In the latest installment in our Fratelli Stories series, we talk to Graeme. He’s a Scottish collector with a passion for vintage tool watches, and his Tudor Submariner has a special place in his collection.

Vintage watches are a wonderful opportunity for collectors and enthusiasts alike. The sheer number of options available to us at all sorts of price points boggles the mind. Some of us get into vintage watches after focusing on modern releases as we gradually find the appeal of vintage grows as our tastes change. For Fratello reader Graeme, vintage watches have long taken center stage with his interest in horology. This passion for vintage is evident in his collection.

Graeme vintage Tudor Submariner

It all starts with a Tudor Submariner 

With Tudor’s revitalization and emergence out of the shadow of Rolex, it seems a fitting time to feature a Fratelli Stories segment with a vintage Tudor watch. Tudor was one of the highlight brands at Watches and Wonders this year, releasing a monochrome Black Bay Master Chronometer and a Black Bay 58 GMT. But Graeme’s journey with Tudor goes back to 2014, and it starts with a vintage watch — the Tudor Submariner.

My Tudor Submariner is a 9411/0, aka a ‘Snowflake.’ It was my first vintage-watch purchase and marked the start of my passion for vintage watches and real collecting journey,” Graeme told me.

“I had bought and owned three or four modern watches over the preceding 10 years. I was lucky enough to find the watch in Melbourne in 2014 while on the hunt for a Moonwatch. After asking a dealer if he happened to have a Tudor Sub, he pulled the watch out and shared that he didn’t sell vintage. He had regrettably taken the watch as part of a trade and would sell it to me for what he paid so that he didn’t need to be annoyed looking at it anymore. After some quick deliberation, I was the very happy owner. The watch is sentimental to me. Not only does it mark the start of my vintage-collecting journey, but I also wore the watch to the birth of both of my kids, so it has a very special place for me.”

Graeme vintage Tudor Submariner

Childhood memories led to a fascination for vintage watches

Growing up in Scotland, Graeme said some of his first memories of his childhood had him wearing a watch. “I’m not sure where my interest in watches came from, to be honest,” he said. “I have always liked wearing a watch. Photographs from when I was six or seven years old and on through my teens typically show me wearing a watch. I started buying mechanical watches in my 20s. My first step into mechanical was a Hamilton Khaki Aviation, then I owned a TAG Heuer Carrera chronograph, and I finally landed on a Rolex Explorer II,” he said.

Around 2013, I became aware of vintage, and from that point, I’ve been obsessed. Today, my interest is focused on 1960s and 1970s dive watches and chronographs. I’m driven more by the idea of building an interesting collection than chasing any single watch. For me, an interesting collection is characterized by how cohesive the watches are, how different it is from ‘most collections,’ and how difficult it would be to build quickly owing to the watches being difficult to find in rare, exceptional condition,” Graeme explained.

This enthusiasm kept growing over time. Graeme, who is now in his late 30s, moved to Australia with his young family for work 11 years ago. With a much smaller vintage market there than in Europe, he struggled at times to find vintage watches he wanted in Australia. However, he joined international watch-collecting groups and forums to chase his favorite watches.

Why a Tudor Submariner?

Graeme’s vintage-collecting journey orbited around Rolex watches from the start, and through this, he became aware of the role of Tudor and the brand’s history. “A Rolex Submariner was always a grail of mine growing up,” he told me.

The humbler origins of Tudor also appealed to him, though. “When I got into vintage and discovered the Tudor Submariner, it just clicked in my mind as something I wanted to own. At the time, I wasn’t into vintage enough to think about the different references; I was just keen to own a Tudor Submariner. When the chance arose, I jumped and got lucky with this example,” he said.

A special Jaeger-LeCoultre and new Rolex 

Another special vintage watch in Graeme’s collection is a Jaeger-LeCoultre Powermatic. “My wife gifted me a JLC Powermatic for our wedding day. That’s a keeper. Aside from its sentimentality, the watch has an incredible patina and a really sharp case given its age,” he said.

“Last year, I celebrated a 10th anniversary for work. I’m not big into milestone watches; my wedding watch is the only such watch. For a few reasons, though, this felt like a real milestone, and I wanted a watch that I felt would age well in terms of quality and style. So I went for a 39mm Rolex Oyster Perpetual. It hasn’t disappointed me yet!”

Graeme vintage watch collection

“I like the difficulty in finding a quality vintage watch. It feels too easy to just walk into a shop and buy a modern watch. I love the process of discovering a watch, researching it to thoroughly understand the model and all its references, and then embarking on a search. Many times, you may have the chance to compromise on the particular reference or the quality.”

Tips for vintage-watch hunting 

As part of this story, I wanted to ask Graeme if he had any tips for budding collectors of vintage watches. As someone with a very humble vintage collection, I wanted to know if there were any quick tips and tricks. Being disciplined in one’s search, Graeme said, is critical. “Being disciplined and eventually being rewarded, perhaps a few years on, is such an awesome feeling, and that plays significantly into the joy of owning that watch from then on. Aside from that, I think vintage has the benefit of a much larger back catalog than what is available today in the shop. In my opinion, the charm of a vintage watch on the wrist also can’t be matched by modern ones,” he said.

Next on his watch hit list are quite a few vintage tool watches. “I have quite a long list. I would be particularly excited to land a Mido Powerwind (ref. 5907), Omega Seamaster 300 (ref. 165.014), Longines Legend Diver (ref. 7494), Seaboard-Yacht Chronograph, and Heuer Autavia GMT (ref. 2446C).”

Final thoughts 

As part of this series, we like to ask our readers what sort of stories they gravitate towards. Graeme’s answer was simple: “Anything vintage,” he said. “I particularly like the #TBT series. In my earlier collecting days, I read, re-read, and re-re-read all of Mike Stockton’s #TBT articles. His journey into much lesser-known brands and models was really formative in developing my understanding of vintage.” It’s great to hear how our readers can trace back the arc of Fratello’s various stories over the years.

There you have it, dear readers. Let me know what your most sentimentally significant watch is in the comments. Alternatively, you can send me a message on Instagram.