Fresh Set is an ongoing series where readers follow the newest StockX Watch team member, Hadjj, as he learns more about the in’s and out’s of watches.
I packed my bags the night before the fair, not knowing what to expect but I was ready for the worst. Think about it, you got a VERY high-end product that starts off at, at least, $1,000. And then you have this small venue of all of these people in one space. I just pictured them all wearing tweed sport coats and vest with monocles. “Only the highest of high probably attend events like this” I said to myself and I was fully expecting them to look me up and down as I am neither a watch expert or a person with a lot of disposable income. But I was still extremely eager to be apart of the event and to see what was in store for me that weekend. I packed my bags, sport coat-less and all, and was ready for a weekend of horological whimsy.
A colleague and I arrived at the Wind Up fair later than our other teammates, so my first day of the watch fair was short but still enough to give me a glimpse of what to expect. As we arrived, I looked around to see what kind of people were present. Not a monocle, or elbow padded jacket in site, which was a good sign. As the social media coordinator, I wanted to take pictures of people’s wrists to highlight them on our Instagram, so I would go up to some people who I thought had some great timepieces. One of which lead me to a conversation with a man named Hadley wearing a 6 digit Rolex Batman GMT. After taking a picture of his wrist, we go on talking about how we’re both new to watches, which was a pleasant surprise, since I assumed everyone there was a long time collector. This conversation not only lighted my preconceived notions of the event but really made me comfortable to this new environment I found myself in, leading me to have a fresh take on this small event.
The second day of the Wind Up fair was upon us and I was ready. I had a plan for what I wanted to get out of it that day: meet new people, learn about other’s upbringings with watches, and, most importantly, understand the hype. I started my Wind Up checklist by going up to the various booths of independent brands at the show and communicating with people around their watches. There were a lot of them, more than I knew existed. As I went between each booth and spoke briefly with many, I found myself being able to join in on conversations with the little watch jargon that I knew. I also wasn’t afraid to announce my newness to watches, because they seemed to be interested in teaching me some things or even proclaiming themselves as rookies. I was surprised to see the amount of sneakerheads present at the event, showing the commonality between the two consumers. Us sneakerheads just love nice expensive things.
Nothing really struck a chord in me more than a conversation that I had with a man named Kane from Vero Watch Company. He was extremely knowledgeable about watches and his co-worker, Reg, dubbed him “a horological genius”. I asked him how he was able to acquire all of this information and his answer shocked me. He started off not too long ago, as a mechanical student in college, so he already had an interest in gears. This interest would lead him to a school assignment that involved watches. From there, he would buy old watches on eBay and disassemble every single one to figure out how they worked. He literally learned the ins-and-outs of watches. Hearing this level of dedication to a craft helped me accomplish my third objective. Listening to stories like Kane’s, I gained an appreciation for these mechanically engineered pieces of jewelry and even caught the watch bug myself. I further understood the hype and was so intoxicated by a lot of what was offered, such as Farer’s and Halios’ selection, that I wanted to buy a watch!
The day before, I was getting advice from the watch team asking them how I should approach purchasing a watch from Wind Up. It was a Baltic Chronograph and I wanted it so bad that I stayed up one night figuring out ways to pay for it. “I’m going to sell my Seiko (sorry PADI) and then pay for the new watch on my AMEX card that I don’t have to pay off for a couple of months, then I’ll pay it off in small increments”. Yea, the thirst was real. All the conversations about watches and how they have a bigger meaning just sold me. The team told me to barter for a lower price and ask for the “industry discount”, didn’t know what that meant, but the cheaper the better. As I do my thing with the man behind the counter, we finally settled on a price that I could work with and went from there. But sadly, due to technical card reader issues on his end, he wasn’t able to sell me the watch. At first I was upset but looking back at it now, I see it as a sign that the time just wasnt right.
I say all of that to say this: Wind Up was an amazing experience. I learned so much from the people that were around me and was able to knock down a lot of the preconceived notions that I had of the show. No, there were no tweed jackets. No, there were no pompous people. And, no, no one was arrogant. It was a small microcosm of people all sharing their appreciation for watches and as I continued to dive in, I came out wanting to be apart of this community and looking forward to next year’s Wind Up.