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The Mysterious Rolex Expert and Watch Collector Known as “John Goldberger” Revealed

Paul Altieri

Thousands of Rolex fans know him as “John Goldberger,” though that isn’t his real name. That would be Auro Montanari, an altogether more dashing moniker suited to a stylish Italian whose Rolex collection has very few rivals in the world. Montanari, under his pen name, is the author of several landmark books on watch collecting that have become essential references including 100 Superlative Rolex Watches, Patek Philippe Watches, Omega Watches, and A Journey into the Deep, a look at a stunning assemblage of Rolex dive watches.

John Goldberger
The Man, the Myth, the Legend. John Goldberger. (Credit: Robb Report)

Why the name John Goldberger?

“I took the name [John Goldberger] to protect my privacy, and for fun,” the author/collector tells Robb Report in an excellent new profile. The magazine reveals that Montanari was the seller of one of the most significant vintage Rolexes ever offered at auction, the only white gold Daytona known to exist. Known as the “Unicorn,” it was sold by Phillips in May for close to $6 million, which Montanari gave to a children’s charity. Next year he’s planning a new book titled 100 Superlative Rolex Watches Part II, updating the out of print original. Though these days he’s got more than just Rolex in his sights.

The new Breitling Superocean is a modern reincarnation of the old classic
The new Breitling Superocean is a modern reincarnation of an old classic

Which Brands are we Sleeping On?

“Everyone wants to know what brands now will gain value with time,” he tells Robb Report. “The Omega and Longines watches already have the correct value on the market in my opinion. There are other watch companies, like Eberhard, Minerva, Universal, Movado, and Breitling, which are undervalued at the moment. They manufactured in the ‘40s and ‘50s magnificent and well-designed chronographs with exceptional movements.” He’s also got a passion for pocket watches, and surprisingly, vintage digital watches as well.

A Pro Tip from John Goldberger

He adds, “Collecting watches should be, above all else, fun—buy what you love and can afford. A true collector must with great decision, even ruthlessly, define the limits of his collection, and should never exaggerate. One can build a beautiful and rewarding watch collection commensurate with one’s budget if one takes the time to acquire the knowledge necessary to make an educated decision. A beautiful watch ready-to-wear is the best bargain, but a rare watch with great history and provenance also gives you an aura that you just could not describe.”

Paul Altieri
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