Transcript: Benjamin Clymer & Jeffery Fowler, Hodinkee


The transcript from this week’s, MiB: Benjamin Clymer and Jeffery Fowler of Hodinkee, is below.

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ANNOUNCER: This is Masters in Business with Barry Ritholtz on Bloomberg Radio.

BARRY RITHOLTZ, HOST, MASTERS IN BUSINESS: This week on the podcast, I have a pair of extra special guests. Ben Clymer took a buyout offer from UBS in 2008 right in the middle of the financial crisis and said, “I know what I’m going to do. I’m going to launch a site about watches, which has been my hobby, and see where this goes.” And that was 15 years ago. And it’s turned into a $100 million business with incredible investors and just a huge brand on the internet.

Jeff Fowler has been CEO of the company for just about two years. This really is a fascinating discussion.

First, if you’re interested in watches, it’s amazing to talk to guys who have known so much and are so plugged into what’s going on in the industry and really are right in the middle of what’s become a speculative boom in timepieces. But also, this is a story of starting a small media outlet, a small web presence, and recognizing that there’s business potential here, and how to slowly grow that into something that’s substantial. How do you hire people? How do you go out and find investors? When do you do that? How do you take this to the next level? When do you as founders and CEOs say, “hey, I need somebody who can scale this, and I’m going to step back and become chairperson and bring in a professional CEO to run the site?”

So there are a lot of different ways to look at this. I found the conversation to be absolutely fascinating. I could have gone for another two hours.

With no further ado, my conversation with Hodinkee’s Ben Clymer and Jeff Fowler.

Let’s talk a little bit about how a blog becomes a business. I know a little bit about that. 2008, you launched a blog after you leave UBS in the midst of the financial crisis.


RITHOLTZ: First, what were you doing at UBS?

CLYMER: I was basically the lowest of the low man on totem poles. I was 24. I was working at UBS in wealth management. And it’s funny, actually, before I even get into that, coming to Bloomberg is actually my favorite place to go, because it is the only location that I visited pre-Hodinkee and post-Hodinkee.

RITHOLTZ: Oh, really?

CLYMER: So actually, when I used to visit here, your systems used to pull up the original photograph ever taken of me as a guest, and it was me at 24 years old.

RITHOLTZ: No beard.

CLYMER: No beard, dressed head to toe in Joseph A. Banks, legitimately. (LAUGHTER)

I’m not dressed in that anymore, thankfully. It was just an amazing flashback anytime I come here. I’ve been here a few times for other shows. And so this is one of the few places, really, in the world that unites my pre-Hodinkee and present-day world.



RITHOLTZ: You’re doing this just as a hobby, just as an interest?

CLYMER: It started for fun. So I was a kid. I was in wealth management at UBS, and this was 2008 when Lehman collapsed, and the world effectively imploded, certainly for people of my age who had no authority at all. We had no clout whatsoever in a giant company like at UBS, and they said basically, like, look, you’re probably going to get laid off. Will you take a severance package and get out of here? And I said, you know what? Hell yes, absolutely. And keep in mind, I had nothing.


CLYMER: Both my parents are public school teachers. I didn’t come from a world of luxury or finance or anything like this at all. I’m from Rochester, which is not anywhere near Westchester. You know, a really dramatically different world. And I said, you know what? Like, finance — this version of finance is just not for me at all. I always fancied myself a writer. My grandfather, who was kind of a mentor, not kind of, he was a mentor to me. He was still alive at the time, and he was an entrepreneur. He gave me his Omega Speedmaster, which is a really nice watch. When I was 16 years old, it was my only nice watch.

RITHOLTZ: So wait, you’re, I’m trying to do the math, if you were 24 in ‘08, so you got this watch in 2000, 99?

CLYMER: Yes, around there, I would say.

RITHOLTZ: And he purchased it 20, 30 years before?

CLYMER: He actually purchased it, he purchased it in the early 90s. It was a later Speedmaster. He bought it when he was in his probably 60s or 70s. So it wasn’t like something he had throughout his entire life.


CLYMER: But still, it’s what I remembered him wearing. And one day, he just literally slid it off his wrist and said, I want you to have this, which is unbelievable to me, obviously.

RITHOLTZ: That was his daily driver.

CLYMER: That was his daily driver. That and a gold Rolex Day-Date as well, which now my father has. And it was just something so impactful to me, and he was really my hero. I mean, he represented something that I didn’t really see much of in Rochester, New York, which was, A, self-made, truly self-made to a material degree, was interested in the world, interested in how things are made, nice cars, nice watches, et cetera, and had very little to do with the cost of things, but really appreciated how things were made. And it was always critical that he made me understand why an Omega would be $2,000 instead of $200, or Mercedes would be $60,000 instead of $6,000.

RITHOLTZ: But really quite interesting.  So you have this cash-out from UBS.

CLYMER: If you can call it that. I think it was a grand total of around $9,000 — but for me, yes, if we call it a cash-out.

RITHOLTZ: Hey, in 2008, that was not nothing.

CLYMER: Yes, and look, and I was 24. I was living with my girlfriend at the time in SoHo, just kind of goofing around. So I mean, to be able to pay my, I think my share of the rent each month was around $900. So that paid —

RITHOLTZ: Hey, almost a year’s worth of rent.

CLYMER: Exactly right. So it allowed me to take my time and write. And with that time, I ended up freelancing for the likes of GQ, for the Financial Times, how to spend it. You know, great, really great publications, mostly about watches, but other men’s lifestyle things, cars, you know, whatever, restaurants. Ended up applying to journalism school here in the city at Columbia for a master’s degree. I went to undergrad for finance and computer science, so dramatically different field. And I said, look, if I’m going to be in media, and I wanted to be a true journalist — like a real Bloomberg-style journalist, I wanted to do it the right way.

So I applied to Columbia, somehow got in, using my blog about watches as the foundation of my application, and ended two years of a master’s degree at Columbia, while I continued to blog every day about watches.

RITHOLTZ: And the site was called Hodinkee?

CLYMER: It was. It was called Hodinkee from the start. Hodinkee with a Y on it means wristwatch in Czech, of all things. Everyone asks. I’m actually not Czech. But I was just kind of goofing around and Googling, Google translating what wristwatch was in different languages. And you might remember, but like, so in 2008, Google was the hottest thing on earth. So Google was like really kind of on its ascent, and the double vowel kind of like stuck with me. And another site that launched around the same time had a double vowel, and it’s called Goop, Gwyneth Paltrow’s lifestyle site. So the double vowel, for some reason, really was popular with internet domains in that era.

RITHOLTZ: Plus, you can’t get a domain, right? I literally wrote down “What was the inspiration for using the Czech word for watch.”


RITHOLTZ: But I know if you go to register a company, or heaven forbid,  every word, every two-letter, three-letter, four-letter combination has been taken, every common word in the dictionary, somebody’s squatting on.


RITHOLTZ: So you really have to get creative.

CLYMER: Yes, so we, I’m still used to saying we as if it was more than me. It was just me, but I always used the word we to pretend like we were bigger than we are; Now I actually have other people here.

RITHOLTZ: “We’re a big company.”

CLYMER: We’re a huge company, you wouldn’t understand.

So but back then, even more than that, I was already aware of the tenuous relationship, tenuous at best, relationship that watches and luxury had with the internet. And so the first people to sell watches on the internet, or even list watches on the internet, were what we call gray market dealers, guys that had no legal right to sell watches. So people that would —

RITHOLTZ: So I’m guessing eBay was pretty big in the early days, right?

CLYMER: Absolutely, it still is. eBay is the largest watch store on earth.

RITHOLTZ: Oh, is that true?

CLYMER: Absolutely, absolutely. Much to the chagrin of the Swiss. But it is the largest seller of watches on Earth. And look, I mean, it’s just reality. But I mean, forget eBay. eBay is a real publicly traded, has business practices that we all hold in high regard.


CLYMER: Well, you know. There are other sellers out there.

RITHOLTZ: Let’s put a little asterisk on that one, and we’ll circle back.

CLYMER: That’s a good one. But there were a lot of other purveyors of watches that really were not super, super ethical folks.

RITHOLTZ: A little shady, a little sketchy out there?

CLYMER: Yes, a little bit, a little bit. And so the Swiss and the Europeans at large were really kind of reticent to get involved with watches on the internet at all. And that includes even us covering them. So when I would go to Switzerland and say, hey, Rolex, Patek, whoever, Omega, smaller brands, “can I photograph your watches and write about them?” They say, “oh, you know, we don’t really want coverage on the internet.” Truly. That’s how it was like in the early 2010s.

RITHOLTZ: Very forward thinking, right?

CLYMER: Exactly, very forward thinking. There’s a famous line that I’ve told in a few other podcasts and a few other stories where a very, very prominent, I mean, one of the most prominent CEOs of one of the largest Swiss luxury groups in the world told me to my face in 2010 that he thought the internet was for poor people, that nobody would ever make a buying decision based on anything published on the internet.

And keep in mind, this is what I was doing for a living back then.

RITHOLTZ: You know, if someone would have said that in 1990, 1995, I would have said, all right, they’re a little backwards looking. But by 2010, Amazon is immense. All these companies had migrated. Jeff, what were you doing in 2010?

JEFFEREY FOWLER, CEO, HODINKEE: I was working at Louis Vuitton at the time.

CLYMER: And it was actually Jeff who said it to me.

FOWLER: Yes, it was me. It was me.

RITHOLTZ: They have a pretty robust online presence, right?

FOWLER: They did, yes. I mean, at that time, it was likely the case that Louis Vuitton’s dot com store, if you want to call their online presence, was likely the biggest store in any of their regions globally. Certainly in the U.S., Louis Vuitton dot com for the U.S. region was well on its way to becoming the biggest site for any sales for Louis Vuitton.

So yes, was well established at that point. But Ben’s right. I mean, even across the broader luxury categories of fashion shoes, I mean, luxury was late to the game. Saw it as more of a branding and marketing activity. And the watch industry in particular was very, very late to, I think, understand the true impact and potential of digital channels.

RITHOLTZ: And when did you first become aware of this little blog called Hodinkee?

FOWLER: Yes, I was at LVMH for a number of years, mostly with Louis Vuitton for the first few years. And Louis Vuitton has a watch business and division. And then within LVMH, I moved to Tag Heuer, which is a pure watch business —


FOWLER: — within the broader luxury group. It was really kind of in the Tag Heuer timeline for me, career-wise, that I became aware of Ben and of Hodinkee. And as he stated earlier, in my mind, Hodinkee was this huge operation. It was dozens of writers and journalists, simply because the influence that they already had at that point. This is 2012, 2013, was enormous in the industry. There would always be someone from Hodinkee at a press event or a press junket. The site was getting a huge amount of appeal and building a community.

So we were well aware of their impact. But I hadn’t met Ben yet. I was heading up retail for Tag Heuer for North America, so I was sort of traveling around from market to market, store to store. But yes, I was very aware of Hodinkee’s impact.

RITHOLTZ: So I’m going to jump to the end of the story, and then we’ll backfill what took place between 2008 and 2022. You joined as CEO last year. How did that transition take place, and why were you excited about stepping into the chairman’s role?

CLYMER: So for me, Hodinkee has been my life’s work, truly. I mean, I have a child now, but I kind of think of it as my firstborn. And like any child, things tend to grow up and mature. And I think if there’s one thing I can say about myself, it’s that I’m acutely aware of my strengths and weaknesses. And as my strengths are that I’ve got the vision, the idea, I think I’m a solid writer, I’ve got the creative mind to build something that other people wouldn’t see, if I may say.

Where I’m not super strong, honestly, is running a business at scale. Honestly.

RITHOLTZ: Execution is tough.

CLYMER: Sure is. Come to find out. And so when we closed our series B in 2020, which, as you mentioned, include LVMH in a minority share. There’s no majority holder, just to be clear. TCG, Tom Brady, Tony Fidell, John Mayer, I mean, like all these kind of great names …

RITHOLTZ: I mean, that’s a crazy list. It’s a crazy list. And for people who don’t know who Tony Fidell is, he is essentially the guy who created the iPod —

CLYMER: Correct.

RITHOLTZ: And then said, I need to do something else, and then goes out and creates Nest.

CLYMER: Yes, exactly.

RITHOLTZ: I mean, talk about a design legacy. Amazing.

CLYMER: He’s a legend. Of all the people in my professional life that is a mentor, he would be the one. And actually, it was he who decided, or he who influenced me not to sell the business. I had the opportunity to sell the business in 2014, and he said, do not sell this thing. Let me help you raise money.


CLYMER: So he actually invested as early as 2015.

RITHOLTZ: And I know from having seen him on Talking Watches, I believe.

CLYMER: Yes, exactly.

RITHOLTZ: He’s been a watch geek forever.

CLYMER: 100 percent.

RITHOLTZ: Because – you know, it’s funny, we briefly touched upon what your grandfather said, but the elements of design and precision craftsmanship come together in a watch in a way very few things do. Perhaps the iPod and Nest are good examples.

CLYMER: That’s exactly that. And so Tony Fidell, a guy named Kevin Rose, who started DIGG and is now really big in NFTs, he was actually, he stepped in and invested as well, and was actually our CEO for a while.

RITHOLTZ: No kidding?

CLYMER: Tony Conrad, who’s big in True Ventures, he did Peloton and Blue Bottle, some really great Silicon Valley names that were all friends and we all kind of connected. They all kind of helped me shepherd in this new version of what Hodinkee could be, which was that of a retailer, and that of somebody who had this amazing influence, editorially speaking. We had done limited editions where we designed them. I’m actually wearing one right now.

RITHOLTZ: Let’s see. What are you wearing?

CLYMER: This is an IWC that we did in 2017.


CLYMER: So this is a $7,000 watch. We did 500 sold out in, I think, four minutes.


CLYMER: So it was with their help and their prodding that we said, hey, this could be something much bigger than, I don’t want to say just an editorial platform, but we can do real content to commerce. And that was really not a model that existed anywhere else.

RITHOLTZ: So let’s talk about that and I want to loop Jeff into this part of the conversation.

