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The One-Watch Man

Paul Altieri

If you’re reading this, here on Bob’s Watches blog, I’m guessing you got here because you’re a watch aficionado. Maybe even a watch nerd or a WIS (Watch Idiot Savant is what we call ourselves – yep, me too).

And so what I want to discuss here will be foreign to you. Perhaps unbelievable. Incredible in the truest sense of the word – not to be credited as fact.

But my friends, it’s true. They walk among us.

One Rolex
Vintage Rolex Daytona ref. 6265 is a great watch. Would you add a Daytona to your collection?


One Rolex

Men with only one watch. Guys who have only ever had one watch. To them, it’s a tool. And I don’t mean a diving tool, or a mountain climbing tool, or any other adventuring/ extreme-working-conditions tool. I mean simply a tool to know what time it is.

If you ever run across them, they’re often older. “Gentlemen of a certain age,” as it were. And the watch is as likely to be an authentic Rolex as it is anything else.

I met a guy at a flea market in rural Minnesota once. He was wearing a GMT-Master II – the one they call the Coke. Probably a ref. 16760. I stopped him and admired the piece. He was a little dubious at my interest, but I assured him my interest was genuine – being a watch writer. So he said he’d bought it in the 1980s and had worn it ever since. No big deal, and no, he didn’t own any other watches. Why would he? He just didn’t need another one.

One Rolex
Rolex GMT-Master II ref. 16760 with a Coke bezel.

One Watch Man

On assignment at a women’s pro surfing event in 2014, I met a younger version of the one-watch guy, a British sports journalist. His watch of choice was a Submariner Date, ref. 16610. He bought it in about 1997, so he didn’t even have 20 years on it yet. But he will – and more before he’s done. I asked him about the watch, and if he was a watch geek. He looked at me like I had two heads. And it’s telling that he wore the Sub even though we were the guests of Swatch, the sponsors of the event. Nobody was going to tell him what watch to wear.

One Rolex
Rolex Submariner 16610 is a classic choice.

A close friend and fellow watch writer of mine ran across a guy wearing an old beat-up Pepsi GMT-Master at the Felix Baumgartner Red Bull Stratos parachute jump from the edge of space in late 2012. The guy was a National Geographic producer. You guessed it. the Pepsi was his only watch, purchased in Africa just after the infamous “Rumble in the Jungle” fight between George Foreman and Muhammad Ali in 1974.

And finally, I was teaching a fly fishing last spring class with an old college professor of mine. I noticed he was wearing an Explorer 1016, so I asked him about it. He bought it new in the 1980s and it was his daily wear. He liked it because of the simple black dial and unassuming size of the case. He said he thought it didn’t “look like a Rolex.” He meant it didn’t attract too much attention, possibly from the wrong element.

One Rolex
A Vintage Rolex Explorer 1016 is subtle, yet truly carries the spirit of Rolex.

And so, by these examples, I make my case. If you got here, to this watch blog, I think it was by virtue of your being a watch nerd to one degree or another. And being that, I don’t think you will ever be a one-watch guy. I know I won’t.

But remember… they’re out there. If you see one, talk to him about his watch. And get ready to hear a tale.

Paul Altieri