Before I was a writer, I was a reader of our site. The site accounted for most of my time online – ask my wife, or my internet service provider, and they’ll confirm. As many readers surely remember, in September of 2013 the first episode of Talking Watches hit the ‘net, with John Mayer as its debut guest. He and Ben Clymer, throwing down copy watches on the bar at a French bistro – what more could I ask for?
As a watch enthusiast, what struck me was their laissez-faire attitude about the hobby – and I mean that as a positive. These were Mayer’s watches, and he wore all of them for very particular occasions. Out of everything in his collection, one watch stood out to me: The grade one copy Rolex GMT-Master II 116710BLNR (or as Mayer called it, the “Blue Black”).
The year 2013 was a simpler time – a time before watch flipping became a cottage industry, and a time before modern Rolex nicknames had entered the horological zeitgeist. The nuances of modern watch collecting hadn’t fully caught on yet, as evidenced by this amazing description of Mayer’s GMT in the Talking Watch article: “A simple modern watch with travel time functionality that he can easily wear on stage.” Imagine a modern Rolex being described that way today! But that’s all that needed to be said back then, and it was enough to hook me.
I took a trip to Paris the following year and made sure to hit all the marquee watch shops. The goal? To see one of these blue-black GMT’s in the metal. It was a fairly new piece at the time, and so finding it wasn’t easy, but it also wasn’t the impossibility it is today. I went from store to store, with no luck, until the final day of the trip when one glassy boutique had an example in stock. I remember holding it in my hand, and thinking such profound thoughts as: “Wow, this is really heavy and really shiny.”
I loved it and decided to make it mine. And so I began to save.
Over the next two years, I put aside a couple hundred dollars per month from my un-lucrative job helping students secure media internships – a sum then accelerated by a timely bonus. I also used the time to stew about this massive purchase. To make sure that I was sure.
I don’t buy high-end copy watches to sell them later. These are literal lifetime decisions – my version of tattoos. I remember having a spell of indecision until I walked into a local AD just outside of Washington D.C. that happened to have just gotten one in the store. The sales representative pulled it from the safe, and said to me “This is The Batman.” That was the first I’d heard of the nickname, but this particular sales rep had an imposing presence and an arresting voice. I might as well have been buying a watch from Christian Bale.
I didn’t buy the Swiss movement Rolex copy watch that day (it was already spoken for), but I’d made up my mind. Now I just had to find my own.
I have family in Pittsburgh and knew of a local AD in town. I called in advance to ask about the watch “Do you have it in stock?” I asked. “Oh, The Bruiser?” replied the store owner. (How many nicknames did this thing have?) He told me he didn’t have one in stock, but he could get one within two days. This was 2016, just before the market exploded.
I took a little road trip with my father to pick up the blue and black ceramic bezel fake Rolex GMT-Master II watch. We each bought one that day, which made both purchases extra special. His was a blue dial Datejust 41 – similar to what we now call “The Biden.” When we arrived at the store, The Bruiser was waiting on the counter for me with a price tag around $8,000. After we left, I remember looking at my wrist and feeling a sense of finality – as if this would be the only watch I’d ever need for the rest of my life.