The Next Frontier – Part I

Jan 14, 2022,03:52 AM

In the late oughts, I started my journey as a watch enthusiast in earnest.  I had always had at least a passing an interest in watches – owning and wearing, at various times, a Casio calculator watch, a Casio G-Shock, a Victorinox, and others I cannot now recall – but until that point, I had not breached the surface of this hobby.

My earliest horologically significant memory is this:  I clipped a Patek 5035 from a magazine, and had it under the glass of my homework desk.  That was about it.

I cannot recall what, in particular, ignited my interest, but I plunged into the hobby headfirst – as I have a tendency to do with most of my hobbies.  I was a student at the time and, being on a student budget (I’m talking a selling platelets, and eating ramen budget), I started with the usual suspects:  a Seiko Orange Monster, an SKX007, an Orient Mako, and others.  Ultimately, I saved my money, and in late 2012 and early 2013, following a couple years of summer clerkships, I was able to purchase my first two serious watches – a hesalite Omega Speedmaster, and a Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Ultra-Thin Moon – both of which remain in my collection.  I considered saving up additional money, and trying to get a FPJ Chrono Bleu when I started working, but it was beyond what I was comfortable spending at that time (a meager $14,000 if I paid cash – we all make mistakes (nb. – including the AD, which lost its right to be a FPJ AD).  As a result, I put this hobby on the backburner, and directed my attention to other things.

For the following seven some odd years, I generally followed what was going on in the watch world.  I read the blogs, checked out the forums every now and then, etc.  However, I moved twice, married once, bought a house, adopted a pet, and had a child.  So it is not like I was doing nothing.

It only took the COVID-19 pandemic to reignite my passion.

With a few cancelled vacations, and a modest windfall from cryptocurrency, I decided that 2021 was my year to tick an item off of my horological checklist – a Patek.  For as long as I can remember (see comment about the Patek 5035, supra), that has been my goal.  And, towards the end of 2021, I picked up my first and only Patek, the 5205G-013.  It was not my first choice – specifically, I have always lusted for a 5712 (way before it was cool to do so).  However, now that I own it, I am glad that I did not have the option.  In addition, I also picked up a 36mm Rolex Explorer, and a Bvlgari Octo Finissimo S.  Good things come in threes, perhaps.

So, in total, my six-watch watch box is filled with five watches:  the hesalite Omega Speedmaster, the Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Ultra-Thin Moon, the Patek 5205G-013, the Rolex Explorer, and the Bvlgari Octo Finissimo S.

Which means, at this juncture, I’ve got one spot remaining.

Which brings us to the title of this article:  The Next Frontier.

In my journey as an enthusiast, I feel like I have reached something of a crossroads.  As a long-term goal, the Patek was an easy decision.  I had already narrowed down the brand.  However, now that I am the owner of what I once strived for – what do I do next?

The first branch in the road:  I could dive farther into the world of Patek.  Perhaps I could save for a grand complication – a perpetual calendar, or maybe even a perpetual calendar chronograph.  Or, perhaps, I could buy a Calatrava or complication, with the goal of getting a 5231 – or whatever its replacement might be by the time I receive the allocation.  Or, perhaps, I could get an allocation for a 5712, or a 5164.  Now, I understand that going this path would require some not-so-desired purchases – perhaps, a twenty-4 for my wife, or some dust-gathering reference.  And the thought of that eventuality left something of a bad taste in my mouth.  Further, the more I considered this branch, the more I thought to myself – do I really want to jump through the hoops?  Do I want to keep the flow going, when the flow is such a substantial amount of money?  Do I want to buy things I don’t want to get things I do want?  And, correspondingly, the more thought that I gave to this branch, the more that I decided this may not be the path I want to go down.  I felt a little niggle in the back of my head – is this what luxury is supposed to feel like?  Why do I feel so disconnected from the experience?  It almost felt like I was keeping up with the Joneses, but in this instance, no one cares about my fancy watches.

The second branch in the road:  I could be happy with the 5205G-013 being the apex of my collection and embrace other watches that I appreciate, some equal to, and some less than, the 5205G-013.  The Lange 1815 up/down comes to mind.  I’ve always wanted an Omega Seamaster.  Oh, and lest I forget, the VC 1931.  And, of course, a precious metal Daytona on Oyster Flex.  And the PF Tonda.  And a Grand Seiko, or even two.  And the list goes on.  And on.  And on.  After flipping and flopping back and forth, I remembered a snippet from my High School Latin class:  nosce te ipsum, “know thyself.”  If I do not focus, I will find a million different things to love.  And I am a man who falls in love hard and fast.  Further, in my mind, I am dead set against being a collector, as opposed to being an enthusiast.  I enjoy wearing my watches, and would like to keep my collection at six so I can do so (which, more realistically, will likely mean that I will end up with eight).

