Madan's HMT watches
Not only did I start Watch Enthusiasts India, but I'm also a fellow administrator on the largest Facebook group for divers watches called Diver’s Watches Group - we have over 17,000 members. So I have a special Doxa Sub 1200T, which is thicker than that 300T, has a helium escape valve, is slimmer, and has a slightly grippier bezel - it is part of a 25-piece limited edition done for the Diver’s Watches Group. Another watch I have is by Formex, the Essence Leggera, a micro-brand based out of Geneva. They have patented case suspension technology, carbon fibre case, carbon fibre dial and clasp, zirconium bezel, and crown. They've been making watches for the better part of 10 years now. Another underrated brand in my box is H2O. I have the H2O Kalmar II, rated to 25,000 meters water resistance. The Omega Ultra Deep? This one is better than that. This is by young German engineer [Clemens Helberg] who makes watches himself. The whole case and buckle is made out of Timascus (titanium damascus), and the watch comes on genuine horween leather. The last micro brand is Boldr, a Singapore-based brand, launched in 2016. It’s a legacy model, called the Expedition – fully lume dial, dual crown system - one for the time setting, one for the rotating internal bezel.
WTI: Your favourite watch?
KM: The Boldr Pulsometer Field Medic that I helped design. The brand’s chief designer is also on our group, and is based in Portugal. When the pandemic started, we started discussing what we could do with watches to help people. So we decided to do a pulsometre scale watch. When he gave me the exact measurements of the watch, I printed out the pulsometer and the respiratory scales, and put them on a different chronograph, pasted it with tape, and field-tested it while working with patients. Then we got in touch with the founders of Boldr, and they were very open to the idea. So this was about US $300 – a 38mm titanium watch with a nylon strap, both of which are easy to sanitise and clean. It has a mecaquartz movement. And from every $300 earned, the brand donated $30 to the Red Cross and various agencies that were fighting the fight against COVID.
The Boldr Pulsometer Field Medic
WTI: Your favourite hunt stories?
KM: I found the Seiko 6139 at a flea market in Athens. It was a Seiko that I was really hunting for. The crystal, dial, hands, everything is original. There are markings on the dial which prove this is a ‘proof’ dial made by Seiko, and installed in a Japanese factory. The best part is that these Pogue watches have an inner rotating bezel, which has a diver’s marking - that is the first thing that breaks because it's done by the crown. Thankfully, this one is intact. I got it for Euros 300!
The TAG Heuer Monaco is a good story too. A friend and fellow collector from Houston had spoken to me when he was picking one up, but after he bought it, he realised it was too large for him. He listed it everywhere - international forums, Facebook groups, Instagram - for sale, but nobody bought it for two months. So he decided to create a raffle for it to recover the $4,000. Basically, you list 100 tickets at $40 each – people buy the ticket, and you ‘draw’ a winner. So someone ends up getting a watch for $40. He told me he was doing this and if I wanted to purchase a few tickets. I picked up four tickets and he gave me an extra one from his side. I ended up winning the watch on that free ticket!
WTI: How do you decide what to buy?
KM: I don't have parameters, and that's why my collection is all over – I have divers, field watches, chronographs, vintage watches. But I'm always drawn to chronographs. People think I'm a divers guy because I own a lot of Seiko divers, but I’m actually a chronographs guy. The science behind measuring subunits of time – that’s incredible. I also love date windows. But overall, anything new that people can bring out. A different case style, a different way to tell time like a Ressence – those always catch my attention. I am also a bracelet snob, and I play around a lot with them.
WTI: Where do you typically trade watches?
Mostly it is WatchUSeek
forums, because that was the original place where I started collecting. It's a robust community - the sales section is very strong, their vetting processes good. I've never been scammed, and I've heard very few incidents like that, far fewer than Facebook. I sell on Facebook too - my own group has 4200 members. We have a sub-group –WEI Marketplace - that is dedicated solely to sales. It’s even more exclusive and private, and has only 350 members right now.
WTI: What are some of your mistakes
KM: The biggest mistake new collector makes is going overboard because there's so much to try. If you can control that urge to buy everything that you see, especially in the budget price point, avoid it. Because the realisation that dawned on me as well after owning 94 Seiko Divers and Prospex models was that almost everything was the same it has the same movement inside. That's what made me consolidate my collection. I have done a ‘State-of-the-Collection’ post every year since I started collecting (2014), and when I look at my own posts - what I used to want in the past and what I have right now - I see a big change in my mindset. Now I don't buy micro brands out of impulse. I tend to control myself, evaluate them, reading what people are saying.
WTI: Apart from Seiko and Grand Seiko, which are the brands you enjoy?
Jaeger-LeCoultre is my top brand. Vacheron Constantin and Cartier have used Jaeger-LeCoultre movements, so they are a watchmaker’s watchmaker. Also, I want a Panerai, especially now, with the 44mm Submersible. I want to consolidate my collection further, and hopefully get an Audemars Piguet Royal Oak, or a Moser Streamliner, a Czapek Antarctique. Eventually, I would want a Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda, and the Bulgari Octo Finissimo Chronograph GMT in steel.
WTI: How has your group Watch Enthusiast India helped you in your journey?
KM: It was so much fun connecting with fellow collectors, an eye-opener into the world of watch-collecting, into the culture of collecting. We held our first-ever meet in Delhi in March 2016, which was attended by 12-13 from not just Delhi, but Chandigarh, Bombay, Chennai. Then our second event in Bombay in July 2016 saw 25 people in attendance. That’s when I knew that maybe there is a potential for this.