Meet Quill & Pad’s Vintage Virtuoso: Boris Pjanic, An Expert In ‘Pre-Loved’ Rolex
A native of Germany, Boris Pjanic (pronounced pee-yon-ich) moved to Chicago in the mid-1990s. He was simply looking for something else to do. “I was looking for a different life, for my opportunity to find fulfillment,” he reveals. “And I did. The United States gave me more than one opportunity, but the greatest opportunity was to get into vintage watch collecting and trading outside of my former IT consulting job.”
Like many people whose careers are not their vocations, it was hard for Pjanic to remain excited about his day job, and timepieces captured ever more of his attention. “Watches have become everything my head is about,” he reveals with the sly grin of a true addict.
Pjanic does not come from a family of retailers or jewelers, the watch collecting bug simply bit him at some point. “I carried this passion deep inside me for years before finally admitting to collecting rare vintage watches and even trading them among a very knowledgeable clientele out loud,” he confesses.
Pjanic’s first good watch arrived in 1998: a sporty, automatic Baume et Mercier Formula S. “I still have this timepiece to this day,” the watch addict reveals with some nostalgia. “Even though it quite looks its age and the tritium has started to crack.”
What Boris still carries over to this day from his first mechanical watch is a predilection for blue dials. “This tends to be my favorite dial color.”
It did not take long until before he went in search of more mechanical watches. Next up was an Omega Speedmaster quickly followed by two Rolex watches: a Submariner Reference 5513 and a Submariner Reference 1680 with red writing on the dial. “This was a watch I dearly loved,” Pjanic reveals. “I had to part with it much later against my will.”
That was the start of a lasting love affair with watches that was filled with joy and passion. However, Pjanic did not really know what to do with this love affair. Should he turn it into a way to make a living? Trade or collect? Do both, or just leave it? “Either way, I am glad I stuck with it,” he says now after finally taking the plunge and trading in vintage watches.
Vintage Rolex specialist
If you’ve ever met Boris Pjanic, you’ll know that this is a man fully characterized by his kind nature and his passionate love of vintage watches, and in particular Rolex watches.
If you’ve entered the world of collecting Rolex, you’ll also know that it is rather difficult to find one’s way around it. “In the early days, there was very little access to such knowledge,” Pjanic acknowledges. “It was not like it is now where people discuss watches in every detail on internet fora or Facebook. In fact, back in my early days there weren’t even the tons of books about vintage Rolex that there are now. In my early days, I visited Timezone.com on a daily basis hoping to find information about vintage Rolex.”
As Pjanic was starting out, James Dowling was Timezone’s Rolex moderator and he would sometimes help him out. “Most of the websites we have now about vintage Rolex were not around then, and I did not really know who else I could ask.”
So Pjanic jumped in with two feet and simply bought and sold, gaining experience, which is the very best teacher. “I was not even afraid of making a mistake! In the late 1990s I would even sell a watch and ship it first before receiving payment. I stopped shipping before payment in the late 1990s, although I never got burned.”
It took until the 2010s for Pjanic to get burned in a watch deal; in this era of high-profile vintage timepieces he acquired some dials that were not correct with people cheating him in all kinds of ways.
“Now, there are so many manipulated vintage Rolex timepieces that the whole world of vintage Rolex has become a big minefield,” he reports wistfully. “This makes it even more important to collect as much information about the acquisition of a vintage Rolex beforehand and to cautiously adhere to the adage of ‘buying the seller’.” When buying from an unknown seller, these days it is better to know what you are doing.
Dials are especially important; for most vintage Rolex watches, the lion’s share of the value lies in the dial.
“While I wish I could share knowledge about fake dials by showing pictures and explaining what is wrong about them, collectors and dealers of vintage Rolex have agreed to keep such knowledge primarily to themselves in order to prevent fraudsters from improving fake watches and dials.” I’m sure we all agree that this is a sane solution, particularly when so much money is at stake.
To read one high-profile case of possible Rolex dial fraud, please click Pop Star And Watch Collector John Mayer Sues Dealer Over Rolex Frankenwatches.
In 2008, Pjanic created a watch blog even though he really didn’t know what he wanted to do with it. “My initial thought was that my blog could become a source to conserve knowledge about vintage watches,” he reveals now.
His blog, by the way, is still around, and visitors from around the world write to him every day asking about watches he has written about or whether he has (“pre-loved”) watches for sale. “While it is not a famous blog, nor is it a blog where I have time to write every day, it is there, and it is present and it will stay,” he smiles.
Having returned home to Germany in 2009 and deciding to trade in vintage watches full time a few years ago, he has begun to introduce distribution of other, modern watch brands to his portfolio in Germany. His revamped homepage will go live in 2015 and is destined to contain a mix of vintage watches, watch brands that are small, independent and perhaps less well known, and other luxury products including writing instruments by Edelberg and sparkling wine made by a German producer. “This is just the beginning of more to come,” he promises.
“I continue to come up with new ideas for building a fascinating business that combines passion and love for watches with luxury,” he says. And I believe him.
Please visit www.watchesandart.com to see Boris Pjanic’s own blog. To discuss with him and others on this and related topics in a relaxed atmosphere, join his Facebook groups Watches and Art (rare vintage watches/seltene alte Uhren) and Red Bar Uhrensammler Deutschland.
To read Boris’s first article for Quill & Pad, please see Afterglow: A 1967 Rolex Submariner Reference 5512 With Still-Radiant Zinc Sulfide Markers.