In this edition of Fratelli Stories, we learn more about Fratello reader Andre. He combines his passions for diving and underwater photography with his love of horology. This includes his fondness for his favorite diving companion, a Rolex Sea-Dweller.

Underwater photography is a passion of mine as well. The underwater world is both enchanting and familiar to me, living so close to it as I do. For Andre, the connection between his passion for this aquatic world is also tied to his love of watches. Let’s find out more.

Andre Rolex Sea-Dweller diving

A passion for vintage watches

Andre, who lives here in Australia, is a collector of all sorts of vintage watches. Before developing his connection to the underwater realm, Andre had already been interested in horology, mainly older watches.

“I’ve always loved old things, and one day when I was browsing some antique goods, I came across a photo of a vintage Hermès chronograph made by Universal Genève. That’s when I fell into the rabbit hole and purchased my first vintage watch, a Universal Genève Uni-Compax. I’ve just been fascinated with vintage watches ever since,” he explained.

“Since then, a lot of my orbit of existence within the hobby is still vintage watches from the 1940s and 1960s. And while I love wearing them and try to do so as much as possible, I have to take a lot of precautions with them.”

Andre Rolex Sea-Dweller diving

Underwater adventures fit for a Rolex Sea-Dweller

It was because of his growing passion for pursuing underwater sports that Andre started to veer into modern watches too. For many of us, this is probably the reverse order of how we got into watches (well, it is for me anyway). Most of us probably started with a newer watch and then went down vintage rabbit holes. For Andre, it was the other way around. This was when the opportunity to purchase a Rolex Sea-Dweller came up.

“With my modern watches, I know what I want from them, and I need to be able to wear them how they are meant to be worn. Dive watches are meant to be worn scuba diving, not desk diving. If I have to baby my modern watches, I would rather spend the money to get vintage watches instead,” he said.

“My love for the ocean started in 2009, and I started scuba diving in 2019. Underwater photography, particularly macro, followed not long after that,” he told me. “And being a watch nerd who takes regular wrist shots, I thought to myself, ‘Why not do underwater wrist shots?’ So when I had the chance to trade for a Rolex Sea-Dweller in 2020, I got my watchmaker to pressure test the watch to ensure that I could take it underwater, and the rest is history. It’s my way of combining my two passions — the ocean and horology.”

A Rolex Sea-Dweller for all occasions

Originally from Indonesia, Andre has been exploring the waters off the Pacific coasts of Australia as well as Southeast Asia for more than a decade. He is also enthusiastic about certain modern timepieces, including his Sea-Dweller, which is the watch he most often wears diving.

Andre’s collection is large and includes a Vacheron Constantin Overseas that he also takes diving. But the Rolex is his special modern watch. It’s the one he demands the most from, rummaging around coral reefs and photographing marine life.

“Yes, the Rolex Sea-Dweller is definitely my favorite modern watch. I don’t have a particularly thick wrist, and vintage watches with a diameter between 33mm and 36mm suit my wrist more comfortably, but there is something about the Sea-Dweller that feels just right in a modern watch. Despite the 40mm size, the watch is super wearable due to its thickness. I love how it doesn’t have a Cyclops like the other modern Sea-Dweller or Submariner Date do,” he said.

Andre Rolex Sea-Dweller diving

Nearly 160 dives with the Rolex Sea-Dweller

Andre’s Rolex is no safe queen, and he’s proud to point out some of the scratches and marks it has earned in his underwater travels.

“I got the Sea-Dweller from a partial trade back in 2020 and the ‘Starbucks’ Rolex Submariner in 2023. They’re special because I love diving with them, and I don’t have to worry about taking them anywhere. I can identify the origin of every scratch on them, and I can wear them anytime I’m in a situation that won’t permit me to wear my vintage watches, such as in wet weather, when going on a diving trip, or when doing some outdoor activities.

The dive extension and micro-adjustable clasp are also amazing, and I don’t have to resize the bracelet if I simply want to go snorkeling or wear 3mm or even 8mm wetsuits. I’ve probably clocked around 160 dives with the Rolex Sea-Dweller, and it has never had a single problem,” he said.

Diving with a Vacheron Constantin in a storm

When the opportunity came to go underwater with Andre to take photos for this article, I was expecting to see the Rolex Sea-Dweller on his wrist. A storm was passing through Sydney on the day of our aquatic outing, and the swell was up. But Andre arrived with a Vacheron Constantin Overseas on a white rubber strap.

I thought this was very like Andre, coming on an underwater trip with a Vacheron…in the middle of a storm!

“I don’t take the Vacheron diving as often, but I just love how the blue dial pops when the flash from my strobe hits it underwater. Ever since I changed the bracelet to the white rubber strap, I just feel like it’s the perfect summer watch, so it deserves some underwater time too! It’s a Vacheron Constantin Overseas 4500V,” he clarified.

It is refreshing to see someone who loves watches, including expensive and high-end timepieces, but is happy to wear them and create memories with them. I applaud Andre for that! And the Vacheron held up just fine in the rough ocean.

A love for the hunt

One of Andre’s favorite things about vintage watches is the chase, the sense of discovering a lost treasure. “I love the history, and I just adore the whole aesthetic and patina on vintage watches. But it’s the hunt that keeps me going. I love discovering ‘barn finds,’ watches that came directly from the original owners, or even random finds in antique markets. You don’t get this rush from modern watches; you would just simply look for the best deal from a trusted shop or seller,” Andre told me.

“With the majority of my collection being vintage watches, I purchased them when something I liked came up and I was in the right position to acquire another watch. You can’t really plan things with vintage watches as you never know when the right one will come up, and I guess the same mentality follows with my modern watches.”

I asked him if there was one grail watch he was looking for. The answer was a little surprising and is a testament to how sentimental this hobby can be: “Yes, my very first vintage watch, that Universal Genève I mentioned before. I regrettably sold it years ago, and I’m always looking for it again,” Andre said.

Final thoughts

As part of this series, I ask our readers what sorts of stories they like to see on Fratello. This was Andre’s response: “I love the #TBT stories from Fratello and your articles about watches with history or interesting provenance. Basically, I enjoy anything related to vintage watches and based on everyday people,” he said.

I could not agree more with his interest in the watch stories on everyday people. And how Andre treats his modern watches speaks volumes, I think, to the philosophy of creating memories by partaking in adventures. That is a philosophy, I’m sure, that many of you share.

So, how about you, Fratelli? What’s your one “special” watch and why? Please let me know in the comments or send me a message on Instagram.