simply not the case. There is no substitute for genuine build quality and smart design and there are some amazingly durable watches available which weigh little more than 50g.

5. The one watch that got away from me was…

A used Breitling Montbrilliant Datora with a white dial. A very trusted supplier was selling it, but he had lost some of the papers so I hesitated for 24 hours, thinking it may be an issue if I subsequently passed the watch on. Coming to my senses overnight, realising I would probably keep the stunning Montbrilliant forever, I called to secure it only to be told it was sold the day before.

6. If I wasn’t working in watches, I’d be working (back) in…

Special Operations firearms technical deployment and training.

7. What is one thing you think is missing from the watch industry today?

Clever marketing campaigns. There is distinct lack of imagination, and the big brands (you know who I mean) keep pushing the same themes to us as customers - some of us do not fly Spitfires and never will. When someone really does think out of the box, in a way that can touch us all, it is exciting and refreshing. I think Patek’s “You never actually own a Patek Philippe. You merely look after it for the next generation” campaign was perfect. I am not a big fan of Patek watches, but I do recognise they nailed the concept of timeless ownership and exclusivity with those two sentences.

Also, regarding the industry, I have to also add a lack of humility and the realisation that consumers have a choice. I cannot abide the attitude of some brands who think I am fortunate to part with my money to wear their product. The arrogance astounds me.

8. Tell us about one watch that took your breath away recently?

Luminox Bear Grylls 3780 Survival Watch. I was lucky to test and review it. It is a really clever piece of survival kit which can calculate the distance you have covered on foot.

9. What is your most prized possession in your collection?

It is too hard to pick just one. First has to be my Rolex Explorer II ref: 16570 which my wife bought for me. It is incredibly special, summing up my love of exploration, and I will never be parted from it. Also, my 1961 Eterna Centenaire Chronometer. It belonged to a family relative whom I hold in high esteem. It is a privileged to wear it and hope he is proud of how I look after it. And of course, I have to mention my treasured Geckota Phalanx, serial number 01/50.

The Geckota Phalanx - Image Credit: Geckota

10. Date or no date?

No date.

11. What was your most recent watch purchase?

I would love to say it was a high end, complex, limited-edition chronometer, however it was a £6.95 Casio F-91W. We recently published a fun feature on this 1980s icon and I became rather obsessed with it. So bought my first one!

12. And the next watch you’ll be adding to your collection?

I cannot see myself getting through 2021 without a Formex. I have been very impressed with this brand, and I admire how they produce such quality and keep the prices sub-£2000. I am not sure which model – they are all so exciting. Maybe the new 39mm Essence or the REEF Diver. Formex was my top brand of 2020 and so far, in 2021, I have not seen anyone I like better.

13. What is something you feel passionate about in the world of watches?

Tool watches which have real provenance and history, i.e., actually been part of some amazing feat such as crossing the polar ice caps or exploring the Sea of Tranquillity.

14. What is one piece of advice for people out there looking to make it in the world of horology and watches?

Be passionate. Its good to have some a decent knowledge about the workings of the machine, or the history of watches, but real passion for this amazing world is more likely to be your ticket in.

15. Tell us about something you’re working on that is really exciting?

The evolution of the Phalanx brand into the next phase. This is a hugely personal project, and I am so proud of the first Phalanx watch and the story behind its creation. We now have a range of Phalanx straps and soon a second watch, the design of which is still top secret. There is a great team working on it and I have high hopes that the brand will go from strength to strength.

15 Questions With: Richard Brown, WatchGecko Writer - Image Credit: WatchGecko Online Magazine

Thanks to Richard for kindly being our first WatchGecko victim, I mean er, participant. You can read more about some of the watches mentioned above, in Richard's articles below:

Timex Mercury - Hunting Down a Special Birth Year Watch

Formex Reef 300m Diver Review

Casio F-91 - Why I love This £10 Watch

Rolex Explorer II - A Personal Journey To and With


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Richard Brown

About the Author: Richard Brown

About the Author: Richard Brown

I truly believe one of the best partners in exploration and adventure is a fine watch. Over 30 years of collecting, my fascination with the technical capabilities of both vintage and modern timepieces has never abated and it is a privilege to be able to share this passion through writing.

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