The Five Stories Of 2016 That I Enjoyed Writing The Most

2016 was an amazing year for us, with several new products hitting our newly redesigned shop and often, to great response. The goal of all this was and is to fund even more original editorial content such as our amazing Road Through Britain series. And that series was an important one for me because it was, frankly, the first major editorial product in which I wasn’t directly involved. 

It might sound silly, but that was a big moment for me and for the site. This year, I wasn’t able to do as much writing as I would’ve liked – though with Cara, Louis, Stephen, Arthur, and of course Jack, you were in amazing hands. Still, writing is what I love and this year, there were a few stories that I truly enjoyed putting together for you. Here are five of the stories that I enjoyed writing the most in 2016.

1. Reference Points: The Complete History Of F.P. Journe Tourbillons

While tourbillons aren’t for most, one exception are those from F.P. Journe.

Our References Points features are some of our most popular and well-received on the site to date, providing an exhaustive review of a family of watches (some would say even a reference grade review – get it?). We go much further than just researching and reporting, we always interview a person who many would believe to me among the top experts in that field. For the Reference Points on F.P. Journe Tourbillons, we we couldn’t have gone to anyone better – Mr. F.P. Journe himself. 

We take you though the earliest days of launching what is one of the most dynamic watch brands in the world and provide a detailed history of some of the most desirable tourbillons around.  Will Holloway, our producer and a true champion of quality content if there ever was one, gave me the assist with an incredible video (as he’s done so many times before) and I think this story paints a great picture of a watch not understood by many outside the upper echelons of watch collecting. And because of that, I think those who don’t get to see Journe toubillons on the regular (I mean, who does, really?) have a little bit better understanding of why it’s so special. And after all, the entire idea behind HODINKEE was just that – expose as many people as possible to the world’s most beautiful and special things, and I think we did that here. 

Read the full story here.

2. Twelve Mistakes New Watch Guys Make, And How To Avoid Them (From Someone Who’s Been There)

Despite what you might hear, the only vintage Rolex with a real Bakelite bezel is this one.

This was a story I had gestating in the back of my head for a long, long time – over a year at least, and putting it on proverbial paper was one of the great satisfactions of the 2016 for me. And the response it received made it even better. I received several notes from readers and friends saying it was the best thing I’d ever done for the site (which I don’t agree with, but I appreciate the sentiment). Two friends for whom I have great respect in the watch world sent me a note independently of each other suggesting they pick up the mantle and write sections two and three (that may come in 2017 – their surnames were Mayer and Bacs), because as someone who lives and breathes watch collecting, there is just so much silliness. 

Now, of course this list was written from my own perspective and was not meant to be hard and fast set of rules, so there were some not-so-friendly responses, but hell, this is the internet, what do you expect? Over all, it was a super fun story to write, thinking of all those little incidents with new collectors from over the years. And when I said I myself made several of these mistakes myself early on, I meant it.

Read the full story here.

3. In-Depth: The Patek Philippe 2526 And Why It’s A Watch To Pay Attention To

The 2526 may just be the perfect example of Patek Philippe’s prowess in the 1950s.

Readers and friends have often told me that when I really love a watch, it comes through in my writing. Well, I really love the 2526 and all that it stands for, so when I finally had access to a few special watches to photograph (think white gold enamel dial, black dial enamel, rose gold Serpico, etc) I decided to finally put pen to paper. The watch, to me, is everything right about watchmaking, and in particular about Patek in its heyday. This is the watch that makes me long for the Patek of the 1950s with its over-engineered caliber (the best self-winding movement even to date?), simply flawless case design, and the unnecessary but amazing enamel dial. 

The watches, for the longest time, were viewed as secondary players to the other Calatrava references such as the 570 and 565 because those came in steel with fun dial variations – I get that, but to me, the 2526 is a far more important and interesting watch, and frankly, represents a wonderful opportunity to own a very high-end watch at a (more) reasonable price. The 2526 might just be the perfect watch, at least to me.

Read the full story here.

4. The Incredible Watches (and Cars) of Briggs Cunningham

Briggs Cunningham not only raced at LeMans and the Americas Cup, but also built his own automobile brand and some bespoke timepieces with Patek Philippe.

With fine watches being so inherently, well, European, and I myself being so inherently, well, not, I have always been fascinated by great American collectors and owners. From James Ward Packard and  J.B. Champion to Henry Graves, and on up to today’s entrepreneurs in tech and elswhere, Americans were (and of course, are) often significant clients of the Swiss brands, and have had a hand in the creation of some of the most coveted watches today. One man that had received little fanfare of late, but was of particular interest to me, was Mr. Briggs Cunningham. 

An heir who would marry an heiress to become one of the wealthiest couples in the world, Cunningham would not use his fortune to vacation and live a life of leisure – in fact quite the opposite. He would use his fortune to fund America’s Cup winning sailboats, LeMans qualifying race teams, and yes, to make a few insane (and I mean insane) wristwatches. Also, he’s one of the few historical figures that is as appealing to the car guy in me (which is a big part of me, if you follow me on Instagram), as the watch guy. Though this story wasn’t particularly highly trafficked, it’s one I enjoyed putting together and those that did read it left really encouraging feedback. If you missed it, read it now, you’ll learn something about a fascinating human being.

Read the full story here.

5. In-Depth: The Patek Philippe 1518 Steel (Photos, Videos, History & Thoughts)

Before it became the $11 million watch, we dug into the steel 1518s earliest days with a multi-video feature story.

We see so many “big” watches here at HODINKEE that you might think I’d be kinda over them. And to be clear, I am. But when something truly amazing comes along, I am still that 25 year old skipping out of his UBS meeting to make it to an Antiquorum auction, filled with nothing but joy and excitement. This year, arguably the wristwatch came up for sale and while I’ve seen just about everything there is to see in watches, I had, for whatever reason, never been able to handle a 1518 in steel. 

So when I finally did, I was simply thrilled, and seeing it, and touching it made me wonder where they came from, who unearthed them, and frankly, want to know everything there is to know about these incredible holy grails of vintage watch collecting. So I dug into it, spoke to those men involved, from dealers to collectors to auctioneers, and again with the help of the maestro of moving pictures here on HODINKEE (that’s Will), we put together as detailed a history of all four steel 1518s that are known as we could. And it ran four days before the subject of our story became the most expensive watch in history, touching $11 million.

Read the original story here.

Bonus: Stephen Pulvirent Rejoins HODINKEE As Managing Editor

OK, this was a story of a different kind and I was thrilled to write it for different reasons, but on August 1 of this year, nothing gave me greater joy than welcoming my dear friend, a trusted advisor, employee number 1, and someone who cares about you guys more than anybody, Mr. Stephen Pulvirent, back to the pages of HODINKEE. With Stephen joining the literal literary powerhouse that is Jack Forster, in addition to our all-star team of Arthur, Will, Louis, Cara and all of our other contributors, there is no question that great days lie ahead for horologically focused content around the web.