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Holiday Card: Winding Down 2022
A few highlights from 2022 and looking forward to 2023.
Consider this a holiday card from that old friend who tells you what they’ve been up to all year, even if you might not (definitely don’t) really care. But hey, you read those cards and put them on your mantle anyway, don’t you?
I’ve been busy at Hodinkee since starting in September – some travel, but mostly writing. I’ll be in Miami for the Miami Beach Antique Show from January 20-22, so drop me a line if you’ll be around.
I also appeared on a couple of my favorite watch podcasts to chat about watches and life and changing careers from lawyer to watch writer:
Most of the compliments I got about these appearances from my non-watch friends were actually about the hosts and the insightful questions they asked and I tend to agree. More broadly, both of these pods manage to have a diverse set of guests and deliver fresh perspectives on a weekly basis.
This is my personal newsletter with updates on my Hodinkee writing; b-sides and behind-the-scenes; recs and other unsolicited advice.
Besides talking about myself on podcasts, I’ve been mostly busy writing for Hodinkee. Since ‘tis the season for reflecting – the most contemplative of seasons (Office memes are still relevant!) – I thought I’d link a few favorite articles from my first few months at Hodinkee. A true in case you missed it:
One of the highlights of my first few months was chatting with legendary designer Marc Newson about his watch brand, Ikepod. Newson and his work have always fascinated me – sure, Ikepod and the Apple Watch, but also all the other stuff around us he’s impacted. It was truly rewarding to be able to speak with him to tell the story of Ikepod, a brand he hasn’t talked about publicly since he left it back in 2012. Not to mention there’s been an uptick in collector interest over the past year or so.
One of my favorite moments came when Newson talked about the Megapode, which he called the favorite of his watch designs. From the article:
If, as some say, great creative work is the result of an underlying tension between two ideas, many watch brands struggle by trying to paper over this tension with half-measures and compromises intended to satisfy acolytes of each school of thought. Newson instead lets this tension bubble to the surface, but rather than let it control or burden him, he plays with it, creating designs that are both, somehow, fully functional and fully fashionable.”
Here’s the link again.
Next up, I went deep on the Nautilus 5711 right as Patek released the new 5811G. Honestly, I kind of though “oh, all Nautiluses are pretty much the same,” before I wrote this – and I suppose that is probably mostly true to most people who just want a Nautilus, but it was fun to dig into the nuances that, to collectors, might eventually mean something.
Other than that, here’s a favorite passage:
“At some point on the way up, the meaning of the Nautilus became totally divorced from the reality of what the watch was, turning into something else – ‘money, power, immediacy,’ as Collectability’s John Reardon put it. It became this symbol of everything that was wrong with watch collecting, and maybe even with society if you were a very serious person. But really, the Nautilus might have been a victim of circumstance as much as anything, a classic ‘right place, right time’ situation (or wrong place, wrong time, depending on your view): If the Nautilus didn't exist, would some other watch have soaked up all the hype, Instagram likes, bitcoin, and free-flowing pandemic cash?”
As for all those nuances, I was proud of this little table I put together that distinguishes the caliber, dial, and bracelet variations in the 5711. You can imagine how two decades from now, collectors might go crazy for the “rarer” stuff – “oh sh*t! you’ve got a 324 caliber non-cartouche dial?! those were only produced for one year in 2018!”
The journey for this next article started when I was reading Stacy Perman’s A Grand Complication (a book I’d recommend). She mentions the above watch, a tiny little platinum Patek minute repeating perpetual calendar from 1939 that sold for $1.7 million in 1996, the first wristwatch to sell for more than $1 million at auction (it sold for $1.7 million (about $3.2 million today, adjusted for inflation)).
This little factoid stood out to me because really, 1996 isn’t that long ago, and it helps to illustrate how far the watch collecting world has come in a short time. Fast-forward 25 years:
“In 2021, we saw more than 50 wristwatches sell for more than $1 million during the year. As the market has grown and matured, so too have the watches to cross a million dollars – both in number and in variety. Sure, it's kind of an arbitrary threshold, especially with the current day's inflation where yesterday's price is not today's price: $1 million in 1996, when that Calatrava first crossed seven figures, would be something like $2.8 million today.
But 25 years ago, the answer to the question: "What makes for a million-dollar watch at auction?" was pretty simple: vintage, complicated Patek Philippe, perhaps in a white metal if you've got it.
Over the past decade though, a new generation of collectors with varied tastes and interests has grown up, making the answer to the million-dollar question more interesting. Sure, Patek still dominates the upper echelon of watch collecting: About half of the watches to sell for more than $1 million in 2021 were Patek Philippes, but the brand is joined by more watchmakers than ever before. Rolex is there too, but it's not just the same complicated Rolex watches from a decade ago. Collectors are also plopping down millions for indies like George Daniels, F.P. Journe, and Philippe Dufour. Even vintage watches from historic brands such as Omega and Cartier have crossed a million dollars with increased frequency over the past few years.”
A few final notes:
I’ll be taking on more auction coverage at Hodinkee over the next year, but here’s one teaser: Three Rolex Watches With Everest Ties I’m Still Thinking About A Week Later (and now, a month later).
We’re working to bring back weekly vintage (and neo-vintage)-focused articles to Hodinkee. One of my favorite so far was about “the most affordable vintage Rolex,” the ref. 6426.
Of course, more hands-on reviews to come too. A few highlights so far include: the new Rolex Deepsea Challenge (that 50mm behemoth that goes to the literal bottom of the ocean), the new AP Starwheel, and the IWC Mark XX, still one of my favorite historical model lines.
Finally, if you’re looking for something better to watch than Love Actually over the holidays (really though, nothing’s better than Hugh Grant during the holidays), Making Time on Amazon Prime was well worth the $1.99 rental.
As always, thanks for following me on Hodinkee – more to come in 2023! One year ago, I never thought I’d be “doing watches” full-time, so I’m excited to see what the next 12 months brings. In watches, I’m excited about the 80s-2000s (“neo-vintage” as it’s been branded), so expect more in-depth articles in that area (like that Ikepod article, covering indies and larger brands), as well as finding new ways to tell stories about vintage brands I’ve long loved (Rolex, Heuer, Tudor, in addition to low-key brands like Movado, Universal Geneve, and others).
Happy holidays, and hopefully the next update won’t be in three months!
Watch I Wore The Most This Year
Small, discrete, and the deployant clasp doesn’t get in the way of all that typing I do…just three reasons I love this CPCP Cartier Tank.