Giving Up On The Grail: Why I’m Putting A Pin On The Rolex Explorer II 16570
At the end of 2021, I was faced with a challenge. That challenge — which a number of our editors also took — was to write an article about my grail watch. Call me a pessimist, or a realist, but I would never call a watch my “grail” if I didn’t think it was something that I could genuinely get my hands on someday. To me, there’s a certain level of obtainability implied by the term “grail”. After all, Indy did get his hands on the grail at the end of The Last Crusade… I would refer to anything more than that as a “dream watch”, something which I can admire and appreciate, without feeling like I need to own it someday. This is why I picked the Rolex Explorer II 16570 as my grail watch.
But little did I know that the article in question would get the response it did and that I would essentially be painting (or writing) myself into a corner.
If you haven’t read the article in question, you can find it here. I’d recommend you read that first before carrying on with the rest of this one. But I’ll do my best to keep the callbacks to a minimum (TL;DR my grail watch’s price is rising quicker than my ability to save up money to buy it). Now that you’re familiar with the dilemma, I should explain the consequences of the write-up and its response, which was overwhelmingly sympathetic, kind, encouraging, and inspiring. Many of you, our readers, were extremely supportive and encouraging, sharing with me your stories about your own 16570’s and how much you appreciate them. Some of you have even bought the watch after reading the article. And this built up a sort of expectation in my mind that I must now keep in check.
Checking my expectations
The incredible response to this article made me think that I was definitely onto something. And though my choice of the Rolex Explorer II 16570 was genuine, the feelings I expressed for it were just the first green shoots emerging from where a seed had been planted. This is due to the nature of how I usually look at watches that are beyond my immediate purchasing power. The truth is, I don’t tend to think about them all that much. Writing about a solid gold AP, a Vacheron Constantin Métiers d’Art, or a Louis Moinet masterpiece is part of my job. And though I deeply appreciate and admire those watches, they aren’t ones that I think about on a daily basis. I can’t even say that I long to own them someday.
But that’s fine, and I think most seasoned watch journalists will agree with this sentiment to some degree. There’s no need to aspire to own a watch to truly appreciate what it’s all about and what it means. I quote James Stacey on an episode of “The Grey NATO” podcast, who in turn quotes Steven Pulvirent (formerly of Hodinkee), saying that “ownership is overrated.” These are words that perfectly express what I feel is a healthy approach to these luxury creations. That said, we all like owning watches. But it all must remain within what is realistic and attainable without putting one’s self in a financially unsound situation. I did that once before when I bought my Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch. And as much as I don’t regret that decision, it’s not something I’m in a rush to repeat.
Putting the Rolex Explorer II 16570 on ice
It’s all part of the collecting journey, something which is unique to each of us. It’s the winding path that we follow through our passion (“hobby” always feels like an understatement) for watches, the ones we buy, sell, and lust after. As much as I would have loved to follow up that article with another piece called “My Rolex 16570 — What It’s Like To Finally Own My Grail Watch” (or something like that), it will have to wait. You might be thinking, “Well, of course, you were always going to have to wait. That was the whole point you made in the article.” And that’s fair enough, except for the fact that I set up an expectation for myself, which was to buy Explorer II before the end of this year, and before my 30th birthday in January of the following year.
The story would have been a good one, but life doesn’t always go the way we want it to. Sometimes it simply can’t, for purely practical reasons. I’m not here to bore you with the details, but not long ago, I had the realization that there were other things more important in my life than making this story a reality. And at first, it was quite frustrating, but the frustration quickly gave way to peaceful acceptance. The Rolex 16570 will always exist. Yes, its price may continue to climb, but there will be a moment, at some point in the (hopefully) not too distant future where it will make sense to finally call one my own. But there’s no need to rush into it, sacrificing all good sense simply to acquire a watch that will be there waiting for me when I’m ready.
One door closes and another one opens
Hey, c’mon! Don’t look so sad. This isn’t supposed to be a total downer (though I admit it might have started off that way). That’s the last thing any of us need on a Monday! So let me say that though my realization that I’d have to put a pin on my plans was indeed followed by a period of slight frustration, those dark clouds quickly parted, and the sun’s rays started to shine through. The pressure I was putting on myself to somehow make it happen was gone. And now I feel light as a feather, with the whole world of watches (under €5,000) open before me. Sure, I’ll still save up for a 16570. But it’s not going to be an ascetic or spartan journey to getting there. In fact, making this a long-term goal instead of a rush job opens plenty of interesting doors.
And behind those doors lie some pretty fantastic watches. Watches that I can afford and that I’ll enjoy just as much. Perhaps not forever, but that’s not what it’s all about. Sure, it would be nice to have my grail watch this coming year, but we all know the ephemeral nature of grails. Once one has been acquired, the target slowly shifts to another. Perhaps aiming too high, too soon would only be a source of frustration and dissatisfaction. On the other hand, working my way up the winding road and enjoying the journey is where the real enjoyment of this passion of ours lies. So roll down the window, and play your favorite record — there’s still plenty of road ahead. And though I don’t know where that road will take me, I certainly am excited to find out!
Oh boy. Another rather long-winded philosophical rant, triggered by the Rolex Explorer II 16570. Maybe this just proves that it really is my grail watch. And though there are many people out there lucky enough to own it already, the journey that leads me to own mine someday is just as exciting as the prospect of actually owning it. And who knows? Maybe Lex is right, and I’ll just get bored of it after having it for long enough, and sell it on as he did with his. Either way, I’m ready to continue on the road to finding out whether or not that will be the case. In the meantime, I’ll keep you all posted about where that journey takes me. The first couple of stops are visible on the horizon already, and I can’t wait to get there to share them with you.
Again, a massive thanks to my dear friends and incredibly talented photographers, @m.adcock81 @morgansaignes and @wrists.and.walls, whose work makes it possible for me to illustrate these sporadic existentialist delvings into my thoughts on watch collecting and the 16570. Go check out their amazing work on their respective Instagram pages. I know… I know… I’m always asking you this! But please also share your thoughts in the comments down below. I’ll do my best to get back to all of you kind enough to take part in the conversation.
Last, and certainly least, follow me on Instagram @ncgwatches