[Video] Watches With Meaning — Highlights From RJ’s Collection
We receive quite a few messages about our personal collections or personal favorites. Based on these requests, our Social Media Manager Sinara asks founder RJ about his personal collection. RJ decided to bring some of his most meaningful watches.
Robert-Jan started collecting watches in the late 1990s as a student. His first major purchase was his Omega Speedmaster Professional 145.012-67SP, but he already had received an Omega Constellation ’95 before that as a graduation present. Omega is a brand that runs in the family, as you will see in this video. One of his most cherished watches is the one that Sinara asks about first, a gold/steel Omega Constellation Deluxe from 1969. It belonged to his grandfather, who together with his wife, owned a bridal boutique. At some point, they sold the boutique, and with some of the proceeds, they purchased some nice watches. RJ’s grandfather bought this Constellation II Deluxe Calendar for himself and his grandmother bought an Omega Ladymatic.
RJ’s grandfather purchased this watch on February 6th, 1969 and wore it for 42 in a row. Initially, it came with a Milanese bracelet. After a few years though, the sides got a bit damaged, and the sharp edges started ripping the cuffs of his shirts. Being a man of suits and ties pretty much all of his life, it annoyed him so much that he exchanged it for this custom gold bracelet. It wasn’t the first Omega Constellation in RJ’s family, as his great-grandfather had purchased a Constellation with a pie-pan dial already in the mid-1960s. RJ’s father wore that specific watch, and RJ inherited the Constellation 168.010 from his grandfather. RJ also has the original papers that came with the watch. They indicate that it was purchased on February 6th, 1969 at a local authorized Omega dealer.
The watch has been repaired and serviced a number of times. At some point, the printing on the dial got a bit smudged. When RJ received the watch in 2011, it was a big question mark as to how to deal with it. Omega offered a replacement dial at some point, but the replacement options were all slightly different from the original one. After a discussion with his watchmaker, he decided to have the dial restored. Normally, this is blasphemy amongst watch enthusiasts. But it would allow him to still have the original dial inside the watch. A dialmaker in Germany took the hour markers off and cleaned up the dial. Then it got a new dial stamp, identical to the original one, and the dialmaker added the original onyx hour markers again. RJ likes to wear the Constellation during Christmas, as those days were very special to his grandfather.
In 1999, RJ bought his first Speedmaster. An Omega Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch with reference 145.012-67SP. It is the watch that actually started him collecting Speedmasters, and perhaps, his way into the watch industry. According to the archives, this watch was produced in February 1968 and was delivered to Finland in October of the same year. Although in the video, RJ says the hands are original, it’s actually the chronograph seconds hand that is. The hour and minute hands are later replacements — but he still has the original ones as well, they just show a bit too much damage.
He bought this watch from his friend Gerard Nijenbrinks when he still had his watch shop in The Hague. Gerard has also been a Fratello writer for many years. Back then, the Speedmaster 145.012 with caliber 321 was actually cheaper than a young pre-owned watch with caliber 1861 or 861. That is something unimaginable today. This watch accompanied RJ during his time in university and was used as a daily watch for many years. RJ didn’t exactly baby the watch, but just enjoyed wearing it as much as possible. RJ wears the watch on a leather strap now, but he also has a corresponding reference 1039 bracelet for it. It is the Speedmaster that will never leave his collection, as he has fond memories of it and, well, it was his first. You don’t sell your first Speedmaster, now do you?
Speedmaster Snoopy Award (2003)
When the first Speedmaster Snoopy came out in 2003, it wasn’t popular at all. Those watches sat in display cases for years. At some point, they became more popular and prices increased, but it took at least 10 years before they hit the €5,000 mark. RJ had been looking for one for quite some time, and in 2013, one was offered to him by a dealer in New York. It was a full set, never worn, but it needed to be picked up in person. The deal was made in May of 2013, but his daughter was about to be born and RJ thought it would be OK to book the trip to New York the following week. Mrs. Broer put that to a halt (of course), and RJ had to reschedule his trip until sometime in July.
When he picked up the watch in New York, a few more Speedmaster collectors joined him for dinner and it really became a memorable trip. Despite the watch being a NOS set, he started wearing it anyway, as it was meant to be worn.
Speedmaster Speedy Tuesday (2017)
It’s our very own Speedmaster — does anything more need to be said? Well, maybe not, but we will anyway. RJ asked Omega if they could do a watch together for the celebration of five years of Speedy Tuesday. The design was a team effort, both from Fratello and Omega, and limited to 2012 pieces to commemorate the founding year of the Speedy Tuesday movement/community. You can read the full story here. For his personal Speedmaster Speedy Tuesday, RJ picked #13, his favorite or lucky number. He’s proud to have his “own” Speedmaster, linked to Fratello and the Speedy Tuesday community. The inspiration for this watch comes from the Speedmaster that Omega delivered to NASA in 1979 for the Space Shuttle program.
RJ had one of these 56 watches delivered to NASA in his hands in 2012. Even cooler, it was from the family of an astronaut who actually wore it. The second Speedmaster Speedy Tuesday, the “Ultraman”, is not on this list, but the project was very similar to the first Speedy Tuesday watch.
Speedmaster Apollo XI Moonshine (2019)
Another #13 in RJ’s collection, the Moonshine Gold Speedmaster Professional Apollo XI from 2019. Back when he had just bought his first Speedmaster, RJ saw the original 1969 gold Speedmaster at his watchmaker’s shop. It was a thing of beauty and a “grail” watch for a long time for him. When it was introduced in 2019, he didn’t have to think long; it was a beautiful modern execution of the Apollo XI “Tribute to the Astronauts” watch. It’s a watch he wears incredibly often, as he feels it is one of the most beautiful watches ever made.
Rolex Sea-Dweller 16600 (1996)
This is RJ’s second Rolex Sea-Dweller 16600. The first one, also one from 1996, he bought in 2003 while working his first job after university (the prices were totally different back then). After 11 years, he sold it to fund another watch. But it’s a watch that he missed dearly, and when the opportunity came along in 2020 to buy one from a friend, he added it to his collection again. It is RJ’s favorite sports Rolex together with the 36mm Explorer. Unforuntately, he finds the Explorer a bit small for his wrist. The Sea-Dweller is the big brother of the Submariner, with more professional specifications such as 1200 meters of water resistance and an automatic helium release valve. There’s also no Cyclops for the date. In hindsight, it is a pity that RJ sold his first Sea-Dweller 16600, as it accompanied him on many travels and occasions. However, this second one was bought from a dear friend and is in much better condition than his first one was.
Grand Seiko SBGJ201 Mt. Iwate (2018)
In 2015, RJ visited Grand Seiko for the first time, when its watches were still sold under the Seiko “label”. He fell in love with the brand, as the devoted watchmakers left a huge impression on him. In 2017, Fratello organized a reader’s trip to Japan and it only strengthened the feeling he already had for Grand Seiko. He wanted to make the right decision for his first Grand Seiko, and really put a lot of time into it researching the models before he pulled the trigger. It was between the Snowflake and the Mt. Iwate, as you can read here. In the end, it was the Mt. Iwate that stole his heart. He has put this Grand Seiko on a leather strap, as it highlights the 44GS case style a bit more than when worn on the bracelet. It is his first Grand Seiko watch, but it definitely won’t be his last.
What are your most important or most meaningful watches? Let us know in the comments below.