So you start out as essentially a nonprofessional media outlet.

CLYMER: A blog.

RITHOLTZ: Evolve into a media outlet, and then eventually add e-commerce. When you think about Hodinkee today, and I’ll direct this to Jeff, who joined in 2022, is it media first, is it e-commerce, or is there no bright line between the two?

FOWLER: Yes. I get that question often, and in fact, I get that question often even from new joiners to Hodinkee, people that have come aboard. Perhaps it’s that we’ve hired them into the commercial side of the business, perhaps we’ve hired them into the editorial side of the business. And it’s not long before they ask, well, which one are we? Are we an editorial sort of content business? Are we a commercial business that sells things? And I sort of reject the premise that it has to be an or rather than an and, but I think it’s the and aspect that really makes us unique, that really sets us apart as a pioneer.

And I’m going to quote actually someone totally not connected to our business, but recently at a conference for CEOs, tech executives, the global president of Shopify was speaking and was on stage. And behind him in his slideshow, he presented the logo of Hodinkee, and a friend of ours was in the audience. It was quick on the trigger and pulled up his phone and recorded this otherwise private conversation happening with CEOs. And the gentleman from Shopify said, “Does anyone know who Hodinkee is?”

RITHOLTZ: What year was this?

FOWLER: This is last year. We were talking maybe six months ago. “Does anyone know who Hodinkee” is? A bunch of hands I presume got put in the air because we were just listening to the audio. It says, for those who aren’t aware, if you want to watch, talk to me later. And then he proceeded to say, “Hodinkee is the greatest watch retailer on the planet. Here’s why.” And he said, “They spent the first better part of 10 years just writing about watches, just pursuing the knowledge of watches, furthering the knowledge of watches, building a huge community. And then, and only then, did they start to actually sell things.” At which point, there was a captive audience of people ready to convert, which at the end of the day is really important if you’re running an e-commerce business. Conversion is the key to all of that.

And I think we, and again, we get asked this often, are you editorial or are you commercial? Isn’t there a conflict? Isn’t there some sort of mixed sort of motives there? And we reject the premise again. We simply say, we write about things that we love, we sell things that we love, and in some ways, there’s an intellectual honesty to that. There’s editorial choices being made at every stage, whether it’s on the content side, whether it’s on the commercial side. And it just so happens that a content-to-commerce model, if done effectively, is an incredibly efficient model.

A little secret, we don’t always say this, but something that we love to brag about is, it wasn’t until 2021 that Hodinkee spent its first dollar on marketing. All right? A lot of businesses have to spend a ton of their revenue on marketing in order to get that next customer in the door. Really, it’s the editorial side of Hodinkee that really is what gets people interested, keeps them interested, keeps them engaged. For many people, it’s their daily read on their morning commute or their afternoon commute. And that’s really the secret sauce.

CLYMER: Just quickly —

RITHOLTZ: Go ahead.

CLYMER: To put a fine point on that, just to add further context, so Jeff is exactly right. We hadn’t spent a dollar on marketing and literally not a dollar on marketing until April of 2021 when we hired our first CMO. We were doing about $30 million a year in revenue at that point.

So we’ve gotten from $0 to $30 million a year roughly, give or take, without a dollar spent on acquisition costs.

RITHOLTZ: Wow, that’s impressive. Since you mentioned the media focus on what you really love, let’s talk about what you guys write about. It’s often about the history and the narrative surrounding a specific watch. The brand, the background, why a watch is important. Even if you don’t like it, here’s why it’s significant.

Obviously, I’m a fan for a long time, but discussing the in-depth background of each watch, when you started doing that, other than an industry professional rep…

CLYMER: A trade publication.

RITHOLTZ: Nobody was doing anything like that online.

CLYMER: That’s exactly right. And I think if there’s one thing that I’d say we got right early, which was the idea of taking this thing that really could be perceived as pretentious or complicated or certainly expensive, you can’t deny that, and explaining it in a way that is incredibly digestible for the average guy, like a you or me or a Jeff, and also doing it online in a broadcast mechanism, there were some people discussing the finer points of high-end watchmaking in forums, but you had to register. The comments were moderated. If you weren’t part of the gang, you basically had no clout at all.

And I said, that just doesn’t feel democratic at all. I love this stuff in such a sincere way. I want to basically share what I’m learning to as many people as possible, and then people can read it or not. They can comment or not, that’s okay. And I think that is really what made us different from everyone else. And we did it in a way that was stylized.

And something that I’ve always really focused on is ensuring that the presentation of our media is really beautiful. And so the first dollars I ever spent at Hodinkee were to actually have double engraved business cards, which literally cost me thousands of dollars. We were pre-revenue at that. Back in the day. Exactly. Back in the day when business cards were a thing.

RITHOLTZ: Hey, you got that nice $9,000 UBS.

CLYMER: Yes, exactly. I probably spent a third of it on business cards, truly. But this idea of presenting something that was just so much more thoughtful than anyone else out there. And yes, we were a blog, and yes, we had a silly name, and yes, we were online. But I cared in such a way that was so different than everybody else. And a lot of the journalists, and certainly not here at Bloomberg, but elsewhere in the world, a lot of journalists in the luxury space are there for the good wine, the pretty girls or guys, the free travel sometimes on these junkets, and these amazing experiences. And I get that. I’m not going to knock people that are there for that. I didn’t know that existed. I wasn’t there for any of that. I was there for the product, and there to share the product with as many people as possible.

RITHOLTZ: And full disclosure, Bloomberg republishes Hodinkee columns on occasion.

CLYMER: On occasion, yes.

RITHOLTZ: It goes into the wealth or pursuits section of Bloomberg. I didn’t mention that earlier, but I want everyone to understand. You and I have never met before. That’s strictly an arms-length conversation. But there is a relationship between Bloomberg and Hodinkee. But let me go back to spending $3,000 on business cards on a zero-revenue blog.

CLYMER: Jeff is like of course, you did.

RITHOLTZ: When did it dawn on you that, hey, this could be a business and maybe generate a profit?

CLYMER: So early on, we had advertisers, and back then, the cost of running Hodinkee was my time, which was effectively free, and then hosting fees on Squarespace and elsewhere. So we’ll say —

RITHOLTZ: What were you using for software? Was it TypePad or WordPress?

CLYMER: First Tumblr for the first six months, and then Squarespace. Squarespace, and I love those guys, they were really instrumental to the growth of Hodinkee, allowed me to design my own website in 2009 until probably 2012 or 2013, when we got a professional upgrade. And really, without them and the interface that we put forward, and everybody was using WordPress and other really, frankly, more rudimentary at the time products in Squarespace, Squarespace was incredible. It was almost like Shopify in a way. Really opened up a whole new world to me, to present something that was really beautiful.

RITHOLTZ: What were you using before Squarespace?

CLYMER: Tumblr.

RITHOLTZ: All right, so let me explain how old I am.


RITHOLTZ: When I launched my blog, it was on GeoCities, which means that you had to do HTML coding, you had to learn. And when Six Apart came out with, I’m sorry, is it Movable Type? Came out with, I’m trying to remember the name of it, I can’t even remember anymore. Six Apart was a Movable Type, where it was all WYSIWYG, where you didn’t have to code indent or pictures or, wait, I could just drag a picture there? This is astonishing.


RITHOLTZ: So you went from an hour of writing and two hours of coding to an hour of writing and five minutes of formatting, that was ‘03.


RITHOLTZ: That was a game changer.

CLYMER: Totally.

RITHOLTZ: So when you go from Fourspace to whatever was next, what were you using as the underline?

CLYMER: So we were in Squarespace until probably 20 — we did a super custom version of Squarespace. And just on background, I was a coder. In high school I was –-

RITHOLTZ: Undergraduate, you said you were part of college and finance.

CLYMER: So I was doing — I was banging out code for a good chunk of time there in college and before. I built my first website when I was probably 14. So it was something that I really took a lot of pride in. And then in 2013, ‘14, an agency that actually Jeff knows about called Wondersauce –-

RITHOLTZ: That’s a great name.

CLYMER: I know. They approached us and said, hey, we love what you’re doing. Your content is unreal. Can we help redesign your site? And I was like, I don’t have any money, but sure.

RITHOLTZ: What year was this?

CLYMER: Probably 2012.


CLYMER: At that point, the 9,000 severance was gone.


CLYMER: So four years later, it was gone.

RITHOLTZ: Long gone.

CLYMER: Yes. So taking a step back. So we had been making money with advertising and advertisers came quickly because we represented a younger audience.

RITHOLTZ: Nobody else was in that space.

CLYMER: At all, at all.

RITHOLTZ: You had it to yourself.

CLYMER: All online. And on top of that, our audience was wrapped. I mean, our audience was obsessed with what we were doing. They were young and they might not be wealthy now, but they probably were going to be. And so our first big advertiser was Audemars Piguet. We had Patek as an advertiser.

RITHOLTZ: No kidding.

CLYMER: We had Rolex as an advertiser. Frankly, in a different way than we do now even.

It was really special because we weren’t selling anything. We were just there to promote the industry. And what changed for me was, after a few years of making a good living, and I own the whole thing, so it was like a nice little living for me, I said, hey, I’m getting these emails that person X or woman Y is buying this Patek Philippe or Rolex, whatever, because of the content we’re creating. And here’s the proof. Here’s an email. And I would take that to brand X and I would say, hey, isn’t this cool? Do you guys want to advertise more? And they said, “oh, no, we’re good, but do you want to come to Per Se for dinner?”

And I was like, Per Se is lovely, but that doesn’t pay for my rent. It doesn’t allow me to grow this business. And I said, man, our audience is really special. And we started doing these surveys, internal surveys, where, hey, what do you want from Hodinkee? The number one response every single time to this day is for Hodinkee to sell things because they trust us.

RITHOLTZ: Really very interesting. I’m intrigued by how you guys have grown. I’m familiar with a few parallel stories, but I don’t know of anybody that’s taken it to the level that Hodinkee has.

CLYMER: I appreciate that.

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RITHOLTZ: Ben Clymer is the founder of Hodinkee, one of the world’s most fascinating and well-read watch sites. Jeff Fowler is the company’s CEO. A couple of years ago, they launched Hodinkee Shop, is what its current name is. I don’t know if it was called something else.

CLYMER: It’s Hodinkee. I mean the show was, you know, it was basically, to get into brass tacks, it was a subdomain powered by Shopify, so we did, but it’s Hodinkee. It’s all one company.

RITHOLTZ: All right. And it now sells over $100 million worth of watches, which is not too shabby.

So let’s talk a little bit about the wacky world of watch retailing, starting with, why can’t I walk into a Rolex shop or a Bucherer Tourneau or any retailer and say, hey, that Daytona is pretty nice and that Batman Jubilee bracelet. Let me take those two. Why can’t we do that?

FOWLER: I mean, the simple answer is just supply and demand. There’s well more demand than there is supply of these products, brand new at retail. It’s estimated that Rolex produces around a million watches per year.

RITHOLTZ: 1.2, something like that.

FOWLER: 1.2, yes, give or take a million watches a year. No one knows the real answer for exactly how many they could sell if they had the amount of supply to meet demand, but it’s got to be in the millions. You naturally get this issue of constraint. I don’t believe it’s a managed constraint. I don’t think it’s one where they’re intentionally trying to come some million units under the demand. But, of course, only Rolex would be able to answer that question. At the end of the day, scaling up in this industry is not terribly easy. I mean, let’s say —

RITHOLTZ: They’re all handmade. They’re very intricate. Some of the nicer watches are 500, 700, 900, teeny tiny little pieces.

FOWLER: Tiny pieces, yes. I often say, leading aside the brand on the dial of the watch, the most important thing on the dial of a Swiss mechanical watch is these two tiny words, Swiss Made, usually around the six o’clock marker. And for that to be the case, it’s got to be totally manufactured, assembled, quality controlled, every step of the processes to take place in Switzerland. And I’m sure you’ve visited Switzerland, Ben and I have been there many times.

RITHOLTZ: I have not. It’s on my list.

FOWLER: It is a teeny tiny country. I always say, for most parts of Switzerland, if you just pick up your eyes and look at the horizon, you’re probably looking at another country. The tiny villages in the mountains, the historical cradle of watchmaking is all there. A lot of people in those parts of the country are affiliated with the watchmaking industry, but they’re making one tiny subcomponent, teeny tiny part. It all comes together in one glorious supply chain that ultimately becomes these watches.

It isn’t as though you can just scale that up very quickly.

RITHOLTZ: To put some flesh on the bones, if Rolex is doing 1 million, 1.2 million, Patek is doing 60,000?

FOWLER: Yes, about that.

RITHOLTZ: Lange is doing 5,000?

FOWLER: Yes, 5, 6, 7 in that range.

RITHOLTZ: I mean, those are just insane numbers. It’s 7,000 of anything. That’s how many Mustang convertibles they sell you.


RITHOLTZ: Good luck getting it. They cost about the same. You could walk into a Ford dealer and order a Mustang convertible. You can’t walk into a Lange. To be fair, a lot of these places, they’re perpetual calendars that are $1, $1.50. You could probably go in and get one, if they like you.

FOWLER: Maybe. Maybe.

RITHOLTZ: Those seem to be more available than the —

CLYMER: Yes. Look, I think the Rolex question is one we get a lot, obviously, because every guy on the street — look, I love Rolex. I own several. But everybody knows what it is.

RITHOLTZ: When you were at UBS, did you notice that every kind of shady stockbroker had a Submariner on them?

CLYMER: Yes, I did.

RITHOLTZ: I know everybody loves that. I have a problem with that watch, because I just associate it with junk stocks and hard sellers.

CLYMER: Yes, I get that. And the whole used car salesman guy wearing a Rolex, that has dissipated quite a bit, and now people want Rolexes. When I was at UBS —

RITHOLTZ: Well, not the Rolex, just the Submariner.

CLYMER: Got it, got it.

RITHOLTZ: Like the senior guys had GMTs and Daytona’s, but the junior guys all were wearing Subs, and people kind of looked a stance …

CLYMER: Well, you used to be able to go in and get it whenever you wanted.

