In Collectors Among Us, we highlight some of our favorite watch collectors — and friends — and hear about their collecting journeys. In this week’s episode, we welcome Ben Grullon.
The co-host of the Wrist Check podcast, Ben Grullon is a sales manager at Watches of Switzerland, and a passionate watch lover. Join us as Ben discusses his menswear background, shares his love of independent watchmaking, and more.
When and how did you go down the horological rabbit hole?
The rabbit hole opened up for me during my time at Ralph Lauren. Working for RRL I was surrounded by beautiful clothing and vintage watches. I really made it my duty to know all there was to know about them, and it sort of became part of my identity there.
What are your top three favorite watch brands?
Patek Philippe, F.P. Journe, and MB&F.
What’s your “grail” watch?
An F.P. Journe Astronomic Souverain. I’d love to design my own piece unique one day.
What’s the next purchase on your list?
I’m saving my pennies for a Journe Élégante in Titalyt with a burgundy strap.
Do you prefer vintage or modern watches, and why?
If you’d have asked me this three years ago, the answer would’ve been vintage. It’s changed to modern for a couple reasons: 1) I beat the shit out of everything I own, and most vintage watches I just won’t be able to comfortably do that to. 2) I got my first Rolex in August of last year — a green OP41 — and I’ve since fallen in love with this romanticized idea I have of taking all my modern watches (which are most of my collection now) and just creating my own stories and patina and battle scars with them. Part of the allure to vintage is the patina, the legacy, and the mystery that collectors carry on when they acquire a vintage piece. I think it’d be nice to start that for myself so one day whoever gets their hands on my watch questions how the hell I dented the clasp on my Rolex!
What’s more important to you — design or functionality — and why?
Design. It all starts with aesthetics for me. As much as we love them, watches are a thing of the past that we as collectors are keeping relevant for the future. If I’m going to wear something, I have to think it looks good. Function is nice — I personally love chronographs — but that’s secondary.
Do you build your outfits around your watch, or do you choose the watch to go along with your outfit?
I get dressed off of emotion and my watch usually reflects that. My wardrobe is like a uniform — it’s all high-quality and functional clothing that can be interchanged, along with some statement pieces. Lately I’ve been wearing baggy pants and flannels with a 5738R (a rose gold Patek Ellipse) on a black crocodile strap. The first thing I do when I wake up in the morning is turn off my alarm; the second is put my watch on.
You chose three watches from Analog:Shift’s collection to wear for our photo shoot. Which did you spring for, and why?
Patek Philippe Aquanaut - IN THE SHOP
This is gonna be easy: The Aquanaut was a no brainer — I think it’s the best sports watch ever made. It’s extremely comfortable and for a Patek, it’s under the radar. It’s a no-nonsense watch that just gives you the essentials — it’s tough and looks like a tank, even in gold. It’s to Patek what the Day-Date is to Rolex: Stealth wealth.
A.Lange & Söhne - IN THE SHOP
The Lange is a no-brainer for any collector who really values quality. With the highest QC in the industry, they assemble and take apart every watch twice to ensure the highest standard. They also have a very unique aesthetic and identity because of their dial layouts and choice materials.
Vacheron Contantin 222 - IN THE SHOP
Lastly, the steel Vacheron 222. I’ll admit I picked it as a flex given all the hype of the newly launched gold version. However, this exact reference is slightly smaller, thinner, and in steel I paired it with a suit because with its integrated bracelet and robust aesthetic, it flies under the radar. Every time I see that watch it reminds me of a honeycomb, and I think [Gérald] Genta may have felt similarly considering he had already designed a couple watches that looked the exact same — the honeycomb architecture on the bracelet may have been the thing to set this one apart. I’m also a sucker for the gold cross on the lug.