Eric Wind is a contributing author for Hodinkee, where he discusses watches, specifically vintage watches. His popular “Bring a Loupe” series alerts watch enthusiasts of interesting and unique watches that are available for sale in the watch market. Crown & Caliber recently interviewed Wind, where he discusses his appreciation for vintage watches and gives tips to watch collectors.
Your profile on Hodinkee says that you focus on “vintage and historical wristwatches.” Why do you prefer vintage?
I love the history and unique elements of a vintage watch: the patina, the aesthetics, the story, and the survival of the watch over decades. Each watch can be unique in how it looks and ages. Watches back in the day were tools and not necessarily items meant to be collected. As a result, the hunt is such a big part of collecting vintage watches. Seeing an all-original wristwatch that has somehow survived without being heavily polished and having replacement parts is an amazing thing.
That all being said, modern watches have their place, too. They are, of course, generally more likely to be water-resistant and should be less fussy than their vintage equivalents (although that is not always the case). There are many new watches I love and hope to have in my collection one day.
Your articles often provide collectors with tips. What is the single most important thing collectors should consider when searching for their next watch?
Collectors need to do their homework before buying any vintage watch. It is tempting to just jump in and want to buy something you know is desirable and looks good on the surface, but getting to know the intricate details takes time. Say, for instance, someone sees a vintage dive watch they really like. There are a number of important things to consider: Is the bezel and bezel insert original? Is the dial original to the watch? Has the dial been re-lumed (the luminous paint re-applied)? Has the movement been changed? Has the case been polished or is it damaged beyond repair? Is the serial number correct for the watch? When people don’t do their homework (or don’t get expert advice or don’t buy from a trusted source) before purchasing a watch, it can often become a regrettable purchase.
Collecting vintage watches is a lifelong journey. I learn new things about different vintage watches each day and my interests continue to grow.
What was your very first watch and when did you get it?
My first watch was a G.I. Joe digital watch in the style of a Casio F-91W. My parents gave it to me around the time I was five. It was Army green and it had a small compass integrated in the strap, which I thought was the coolest thing ever. When I was in college, my mom gave me my grandfather’s small gold-filled Hamilton Neil after he passed. It was a wedding gift from my grandmother to my grandfather in 1947, and he went on to wear it the rest of my life. That watch started my true passion for mechanical watches.
What watch will you be adding to your collection next?
I have a watch in mind, but I don’t want to create competition for myself. 😉
Your “Bring A Loupe” (formerly “What’s Selling Where”) articles on Hodinkee are very popular. Where do you typically buy your watches?
I would say eBay is the primary place I have bought watches. In addition, I have purchased from forums, dealers, friends, an auction house, etc.
Do you have a “grail” watch that you hope to one day obtain?
I think a grail for me is the Patek Philippe reference 1518 in steel. Only four are known and they are unbelievably beautiful. You can see all four depicted in detail in the incredible book Patek Philippe Steel Watches by John Goldberger, which is also available as an iPad app. They are worth millions so I am certainly not in the market for one right now, but they are true masterpieces and I hope I can at least see one in person (and try it on my wrist) one day.
What trends are you most excited about from Basel? What trends are you ready to put to bed?
We are seeing the continued popularity of more classically styled watches, which is great. I have not been a fan of Hermès watches in recent years, but their new Slim d’Hermès collection is extremely striking and I thought was one of the best introductions at Basel this year. I was extremely impressed by a couple of Patek Philippe’s introductions this year, particularly the 5370P chronograph with black enamel dial and 5170G chronograph with black dial. I am not a fan of huge watches with diameters of 47 millimeters or greater (I think they look like a dinner plate on the wrist), so I found the unveiling of the Arnold Schwarzenegger line of massive watches a bit silly and behind the times, although I will be interested to see if the brand endures.