RITHOLTZ: Two grand.

CLYMER: Exactly. And the world has just changed. And look, I would never take, or we should not take all the credit, but sites like ours changed the demand flow in such a way that Rolex or any brand just couldn’t keep up with it. And then COVID, everything changed with COVID.

RITHOLTZ: Right. COVID, we’ll talk a little bit about COVID. So let’s talk about a couple of other smaller brands.


RITHOLTZ: I’m a fan of some of the H. Moser and company. Greubel Forsey seems to have exploded. MB&F is next level. Jacob and Company.

CLYMER: Yes, yes. Talking serious stuff.

RITHOLTZ: And that’s before we get to Artisans de Geneve who have decided, give us your Rolex and we’ll slap $100,000 worth of labor on it and make it one of a kind. Like this sort of thing started in the car industry on a very, very small level.

CLYMER: Right.

RITHOLTZ: You can personalize your car, put stripes on it.

But to take a $30,000 Rolex and turn it to a six-figure product, pretty amazing.

CLYMER: Yes. I mean, Rolex should be viewed differently than almost every other watch brand.

RITHOLTZ: Giant market share to be with.

CLYMER: Yes, giant. I mean, in the U.S. they’re one half of all luxury watches sold in the U.S.

RITHOLTZ: Is that true? I know globally it’s 20-something, 25 percent.

CLYMER: Yes, in the U.S. it’s 50%.

RITHOLTZ: Wow, that’s amazing.

CLYMER: It’s just enormous in this country. And look, if you go to India, if you go to Asia, there are brands such as Omega, Longines, et cetera, that could rival Rolex in terms of popularity. But in the U.S., this is Rolex country for sure. But they should be viewed separately from almost everybody else in the industry. As I said, the demand mechanism that they have is just so robust. People don’t even know why they want a Rolex. They just do. And almost no other brand in the luxury space and watches, cars, anything really benefits from that.

RITHOLTZ: So, quick funny story. I had a guest a couple of months ago, and he’s wearing a reverse panda, which is the Daytona chronograph with the white face and the black dials. And I don’t remember what I was wearing. It was probably my Yacht Master is my daily driver. And I just happened, after we’re done, I happened to mention it to him. And he said about 20 years ago, when we first launched the firm, him and his partner got one, and then went to their local AD and said, I need 30 of these. This is 20 years ago. And why? He goes, every time we make someone a partner, we give them a Daytona.

FOWLER: That was a good investment, by the way.

RITHOLTZ: He’s in private equity. He’s got a good — talk about spotting value before anybody else did. But that sort of thing could never happen.

FOWLER: Well, no, Barry, you don’t have to go that far back in time to get to a moment where it was possible to go into many of the brands you just named and ask for a discount on a watch. And not only would they have it available, you’d be able to get it for a discount.

RITHOLTZ: Ten years ago? Five years ago?

CLYMER: I mean, if you’re talking about MB&F Moser three years ago, pre-COVID?

RITHOLTZ: I was looking at a Tourbillon and a Moser and just couldn’t wrap my head around the price and I couldn’t pull the trigger. And now I regret it, not because I’m a flipper. Every watch I’ve ever bought, I still have, unless I’ve given it away. But just the thought of like, oh, I’d love to have that for half of what it’s gone for.

CLYMER: Yes, once you break that, this is going to sound awful, but here we are, once you break the $100,000 mark, it becomes a lot easier. Do it once and you can do it all the time.

RITHOLTZ: A lot of demand, limited supply. I couldn’t help but see a Bloomberg headline last week, Rolex and Patek investment beats S&P 500 gains over the past five years.

In other words, if you went out and bought a bunch of Rolex and a couple of Pateks, you outperformed the market. Is this what’s driving the speculation in the watch industry?

FOWLER: I think it’s part of it. And again, I think to really trace the history of what got us here, you’d have to go back to, again, if I may say, sites like Hodinkee that really helped to kind of encourage more curiosity about this industry, build a community of people, more and more of whom are interested in this product category.

I think you can’t ignore the impact of the Apple Watch, if I may say.

RITHOLTZ: Why is that?

FOWLER: Well, this was meant to have been the nail in the coffin of the mechanical watch.

RITHOLTZ: Let’s back that up a little bit, because I like where you’re going with this. Quartz crisis, you get all these cheap Japanese quartz watches, easy to maintain battery precise to seconds a year, and why do I need a complex, expensive mechanical watch when I get a cheapo quartz?

FOWLER: We’ve seen this story before. This was meant to have been the end of the Swiss in the mechanical watch industry in particular. Obviously, there were some incredibly talented, committed executives at that time, many of whom are lauded today for being here.

RITHOLTZ: Any one in particular you want to mention?

FOWLER: I think the one who probably gets and maybe deserves the most credit is probably Jean-Claude Biver. And Nick Hayek. Nick Hayek, as well.

RITHOLTZ: The designer of the Audemars Piguet Oak and the Patek Philippe Nautilus.

FOWLER: Genta.

RITHOLTZ: Genta has to get a lot of credit for saving the watch industry, right? Yes. Where do you put these three guys in –

CLYMER: If I could hop in.

RITHOLTZ: Yes, please.

CLYMER: Slightly different. Genta was early 1970s, and he was just a designer. So it’s like saying, hey, design me a coffee cup. Here’s your coffee cup. That’s it. We’re done now. What AP and Patek and others did with Genta’s design is really what allowed them to continue to grow. But I think what Jeff is referring to is really a decade later, when quartz really kind of came in. And to be clear, quartz won. If you look at how many watches –

RITHOLTZ: Right. 90 percent of watches out there are quartz. Absolutely.

CLYMER: Probably 99 percent. So just to be clear, quartz won. Yep. That doesn’t mean that the Swiss didn’t have its own little pocket of influence and pocket of growth potential. But as Jeff is saying, Jean-Claude Biver, who revived Blancpain and then Omega in the 90s, he was the first one to sign James Bond and Sidney Crawford to Omega. Huge deal. Mr. Hayek, who designed the Swatch, right? I mean, that is a Swiss-made watch for back then was probably what? 25 bucks?

FOWLER: Probably, yes, 30 bucks.

RITHOLTZ: And that’s giant, right? That’s giant. People collected them like beanie babies.

CLYMER: A Swatch in the 80s was as bigger than anything today. I mean, just cannot be kind of surmised or can really understood today here. A Swatch in the 80s was everything. It saved the industry.

RITHOLTZ: Because they turned watches into fashion as opposed to timepieces.

CLYMER: Exactly that.

FOWLER: They still have a few tricks up their sleeve, right?

RITHOLTZ: Well, we just saw what they did with Omega and the Moonwatch.

FOWLER: Exactly. They had people lining up around the block to get a watch release.

CLYMER: We’ve done five collaborations with Swatch. I mean, Hodinkee, we’ve collaborated with Hermes, with Leica, with Omega, I mean, really high-end brands and we did with Swatch. And the guys that are buying our $60,000 Vacheron or whatever are also buying our Swatches.


CLYMER: Absolutely.

RITHOLTZ: So I totally get the appeal of a Seiko for $300, $400, $500, $600. You get a really well-made watch that looks pretty good, tells pretty good time. And if one of your nephews says something, oh, you like it? Here. It’s not, it’s, I don’t know if I would do that with this, but I certainly would do that with anything from Seiko, even some of the nicer divers that are $800, $900.

CLYMER: Seiko makes great stuff, yes.

RITHOLTZ: But Swatch always, maybe it’s my age. Swatch always struck me as kind of like a fun, fashion-y, not-a-serious-time people.

CLYMER: Well, I mean, look, first of all, Swatch owns Blancpain, Breguet, Omega, you know that.

RITHOLTZ: Oh, the company. I’m talking about the Swatch watch. The company is massive.

FOWLER: Yes. So, I would argue, though, that does it need to be something complicated and something serious? Because for some people, that gets in the way of just the enjoyment of wearing the watch. I think, you know, for …

RITHOLTZ: I’m aware when I wear a very nice watch, I’m aware, oh, gee, am I going to get on the subway with this?

FOWLER: Very true. Very true.

RITHOLTZ: We’ll talk about what AP is doing to–

FOWLER: Yes, with a Swatch, he probably wouldn’t have that concern, for sure.

RITHOLTZ: They don’t care.

FOWLER: And I think, you know, we talked about Gerald Genta, I mean, his impact was surely from the design angle. I mean, Swatch, one thing they’ve done incredibly well is just design great-looking watches, and design watches for different people with different appeals. I was in Paris recently. They did a really cool collaboration with Cafe de Flore. We’ve talked about the Moon Swatch. I mean, ours are beautiful watches, you know, the ones that we’ve collaborated with Swatch and so design is something Swatch is known for, and for some people it’s fashion, you know, it’s something that they put on their purchase.

RITHOLTZ: So let’s talk about the Apple Watch. When the Apple Watch comes out and it starts just selling crazy numbers, what was going on in Geneva? What were people thinking?

CLYMER: They were terrified. Really? Like, here we go again. Oh, my God. I mean, it was the end of times. And in full transparency, I was a consultant on the Apple Watch, like, I helped them, and Jony Ive was on our second cover of our magazine. I mean, we know those guys super well. And so, you know, I’m a lover of Apple, like, I was just a design guy, the guy who’s spending money on business cards when he had no money, like, you know, what Apple does is just remarkable. So it was an honor to work on that project.

And so I was actually the only person from the watch industry to attend the launch of the original Apple Watch.

RITHOLTZ: No kidding.

CLYMER: And that story that I wrote, which was totally unbiased, even though I helped kind of work on it, it was like what they were doing with the Apple Watch in terms of materials and in terms of the way that the bracelet snapped on and off, I mean, like, it was miles ahead of Switzerland. Miles. And these things were $400. And that really, really terrified the Swiss. And the Swiss are, they can be persnickety for sure, and they really thought that anybody that was supporting the Apple Watch was an enemy, including us for a time.

RITHOLTZ: No kidding.

CLYMER: Truly. And we still, to this day, sell Apple Watch and we’re proud to sell it, but it really got people to think about the wrist as real estate again, which they had not been thinking about in a decade.

RITHOLTZ: That’s interesting. The wrist as real estate.

That’s really interesting. So I noticed you’re not wearing an Apple Watch.

FOWLER: Not today.

RITHOLTZ: And you’re not wearing an Apple Watch.

CLYMER: I was this weekend.

RITHOLTZ: I consider it a great privilege to not be notified about anything. Like to me, to me, an Apple Watch, an Apple Watch is, wait, I’m tied into, I’m getting Slack notifications, I’m getting Twitter notifications, I’m getting email and text, leave me alone.

CLYMER: Yes, yes, yes. Yes, I get it.

RITHOLTZ: And it’s kind of — and I know a lot of people that, you know, if they lost their Rolex, they’d be upset, but they couldn’t go a day without their Apple Watch.

CLYMER: The Apple Watch, you can make whatever you want it to be. So I wear it solely when I go to the gym and when I play golf, that’s it. That’s the only time that I wear it. Historically, I used to, a few versions ago, I had one that was cell-connected, and I would leave my phone at home when I would go driving, and I might need it in a vintage car to kind of escape. But so I use it for two things, working out, and really working out, and that’s it. But I do not have notifications of emails, texts, et cetera. It’s really for me giving input to it, how many steps did I take, what kind of calories have I burned, et cetera.

RITHOLTZ: And you don’t want to wear a nice watch when you’re golfing anyway, because the little pistons that hold the face in place will snap if you’re wearing a watch. And swinging a golf for a ..

FOWLER: It could you could always buy a Richard Mille.

CLYMER: Yes, that’s probably the most responsible thing to do.

FOWLER: Exactly.

RITHOLTZ: Most financially responsible thing.

FOWLER: You get the one that Rafael Nadal wears when he plays tennis.

RITHOLTZ: But it’s on his other hand, isn’t it? It’s not on his…

CLYMER: But Bubba Watson has his own Richard Mille, and he wears it every time he plays.

RITHOLTZ: No kidding.

FOWLER: It’s pink, right?

CLYMER: It’s pink now, it was originally white, but yes, funny.

RITHOLTZ: And $300,000, a million?

CLYMER: His, when it launched, it was around $650,000, I would guess now probably around a million.

RITHOLTZ: So forget strapping a BMW to your wrist. That’s a very nice three-bedroom condo.

FOWLER: Oh yes.


RITHOLTZ: Two-bedroom condo with a —

CLYMER: That’s a garage full of BMWs.

RITHOLTZ: Yes, exactly. And you know, not everybody is going to be comfortable. Or even the people who can afford it, a lot of people look at watchanistas, for lack of a better word, and like, you guys are crazy.

CLYMER: And I think to some degree, everyone that’s passionate about anything is a little bit crazy.


CLYMER: But I think also, if you look at — I mean, the other thing that I’m interested in, like you, is cars. And so if you look at the running costs of a great car, let’s say you buy a car and a watch, both $50,000, right? Own them both for 10 years, get the enjoyment from both for 10 years, the watch, basically, if you want to have insurance, you can. You don’t have to have it. Storage is nothing. Put it in a drawer, a safety deposit box, cars, insurance, maintenance, parking. Cars are so much more expensive to maintain as a collectible asset, it’s remarkable. And I do both, so I know.

But watches, they can do so much more than cars. A, you’re wearing them right now, so am I, so is Jeff. And these are things that like — these are real, almost talismans for people’s lives. And so when my daughter was born in December of 2021, I gave my mother, my mother-in-law, and my wife a watch each to celebrate the birth of her. And those watches are hers. And until the day that she dies, hopefully long, far away, those watches are hers. And she’ll remember that these were given the day that she was born.

RITHOLTZ: A milestone sort of present.

CLYMER: And I think the Omega that my grandfather gave me, that watch changed my life. I can wear it every day. When my daughter was born, I was wearing that watch. And when I asked my wife to marry me, I was wearing that watch.

RITHOLTZ: What’d you get married in?

CLYMER: A Patek, a Patek 5270.

RITHOLTZ: All right, because you weren’t fooling around. This was a serious —

CLYMER: Yes, we were not messing around. We were in Rome, and yes, it was a good one, for sure.

