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January 09, 2017

Chasing Time Volume 6: Capturing History

Text by Vikram Ramchandani

A man chronicles his adventures in the hunt for that most elusive of companions — the perfect wristwatch

A year after my first Rolex purchase, my wife spotted a vintage Rolex Oyster Perpetual Date on eBay and after much logistical wizardry, the watch arrived and became her new favourite timepiece. The Rolex that I had previously purchased for her became an ignored ornament at the back of my safe. She adores pieces that are imperfect and worn in; the newness or nouveau riche feel of modern luxury upsets her. Her infectious ideology of a wabi-sabi like philosophy remains innate within me as well but not to such an acute extent. And it was this same philosophy that threw me into the unexpected world of vintage watches and so a new passion was ignited, a passion of stories and history.

I now started chasing after tales of pioneering deep divers, relentless cave hunters, trailblazing mountaineers, race car drivers, style icons, men of both substance and worth. I wanted to be like them or at least draw some sort of parallel to their storied lives, in the manner of children sporting the same sneakers as their athletic superstars. These men were my heroes and I wanted the similarity of our choice in wristwatches to be identical, in the hope that my legacy would in some, perhaps insignificant, way mirror theirs.

This singular decision made me go watch hunting for the perfect Pan-Am-like GMT Master and in my hunt, my dealer rang me to say that he had one piece of a brand new Rolex GMT Master II model with a black-and-blue bezel. This was mostly blasphemous but exciting, there was no precedence to Rolex using these colours and I knew what I had to do. I put my vintage obsession on hold, sold my wife’s Rolex (the one she didn’t wear, so it wasn’t much of a battle), and ponied up the rest to purchase the brand new Rolex GMT Master II BLNR.

For days after my purchase I would fall asleep every night whilst staring at the blue lume of my new watch dial. There was no big wait, ceremony, or event that led me to the watch that I forever wanted. So, was I finally done now? I thought that I truly was till another dealer called me a few months down the road and said that he had a beautiful evenly patina dial GMT Master 1675. And so I succumbed, and sold my Panerai for it.

Now I had that story and vintage cool which I had been blatantly chasing. I had enough of a collection to actively participate in continuous yet banal discussions on WIS (Watch Idiot Savant) forums. I became increasingly active with daily uploads of wrist shots and comments on x vs y. With new wisdom and influence I went out and ordered a Nomos Orion Datum with their new Swing movement and was ecstatic at not just their customer service but also incomparable value and quality. On my travel to Hong Kong accompanied by my daughter, I also got smitten by Grand Seiko that she picked out. A most spectacular beauty: it’s a High End Quartz (HEQ) with an immaculately finished sunburst dial and striking Zaratsu polished hands, not to mention the accuracy has been +/- 1 second in two years (not days). It’s what I now wear daily to work.

But the problem was that I was purposely indulging in a world of high complications and that was not particularly healthy. I was trying to capture history instead of attempting to create it. This was a path of dangerous obsession into the lives and opinions of others and it was starting to get suffocating.

Read Volume 5, here.

Read Volume 7, here.

Vikram Ramchandani is father to a beautiful girl and husband to an even more beautiful girl. Canadian but really Indian. Left university and home at 21 and became an investment banker for many unhappy people and is now an entrepreneur who employs many happy people. Is full katti with the current education system for mutating children into adults.

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