Watch Box Stories: Philip’s Breitlings, Omega, Patek Philippe, Rolex, And Seiko
A few weeks ago, we’ve asked you to share a story about your watch box and the watches inside it. I kicked it off with my watch box with four watches and told the story behind each of them (you can find that article here). We received many (many!) stories from our readers, and today we’ll share the first one by Philip Blumer.
After we share all the stories, we will raffle off a Fratello Peli case and a few other accessories among the contributors. So far, I’ve seen some very interesting contributions, and I am excited to share them here on Fratello in the coming days and weeks. Without further ado, here’s Philip’s story about his watch box.
A reader’s collection — Philip Blumer
I’m a firm believer that a nice collection should come with a decent box to house it. To have an assortment of fine watches living inside a fake leather box you found on Aliexpress for $7.99 feels a bit wrong to me. Maybe you’re the type of person who doesn’t care, but I suspect that the vast majority of readers here will care at least a little bit about the case that their watches sit in.
Onto my box. I received it in 2015 from a good friend who used to be a technical advisor at Omega. So besides being a very nice six-slot leather case with repeating embossed Omega logos, it also holds some sentimental value as well. While my collection has spilled beyond the six slots of this box, I don’t always have all my watches handy. I find six is a good amount to have close to me as I like to decide what to wear on impulse.
Breitling Navitimer 01 AB0121 — B01 Launch Limited Edition
I went to high school in Zug, a small canton in central Switzerland known also for its low taxes. For this reason, schools in Zug often had students that came from wealthy families. When I was 15 years old, one of my best friends brought a Breitling catalog to school, telling me he could choose one for Christmas. We had gone through the catalog many times, and he eventually decided to settle for the Navitimer. Being from Switzerland, fine watches weren’t a new concept to me, but handling my friend’s Breitling Navitimer was quite the experience indeed. I immediately fell in love with it and told myself that one day I’d buy one for myself.
Fast forward 10 years, and my wonderful wife, who had had the “pleasure” of hearing me ramble on about how much I loved the Navitimer, gracefully gifted me this watch for our wedding in 2015. Being a gift from the woman I married, the watch that got me obsessed with horology, and having so much nostalgia from discovering it in high school are reasons that this particular watch will always be special to me.
Breitling Navitimer 806 from 1968
As you may have noticed, the only watch you’ll see two of is the Breitling Navitimer. This is no coincidence as it’s the line of watches that started my obsession with horology. For three or four years, I was hunting the perfect vintage counterpart to my Navitimer 01. I had to weed through countless frankenwatches, models in bad condition, and examples that were too expensive for me. Finally, I found out that a friend and fellow Breitling collector was letting go of his “boxed 10” reference. This name comes from the red box around the number 10 on the dial and bezel, which functions as a reference point for calculations using Navitimer’s slide rule. More often than not, the bezel won’t have the box due to having been switched out during a service. Luckily, we agreed on a price, and this watch made its way to me in late 2019.
Patek Philippe Calatrava Weekly Calendar (5212A-001)
This was my first watch from Patek Philippe as well as my first high-horology piece. From the very first images I saw upon its release in 2019, I knew I had to own it. Being somewhat naive, I walked into the Zürich boutique the day after the announcement at Basel and asked if I could try it on. They told me they wouldn’t have one to try on for a few months, so I put my name down and waited three years to finally see it in the flesh. I immediately loved it and purchased it that same day. It’s a very fun and casual piece, and I found it to be the perfect gateway into the upper echelon of watchmaking. I even wrote an article about it here! It’s amazingly versatile and doesn’t stand out, so while I told myself it would be for special occasions only, I find myself even wearing it when I take the trash out!
Omega Speedmaster Professional Apollo-Soyuz
It’s impossible to navigate through the rabbit hole of horology without encountering arguably the most iconic watch of all time. I kept bumping into the Omega Speedmaster Professional, and honestly, I didn’t know what the fuss was about back then! Nowadays, I believe a collection can simply not be complete without the beloved manual-wind NASA-qualified chronograph. I love a unique version of an icon, so I had been scavenging for an interesting version of the Moonwatch. One that I’ve always been very interested in is the controversial Apollo 17 model with the silver coin dial.
In early 2016, while casually strolling down Zürich’s Bahnhofstrasse, I saw the Apollo-Soyuz meteorite-dial model you see pictured here for 2900 Swiss francs. This was a mere third of the market value at the time! I thought it was some kind of mistake, so I ran in and inquired about it. There was no mistake, and the watch came as a full set as well. Initially, I was unsure whether I’d keep it. Upon trying it on, though, it took me approximately zero seconds to decide that I would. Seven years later, it’s still one of my favorite pieces in the collection. While prices have soared well beyond what I paid, I can happily say I was never tempted to sell it. It’s just that cool.
Rolex Explorer II “Polar” (16570)
For the longest time after I got into watches, Rolex just wasn’t a brand that was on my radar. Many people I knew had Rolex watches, and they all looked and felt too similar to one another. The text on the dial seemed repetitive, almost every model had a cyclops, and the lack of a display case back was disappointing. To say Rolex was an acquired taste for me is an understatement. While I find these watches far from the best in the industry, their brand ethos, recognizability, and robustness can’t be overappreciated!
The Submariner and GMT-Master were too predictable, the Daytona was simply unattainable, and the Datejust wasn’t sporty enough. So by the process of elimination, I decided to go for this Explorer II “Polar.” It was the Rolex that helped me understand what it is about the brand that put it in its untouchable position. I purchased this one in the summer of 2018, and I admit that I wasn’t really ready for the purchase at the time. However, I had decided this would be my entry into the brand, and when I saw all other sports models’ prices increasing rapidly, I decided to buy it even if a little prematurely. Looking back at how the prices developed and how the watch is still in active rotation, this is a decision I definitely don’t regret.
Seiko Prospex Ginza Edition (SPB259)
I’m a lover of Japanese culture. I’ve traveled to Japan many times and have made many friends over there. Seiko is no doubt the embodiment of Japanese watchmaking, and being a lover of horology and Japanese culture, it’s no surprise I own a few Seikos. I still don’t own a Grand Seiko, but I expect this to change sometime in the future.
For now, the Seiko Prospex Ginza will more than do! It is amazing to me how strong Seiko is in the value department. Try to find me an automatic watch from a Swiss brand with a three-day power reserve, 200m water resistance, a bracelet, and a sapphire crystal with a very unique dial. Spoiler alert: you probably can’t. I own an SKX and vowed my next Seiko would have “Grand” on the dial. This was until I discovered this Prospex Ginza edition. Like with other Seikos, it has a beautiful dial that changes depending on how light hits it. The dial was inspired by Ginza’s cobblestone streets. A little gimmicky? Perhaps, but the execution is beautiful nonetheless. It looks great on a leather strap, and while I feel like costs may have been saved on the bracelet, I definitely appreciate its multifaceted design.
Since I was a kid, I always loved collecting things — hats, LEGO sets, video games, and now watches. If there’s something I picked up along the journey of collecting, it’s that tastes develop. What you don’t like today, you might like tomorrow, and vice versa. The key is quite simple: keep wearing the watches you own, and decide if they genuinely still make you happy. If not, maybe it’s time to let go and discover new watches! There is no right and wrong with something as subjective as collecting!