RITHOLTZ: When you travel, do you travel with multiple watches? Either of you?

FOWLER: Yes, it depends on where I’m traveling to. Recently we were in Geneva for Watches and Wonders, the big international trade show of watches. I think I had nine watches for that event.

RITHOLTZ: Really? So a different watch twice a day?

FOWLER: Yes, multiple watches in the same day. Sometimes you’re meeting with a brand partner you want to represent. Sometimes I’ll bring one watch, or two watches, usually as a minimum. If I’m going on a golf trip, I’ll bring a watch I wear golfing, I’ll bring another watch that’s sort of like a daily wear. Usually something that can kind of go with different types of looks and outfits and activities.

And just for the record, Ben mentioned you don’t have to insure a watch. You should insure your watch, especially if you’re traveling with it, especially if you value it. And side note, we offer insurance at Hodinkee.

RITHOLTZ: And we’re going to talk a little bit about that, but since you brought it up, someone asked me this question the other day, and I said, I don’t know the answer, but I know the guys that do. You have a rider on your home insurance with a number of watches listed. You travel with that watch, is that covered under your homeowner’s insurance, or do you need to have a separate policy on that watch?

FOWLER: There are lots of questions like that that you could ask when discussing how a homeowner’s insurance policy could cover the value of a lost or stolen or damaged watch. I would just say, ignore all those questions, because to be honest, the best way to insure your watch is not to attach it or assign it to your homeowner’s policy.

RITHOLTZ: Put a dedicated —

FOWLER: We’ve had stories from people who had to make a claim on a damaged or lost watch. While it was a part of their homeowner’s insurance, then their homeowner’s insurance got canceled, and they couldn’t get homeowner’s insurance again. It’s just not a situation you want to find yourself in.

RITHOLTZ: I totaled a car at five miles an hour, I got T-boned, and I had that exact same thing happen. The homeowner’s and the umbrella was canceled, and yet I scrambled to replace it, because it’s easy enough to get homeowners. An umbrella is a little more complicated.

CLYMER: In 2021, we actually launched our own insurance program that myself and a few other guys —

RITHOLTZ: With Chubb.

CLYMER: So, Chubb is the underwriter, but we conceived this product ourselves. This is a totally unique product designed for watch collectors, so it has nothing to do with homeowners, nothing to do with anything else. And you can dynamically, and really retroactively, assign and unassign insurance attachments to any watch.

So, you’re out of the house right now. You could insure that watch when you go home tonight and put it in your safe. Turn it off. Do it all on your phone. So, it’s all in the Hodinkee app. It’s underwritten by Chubb, so best in class. It’s really an amazing thing that truly, I can say, you can critique Hodinkee for anything you want, but our insurance product is better than anybody else’s by far.

RITHOLTZ: I’m going to take a look at that. That’s really interesting.

FOWLER: Yes, it’s one of the little buttons right at the bottom. It’s just going to be easier.

RITHOLTZ: And, by the way, you guys did a very nice job on the app.

CLYMER: Thank you.

RITHOLTZ: I’m still waiting for Bring a Trailer to roll out an app, and I don’t understand. They did a billion dollars in sales, sold their hundred thousandth car.

CLYMER: It’s amazing business.

RITHOLTZ:” They definitely need to — but this is something — you guys were internet — although, so were they.


RITHOLTZ: Didn’t they start out as —

CLYMER: Yes. So, I’ve known Randy, who started Bring a Trailer, for 10 plus years. We used to do a column called Bring a Loop that was very much inspired by Bring a Trailer. Know those guys super well. I mean, they’ve done amazing things. They actually sold to Hearst in the middle of COVID, and good on them. They’ve got a great thing going. I mean they really, you know, we admire a lot about what they do. I know that they admire a lot about what we do, but they’ve been able to really own the collectible car category in an amazing way.

RITHOLTZ: You guys talk about what you were doing during the pandemic. I know a lot of people were streaming Netflix. Bring a Trailer and Hodinkee is what get me occupied.

CLYMER: Me too.

FOWLER: A lot of people. That’s the case, yes.

RITHOLTZ: Yes. And, to the detriment of my banking account, but to the betterment of my wrist and garage.


RITHOLTZ: So it was — and, I mean, I was into this sort of stuff long before.


RITHOLTZ: But it’s just amazing how, gee, I’m not commuting. I’m getting so much work done from home in my pajamas, unshowered. We had a rule in our house. You had to shower once a week, whether you needed to or not. I mean, it was just, you know, and occasionally get out of your pajamas. But it was just really easy to say, I’m done with everything. Now let me Wordle, and then Hodinkee, and then Bring a Trailer. It kept everybody entertained.

All right, so let’s talk a little bit more about retailing. You launched the shop in 2012. You’re now doing $100 million plus in revenue.

CLYMER: Yes, yes.

RITHOLTZ: Congrats. That’s a real number.

CLYMER: It is. Thank you.

RITHOLTZ: But you guys are also expanding that. You bought Crown & Caliber. Tell us a little bit about the thinking behind the purchase.

FOWLER: Yes. So 2012, the first Shopify site was set up to sell some straps and related accessories at the time. I think Ben and the team would pop up at occasional men’s wear, flea markets, things like that. We’re always sort of like scrappy and trying to connect lovers of watches with products that they love.

Limited editions, as Ben mentioned, was a big push towards the commercial side. That was around 2015. The first watches, the first one was a Max Busser watch, MB&F, so a beautiful limited-edition collection. And then it wasn’t until 2017, and I say 2017, I emphasize that, because that’s not that long ago, that Hodinkee was the first online-only authorized retailer of watches.

RITHOLTZ: Five years.

FOWLER: Yes, that reticence to kind of move online and really see online as a channel, as a commercial channel, I mean, that sort of veil wasn’t pierced until 2017. Hodinkee was really the trailblazer, launched with eight brands as authorized retail partners, and now we’re up to about 40 brands. So in the last –

RITHOLTZ: It’s a nice list of brands, by the way.

FOWLER: It’s a great list of brands. I mean, for some of them, we’re their only online-authorized partners, so Hermes, Apple, Omega. For those three brands, the only other retailer besides themselves who sells their watches as an online-only channel is Hodinkee. But then you can —

RITHOLTZ: Omega is probably second to Rolex.

FOWLER: Second to Rolex. Yes, correct.

CLYMER: Oh, yes.

RITHOLTZ: They are a substantial watch seller with hundreds of models, it seems, right?

CLYMER: Oh, yes. Look, they sponsor the Olympics. They sponsor James Bond. I mean, this is a global, global brand. Yep.

FOWLER: But at that point in time, Hodinkee is still new watches, limited edition projects, which you’re not doing them every week or sometimes not even every month. We do about a dozen a year. And then vintage watches, which there’s always a market for collectors who want a vintage watch, or really a one-of-one.

RITHOLTZ: Define vintage.

FOWLER: Typically defined as a watch that’s before 1990s.

RITHOLTZ: Okay. When did the modern used watches start showing up on Hodinkee? When did you decide to do that?

CLYMER: Modern used?

FOWLER: Yes. So that would be the pre-owned category. It’s pre-owned, distinct from vintage and that. They’re both pre-owned technically, but vintage would be 1990s and before.

RITHOLTZ: Right, same with pre-owned, right?

FOWLER: Yes. Pre-owned would be, again, a modern.

RITHOLTZ: And that would be 80.

FOWLER: It could actually be a watch that someone else has just purchased and is flipping. They’ve never worn it. It’s in its original box with original papers. That was with the purchase of Crown & Caliber, which was the business that we acquired that you mentioned. That was in February 2021. And I think, looking back as an outsider, I was not involved with the business at that time. An incredibly shrewd decision. It was basically online at this point.

You still have very, very few brands that have meaningfully moved their new watch sales online. Some, not at all. So Rolex doesn’t sell online, AP doesn’t sell online, Patek doesn’t sell online. Even authorized dealers of those watches are not allowed to sell the watches online. You can see the reference information, and then it will say, visit a retailer, and then you can go and find a local retailer.

The only way you can buy those watches online is to buy them pre-owned. And pre-owned, which, as Ben mentioned earlier, used to be quite a Wild West, sort of shady business online. Certainly not something that you would kind of — you wouldn’t use catch words like trust or authority or authenticity. It was really kind of buyer beware situations.


FOWLER: The online channel really had a lot of opportunity to be cleaned up. And I would say that Crown & Caliber, a business that’s been around now for a decade or so, is one of those businesses that was doing a very good job of playing the game in a clean way.

They were buying the watches that they were selling, taking ownership of those watches, which I think says a lot, because it means that they were willing to vouch for those watches in terms of their authenticity, the quality. They had invested in a true watch shop in Atlanta, Georgia, where the business was founded and is based. So you have watchmakers who have graduated from the likes of the Rolex School of Watchmaking, the Richemont Technical Center in Dallas, Texas. So you have real, real trained, skilled artisans that are able to repair and service watches, to make sure that when those watches are being sold to the next owner, that they’re in as good a condition as when they were originally sold.

That — basically, the acquisition by Hodinkee allowed Hodinkee to kind of fast-forward its way into being a player in the pre-owned space, which is a larger market than the new watch market online. About 30% of pre-owned watches are sold online, versus only about 5% of new watches that are sold online.

RITHOLTZ: 30%. That’s an amazing statistic. I never would have guessed it was that large.

You mention authenticity. There are lots of replicas out there. What do you guys make of the super replicas that, without a loop, certainly from a wrist distance, it’s hard to tell? Like in the old days, you would see a fake Rolex Chinatown, 25 bucks.

CLYMER: With a ticking second hand.

RITHOLTZ: Right, right. Exactly, yes. No sweep, and it would jingle.

CLYMER: Exactly.

RITHOLTZ: It was the best 25 bucks you could spend in the world of watches, and kept pretty good time. Today, they’re pretty impressive.

CLYMER: Yes, and they’re pretty sophisticated counterfeit pieces out there.

RITHOLTZ: Out of China, mostly, right?

CLYMER: Some that go so far as to include all manufactured original parts on the outside of the watch, and it’s only when you get inside it into the movement that you understand that the movement has some parts, or the original movement has been swapped out.

RITHOLTZ: So, you’re telling me Rolex doesn’t come with a $12 Chinese-made — they don’t do that?

FOWLER: No, no, that’s not the case.

RITHOLTZ: By the way, the new transparent case back on the Daytona, is this something that we’re going to start to see more of as an anti-counterfeit, or that just happens to be a pretty titanium watch?

CLYMER: My guess — look, I don’t know at all, to be clear, and I really mean that. I don’t think that has anything to do with anti-counterfeit. I think it’s more celebratory, and they want to show off the new movement, et cetera. But to be clear, it’s only in the platinum Daytona, not even in the steel.

RITHOLTZ: Which is unfortunate. One of the nice things about Lange is every one of their watches has a display case back, which is quite –

CLYMER: Rolex is really one of the — I mean, look, not every Omega, but 99 percent of the Omegas have that sapphire case back.

RITHOLTZ: A lot of the Omegas do, sure.

CLYMER: So does Grand Seiko’s. I mean, it is uncommon for a high-end watchman to not show off their watch.

RITHOLTZ: Today, but that wasn’t always the case 20 years ago, right? So how big of an issue are these super-counterfeits?

FOWLER: For us, they’re not a major issue, and that’s, again, down to the fact that we have an investment in people that are able to sort of suss them out, and that’s even before we get them in our possession. We have pretty good track record —

RITHOLTZ: You can eyeball something on just a photo.

Some of them were — I mean, even StockX selling sneakers has a counterfeit division, because they were getting so many fake Nikes coming in. Right.

CLYMER: We have a staff of authenticators. Truly. And the benefit of us being us is we have direct relationships with brands, and we can say, hey, Breitling, Grand Seiko, whoever. Was this watch born with a black dial or a blue dial?

RITHOLTZ: You can track the serial number to —

CLYMER: Directly, yes. And not many people on the pre-owned side can do that. And as Jeff said, I think much credit to Hamilton Powell, who’s the founder of Crown & Caliber, the business that we now own. He really wanted to do stuff that is –buying a watch is one thing, but selling a watch is actually brutal. And if you’ve ever tried to sell a watch, which doesn’t really sound like you have, it’s awful. And so if you wanted to do it, you either go to Chrono24, and it may never sell. You go to auction; they’re going to take 20 percent. With Crown & Caliber and now Hodinkee, we’re going to tell you what we’re going to pay then and there. You’re going to send in the watch. We’re going to send you a check. That’s it. You’re done.

RITHOLTZ: So I’ll tell you, that sounds like a lot of fun. So you take them on consignment?

CLYMER: No, no, no. We own this.

RITHOLTZ: You buy them.

FOWLER: Correct.

CLYMER: We’re cutting the check, yes.

RITHOLTZ: No kidding. So —

CLYMER: One of the few.

RITHOLTZ: I didn’t realize that. That’s a big difference.

FOWLER: Instant quoting about 80 percent of the watches as well. So again, you go on to, You type in the reference number or some information, Rolex, Batman, et cetera, ask a couple clarifying questions, you get a quote right then and there. And if you like that quote, you send the watch in, we authenticate, inspect it, make sure that it is as it was described, send you a check.

CLYMER: You’ll have a check right away.

RITHOLTZ: So my brother has a Vacheron — I forgot the model. It’s one of their more globetrot or something popular —

FOWLER: Overseas.

RITHOLTZ: Overseas.

CLYMER: Yes, overseas.

RITHOLTZ: But they came out with a black dial and he has a blue dial and I’ve never seen a blue dial anywhere else.

CLYMER: That’s a classic Vacheron color. Yes, blue dials gorgeous.

RITHOLTZ: And very deep. I literally have never seen that anywhere else in blue.

CLYMER: Yes, they’re beautiful.

RITHOLTZ: I’m going to send him over to you guys because he wants to sell it. And I had no idea you guys would cut a check like that.

CLYMER: Indeed, yes.

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RITHOLTZ: So we’re talking about online retailing, but I’m going to throw one of your quotes back at you, which is physical retail will always have a home in luxury end watches.

