Yesterday I have told you about Fratello Watches. I consider it a cool publication that earned it good place in watch history. I have met Robert-Jan, founder of Fratello Watches several times, but never got the chance to talk about more personal topics. Always on the run during the watch fairs, or always busy during the events. So I said to me that this is the best chance to ask him two more personal questions.
Dan-Andrei: I know for sure that are two important factors that drive your daily life: your family and your love for watches, implicit Fratello Watches. There are other things you are passionate about? E.g. cars, whiskey, writing instruments… can you detail a bit what and why?
Robert-Jan: Sure, I think your family is what matters most in the end. Watches are something that have been of my interest since childhood. Like most kids from the late 1970s, I loved watching He-man, watch and pay with Transformers, playing outside with friends, riding my BMX and so on. But I also remember my fascination for watches, digital ones at the time. Later on, Swatch watches and some years later again, mechanical watches. I have my share of fountain pens, books on cars, old toys, and comic books but in the end it is about watches for me. Once, a guy at my first job noticed that I was very interested in watches (I just started Fratello I think, so probably around 2004) and he was of the opinion that men just like to collect. No matter what. If it weren’t for watches, he said, I’d be probably fascinated with model trains or HiFi. He might have been right, I think. For me it is rather easy to lose myself in certain objects, and those can indeed be fountain pens, comics, old toys or even cars. So I try to stay with watches though. Not because these are the only objects that I desire and am interested in, but there is just so little time and I don’t want to find myself collecting all sorts of stuff. That doesn’t mean I don’t buy a fountain pen every once in a while, try a whiskey or cigar, but I also understand that there are other things in life that are important and require attention. It took me a while to realize though, I have to add. If you want, you can attend a different event or get-together every night of the week, be it watches, wine tastings, car shows etc. but I have become picky about those and cherish the time I have to spend with my daughter for example. Believe me, being professionally involved in the watch industry claims a lot of my time, also in the evenings and during weekends. That said, I realize I have one of the best jobs in the world. Being occupied with what you truly love all day and spend a great amount of time with watches, travelling all over the world and meeting new and interesting people.
Dan-Andrei: It is clear the affinity for Omega, especially the Speedmaster. There is another brand or watchmaker that you love in particular or a grail that you have in mind, besides Omega? What is the object of your desire and how it reached your thoughts?
Robert-Jan: Since a few years, I feel very comfortable with the watches I have (or have had). I had grails in the past, like a Royal Oak “Jumbo”, a Rolex GMT-Master, Daytona, an Omega Speedmaster, a Patek Nautilus and so on. I have or have had the watches that I wanted and don’t feel the urge to get that next grail. This feels very good and an ease of mind. I learned that owning a watch I really long for doesn’t have the effect I thought it would have. My first grail was the Speedmaster, and that watch basically changed my life. I think that the Royal Oak 15202ST was definitely a grail that I had been after for many years, but never had the funds to go for one until 2009. I had a lot of Rolex watches, but kept flipping them, they made me nervous. I always had the idea that I should be getting another model or reference to feel more satisfied. I still have a number of them, but hardly wear them to be honest. This year I bought my Grand Seiko, and that was fun. It took me a while to be convinced that I wanted one and then another year to make a decision which model I exactly wanted. I wear it a lot and am so impressed by what Grand Seiko is able to deliver for the money they charge. The hunt was great though, I found myself on forums again till after midnight, looking for opinions, information and pictures. Much like how it all started for me in the late 1990s. I was triggered by Grand Seiko in the first place by the enormous Seiko community that is out there. We started to publish a bit more about Seiko on Fratello since 2014 and we basically doubled our numbers because of that. Then I got sucked in and in 2015 I found myself in Japan, visiting the Grand Seiko manufactures. That was definitely an eye-opener and changed my view on Grand Seiko for good. For a next purchase, I am not sure. Besides Speedmasters, and that will be big next year, there is nothing specific that triggers me at the moment. I would love to own a gold GMT-Master at some point, be it from the 1980s or 1990s, on a jubilee bracelet. I feel gold watches are still undervalued compared to steel watches, and many people feel they are tacky or simply not done, but I came to appreciate them in recent years, it adds a bit of that magic to them for me. Also, I wear a watch to please myself, not others, so I couldn’t care less what others think about a watch that I am wearing, to be honest. I would also love to own a high-end piece like a Patek Philippe Chronograph Perpetual Calendar, an A. Lange & Söhne or a Grönefeld watch at some point, but that would be a purchase I can’t justify in this stage of my life. Perhaps at some point. I do have a lot of appreciation for them though.
Images credited to Robert-Jan Broer and Fratello Watches.