Social networks have changed the way relationships develop. Take Instagram for instance, where pictures and captions spark chemistry between otherwise total strangers. A simple follow, like, or comment are the ways people get acquainted with one another nowadays. People with shared interests build online communities that encourage and support members meeting offline where more traditional behavior, like a handshake and small talk, can solidify a connection and lead to a friendship.
In the watch collecting community, @_queuecumber_ probably tops the list of people you’d like to meet and have dinner with, even though you’ve only ever seen him from the goatee down. His 40,000+ followers are attracted by his colorful designer wardrobe and grail-caliber watches that are the mediums he uses to communicate with his followers. But _queuecumber_ ultimately wins us over with what he says and what those words communicate to us. From risqué to quite eloquent at times, _queuecumber_’s witty one-liners, thoughtful quotes, and approachable persona are what keep us coming back for more.
So you’re probably wondering: what it’s like to spend an afternoon with _queuecumber_?
Our day started on Interstate 95 with me punching the pedal of my mid-size rental car, trying to keep up with his Ferrari 458 Italia as I followed him to a clandestine location that turned out to be a Barnes & Noble. What our setting lacked in ambiance, _queuecumber_ made up for with his personality and the watch he brought along for the interview: A 1956 Rolex ref. 6538 “James Bond” Big Crown Submariner 4-liner with special provenance.
The first thing _queuecumber_ said to me was, “I don’t think I’m that interesting.” My reply: “We’ll let the readers be the judge of that…”
First things first, I wanted to find out his trade secret for pulling off the signature _queuecumber_ overhead #wristshot. Besides a smirk and a chuckle, he would only divulge that the inimitable angle of the shot was inspired by his desire to capture both his collar and his footwear in the picture simultaneously. Sorry #watchfam. I tried…
When the topic turned to watches, _queuecumber_ pulled a black, foam-lined case out of his pocket. When he opened the case, it was like a time capsule unlocked before my eyes. What lay inside was an uber-rare vintage Big Crown Submariner in superb condition, replete with 4 gilt lines. Let me say this about _queuecumber_, he may live in the fast lane (judging by his affinity for exotic cars and front row seats at concerts), but his vintage watches live a life of leisure – all the heavy lifting is done by the modern watch models in his collection, like the Deepsea D-Blue. The way he removed the antique curio and carefully passed it to me conveyed a sense of his awe and respect for vintage watches and their history. He is as much a caretaker as he is a collector.
The chic vintage watches that we covet today are the lucky ones that have survived the hazards of daily wear over the decades. The remarkable condition of _queuecumber_’s 1956 Big Crown Sub is not lost on him. This particular ref. 6538 is an early example, with higher potency radium in the hour markers and handset. All too often, dials from this era suffered extreme deterioration caused by the high radium content, referred to as ‘radium burn.’ The 4-line gilt dial on his ref. 6538 is stunning, with minimal signs of radium burn. _Queuecumber_ says that wearing vintage watches like this ref. 6538, ones which have endured and will outlive him, is both an “enthralling” and “humbling” experience.
Provenance can provide peace of mind when buying vintage Rolex and instill a greater appreciation for a watch. Accompanying his ref. 6538 “James Bond” 4-line Submariner was a folder chock full of ephemera about the watch. It originally belonged to William Graham “Bumpy” Bell, an acclaimed underwater filmographer/photographer and the grandson of Alexander Graham Bell. Included in the folder with newspaper clippings about Bumpy’s career were photos of him actually wearing this watch “in the wild,” literally submerged in the sea.
After _queuecumber_ acquired Bumpy’s Submariner, the Bell family reached out to him, and Bumpy’s son, Graham Bell, generously filled him in on the history of the watch. As _queuecumber_ recounted, the watch was bought new in 1956 on the island of St. Thomas. On that day, four Rolex Submariners were purchased, including a second Big Crown for Graham Bell, which was thrown away in the early ‘90s, after it fell to the ground and shattered.
Having left the decision of which timepiece to feature up to _queuecumber_, I was as anxious to find out his choice as I was to see him. After all, every piece he owns is a conversation piece. When the shellshock of my afternoon wore off, it occurred to me why he may have specifically chosen this ref. 6538 Big Crown Submariner. Every time _queuecumber_ performs a strap change on his 1956 Big Crown, he sees the initials W. G. B. on the case back. Since _queuecumber_ enjoys figuring out the history of his vintage watches, he likely appreciates the story that these initials evoke. Additionally, _queuecumber_ just so happens to share Bumpy’s passion for scuba diving and photography, making this vintage Sub particularly special to him. By taking good care of Bumpy’s Sub and sharing it with us, _queuecumber_ is keeping Bumpy’s spirit alive, something he wishes he could do with all his vintage watches.
Just like Bumpy Bell’s Rolex ref. 6538 is truly one of a kind, _queuecumber_’s Instagram is exceptional in its own right. Whether he takes you for a ride in his Ferrari via his GoPro, or appeals to your sense of humor with his innuendo-laced captions, he is a man who invites you into his world and into his mind. His account is not only entertaining to follow, but it’s also engaging, as he often replies to random questions either seriously or in jest. In general, technologies have been criticized for their ability to stifle human interaction and place barriers between people, but in this instance, _queuecumber_’s Instagram account offers an opportunity for watch lovers to both congregate and interact.