When New York-based Hodinkee hosted its first European pop-up in Harrods’ Fine Watch Room in June, it was already well known to some of London’s most serious watch enthusiasts. City analyst Can Kalemdaroglu, for example, discovered the magazine-cum-shop via Instagram long before the London touchdown. “When it comes to vintage watches, it’s quality and trust that attract buyers; when you know you're buying from watch nerds, it is extremely reassuring,” he says.
As was no doubt the case for the buyer of the $175,000 vintage Rolex Paul Newman Daytona – the most expensive watch ever sold on the site. More typical transactions, however, are in the $3,000 to $5,000 range, often for interesting steel chronographs produced by smaller brands. “The less expensive chronos can feature the same movement as a more expensive version with a better known brand on the dial,” explains Hodinkee’s founder Benjamin Clymer, who founded Hodinkee as a blog on Tumblr in 2008, added the shop in 2012, and was welcomed onto the jury of the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève in 2013.
The magazine side of Hodinkee is still going strong, with content-rich videos and columns, while the products for sale come under the headings Watches, Rare Finds, Straps, Library, Tools, Accessories, Travel and Storage. Many of the watches on the site, including a 1974 Rolex Daytona Ref 6263 ($41,500, second picture) and a 1960s Patek Philippe Calatrava Ref 570 ($17,000), are accompanied by the words “Sold Out”. But don’t despair: shoppers are encouraged to put their name on a waiting list and will be notified when the same model comes up again.
Still available at the time of writing, however, are a 1947 Longines Single Button Flyback Chronostop ($29,000) and a 1950s Breitling TransOcean Chronometer in yellow gold ($4,200), while watch straps are the most popular accessory – the site’s own rustic brown leather one ($149, first picture) is a bestseller. “It pairs particularly well with popular vintage sport watches, like Speedmasters and GMTs,” notes Clymer. Added to this are books such as Military Wristwatches: Sky, Land, Sea ($110) and other timepiece paraphernalia, including the useful black spring-bar tool ($29).
“We seek out products that we would want to buy, and we’re upfront about what we love as well as the drawbacks with each piece – whether it’s a missing lume plot or a small scratch on the lugs,” continues Clymer. “Our goal is to introduce a level of transparency that simply hasn’t been present in the vintage watch market.”