1. What watches do you currently own?
Currently is a good way to indicate, as my collection does change every now and then. However, I have to say that I am not really a watch collector – although my wife thinks differently – and I am not that much of a watch flipper. My collection is quite stable since a year or two. I am quite loyal to my current watches. This is probably due to the fact that a number of them were bought to commemorate specific events or occasions. I own dozens of watches, but when I have to narrow it down to the more serious/mechanical watches it comes down to somewhere around 25. From Audemars Piguet to Seiko via Omega and Rolex. Perhaps I should say that at least half of this number are Speedmaster watches. So I guess I do collect, but don’t see myself as a collector. I buy what I like and especially that I know I will wear. For me, there is no point of having watches ‘unused’ in a safe or in a drawer somewhere.
2. Currently, what is your favorite watch that you own and why?
Well, I just picked up my new Omega Speedmaster Professional Silver Snoopy Award that was introduced this year and I am over the Moon with it (no pun intended). So this watch is currently my favorite timepiece, but in general you could say that the Speedmaster Professional ‘Moonwatch’ is my favorite. It is a relatively affordable watch and a classic. Since 1957 there have been only a few changes to its design but the design is still up-to-date. For me, it is the perfect watch combining design and functionality. You can wear it every day, with any type of outfit and for any type of occasion. Then there is the Moonwatch story of course, which is in fact a true story and not made-up by a marketing hot shot somewhere. I don’t mind watch brands telling us (consumers) stories, but it should be genuine. The watch from my collection that means most to me, well, are actually two watches. One is a gold Omega Constellation that I inherited from my grandfather and the other one is a Speedmaster ’57 that I received for my first Father’s Day from my wife and daughter.
3. What is your grail watch and why?
Well, here is where you should have put ‘Currently’ in the question. I’ve found out in the last 18 years of buying watches, that as soon as you have your grail, there is a new one around the corner. First, my grail watch was an Omega Speedmaster Professional when I was still in university. Sold my old car to raise some funds for one that I wanted to have (and still have). After that, my grail watch was a Rolex GMT-Master. In the end, I had several of them but decided to keep the one from my year of birth, a 1977 GMT-Master 1675. Well, after I bought my GMT-Master I thought my grail was the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak ‘Jumbo’. However, that watch is in a different (price) league than the Rolex and Omega watches I had at the time, so that needed some saving up. Initially I bought a reference 15300 Royal Oak, but I found out soon enough that I really was after the ‘Jumbo’ or ‘Extra-Thin’ as they call it now at Audemars Piguet. So in 2009, I finally bought a Royal Oak reference 15202. Then, I thought the Patek Philippe Nautilus was my grail. But after wearing one that belongs to a friend of mine, I found out that this watch is not for me. I love the looks, but I don’t like how it wears and feels on my wrist. It doesn’t fit my personality as well. The Royal Oak is a bit more ‘raw’ and industrial looking than the Nautilus. So, in the end, I have my grail watches. Although I am not as ‘hungry’ anymore to add new watches to my collection as I used to be, I wouldn’t mind owning a Rolex Day-Date at some point, or a Lange 1 in white gold or the new Omega Globemaster in Sedna gold. All fantastic watches, but I noticed I have “peace” with my current collection and have my share of grails. For me, a grail watch is not about the price tag. I’ve could have easily said a Patek Philippe chronograph or a Lange Zeitwerk Minute Repeater is my grail, but it isn’t. Even if I would have all the money in the world, I think I would settle for wearable watches that also make a bit sense, price-wise. Hey, I am Dutch, what can I say.
4. In your opinion, what is the best “bang for the buck” watch available today? (new or used)
Seiko. Period. I think, to be precise, a Seiko SKX007 or SKX009 is the mechanical watch to buy if you have around $200-$250 USD to spend. I am not saying it can compete with a Rolex Submariner or even a more affordable Longines Legend Diver when it comes to finish and built quality, but it is an awesome watch for sure. Grand Seiko also made a huge impression on me, including their Marinemaster 300 and 1000 models (made in the same factory, but marketed as Prospex), but I think there is some work to be done there on bracelets and the overal aesthetics of these watches. Best watch also means a good design. It sounds cliché, but I think Rolex is still decently priced today with their stainless steel watches. They don’t depreciate much, last a life time (probably longer, when they get their service intervals) and are simply timeless in terms of design. I also have to say that I still think the Omega Speedmaster Professional (lists at around $5000 USD these days I think) is an awesome timepiece, suitable for everyday and especially life-time wear. Perhaps a pre-owned Speedmaster Professional from the 1970s or 1980s would be my ultimate ‘best buy’. I recently added a Speedmaster Professional ‘Moonwatch’ from 1971 to my collection and paid less than 2000 Euro (about the same in USD these days) for it. It needed a service and a new crystal, but with the right connections that doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg. However, overall, I would say that Seiko does an amazing job. I have visited Seiko in Japan and it was like no other experience so far. The pride they take in building their watches is simply unbelievable. No matter if that’s a cheap quartz Seiko or a Grand Seiko, it is done with pride.
5. What is the URL of your watch website, when did you start it, and how do you plan on making it stand out?
I started www.fratellowatches.com in 2004, making it one of the first blogs on watches. In the meanwhile, you can’t speak about a blog anymore, but about an on-line watch magazine. We have new content every day of the week and come with unique and personal stories, watch reviews, manufacture visits and so on. We are not here to bring you the latest news, other websites are better and faster doing the copy/paste press-release work, but we want to deliver interesting content for the watch enthusiast and those who are about to set the first step in this interesting world of watches. We are now with a team of six people, each with their own interest and expertise. We also cover vintage watches and the collector’s universe around them, that is an interesting scene to follow, even for people who only buy new or young pre-owned watches. Our vision is as described, we want to bring unique content to the table, to stand out from the crowd where there’s an on-going fight to be the quickest with new releases. If something new is really worth mentioning, we do so, but still in our own way, with an opinionated piece and our own images. We have a professional photographer in our team that also works for some big watch brands, he makes sure we have stunning images with some of the reviews or stories we publish. This strategy works quite well for us. Most importantly, our readers are happy with our content based on the ever growing number of visitors which makes (potential) advertisers happy as well. We have to be able to pay for our meals at the end of the day, so I won’t deny that this isn’t important. On the other hand, we are in full control over our content, if there are certain aspects about a brand or watch that we don’t like, we do write that down. Content and readers are key to us, that’s why we also take the time to reply every e-mail we receive from them, organize collector’s diners and events etc. We want to be in close touch with them.
– Robert-Jan Broer