Ali is a watch collector in Toronto. Like myself, he loves Formula 1 and started with TAG Heuer. Here is my Q&A with Ali.
Are you enjoying the current “boom” in watchmaking and the recent surge in popularity of mechanical timepieces? Or would you prefer that watch collecting was still the realm of a small number of fanatic connoisseurs?
I think the current boom/recent surge in mechanical time pieces is a good thing for the industry, popularity means more demand, more demand means more competition and more competition means better watches at affordable prices. Will also introduce more young/skilled watch makers and innovation to the industry. Don’t get me wrong, there will always be the higher tiered watch makers catering to the ultra wealthy collectors and that’s ok. I think there will also be the fanatics out there who will help keep this industry going. There will also be plenty of others who will simply want to buy to impress without knowing the history or the mechanics and I think thats just the nature of the business – the watchmakers will depend on it to a certain extent to help pay the bills… Do I think that wearing a mech piece will be the norm in 5 or 10 years? – my answer is no. I believe that the industry will be driven by fads i.e. quartz powered designer watches a la Kors/G-Schock – what I believe is that quality brands like Breguet and Hublot will be around in 20 or 100 years – can’t say the same about those ‘fad’ brands…
What was the last timepiece you acquired and what is the next timepiece on your radar?
Last purchase was an Oris BC4 Auto – had the modern look which I could wear for almost any occasion, I wear it more than any other watch in my collection – I’m enjoying the piece. My next purchase…I’ve been looking at the Longines Hydroconquest with red/black dial on steel strap. Would like to add this piece to my collection due to its versatility ‘for all occasions’ – and has the looks to match.
Which “up-and-coming” brands are you following?
Clerc. Although not a new company by any means, they haven’t received the attention like the big name brands have. Their watches provide a winning combination of style/originality and functionality. Their Hydroscaph line in my opinion are among the best looking watches ever produced. A little out of my price range but nice to dream a little.
Which brand have you never owned, but would like to own?
Perhaps not the specific brand but a model which I would like to own would be a watch in IWC Pilot Watch line – one piece that caught my attention and that I keep going back to as my next dream piece – Chrono Top Gun. In 2nd place, anything Jaeger.
Which aspect of a mechanical timepiece do you enjoy the most?
2 words…precision engineering.
Was there ever one defining moment that got you “hooked” on watches?
I think subconsciously I’ve always been hooked on watches. Started when in my 1st year in High School, parents bought me some futuristic looking watch made by Cardinal as a gift for my 1st year in HS, instead of the 4 buttons that digital watches were known for at that time (i.e. Casio), this model came with a moveable bezel that would control your settings – I hated the watch because nothing worked right on it – it lasted for about a week and a half and never wore it again… Around the same time started noticing people wearing watches that appeared to date back 20 or 30 years – names that I had never heard of like, Rolex and Heuer and their watches looked great and worked perfectly fine…25 years later – no Cardinal watches in my collection…end of story
How would you describe your taste as a collector?
Value collector. I enjoy popular ‘mainstream’ names like Tag H., Longines, B&R due to the level of quality and style at an affordable price but won’t rule out a purchase or two in the mid to high price ranges ie. Omega, Panerai if the opportunity comes along.
If you were going to design your very own fantasy timepiece, which features and functions would it have?
I don’t like a busy look – simpler the better – interchangeable strap of course – a lot of black and red – auto/chrono – 70 hour power reserve – 44mm and makes smart phones blow up within a 10ft radius…
How many hours per week do you spend reading about watches or viewing watch-related websites?
Depends on the week – I would say between 2-3 hours per except when I’m on the hunt for a new watch. Then about 48 hours per week (not including weekdays).
Would you ever wear a smartwatch?
No, just take the strap off and call it a phone and why would you wear a phone on your wrist? If I wanted to be Captain Kirk or Commander Spock, I would probably be collecting comic books, not watches…