CLYMER: Of course. I think in everything.

RITHOLTZ: In everything.


RITHOLTZ: So sometimes, like one of the things I like about the Yacht-Master is it has a heft. You feel it.


RITHOLTZ: When I — Baltic makes some nice watches, you put them on your wrist, you’re unaware you’re wearing them. Even this has a little bit of a heft, which is mostly the pink gold, but how easily can you buy a watch that you’ve never had on before?

CLYMER: Pretty easily. We do about $100 million a year worth of it.

FOWLER: Yes, exactly.

RITHOLTZ: Okay, so let me rephrase that. How comfortable can — so if you know what you want, right? So the Moser, Tourbillon and Vantablack, kind of an interesting watch. I’ve had it on in the ice blue and the dark blue.


RITHOLTZ: I’m not sure which way I would pull the trigger in that, but I’ve worn it and I’m like, okay, I’m comfortable with this watch. But if I’ve never tried a watch on before, the new ice blue Daytona with the brown bezel, if you’re going to drop, again, an S-Class on your wrist, can you do that online or do you want to go in and experience it first?

CLYMER: Well, everyone’s different, for sure. To be clear, Rolex doesn’t sell online anywhere with anybody, not with us, not even themselves. So no Rolex new can you buy online, just to be clear.


CLYMER: But let’s use a brand that we sell, because this happens every day. A brand-new Omega Speedmaster, which is about a $7,000 watch, sapphire case back, great, manually wound, iconic thing. We sell those all day long, and if people don’t like it, they can return it, right? And so …

RITHOLTZ: 30 days? How long do you give them to?

FOWLER: Yes, it’s 14 days.

RITHOLTZ: 14, two weeks?

CLYMER: Unworn.

RITHOLTZ: Plenty of time. Unworn, right.

CLYMER: I mean, we can’t have them wearing it around.

RITHOLTZ: You try it on, if it’s not for you, you send it back.

CLYMER: Look, I think what we did with the Hodinkee shop in 2017, we took — look, the brands that I hold in high regard are no surprises, and they’re not unique to me. It’s Apple, it’s Nike. I mean, I wear Air Maxes almost every day. If I like the Air Maxes I get, those are good ones, if I like the Air Maxes that come in the mail to me, I keep them. If I don’t, I send them back. I get a refund in three days or five days, and that’s fine. And so taking these very normal 21st century e-commerce practices and applying them to watches is not that crazy, but we were the first, and still we remain one of the few who does it, Farfetch does it, Mr. Porter does it, great e-tailers like that.

RITHOLTZ: You’re out of Farfetch, how did that experience translate to Hodinkee?

FOWLER: Yes, it’s interesting, because I talked earlier about when I first encountered Hodinkee, and sometimes if you go away from a thing and you don’t go back to it for a while, and that was the case for me. I was really busy with my career. My wife and I were having three boys in three years, so we were pretty busy.

I hadn’t paid super close attention to everything that was going on in the world of Hodinkee until I was contacted by a recruiter, until I got a chance to meet Ben, and I just couldn’t believe how much had evolved at the business, because in my mind it was still the preeminent watch blog, but I had no idea.

RITHOLTZ: But watch blog, not retail.

FOWLER: Exactly. All the retail, the way that the business had evolved was enormous to me. The fact that it had launched its own insurance product, I mean, it was incredible. Sort of I think what I saw was, I had just spent almost six years at Farfetch, starting when the primary business of Farfetch was then and remains a marketplace, but so much had evolved at Farfetch as well. I mean we had launched a platform services business, which was taking all of the core technology and making it available for other retailers like Harrods and the likes. We had acquired a few businesses. I was involved in the acquisition of Stadium Goods, a pre-owned sneaker marketplace. So just seeing how that business had grown and evolved, and I had grown up in my career with it, I saw a lot of similarities with Hodinkee, if I’m honest, a foundation of things that were there that one of our investors likes to say, are they close to maturity, or are they 10%?

And I’d say, lovingly, they’re closer to 10 percent, meaning there’s so much upside, there’s so much still growth and evolution in front of us, and different ways that we can push this business forward and just being able to work alongside Ben as a founder, as somebody who’s, I think, truly one of the most influential people in this industry, just was an opportunity I would have never forgiven myself if I didn’t go for it.

Someone once told me that’s the sign of an entrepreneur. I’ve never been an entrepreneur or started my own business, but I had that feeling. I had that feeling that–

RITHOLTZ: But you’ve worked at companies that are, I don’t want to call them startups, but there’s a difference between joining Amazon and eBay today, and joining eBay when it’s two years old, and people are like, hey, we don’t know if this is going to —

FOWLER: Yes, I think I’m probably the guy right behind the guy with the machete blazing a trail to the jungle. I’m with him, but he’s the one who’s been there and taken that initial leap of faith. I mean it’s one thing that I think you always just have to never take for granted in a business like Hodinkee, and I think Ben did a good job of this very recently for an internal meeting was just reminding people that this thing wasn’t always a given.

He went back to his original email inbox from 2008 to the first emails he sent from his inbox, and they weren’t to colleagues, they were to his family members. They were like, can you guys believe I’m getting paid to do this?

CLYMER: $75 a month, truly. Jeff was referring to a post that I was writing about watches. I was being paid $75 a post. Truly.

FOWLER: Then the first advertising contract was just 12 months run of sight for a price that today might get you a day of run of sight.

CLYMER: It was $1200 for the year.

FOWLER: Those things now, that’s 15 years ago, and again, remember that the first decade of those 15 years largely was spent just developing the most important editorial presence for the world of watches.

I still think it is a startup, but it’s a startup where there’s a trail that’s been blazed. My role, the way I see it, is really just to increase the speed and certainty of execution and really help it scale and build and help us realize what we think is our fullest potential as a business.

RITHOLTZ: So let’s stay with retail. I was going to ask you who your competitors are, but really, in terms of new, nobody else is really selling very much online. A handful of micro-brands, but none of the bigs are selling online.

FOWLER: Not to the level we are.

CLYMER: I mean, it’s funny you say competitors. These are all our friends. We get coffees with them all the time. We get watches from Switzerland, Tourneau, Bucherer. These are great, world-class retailers. They do stuff that we can never do, and I think we do stuff that they can never do.

But there’s nobody that competes with us directly in everything we do, and I think that’s what makes us so special, frankly. This is a truly unique business, a piece unique, if you will. So many times over the years, people said, “Oh, well, is Hodinkee the Warby Parker of watches?” Which it’s not. “Is it the Glossier of watches?” It’s none of that. It’s something else entirely.

And I think what the ambition is here is to become really the global leader of watches, content, and commerce. Really be Watches 360. We want to insure your watches. We want to help you buy and sell them. We want to sell you straps. We want everything to exist in watches on Hodinkee, and we’re getting there. I think that’s what’s so exciting about it. I think to Jeff’s point, I view really all brands as one of two things. You’re either a challenger or you’re an incumbent.

I think like a Tourneau, which is an amazing business and one I’ve got a lot of love for, they’re an incumbent business. They’ve been around forever. They’re now owned by Bucherer. We to some people are probably an incumbent, but we’re not. As Jeff said, I came from nothing. This business came from nothing, and the way that we view everything we do is from the mind of a challenger. We want to continue to push, continue to change things.

RITHOLTZ: Keep in mind, the internet runs in dog years, so you’re an incumbent on the internet, but when you look at some of the watch brands that have been around since the 17th century, 18th century —

FOWLER: Vacheron 1755.

CLYMER: Older than the country.

RITHOLTZ: That’s insane, right? It’s just absolutely — so 2008, 2009, young business. On the internet, sort of middle aged.

CLYMER: Yes. And I want to be clear, like so the business was a media platform with a little bit of e-commerce that was basically three people until 2015. Then we raised our first venture capital. We were probably 10, 20 people. Now we’re 130, 140, so it’s bigger now.

RITHOLTZ: That’s a real business. It’s a real business.

CLYMER: But we’re still not Tourneau. We’re still not Bloomberg. We’re still not something like that that is ubiquitous in a great way and really has the certainty of its future. We want to continue to push and challenge what the luxury watch industry and what all industries think of when they think of retailers.

We are a retailer. We are a media platform. We’re a community platform. We host events. We’re an insurance product. We are a strap. We’re a brand. We make things that say Hodinkee on them. We are all these things, and that’s exciting to me.

RITHOLTZ: A couple more questions about retail before we move on. Got to ask about Rolex getting into the certified pre-owned business. What’s that about? Where do you think that goes?

FOWLER: I sort of use the analogy of the world of automotive. We talked about cars earlier. For me, it would be almost impossible to think of a world where BMW or Mercedes didn’t offer a certified pre-owned program under their own brand, under their own market.

RITHOLTZ: But let’s take that apart a second. You go and buy a – you want to buy a used car, but you like the advantage of having the manufacturer tell you the car’s in good shape, and they’re going to warranty it for another three years and 50,000 miles, so you’re going to pay a little bit of a premium to pick up, especially if you’re looking at an expensive car or complicated, any of the more sophisticated vehicles out there. It’s nice to have that backdrop.

When you’re going out and buying a GMT from Rolex, what does CPO do for you other than tell you, have Rolex tell you, we looked at this watch, we cleaned it up, here you go?

FOWLER: I think for some people, that’s worth the premium. At the moment, at least based on the evidence that we can observe, where Rolex-certified pre-owned programs have already started to roll out is they are pricing it at a premium. The only way that —

RITHOLTZ: Premium to retail or premium to used?

FOWLER: A premium to used.


FOWLER: A premium to the kind of market price of pre-owned. So a Submariner, which we were talking about earlier, $10,00 – $12,000 watch at retail, usually selling for the upper teens, maybe $20,000 in the pre-owned market, the Rolex certified pre-owned prices are going to be even higher than that, maybe in the mid to upper 20s. And so for a certain buyer, that maybe is peace of mind, maybe it’s the kind of knowledge of having bought it from a Rolex authorized dealer, certified by Rolex, making sure that it’s only ever been serviced by Rolex.

But again, I think where the comparison still holds to a certified pre-owned program is there’s a finite number of places that sell certified pre-owned, and those are the brands themselves, or the authorized dealers of the brands. There’s tons of places that sell pre-owned cars, and there are lots of places that sell pre-owned watches.

I think consumers have choices to go to a trusted player in a pre-owned space, or maybe go buy it off of eBay from the original owner, take your chances, maybe get a lemon, maybe get something. And in our case, I think as trusted as it gets, trust is unimpeachable, never sold a non-authentic piece, never sold a piece that we couldn’t stand behind and vouch for in a pre-owned capacity. And to the points that we were discussing earlier, the ease of selling with us is unparalleled. I think the ability to sell and transact your sale of a watch over the internet, get an instant quote, get an instant price.

The way the certified pre-owned program is working at the moment is you have to physically take your watch into an authorized dealer that is offering the Rolex CPO program. They’ll inspect your watch, they’ll offer you something in exchange for your watch. And then I think, and this is just my own personal views, then they have the challenge of showing the original piece side by side with the pre-owned piece, and there’s something a little off there, right? If you’re selling an original Submariner for that $10,000, $12,000 retail price, and then the pre-owned piece right next to it for $27,000, $28,000, explaining that is a challenge.

My point being that their entry into this market, if anything, just serves as an endorsement of the pre-owned market. I think it’s the biggest brand in the world. Whatever they do matters a hell of a lot in this space. And I think we look at that as a good thing. It’s kind of a blessing, if you will, for the pre-owned space and for the importance of the pre-owned space in the kind of constellation of how people consume and transact with watches.

RITHOLTZ: Let’s do a compare and contrast. I’m going to mangle his name, the CEO of Patek.

FOWLER: Thierry Stern.

RITHOLTZ: He goes out and buys modern era Pateks on the used market to figure out who’s flipping them and to call a dealer to account, hey, why are you selling our rare watches to somebody who’s just flipping them on the secondary market? Can we assume we’ll never see a CPO program from Patek?

CLYMER: Actually, I think you guys actually reported that pretty recently, that Thierry said that–

RITHOLTZ: That was an interview that one of the Bloomberg reporters who were at watches on …

CLYMER: Exactly, right.

So, as of today, it seems like they will not get into CPO. And that is not surprising to me, really.

RITHOLTZ: Smaller volume, it makes much more sense.

CLYMER: Exactly. The ticket price is so much higher. With Rolex in particular, I think it’s important to know–

RITHOLTZ: You could get into a Calatrava relatively modestly.

CLYMER: If you can get it, 25, probably.


RITHOLTZ: Oh, really?

FOWLER: If you can get it, yes.

RITHOLTZ: That’s much more than they were just a few years ago.

FOWLER: And again, you can’t find them at retail, there’s more demand than supply.

CLYMER: But yes, Rolex is a different thing. And I want to be totally concise here, so when we say Rolex CPO, the dealers are mostly going to be doing this stuff, and the dealers set the prices. It’s not like Rolex set the prices.

RITHOLTZ: So what’s in it for Rolex versus — you know what’s in it for the dealers, because there’s only so much supply. I went to an event out at the Manhasset Americana, at the big watch place over there. I believe that’s correct. And they’re pushing everything except AP, Rolex, and Patek, because you want to get on their good side, buy some of these watches. I mean it’s — they don’t come out and say it, but it’s wink, wink, nudge, nudge. Hey, if you want a Batman, you need to buy one of these pistachio Breitling premieres, and then we could talk about a Batgirl on a Jubilee, if that’s what gets you excited.

How did we ever end up in this place?

CLYMER: Well, it’s the uniformity of taste at this point, and I’m going to blame it on Instagram, my friends at Instagram. It’s just so many people posting the same stuff over and over again. And five years ago, nobody talked about the Nautilus or the Aquanaut. I mean, they were good watches, and we all liked them, but it wasn’t a big deal at all, and people were buying what they liked. And then all of a sudden, people say, wait a minute, I can buy a Patek at 20 and sell it for 60, sell it for 160, which the Nautilus was trading at first, 5711A. And so that changed the dynamic completely.

