What does it take to be a watch collector? How does one define it? In a conversation earlier with Aurel Bacs, Senior Consultant at Phillips Auction he said, “I’m sure all of us have some goods at our homes in multiple numbers, but that doesn’t mean we collect that specific item. To collect is not defined by the volume or the number of pieces, it is actually not even defined by the amount of money you invest, I think it’s a state of mind. A collector makes that purchase predominantly with his heart. This could maybe be intellectual if they are looking to complete a set and it also is defined by how much time they take to study the subject year in year out.”
And here we are, in India, meeting an avid watch collector who said, “It’s in my genes. My grandfather was a small watch collector back then. I have grown up with his collection of Rolex’s, Omega’s and re-issue pieces.” Allow us to introduce you to a watch hobbyist from Bangalore who goes by the name Ram Rajanahalli. Starting off as an industrialist, he is now into the warehousing business based out of a small town near Pune. His passion for watches knows no bounds with a number that will leave you astonished.
We caught up with this young watch collector to understand his journey into watch collecting and more which dates back to his grandfather's coveted Rolex Daytona Paul Newman.
His journey started off in 4th grade where his first watch was the Titan World Collection with a chronograph bought by his mother.4. At that time (1997-98) she paid around INR 24,000. That was where it all began. Why did you get into watch collecting? “It’s just a passion. I work hard, earn money and spend it on watches. For me it’s something that I can pass onto the coming generations.”, says Ram.
Being such a staunch watch collector, several watches have also been passed down to him. “From 4 Rolex’s, Omega’s, a recent one being the Seiko Bell-Matic and the Favre-Leuba, these are some that hold significance”, he further added.
It’s no easy feat to have a magnanimous watch collection and when it comes to Ram, the number blew our minds off! Has he broken any records? “I tried a few times but did not make it due to certain restrictions and paperwork required for such records”, he said.
Choosing a favourite from an extensive collection can be quite difficult. Sharing his views on this he said, “I have Casio’s, G-Shocks and Patek Philippe. However, one of my most favorite watches is the Panerai Bronze 42mm watch.”
How can someone begin a watch collecting journey? Does the price or the brand matter? “It depends on individual choice. I have friends who don’t own Casio’s but have an Audemars Piguet watch. A Mangalore jeweller I know off, owns about 600 Rolex’s. My passion is to own a timepiece from every brand - from micro brands to luxury brands. I don’t buy hyped watches but instead those which suit my wrist. My style is sporty to semi-sporty; mostly steel. I don’t usually towards dress watches because I don’t dress to that level”, he explained.
From enjoying buying Titans to HMTs, his latest acquisition was the Zenith. “I don’t pick any watches from the secondary market and all of my watches are insured.”
We got into a round of rapid fire questions where Ram shared what comes to his mind when we say the word:
Omega: When talking about an Omega, the first watch that would come to my mind is the SpeedMaster.
Rolex: Definitely the Daytona!
Casio: The GA2100 timepiece.
Titan: The World Collection and their try at copying the Reverso.
Patek Philippe: My father. In 2012, when we were in Dubai, I wanted my father to buy me a Breitling. He refused saying I had enough round-dial watches and instead asked me to buy the Patek Philippe Nautilus. After multiple payments and traveller’s cheques, the watch was in my possession. It’s a watch I will preserve for life!
Our founder also went on to ask him his views on something he thinks a brand has done which hasn’t worked well. “Talking about Omega, I’d like them to give the tools and additional straps back which have been eliminated due to cost cutting. And that they should stop making bulky watches.”
Being someone who needs a stopwatch in his daily life, a chronograph function watch is most preferred. Talking about his aspirations to own a watch with a complication he said, “I want my watches to only tell the time. All my watches currently have this function only.”
His collection starts from Titan and ends at Patek Philippe. They are mostly steel watches. Sharing his tips on watch collecting he said, “First you need to select the collection. Next, you should know which watch you want. You can start collecting depending on your individual taste. My collection is all about sporty watches with a few dress watches.”
Most people have a story behind the watches they collect. When we asked Ram to share one such instance he said, “My cousin always made fun of me for having so many watches. He would say we have phones to see the time. At an event, an elderly man overheard this conversation and came to us. He too was passionate about watches and said, "every watch tells the same time, but it also shows other attributes.”
Moving on he goes onto share the five watches you must have in your collection. He said, “Omega Moonwatch, Rolex, Casio G-Shock, any Bronze watch and lastly, a Titan.”
From owning so many watches, how often can one wear them? How do you service them? To this he said, “Most of my watches are automatic. Other Quartz watches I locally get serviced. There are a few watches I don’t wear - Rolex’s, Hublot, Audemars Piguet, Patek Philippes, etc due to a bad experience. They’re just for my collection.”
There’s something about watch collectors and their passion! And Ram’s story is definitely that will leave you surprised!