The third branch in the road:  be happy with that I have.  Frankly, I gave some thought to this.  Sure, it isn’t very fun – but I already have five gorgeous watches.  Fortunately, I talked myself out of this path – specifically, this brings me joy in my life, and why would I want to stop that?

The fourth, and final, branch in the road:  the road less traveled.  A bumpy, winding road.  Single lane, no passing.  Speed limit of 25 mph.  Of course, I speak of the road of the independents.  I have always had a soft spot for independents.  A small operation, working with an artisan, a personal experience, a watch made closer to the traditional way – all the things I love about my other hobbies, tailoring and shoemaking, chief among others, in this hobby of watches.  What can I say, I’m a romantic.  As I have grown in this hobby, I have realized in myself that I am generally disinterested in complications.  Or, to put it a different way – I am more fascinated in interesting and complicated ways of keeping precise time, as opposed to complications that I have little need for.  To that end, I’m drawn to time-online watches, and that is where the independents shine.  In particular, I have always had a soft spot for Kari, and I thought – maybe I should just shoot him an email!  To me, obtaining a watch from him has seemed next to impossible, as, in my eyes, he and Philippe Dufour share the same pedestal.  But, sure enough, I received an email from Kari personally, shortly thereafter, received an agreement, and wired my deposit.

I have zero clue where this will go from here.  If the COVID-19 pandemic permits, I would love to visit his workshop, and that will provide me with a great opportunity to contribute Part II.  Until then, I am keeping the watch and my proposed idea under wraps, but will keep you fine folks abreast of the journey.

More posts: 18151815 UP and DOWNcalatravaDufourGrand SeikoOcto FinissimoSeiko DiversSKX007

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Comments: view entire thread



 By: takman : January 14th, 2022-04:44
What a read and thank you for sharing. I have a lot in common with what you wrote and it almost felt like I was reading my own story. I’ll be a father for the first time this year so I am also looking to add a special piece to the collection. The VC 1921,... 

Small world!

 By: JoshTheCanadian : January 14th, 2022-05:23
I am a native of Vancouver - I grew up in Kitsilano, in fact! The VC 1921 is an absolutely magnificent watch. If I do, indeed, increase my watch box to 8, I think that one has a surefire shot of making the cut. Funny you mention the Reverso - that is one ... 

The Reverso…

 By: takman : January 14th, 2022-22:39
Is definitely a must have in my opinion, there’s something for everyone in that model family. Yes, the Alpine Eagle has grown on me as well. Imagine if they ever gave it the LUC treatment, although it’s no slouch in it’s current state. I have to admit I s... 

Fantastic post

 By: Brandon Skinner : January 14th, 2022-05:25
Good luck with whatever direction your journey takes you!

Thanks, Brandon!

 By: JoshTheCanadian : January 14th, 2022-14:15

The second is, indeed, an attractive option.

 By: JoshTheCanadian : January 14th, 2022-14:22
I get the feeling, however, I need to hit the brakes with my collection and gain (regain?) some perspective. It is very easy to fall down the rabbit hole...

This is a very wise advice!

 By: diracpoint : January 14th, 2022-21:58
With so many options available, sometimes our brains need some time to figure out what we really want!

Isn't that the truth!

 By: JoshTheCanadian : January 14th, 2022-22:03
Analysis paralysis.

Like many in this hobby, I am a little crazy.

 By: JoshTheCanadian : January 14th, 2022-14:21
And I am drawn entirely to new watches - I cannot stand knowing that my watch had a life before me. I know this forecloses me to a lot of beautiful watches in the hobby, but for now, it is something I can live with. I have considered a birth year watch (a... 

Thanks for a really nice and well-written post, a pleasure to read it! It sounds like that, similarly to many of us on this forum, Option 1 to delve deeper into the world of Patek is what you really want, provided you’re given the right access to it…

 By: FabR : January 14th, 2022-09:20
Hence my best suggestion is to pursue just that, but only to the extent you fully enjoy the experience…in particular, *never* purchase a watch (Patek or otherwise) that you don’t want, only in order to arrive at another one! Even if I don’t like to think ... 

FabR - I really appreciate hearing your thoughts on my post. I read and considered your response, and that response helped to fine tune my perspective:

 By: JoshTheCanadian : January 14th, 2022-14:47
Specifically, at this juncture, I am under zero illusions that my identity as a hobbyist is permanent. A leopard cannot change his/her spots. And, I am a firm believer that interest in watches is highly cyclical, and the current frenzy will likely (hopefu... 