It used to just be like, hey, I like this thing, I’m going to buy it, I may make money, I may not. Then it became, if you’re not making money, you’re a fool. And that’s how a lot of people in finance are looking at it.

RITHOLTZ: Is it just five years ago? Is it that recently?

CLYMER: I would say pre-COVID. Before COVID, it was not a concern. It really wasn’t.

Okay, Daytona, you knew you’d get that. An Aquanaut, I’m sorry, a Nautilus, maybe you’d get that. But it wasn’t that way. I mean, I bought my 5711R from Tiffany here in New York in 2013.

RITHOLTZ: In Tiffany blue?

CLYMER: No, no, no. This is a rose gold one. This is a normal one. Before the blue one. And it was sitting in the case, and that’s it. And now —

RITHOLTZ: Just there, I’ll take that.

CLYMER: And that watch, at its peak, was probably worth $400,000. You know, I probably bought it for —

RITHOLTZ: And what’d you pay?

CLYMER: 45, something like that.

RITHOLTZ: 10X is not a bad–

CLYMER: Yes, exactly. But that’s what changed everything.

RITHOLTZ: It’s a good thing you left UBS.

CLYMER: Yes, exactly.

RITHOLTZ: This is where — so, here’s the crazy thing. I have slowly warmed up to the Nautilus. It’s not my favorite watch. Some of the design, I don’t get.


RITHOLTZ: The Royal Oak, I know people who have eight of them.

CLYMER: I love them.

RITHOLTZ: I just can’t wrap my head around it. And I know, I understand the historical significance. What makes the Royal Oak and the Nautilus …

FOWLER: For you, is it an aesthetics thing? You put it on your wrist, and you just–

RITHOLTZ: So first of all, I’m 10 years older than both of you guys. So I remember the 70s as a horrific decade of polyester and disco. That’s the 70s to me. And the design ethos– By the way, I have a very contemporary house. I love mid-century modern. So if you go back to some of the designs of the — I was just in Scottsdale, Arizona, at the Valley Ho Hotel, that the Rat Pack should be walking. Just that sort of design ethos. It’s before I was born, but I’m like, I get it. But I remember the 70s as just a horrific era.

Maybe it’s the same thing as the Submariner I just associate it with. So I look at the Royal Oak, and I’m like, yes, it’s got that kind of — remember the giant Porsche Carrera glasses? They were horrific. And I know the historical significance. What makes the watch so special?

CLYMER: Well, first of all, it was my first high-end watch. I bought two Rolexes, and then after that, I saved up and I bought a vintage AP, an A-Series Royal Oak. This was probably 2010 or so.

RITHOLTZ: What year was the watch?

CLYMER: 1972. It was an A-Series. So the first one.

RITHOLTZ: So really early.

CLYMER: Oh yes, early one. Box, paper, the whole thing. First of all, AP was the first high-end manufacturer I ever visited. So that opened up my eyes to what watchmaking could be, if that makes any sense.

So to see how a Royal Oak is finished, polished, the case, other movements of some kind.

RITHOLTZ: Not a boutique. You went to the manufacturer.

CLYMER: To Switzerland and Leibniz.

RITHOLTZ: Oh, really? We should all get such a trip.

CLYMER: It was amazing. Honestly, you should definitely do that.

RITHOLTZ: I could imagine. I know guys that go to Modena and do the Ferrari tour, and they come back and they say, whatever I spent on the car wasn’t enough.

CLYMER: So precisely that.

RITHOLTZ: I know someone with a 550 just came back and bought a 430, because he could.

CLYMER: It’s that experience. You see what really goes into this stuff, and you fall in love. And then the Royal Oak in particular, the jumbos, the 39-millimeter watches, wear so —

RITHOLTZ: Jumbos, that’s hilarious.

CLYMER: That’s what they’re called, yes. They wear so amazingly on your wrist. And it is just, I think, the chicest, most elegant watch a man or woman can wear. I mean, I’ve loved them forever. I bought one as recently as a month ago, two months ago. It’s just an amazing thing. And then all of a sudden, they’re actually cool. And I think 10 years ago, they were not cool. And that was kind of fun.

But it’s a lot more fun when they are cool, and people know what they are, and people are excited to see a Royal Oak on your wrist. And then you’ve got our friend John Mayer, who’s very close with them, and Ed Sheeran and Kevin Hart, and all these cool, interesting people started to get hip to the Royal Oak thing. And now it’s fun. It’s part of a cultural phenomenon.

RITHOLTZ: Well, I love the idea that if you know, you know, meaning — so I could wear any of my eclectic watches or the Lange. Nobody says a word. But every now and then, someone at some event will come up and say, “Is that the Moon Face?” Yes.

CLYMER: If anybody knows what that Lange is, that’s a very good sign.

RITHOLTZ: Yes. Because then they’re like, oh, this guy is —

CLYMER: That’s the real stuff.

RITHOLTZ: This guy’s plugged into what’s going on in that space. And it’s not just a matter of you have money, you can go out and buy the most expensive car. It’s you’re picking something very, very specific.

Also one of the people here has this Nautilus, it’s sat on his wrist for 30 years. And it’s the blue leather band and the blue face. And it’s not the full chrono, but it has the offset second hand.

CLYMER: Annual calendar, yes.

RITHOLTZ: And I’ve kind of warmed up to it as every time I see it, I’m like, I just appreciate it a little more. And I didn’t feel that way when I first spotted it. It’s like, yes, a Nautilus.

CLYMER: The Nautilus and the — I’m sorry, I keep saying Aqueduct. Nautilus and Royal Oak, if I may say, I think they belong on bracelets. They were conceived on bracelets by Gerald Genta. So ones on strap I’ve often — I haven’t had a super strong affinity towards, but those on bracelets I think are just fantastic. They’re not a Rolex. You’re not taking them swimming, you’re not taking them diving, you can’t go chopping wood in them. Jeff and I both live on —

RITHOLTZ: Well, you shouldn’t chop wood in any —

CLYMER: You shouldn’t, but sometimes it happens.

RITHOLTZ: I learned the hard way. I can’t even throw a ball with this. That’s how I learned.

FOWLER: I would advocate for the Richard Mille if you’re chopping wood.

RITHOLTZ: Exactly.

CLYMER: Always the Richard Mille.

FOWLER: Just go back to the Richard Mille.

RITHOLTZ: Go straight up a half a million dollars when you’re acting. So as long as we’re talking about specific watches, what are some of your favorites and what are your grail watches that you haven’t gotten but you would love to have?

CLYMER: Yes, I mean my favorite watch is the Omega my grandfather gave me. No surprise there. That’s the one. As I said, I put it on —

RITHOLTZ: That clearly a family emotional connection there. And all these watches have an emotional component. Outside of something like that —

CLYMER: Yes, outside of something like that, look. The Moonwatch, the hand-wound Moonwatch for $7,000, you can buy it on Hodinkee all day and get it. It is the best watch in the world for that kind of price.

RITHOLTZ: The Speedmaster.

CLYMER: Speedmaster.

RITHOLTZ: So my Speedy, I just refuse to get the Hexalite because I know I — the beauty of Rolex, and I just had this after almost 20 years, 15 years, I just had this repolished because I destroyed this watch. It’s actually tight since they repolished it. But this is a Platinum Yachtmaster and I bought this in ‘08 from a mortgage broker that was just liquidating everything. So that’s my —

CLYMER: That’s an amazing story.

RITHOLTZ: As I’m writing Bailout Nation, I buy this watch from a mortgage broker. So that’s my emotional — but you could beat the crap out of these. The same thing with the Speedmaster but the Hexalite, I was terrified about. So I got this, I paid up for the Sapphire.

CLYMER: Got it. Sapphire, yes.

RITHOLTZ: Because when I smash it into something, I don’t have to worry about a dent, a dent, a scratch, whatever.

CLYMER: I get that.

RITHOLTZ: So that’s a great entry level sub $10,000 watch.

CLYMER: It’s both an entry level and exit level if that makes any sense. Some of the wealthiest guys I know that have owned every Patek, every Lange, whatever, they end up wearing a hand wound Moon Watch.


CLYMER: And I guarantee you when I retire from whatever this is, that’s the watch I will wear every day. Hand wound moon watch.

RITHOLTZ: So when I wear — so my two sub $10,000 watches that I wear pretty regularly, one is the Monaco with the gray face from TAG. The other is the Speedmaster and every now and then someone will say, I go, Speedy? Yes, yes. And it’s just like if you know you know sort of thing.

CLYMER: It is.

RITHOLTZ: So let’s take — how about you, Jeff? What are you wearing sub-10?

FOWLER: Yes. So my two sentimental favorite watches, again, both have a connection to my family. One is my great grandfather’s pocket watch. It has his initials instead of the numbers. So it’s J. Virgil Allen and we named our third son Virgil after my great grandfather. It’s got his name on it, a beautiful 120-year-old American made pocket watch.

And then I have my father’s Seiko which he wore every day and it’s a quartz Seiko on an elastic strap a little bit like this one, a bracelet I should say. This is a Hodinkee limited edition I’m wearing today. This was under $200, not even under $10,000, that was under $200. Timex collaboration we did and I love it because of that. That sort of you can’t see it.

RITHOLTZ: And those are pretty bulletproof, right?

FOWLER: Yes. I mean this I literally don’t have to think twice to put it on my wrist. Ben knows I’m on a quest to kind of get as many Hodinkee limited edition watches as I possibly can.

CLYMER: Which we’re happy to help with.

RITHOLTZ: I know a guy. I know a guy. I can intro you.

FOWLER: It feels special to me to kind of own a little piece of our history as a brand and again we’ve done limited editions with everyone from Timex and Casio G Shock all the way up to Vacheron and crazy independent brands like Gronefeld and Laurent Ferrier and others like that.

I guess my yes this is like one that I’m wearing a lot currently but not to copycat but I love the Omega Speedmaster and again the Hodinkee limited edition Speedmaster is a personal favorite. It was done for the 10th anniversary.

RITHOLTZ: Right, and now you have the 50th anniversary with the Snoopy. That’s a great little watch although that’s kind of gone ballistic in price also. A lot of them have. A lot of them have. So if you go to YouTube, you can find the old 60s and 70s era commercials for Timex. Takes a look and it keeps on ticking. I remember they would strap it to a front of a boat with a bunch of Navy Seals out and the boat would be slapped in the water and they’d pull the watch out and still go on. They were great commercials and the watches last forever.

FOWLER: Fun fact. Did you know the very first television commercial ever aired ever worldwide was a watch brand?

RITHOLTZ: And what was it?

FOWLER: Bulova.

RITHOLTZ: Oh no kidding.

FOWLER: 1941 I want to say during the World Series game or something like that. 1941 it was nine seconds. It cost them nine dollars.

RITHOLTZ: That’s unbelievable. So let’s take a step up above ten grand. What would you guys look at? I’m giving you a budget. Ten to fifty.

FOWLER: So easy for me and we talked earlier about like you know you saw a watch. You fell in love with it on the spot. You decided not to pull the trigger and then you regretted everything.

RITHOLTZ: Right. Right.

FOWLER: It kind of got away from you. For me it is a Lange One but it is a special series of Lange Ones they did called the Soiree series. Soiree dial. It’s a mother of pearl dial and it’s this one in particular. Philips had it in their watch auction last November. Ben myself and another colleague of ours were at the Philips headquarters in Geneva. Saw the watch before it was under the hammer. Loved it. Just everything about it.

RITHOLTZ: What did it go for?

FOWLER: I want to say it only went for 35 or 40 thousand Swiss francs so it’s definitely within the budget you’ve just given us.

RITHOLTZ: Right. Right.

FOWLER: And again, Lange Ones, they aren’t …

RITHOLTZ: Not that many.

FOWLER: This is not an ubiquitous product there aren’t that many of them. It’s one of those if you know you know.


FOWLER: I love the aesthetics of the dial. I love everything about the Lange brand but like this one in particular just the dial just totally captured. I would look at it and I would just get lost in the dial every time I’d wear it.

RITHOLTZ: So you didn’t pull the trigger?

CLYMER: Didn’t pull the trigger.

RITHOLTZ: How about you? What got away?

CLYMER: Well the stuff that has gotten away is generally a little bit higher end stuff.

RITHOLTZ: So I have one of those that I’ve never even thought about pulling the trigger on …

CLYMER: What’s that?

RITHOLTZ: And recently well I’m asking you the question but so before we get to the crazy higher end stuff you know under a hundred over ten what would you wear?

CLYMER: Weirdly the watch that like I really kind of hated when it came out now I love and just never pulled the trigger is the Platinum Daytona. I’m a hardcore Daytona guy.

RITHOLTZ: I’m with you.

CLYMER: I just never I was I was actually angry…

RITHOLTZ: Which color combination?

CLYMER: So the platinum one is only the ice blue with the brown.

RITHOLTZ: With the brown ceramic. Do you like the new I love the case back but I kind of like the face of the older one.

CLYMER: Interesting.

RITHOLTZ: Like if I could mix those two.

CLYMER: Yes, I prefer the new one honestly and I may end up going for it. It’s great. That one I really disliked in 2013 when it launched mostly because I was sour. I was sour that they didn’t give us the steel watch with the ceramic bezel. That was the big thing. That came out in 2016. Got that.


CLYMER: So that’s a watch I’ve just like weirdly never owned which is strange because I love platinum watches. I love Rolex. I love the Daytona. I just never did it. And now you know we’ll see.

RITHOLTZ: That’s a really — can I tell you that blue brown and again dating back to the 50s 60s sort of fashion. So my wife used to teach fashion illustration and design. She’s a colorist and you show her that light blue with the brown and she’s like wildly underrated perfect combination. People miss it and when that came out with the display case.


RITHOLTZ: I mean what can you say?

CLYMER: I mean it’s look it’s an $80,000 chronograph. So at that level —

RITHOLTZ: It’s a little pricey.

CLYMER: Well look, you’re into — you can buy a Lange, you can buy a Patek you can buy a lot of stuff for $80,000.


CLYMER: You get the platinum bracelet which is expensive for sure. So it’s a — I’ve got a I’ve got a complex relationship with that watch.

