Last April, I joined the Mumbai chapter of RedBar, which has one of the largest communities of watch enthusiasts and collectors in the world. Founded in 2007 by New Yorkers Adam Craniotes and Dr. Jeffrey Jacques, RedBar’s 70 international chapters now have over 7,000 members. RedBar is primarily a social media group, but each chapter also regularly hosts face-to-face meetings or get-togethers (GTGs).
A GTG, usually held at weekends in sumptuous restaurants, sees a group of enthusiasts admiring each other’s choice of collections or the latest acquisitions, over a coffee or a few beers. Although few of them have happened in the last two years for obvious reasons, RedBar Bombay, which also has members from other Indian cities, has held several online events called “Wrist Talks” with brands like as MB & F, Urwerk, JLC and, among others, IWC. Admission is free, but becoming a member of the community is not easy. The chapter leader reviews new members based on various criteria.
I generally steer clear of groups of all kinds, both online and offline, but being part of RedBar Bombay has been, overall, an engaging experience, with more than a little help from WhatsApp’s “Archived Chats” feature.
Here’s what I’ve learned about collecting and appreciating watches over the past 10 months on the RedBar Bombay platform.
- You don’t have to own expensive watches to be part of a group of watch enthusiasts. RedBar keeps it simple: they don’t encourage watch snobbery, and your passion for watchmaking matters more than the watch on your wrist. This works perfectly for someone like me who writes about watches occasionally and has a burgeoning collection of German watch brands.
- Being part of the group gives you some interesting insights into the demographics of watch enthusiasts. They are mostly entrepreneurs, doctors, lawyers and marketing executives, mostly in their late thirties and early forties. This group might appreciate (and own) Rolexes, Omegas, IWCs and Langes, but, at the same time, they are also aware of the boutique brand scene. Baltic, Furlan Marri and, at the higher end of the spectrum, Kurono Tokyo are some of the micro-brand men in Mumbai and a few other cities. It’s mostly men; RedBar Mumbai has only two female members.
- Names such as Patek Philippe, Vacheron Constantin and A. Lange & Sohne come up whenever the “grail watch” is mentioned, but, increasingly, watches from Grand Seiko and independent watchmakers such as De Bethune and FP Journe are highly valued and coveted. .
- Watch enthusiasts are just as passionate as car enthusiasts, but looking at the wrist shots they upload almost daily to the band, it’s clear that they are, overall, better dressed. .
- One of the most tangible benefits of being part of a group of watch enthusiasts is knowing exactly how much to pay for a watch you’ve come across from an e-tailer, second-hand platform, or other group. Just put the details and photos of the watch there, and you will have a clear idea of the correctness of the case.
- Another advantage of being part of a platform of watch enthusiasts is the possibility of participating in a “group purchase”. The term is self-explanatory, of course. A “bundle buy” can significantly reduce the landed cost and is a great way to acquire a cool watch from a micro-brand.
- If you’re the type who likes to know who’s wearing what, a watch enthusiast platform is a great place. The other day, a member of RedBar Bombay, who was watching an episode of The Kapil Sharma show, highlighted the watches worn by guests, Telugu film actors Ram Charan and Jr NTR: a Richard Mille Rafael Nadal 35-02 and a Richard Mille 61-01 Yohan Blake.
- What is happening at the moment among watch enthusiasts? H Moser & Cie.
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