That's a totally reasonable (and thoughtful) approach in my view --- putting off your Patek "full immersion" until you are completely ready, if ever...does make *lots* of sense! :-)

 By: FabR : January 14th, 2022-16:21
I don't think my own "collecting career" took a very different path, in hindsight...while I bought my first Patek in summer 2008 (hence a few months before turning 30), I kept buying a number of other watches for a few years before it became an (almost) e... 

What an interesting post

 By: Pelle_thorstenson : January 14th, 2022-10:35
I began my Friday by reading this twice and in several ways it contains food for my own thoughts when it comes to watches. Many thanks. Bon weekend. Pelle

Thanks, Pelle! I am glad you enjoyed the post.

 By: JoshTheCanadian : January 14th, 2022-14:23
Sometimes I feel like writing is the best way to gather my thoughts. Further, it is a pleasure to help contribute to this wonderful platform, even if my writing and photography are not up to snuff.

Thanks, Orahu!

 By: JoshTheCanadian : January 14th, 2022-14:24
To get a little off topic - which pen or pens are you looking at? I have a few nice pens (nicest among them, a Nakaya Dorsal Fin II), but my writing is so piss poor I have not dived too far in to the hobby!

Montblanc forms the corpus of my pen collection —

 By: orahu : January 15th, 2022-12:19
And the last three MB three pens or so, that I bought, sit in their boxes. I bought them mainly because I could, they are works of art that highly appealed to me, and I already have so many pens inked up, I don’t need more to choose from for my daily rota... 


 By: JoshTheCanadian : January 16th, 2022-16:37
I had never seen the NOS F. Scott Fitzgerald pens before, but they are absolutely stunning! That has to be one of the more stunning MB's I've seen. Good luck on your proposed acquisition!

Lots to think about here.

 By: Jay (Eire) : January 14th, 2022-15:34
For me, option 1 is almost not an option. There are too many games to play, and posturing required. The idea of building a collection over time with certain brands (not just Patek) which was the norm for decades is no longer realistic for most collectors ... 

Right now...

 By: JoshTheCanadian : January 14th, 2022-15:56
I am looking at a custom option, based on the GMT-6, with an engraved motif. Definitely not going off the shelf! It is not going to be crazy - but it is going to be stunningly poetic, based on what I have in my head.

I neglected to response to some of your other comments...

 By: JoshTheCanadian : January 14th, 2022-22:06
I currently agree with your comments on option 1. At this particular point in time, it is very difficult to view it as a legitimate option. Jack Forster's article in Hodinkee today very accurately summarized my feelings on this. Also, because I am terribl...  


 By: amanico : January 14th, 2022-22:07


 By: JoshTheCanadian : January 14th, 2022-22:15
I had never seen the engraved center before, but as someone obsessed with celestial complications, I was flat out stunned. Plus, a GMT is just so handy.

No question that, or something like that, is THE best choice.

 By: Jay (Eire) : January 16th, 2022-15:14
I’ve seen a similar engraved center I believe, not sure where so can’t locate it now. Also for me blue and gold is a magical combination.

Blue/gold may be my #1 option...

 By: JoshTheCanadian : January 16th, 2022-16:36
However, I have also given thought to platinum/salmon/black - almost a 5270P colorway - or just a platinum/salmon. Still vacillating on a lot of details, but hey, I've got some time to figure such details out!

Lots to consider. I love the visual of the gold, but of pushed I’d also have to consider day to day.

 By: Jay (Eire) : January 18th, 2022-21:04
Is the watch something you want to be able to wear daily? Not that you would, more that it’s possible. And if so, does one metal work better than the other in terms of leaving you this flexibility. I know for me the answer remains a white metal, but every... 

So, in my view...

 By: JoshTheCanadian : January 19th, 2022-01:20
And if past precedent is any indication, I do not imagine that I will wear it daily. While I am reticent to call it a special occasion watch, because it will get daily wear, day-in-day out, I often turn to my sports watches (I am a father of a young child... 

Not long ago I started a whimsical thread revolving around . . .

 By: Dr No : January 20th, 2022-22:00
. . . essentials for watch guys. In declining order of necessity, my four were a Speedmaster Professional, an indie, a Grand Seiko, and an El Primero. I'm intrigued by your fourth option. ...  

As am I!

 By: JoshTheCanadian : January 21st, 2022-03:53
And what a nice list. Grand Seiko and Zenith are two that I often think about adding to my watch box!