RITHOLTZ: So let’s talk grail watches regardless of price. What’s the one that’s out there that that is the killer for you?

CLYMER: There’s a there’s a few I mean there are several really you wouldn’t be surprised to learn. A 3448 Patek which is their first self-winding perpetual calendar in particular in white gold. Those were kind of trading in like the mid-200s for a long time.

RITHOLTZ: White gold what’s the face color?

CLYMER: It’s silver.

RITHOLTZ: All right because they’ve run the — they’ve done the salmon, they’ve done the white.

CLYMER: This is way earlier. This is 1960s 1970s.

RITHOLTZ: Oh really? All right.

CLYMER: Yes. The very first ones. Those were trading in the mid twos forever the minute I could afford one I kind of hemmed in hot and now they’re trading for about $800,000 to $1,000,000.

RITHOLTZ: So as a Daytona guy what do you think of like the Newman Daytonas in the 60s era? They’re not crazy. They’re like for the same 75 you could get a 1969 Daytona.

CLYMER: Yes 6239. I’ve had many of those. I’ve had a bunch of Paul Newman’s.

RITHOLTZ: So no it’s not a Grail watch?

CLYMER: A 6263 Mark 1 Oyster Paul Newman which is kind of like the big bad Paul Newman.


CLYMER: I’ve had one of those, I sold it too soon wish I still had that but a gold Paul Newman I’ve never had. It’s going to be something fun but these are crazy watches you know. I mean really expensive watches that I like I don’t I don’t live in Manhattan anymore, I live upstate. Those just don’t fit my lifestyle anymore. When I lived in Manhattan and it was kind of out and about it kind of made sense but now as a father in particular it just doesn’t compute.

FOWLER: Terrible for chopping wood.

RITHOLTZ: Yes exactly.

CLYMER: It always comes back to chopping — riding my canoe you know things like that.

RITHOLTZ: So what’s your grail watch, Jeff? Money is no object.

FOWLER: I think I’d go with a watch that comes from a craftsman from a craftsman’s hand so probably a Roger Smith or Philippe Dufour knowing that I’d own a piece of art from an artist somebody who individually made this piece by hand put a stamp on it saw it from birth to basically like conception.


FOWLER: I mean yes that would be it for me. And again, I think Philippe Dufour is turning 75 not getting any younger.

RITHOLTZ: So, he’s only going to be doing so many of these.

FOWLER: And he’s still making every part, every component, every piece by hand Roger Smith you know kind of next generation —

CLYMER: Rachep (ph).

FOWLER: Yes, Rachep, these guys who are making these watches just you know it’s incredible what they do. It’s a one-man operation start to finish and I just think like something like that.

RITHOLTZ: That’s bonkers.

CLYMER: Yes it’s like you’re buying …

RITHOLTZ: They are doing 20 watches a year.

CLYMER: Exactly it’d be like you’re buying an original Picasso from the man himself while he was still painting. And you know that. Roger in particular and I’m lucky enough to own one I’ve known him for forever. His story is amazing. He makes 10 watches per year Roger Smith all by hand. He does not own one of his own watches.

RITHOLTZ: Never has. Too expensive.

CLYMER: Because we can’t give up 10 percent of you know he can’t take one watch out of the line of 10 per year you know. And these watches are phenomenally expensive that you know new. And they’re even worth even more kind of secondhand. But his watches as Jeff said are just to me it’s the end game.

FOWLER: Yes, there’s a great story on Hodinkee today about his second pocket watch which there’s a whole back story to it which basically was he made a pocket watch and presented it to his master, George Daniels and George Daniels rejected it and said go back and work on another version and do it better. Took him five years of his entire life livelihood creating a second pocket watch. And then George Daniels said did you make every part by hand? He said yes. Congratulations now you’re a watchmaker. He then sold that pocket watch to a private buyer to fund the creation of his next series of watches and that watch is going to be auctioned by Phillips and I imagine will smash all kinds of records.

RITHOLTZ: Seven figures.

CLYMER: Oh yes. Easily for sure.


CLYMER: I mean his wristwatches like just generic wristwatches now trade for about six seven hundred thousand.

FOWLER: His generic wristwatches.

CLYMER: If you can find one you know six seven hundred thousand.

RITHOLTZ: So I mean Jacobson Co. what do you do with stuff like that. They’re a half a million a million.

CLYMER: Yes it’s a different thing.

RITHOLTZ: He did that iced out thing that went for.

CLYMER: Thirty million.

RITHOLTZ: Right. It’s like these are just insane numbers.

CLYMER: It’s a different corner of the market. It’s a very real corner.

FOWLER: Yes absolutely. Yes.

CLYMER: Those are really trading for sure. You know he tends to he designs it. He does the setting and all the stonework. But the movement is.

RITHOLTZ: He started as a jeweler.

CLYMER: Yes. Look he’s Jacob the jeweler. He’s the guy in all the rap songs literally. So it’s a different corner of the market but a very real one. And like you know he is selling those watches for crazy numbers all day.

RITHOLTZ: Amazing.


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RITHOLTZ: So let’s talk a little bit about talking watches. This has become a super popular segment of Hodinkee.


RITHOLTZ: I know the first one was with John Mayer. How did this get started?

CLYMER: Yes, so kind of taking a step back in 2012 when I launched straps online to sell straps, I got an email that said hey, John Mayer here, love what you’re doing let’s hop on the phone. I was like okay like I wonder who this is some guy named John Mayer you know some accountant in Texas named John Mayer. So I got on the phone turns out it’s John Mayer the rock star and we just became kind of fast friends you know we were about the same age at the time we were both living a really weird life. Mine was on the road traveling around for watches, take pictures writing. He was an actual rock star, and we just became like true, true very close friends very quickly.

And so in 2013 he called me and he’s like hey I’m in town doing Letterman or Leno or something like that. I’ve got a bag full of watches do you want to just like record a conversation about watches. And I said sure. And we had —

RITHOLTZ: Wait so this was Mayer’s doing, his idea?

CLYMER: We’d always talked about doing a video together of some kind but never premeditated never storyboarded or anything like that.

RITHOLTZ: And I’ve got a bag full of watches sounds like he just knocked off the jewelry store on 47th Street.

CLYMER: He used to roll pretty heavy with stuff not so much anymore just for security reasons but you know to our credit like the first really the second person we ever hired at Hodinkee was a full-time videographer. So I said who I went to Columbia with, Will, who’s still with us. I said actually I got a video guy right here.

And so we went we were on Varick Street we went over to a place called Little Prince which is a little cafe there on Spring or Prince rather and we walked in and we said hey I got John Mayer coming here in 20 minutes can we shoot? They were like sure we’re not open yet, we don’t really care you know. And so we shot for an hour one camera, one cameraman and we just talked about watches no makeup no anything no you know his assistant wasn’t there and it just became Internet magic in a bottle as things can happen you know can do.

RITHOLTZ: Well it was very authentic. Here’s a guy who’s a rock and roll star. This generation’s Eric Clapton singer songwriter guitarist touring with the dead post-Jerry.


RITHOLTZ: And you find out there’s a whole another dimension to him.

CLYMER: Sure is.

RITHOLTZ: He’s really into watches.

CLYMER: Oh you really have no idea. Just remarkable, yes.

RITHOLTZ: So when you record this you have any idea this is going to blow up. Look what as you’re doing, you’re thinking oh this is great stuff.

CLYMER: John is an amazing person. He’s the most well-spoken most creative oddest thinker of anybody. And I say that lovingly like he’s just got a different mind than the rest of us truly. And you know we record, we were recording it we’re like okay like this is going to be special for us. But like this little watch blog three guys sitting in a WeWork you know, I’m sure. And we put it online and it blows up, I mean just explodes. And then from there J.J. Redick basketball player who was a friend of mine at the time as well still is and said oh like I would do that. He was into watches. And then John Goldberger this great collector and then Aziz Ansari and Jack Nicklaus and you know insert whoever.

RITHOLTZ: It’s just been a run of celebrities. Just recently I saw Kevin Hart and then who’s the Philly 76ers.

FOWLER: Tobias Harris.

RITHOLTZ: I just saw that was really kind of interesting.

FOWLER: Yesterday Kermit the Frog.

CLYMER: That was I was going to say yesterday we had Kermit the Frog who I think trumps everybody.

FOWLER: Yes absolutely. The biggest celebrity.

RITHOLTZ: I can’t say I’ve ever spotted a timepiece on his green wrist.

Not often.

CLYMER: Yes exactly.

RITHOLTZ: Although now —

FOWLER: I think it was specially sized…

RITHOLTZ: Now there is a Kermit watch from Oris that — and he’s out promoting this.

CLYMER: Exactly. So it was part of that.

RITHOLTZ: So the first of every month instead of a one showing up…

FOWLER: Kermit.

RITHOLTZ: Kermit. So as long as we’re talking about it, that was shown at Watches and Wonders 2023. What did you guys see? What did you like? What did you think of what took place?

FOWLER: I mean I’ll say this this is my second I’m going to Watches and Wonders. I had been to previous iterations of watch shows Baselworld and SIHH. Watches and Wonders kind of was the mashup if you will of Baselworld and SIHH went dormant for a few years of course because of COVID, came back in 2022 and I think it came back with a bang. It was almost like this pent-up energy —


FOWLER: — it was pent-up like just this big release of actual release of tons and tons of watches and some really incredible watches. I think 2023 there were some standout watches for sure probably less across the board just wow effect than there was in 2022. I think some of that was that again build up post pandemic. I mean for me and I will say this and he’s sitting here right next to me not trying to blow smoke but like for me one of the most special things was getting a chance to walk around with Ben.

I’d been working with him at that point for a little over a year. A year prior I was in my third week and he had just had his first child so he wasn’t able to attend. He was at home with the baby but walking around with him was really special because you see a lot of people who instantly recognize Ben come up to him …

RITHOLTZ: Hey, this guy’s a celebrity.

FOWLER: Well, they say and they’re like you’re the guy with Kermit the Frog now they say some version of the reason I’m in the industry is because of you or the reason I fell in love with a category is because of you. And that’s — I said something to someone later that week because eventually it rubs off on you. I have this association with Hodinkee now simply by being an employee of the brand for the last year. We hosted a kind of a community meetup event on the Thursday the last night that many of us were in town and we did an open invite RSVP through the website through Hodinkee so anybody who was in town was welcome to join and I must have had a dozen people at least saying thank you to me and I thought I’ve never had never worked for a brand or a business and I work for some great brands I mean Cartier, Louis Vuitton, Tag Heuer. Never had someone come up to me and say thank you and again credit to this guy who started it all, that — that’s the impact he’s had, that’s the effect he’s had and that’s the effect Hodinkee has had as a manifestation of all that Ben’s you know created to this point.

And now I get to sort of be a part of that to be you know part of in some ways like serving this broader watch community and helping to kind of continue to further curiosity, knowledge, passion, enthusiasm and it’s really a wonderful feeling for someone to come up to you just be like thank you for all that you’re doing.

And we don’t take that for granted, I don’t take that for granted certainly I just think that’s a really special thing.

RITHOLTZ: Yes, that’s a rarity. What struck you at Watches and Wonders besides the Oris Kermit?

CLYMER: The Oris Kermit was a fun one and I think you know echoing what Jeff said, it was my first time there because a my daughter was born last year and then Covid so three years so it’s been four years since I was in Switzerland.

RITHOLTZ: And you’ve gone to ones before.

CLYMER: Oh for 15-20 years yes so getting back there and seeing people still appreciate what we’re still doing, I’ve been doing this for 15 years this is not like a two-year-old startup, so exciting to feel that energy and that appreciation again definitely in person. But in terms of product look Lange we’ve talked about a lot they make some of the best watches on Earth they introduced one watch and they’re only doing a hundred of them.

RITHOLTZ: Which is crazy.

CLYMER: Odysseus Chronograph it’s a hundred and fifty thousand dollar thing.

FOWLER: Kind of a flex to only launch one watch.

RITHOLTZ: That is a flex and PS gone they’re all accounted for.

CLYMER: I mean you couldn’t even.

FOWLER: Never hit the shelf.

RITHOLTZ: But by the way you mentioned the blue and brown Daytona which came out any other new watches I mean I understand the entire Tudor thing blew up, I’m not a giant Tudor fan they just feel like they’re lesser Rolexes. I know that’s blasphemy to say.

CLYMER: No I mean look it’s not blasphemy but I understand it I happen to love Tudors, I think a Tudor Black Bay 58.

RITHOLTZ: They don’t have the same proportions, they just feel like they’re and I — there were two I tried to I really was went in to buy put them on and it just kind of …

CLYMER: You got to buy what you like you know but they had a pretty strong year, Rolex has a new titanium watch the Yacht-Master in titanium, full titanium.

RITHOLTZ: I really like that watch.

CLYMER: It’s cool, I like that I like that more than I thought that I would, it’s big but lightweight, Patek had a new travel time watch.

RITHOLTZ: So wait you brought this up is it possible that how is it possible Patek Philippe has not introduced a brand-new watch in 24 years, how is that humanly possible?

CLYMER: Well I mean that that’s a little bit of parsing of words there a little bit so —

RITHOLTZ: And they’re always doing variations?

CLYMER: Yes, so this is a new model line.

RITHOLTZ: Brand new.


RITHOLTZ: What other industry could go two decades plus and not introduce a new anything.

CLYMER: You know, Porsche, I mean they haven’t I mean I guess they did the Taycan —

RITHOLTZ: The Taycan, the Panamera is 15 years old, the Macan is 12 years old that they’ve remember was blasphemy for them to roll out an SUV —

CLYMER: Of course, of course.

RITHOLTZ: 15 years ago —

CLYMER: But I mean again I mean so like the the Taycan I’m sorry the — the Cayenne was two out was the year 2000 right so that’s 23 years ago, the Taycan with which is the electric car was probably what six years ago five years ago —

RITHOLTZ: I think it’s less than that.


