Introducing ‘Resident Collector’ GaryG
If you have been around the horological block a few times, you will certainly be aware of GaryG, a frequent poster on prevalent watch fora. His love of the art of luxury watchmaking is unmistakable, and his interest, intelligence and enthusiasm on the subject downright infectious. We are sure you will also love what he brings to the Quill & Pad table.
Let’s get to know him a bit, shall we?
An enduring love affair with watches started for Gary with a Timex that his dad gave him when he was about eight years old. As so often happens, it is now lost in the sands of time.
The first watch that he bought himself – kicking off a lifelong passion that would only grow with time – was an unusual one: a Bucherer-branded chronometer purchased on a trip to Europe as a student.
Gary had raised the money to participate in the school concert band tour, accumulating additional spending money of $50. He spent $42 of it on that watch.
As a boy, Gary was fascinated with his grandfather’s pocket watch, eventually inheriting it as a high school graduation present. Much later he learned that his grandfather was a bit of a watch collector himself, leaving Gary several more pocket and wristwatches – and begging the question whether watch collecting could possibly be a genetic addiction.
His own serious collecting began in the early 1990s with Jaeger-LeCoultre. “In my opinion, this brand provides perhaps the best value for money,” he says. “I still buy their watches; I see it as a great entry brand for nascent collectors.”
The collecting bug
Around 2004, Gary began to branch out in terms of brands he was interested in, largely driven by two things: stumbling across The PuristS as part of a search for a particular watch and being introduced to the world of independent watchmaking by a local retailer.
During this early time, some of Gary’s key acquisitions included the Audemars Piguet Jules Audemars Equation of Time (“one of the greatest complicated watches ever in my view”) and two of Peter Speake-Marin’s unique pieces:
It was at this time that Gary also broadened his practice of “buying what he liked.”
“This was a period of experimentation without a lot of forethought, if I’m honest about it,” he explains. “But it was also a very enjoyable time as I was able to treat my purchases as pure expenditures rather than thinking too hard about maintaining reasonable resale value or ‘building a collection’.”
We all know there are many different kinds of watch collectors, and Gary discovered which kind he is over time. “I began the first of several cycles of consolidation in order to move up to a smaller collection of more prized watches.”
As part of a search for another watch, Gary relates that he “had the wonderful fortune” to meet a new friend, who in turn introduced him to other members of what has become an informal club known as the “NorCal Gang” (“NorCal” standing for Northern California).
“I’ve made a lot of friends in this hobby, but for whatever reason our small group has become extremely close-knit, and getting to know them has been a privilege for me,” he explains.
The other members of the informal club are also quite serious collectors, and additionally quite generous in lending watches to Gary for use in his other hobby: macro watch photography. “I suspect that there may be a niche opportunity for a reality TV show based on the travels of a group of seven type A executives and professionals,” he quips.
“It has also been my honor to get to know senior folks and creative geniuses at the big houses like A. Lange & Söhne, Jaeger-LeCoultre and Vacheron Constantin, as well as those zany, gifted, and truly genuine people, the independents,” he continues.
“Like fanciers of many types of crafts and arts, I am drawn to understand the creative process of the artist: where did the original idea come from? How did the designer or watchmaker take proven principles and apply his or her unique perspective? Why were certain technical choices made and what compromises had to be made or rejected in favor of more elegant solutions? Whether it’s Philippe Dufour and his one-man atelier or Tony [de Haas] and Tino [Bobe] and their all-star team at A. Lange & Söhne, for me it’s ‘meet the maker, want the watch’.”
Famous in his own mind
Over the past ten years Gary, posting as GaryG, has been a fairly active contributor to online fora such as The PuristS and TimeZone. “Posting online is actually pretty educational,” he relates in terms of his experience with contributing to watch media thus far.
“Some of the ‘stories’ that I just tossed off received great receptions, while others over which I labored at length were complete duds. Online, people do speak up – or greet one’s self-important musings with thundering silence!”
Along the way, he developed a deep interest in macro photography and has been quite fortunate over the past year or so to become a student of wizard photographer Ming Thein, who is based in Kuala Lumpur. (Ming has an excellent photography blog called blog.mingthein.com -Ian.) “While I will not in this lifetime or any other be any threat to his livelihood, it’s a lot of fun for me. And other folks seem to like the images as well.”
“I’ve received a couple of unsolicited ‘write for pay’ offers over the past few years,” Gary explains of his interest in joining this platform, “But I took it upon myself to approach Elizabeth and Ian to see whether I might join their merry band at Quill & Pad.
I love the focus on haute horlogerie; the intent to talk about what interests the contributors rather than acting as an amplifier for industry press releases; the look and feel of the place; and most of all Beth and Ian themselves. I’ve been reading and viewing their stuff for years – such as Beth’s book on independents, 12 Faces of Time – and in person have found them to be articulate and charming. And they love watches!”
The journey continues
“I’m very much looking forward to contributing here – whether it’s in words or images – and hope that readers find a window into the world of an enthusiast collector to be interesting,” Gary explains, though he is not unconcerned that what he writes might come off as bragging or condescension. “But, truly, that’s not my intent and I’ll right here and now invite readers to let me know if I start to slide off into that ditch,” he grins.
Gary very much looks forward to sharing some of the “backstage” things he gets to see, including personal stories about and with the independents and other watchmakers. During one such event, he hosted Kari Voutilainen and his family for a get-together in his home state and then “cloned” the watchmaker and his family’s faces onto a photo of all of the participants.
We warmly welcome GaryG to Quill & Pad and look forward to his experiences and stories from the front line: the world of high-end watch collecting as you’ve never seen it before.