FOWLER: It’s a little bit like Paul McCartney right he hasn’t released an album in 30 years but he can sell out arenas…

RITHOLTZ: Yes, but if you’re a Beatle right if you’re one of the two surviving Beatles you can probably…

CLYMER: Well the Patek is Patek, you know …

RITHOLTZ: I guess that’s the parallel so since we’re talking about cars and I know you have to run soon.


RITHOLTZ: You spent the pandemic rebuilding a 330GTC?

CLYMER: That is a slight a slight exaggeration of my role in that, so I was I was working with somebody that was helping to do it so I wasn’t rebuilding it —

RITHOLTZ: This was a literally barn find.

CLYMER: A garage find, yes.


CLYMER: They call it a barn find but it was in a garage in Rome that’s —

RITHOLTZ: All original.

CLYMER: All original, untouched, I was on Bloomberg a few weeks ago my friend Hannah wrote that story.

RITHOLTZ: Who’s been a guest here a couple of times, she’s great, she’s wonderful.

CLYMER: So she was actually —

RITHOLTZ: I actually visited her and Magnus in their shop in LA, it’s bonkers.

CLYMER: So tying it all together Hannah was actually my editor at one of my very first freelance jobs.

RITHOLTZ: No kidding at Forbes?

CLYMER: At Forbes, exactly, but not for watches she was editing a literary blog like a book blog and I was writing for that unpaid.

RITHOLTZ: That’s crazy.

CLYMER: But I just wanted I wanted to byline at Forbes. So she’s amazing but yes so, I’m really into cars and I spent a little bit of time and a lot of money doing that during Covid. But that’s what I’m into I mean I’m into finding these things that have direct connections with interesting people and keeping them going.

RITHOLTZ: What other cars are you playing with?

CLYMER: I’ve got — I drive an E39 M5 almost every day.

RITHOLTZ: I have an M6 so I know the — this big convertible six I the last year they made the sticks and I couldn’t find it I had a fly out to Indianapolis, test drive it and then my wife and I drove it home.

CLYMER: That’s fun.

RITHOLTZ: Stopping off at Fallingwater the first day they were open for the season.

CLYMER: I’m not kidding I did that in a GT3 touring I stopped off at Fallingwater yes truly like, no kidding.

RITHOLTZ: I have a client that has a GT3 that he wanted to sell huh and the dealer said give it to us we’ll take a 20% consignment I’m like we know people that bring a trailer let me list it for you.

CLYMER: Exactly.

RITHOLTZ: So that’s what where that’s …

CLYMER: That’s really funny though.

RITHOLTZ: GT3 stick shift …

CLYMER: Touring.

RITHOLTZ: It was the touring right no wing but the stick which is now becoming increasingly rare.


RITHOLTZ: We were there the first day it was open and I’m driving the 600-horsepower monster yes and there’s like a light dusting of snow.


RITHOLTZ: So I am like feathering the throttle because with just the slightest touch you’re going sideways yes so yes but it was — what a spectacular place.

CLYMER: It really is, it really is.

RITHOLTZ: In the middle of nowhere.

It’s amazing.

CLYMER: Into BMWs, into Porsches you know stuff here and there…

RITHOLTZ: So a little blasphemy, I have two 911s one I’m keeping stock that’s a cabrio by the way pre before they went crazy, I picked these up for pennies and I have so the 87 is a cabrio the I’m sorry the 88 is a cabrio, the 87 is a 300,000-mile car that I’m pulling the engine and the transmission out dropping a Tesla motor and completely —

CLYMER: No kidding.

FOWLER: — Electrifying.

RITHOLTZ: A 911 E with Moment Motors in —

CLYMER: That’s so cool.

RITHOLTZ: And I’ve been on the waitlist — so all these guys are booked the year …


RITHOLTZ: I’ve been on the waitlist for almost a year it goes down to Texas by the time this broadcasts it should be in Texas.

CLYMER: That’s awesome.

RITHOLTZ: Getting a heart transplant.

CLYMER: Super cool.

RITHOLTZ: And that’s kind of a fun …

CLYMER: That’s a fun story, a fun drive.

RITHOLTZ: And by the time I’m done I would have been able to walk into a dealer and say give me that 911 for what this will end up costing yes but it’ll be the only electric 911 in New York by the time it’s done.

CLYMER: Super cool.

RITHOLTZ: So if you’re a BMW and a Porsche fan, I feel your taste, the one thing I have to ask in terms of Grail watches.


RITHOLTZ: So the and I’m not just a Lange person but the and I am going to mangle the pronunciation the Handwerskunst.

CLYMER: Handwerskunst, yes.

RITHOLTZ: Tourbillion that just has the numbers and that sort of carved …

CLYMER: Yes, the aperture at six, yes.

RITHOLTZ: What the hell does that thing go for, by the way complete you can’t see them anywhere and I saw one was somewhere at auction I found out about afterwards.

CLYMER: I would ballpark 300.

RITHOLTZ: Okay, yes and that was 80-90 when it came out?

CLYMER: Probably more.

I mean if I know a website that would probably be able to tell you I think we covered it like I know we covered it when it came out.

RITHOLTZ: A buck and change?

CLYMER: Yes, I would guess 130 140.

RITHOLTZ: So it’s only double.

CLYMER: Those are those are the air is thin in that world like —

RITHOLTZ: I saw one of those go for about 200 about a year ago.


RITHOLTZ: And again I’m still wrestling with a $30,000 $40,000 watch, 200 is like next level.

CLYMER: Yes, it’s just — I mean as Jeff said earlier really earliest in this in the session like it’s just supply and demand there’s a lot more guys that want a Nautilus or an Aquanaut yes because they know what it is or a Daytona right nobody’s ever heard of a Handwerskunst Tourbillion from Lange.


CLYMER: Even if it is that much?

RITHOLTZ: Oh my god that could be the like, if I have a grail watch, that’s it, yes and once I do that then I just you know —

CLYMER: You’re done? Probably not.

RITHOLTZ: Where do you go from there?

CLYMER: Exactly.

RITHOLTZ: I mean —

FOWLER: There’s always more to discover.

RITHOLTZ: Listen, that’s the same problem with the Grand Lange One, where do you go from there it just you just start going full OCD and backfilling and it’s crazy. So I have a bone to pick with you guys.


RITHOLTZ: I’m speaking at some event in Aspen, it was the international luxury real estate and I’ve been writing about real estate my whole career so they invited me and you know they say get there a day or so early because the altitude is you know you don’t want to stand up and if you’ve been to Vail it’s the same sort of thing, so all right I get there I got a day to kill and I go into Aspen and what is this A Lange & Sohne shop.


RITHOLTZ: So I go in and I see the Lange One which is their famous 1994 watch that’s asymmetrical which was a radical departure from charges and I think this is like March-April, and I get back home and I don’t know if you’ve ever experienced this you see a watch and it just starts to haunt you.

CLYMER: You’re talking to here, yes.

RITHOLTZ: I’m thinking about, I’m thinking about it I have a big round birthday coming up in October and so I make an appointment to go into the Lange boutique in New York and I try on the Lange one and look I’m a little guy 38 millimeters what is this a toy I need a real watch and so the woman says oh we have the Grand Lange One and I try on it wasn’t the one I fell in love with and it wasn’t the one I ultimately really wanted but have a bone to pick with you, it was it was a Grand Lange but without the moon phase and that sort of chocolate silver gray I don’t even know how to describe the color.

And so I start looking around, looking around and now I find I find the Saxonia with a moon phase black watch pink face and I’m waiting on I’m trying to decide if I want that, and then I see the Platinum Grand Lange one what is that forty-one and a half something like that?

CLYMER: Yes, exactly.

RITHOLTZ: And it’s 66 new but new papers box on Hodinkee 42 and I’m trying really hard to wrap my head around 42 it’s a lot of money for a watch.

CLYMER: Yes, it is.

RITHOLTZ: And I can afford it but it’s just a lot of money.

So I make the decision I don’t remember was like the end of August or the end of September, hey my birthday’s in October I’m going to go get that watch on my birthday, even though it’s going to kill me to spend that much money yes just it’s I have way too many cars, I have a boat like I’m not afraid to spend money, but to strap a BMW on your wrist, you have to mentally brace yourself for that.

So my birthday rolls around and I’m going to do it and I go to the Hodinkee shop, gone and not only is it gone you can’t find them for sale anywhere, well they just have disappeared I have buddies on 47th Street I’m like find me a Grand Lange One I think it’s the 135 25 something.

CLYMER: We should talk off air.

RITHOLTZ: So you can find them new in Switzerland for retail and you still have to pay like a nine percent cut, it’s insane, so this was my other Lange choice.

CLYMER: That’s a great watch.

RITHOLTZ: Which by the way this is even more dressy than the Platinum that’s almost like a sporty effort version of that watch and I’m I don’t want to order it from a site I’m not familiar with and it turns out that the guys that have this watch are in Aventura, I’m at a different conference in Miami and I do my gig, I come literally off the stage into an Uber, run to Aventura look at the watch they wouldn’t take a credit card but I mean it’s a whole room full of well if they take a credit card they could charge a credit card for you, blah blah blah but they weren’t set up to do it there, and so get home wired and the next day the watch showed up.

So this is my I couldn’t get my Grand Lange One, but and it was 42 and I’m like now how often you kick yourself…

CLYMER: Yes, all the time, yes, turns out all the time, we can help get that watch even now.

RITHOLTZ: And the other the other Daytona I don’t want to make this all about my watch shopping so I do this with cars yes I have way too many cars, I’ll watch a car come out I’ll watch the price wobble and I’m like come to papa, a little lower and I bought a couple of nice things during the beginning of the pandemic when people freaking out and I’m looking at the Daytona in the white golden blue face which was I think 26, 28 retail it was 20 it was 19 it was 18 I’m buyer at 16 and then the lockdown happens and it’s 45 55 just goes nuts yes I’m like you for two grand, look what you did.

CLYMER: Nobody ever could have guessed though.


RITHOLTZ: So hold aside these million-dollar watches, these $100,000 watches, a newbie interested in watches how did they get involved in watch collecting what where would you send somebody like that?

FOWLER: Really, I think you know kind of riffing off of something Ben said earlier which is this kind of there’s a sense of like the imitation culture like you want something because you see other people having. For me I personally think the best way to build a collection is just really follow your passion, get out there educate yourself, learn, read, visit a few retailers you know maybe check out an auction you know catalog to see what’s considered to have a history or provenance, just do your research and then ultimately you know pick something that really speaks to you.

If there’s a way to again weave some sort of milestone or personal aspect into the watch, I think one thing I often think about is of all the things you put on your person, a watch is one of the very few that will actually typically have a story associated to it like your sneakers your jeans your sweater typically will not.

So I don’t know there’s something just special about that, like Ben said, they’re sort of like totems of our lives in some way and a collector I think you know will always remember her his first watch, I think it’s just you know it’s worth it to take the time to do the research and really wait for that thing that sort of speaks your name.

CLYMER: Yes and I would certainly echo all that but I would also say listen to actual experts in a field not the guy you found on YouTube or the gal you found on Instagram or Tik-Tok, there’s so many people out there that are purporting to be experts in this space mostly on social media, YouTube, Tik-Tok, et cetera that have no idea, I mean they’re just kids that think they understand things and to be clear I was one of those kids, I’ve since put in 15 years to ensure that I’m not one of those kids.

And there are people out there that really know watches and then there are people out there that really don’t and pretend to understand the source, I mean going back to journalism school, like know your source, know who’s saying what and why know who’s a retailer of so-and-so, know who owns 20 of these so they’re trying to build it up really understand why people are saying things that they are.

RITHOLTZ: And any particular brands you would send people just like I always tell people what someone asked me about a watch I’m like hey go look at Seiko, if you are wrong, you’d spend $400 …

CLYMER: Yes Seiko, Swatch, System 51 self-winding watch for 150 bucks, we sell them on Hodinkee, they’re amazing, they really are.

RITHOLTZ: And the next step from there and then we’re going to –

FOWLER: Then Hamilton, Hamilton field watches …

RITHOLTZ: Really handsome watches.

CLYMER: Great watches.

RITHOLTZ: Solid, solid, long-lasting.

CLYMER: Agreed.

RITHOLTZ: All right now I’m going to take you one last one I keep saying last one so you go past Hamilton, where do you go?

CLYMER: Tag Heuer.

You know a Tag Heuer Aqua Racer, a Tag Heuer Monaco even those are great watches, Carreras, they’re a little bit more money but great watches.

RITHOLTZ: Great. Jeff, anything from you?

FOWLER: I would say you know I love the Hamilton pick I think the Hamilton field watch is like a total classic I bought …

RITHOLTZ: Their new chrono by the way is really crazy handsome for what it is…


RITHOLTZ: And very reasonably priced.

FOWLER: Yes, I bought the field watch for my brother and one for myself kind of when I joined Hodinkee as a nice little celebration of that moment and then if I were going to go one little, I’d say the Tudor Black Bay 58 and we talked a little bit about …

RITHOLTZ: 96, 58, 59, it’s hard to keep up.

FOWLER: For me it’s perfect kind of size it’s a great everyday watch.

RITHOLTZ: They have a very vintage vibe to it that’s kind of what attracted me to them.

Guys thank you so much …

CLYMER: This is such a pleasure, a lot of fun.

RITHOLTZ: … generous with your time, next time we do this, I’ll have a camera crew will do talking watches.

CLYMER: Let’s do it.

RITHOLTZ: I’ll just do — I’ll just grab a dozen watches from people and thank you guys for being so generous with your time.

If you enjoy this conversation, well be sure and check out any of the previous 493 such discussions we’ve had over the previous nine years, you can find those at YouTube, iTunes, Spotify or wherever you find your favorite podcasts, sign up for my daily reading list at, follow me on Twitter @ritholtz, follow all of the Bloomberg family of podcasts on Twitter at podcasts.

I would be remiss if I did not thank the crack team that helps put these conversations together each week. Paris Wald is my producer, Samantha Danziger is my audio engineer, Sean Russo is my researcher, Atika Valbrun is my project manager. I’m Barry Ritholtz, you’re listening to Masters in Business on Bloomberg Radio.

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