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 Nicholas Kalikow.
Nicholas Kalikow is a media company owner and a real estate investor — he’s also, of course, a watch guy. We dig into his roots with Rolex, his preference for dress watches, and a fun, childhood anecdote involving watches and telling right from left…
When and how did you go down the horological rabbit hole?
Around 1986 I saw a friend of my father wearing a Rolex “Pepsi” GMT. Probably a Reference 1675 or 16750, and I just thought it was cool looking. Also, there’s a practical purpose for me to be into watches: I'm dyslexic. As a kid, I had a really hard time figuring out my left from my right, so my mom bought me a Casio, put it on my left wrist and said, “That’s your left!” So I basically was horribly confused as a kid, but I looked down and I’m like, “Okay, watch is on the left, that must be my left.” So that’s a big way that I got into watches.
What are your top three favorite watch brands?
It's hard to say what my top three are — I'm gonna go real conservative on this: I have to say Patek. Patek just has the history. I'm not that into sport watches. I prefer the classic, leather-strap Patek Philippes: the chronographs, the Travel Times, things like that.
I do love Rolex. I specifically love the Submariner and the GMT, which are the most obvious watches in the world, but there’s a reason why they’re so popular. They are watches that really meet the hype. In terms of the third one it’s hard to say — I’ve really been digging Lange lately. I think their watches have a really timeless quality to them, but I think that there’s a certain beefiness to the cases that feels very modern, which is a really nice balance. And when you use a loupe to look through the presentation case backs you're like, “Oh my God!” So that’s my “not particularly imaginative” top three.
What’s the next big purchase on your list?
My next purchase is hard to say. I have a birthday coming up and there's a lot of Langes I really like. I have one and I'm getting the itch for a second one. They’re a big purchase, so I really gotta find the right one.
I’m a watch collector of means but not unlimited means, so I gotta figure out budgets and stuff like that. But this is something I'm really passionate about, so it’s worth it for me to take time out of my annual budget and figure out, okay what am I spending money on here? Do I do this trip, or do I really go for this really nice piece? There’s a lot of people who talk about how experience is more valuable than possession, but sometimes a possession, if it really means something to you and you have a lot of passion for it and you really understand it…then maybe it’s worth more than some experiences.
Do you prefer vintage or modern watches, and why?
I’m going to give you a cop-out answer and say “both” — it oscillates. For a long time I was very much about vintage. I was almost only wearing vintage watches unless I was going to the beach or the pool. Lately I've been into modern watches. I have a lot of vintage watches. I was able to kind of tick my boxes in watches that I’ve always liked.
A lot of them I still have — a lot of them I’ve sold. And sometimes just the experience of wearing a certain kind of watch for a time, you say, “Okay I’ve done it.” For a while I wore an early-’50s Oyster Perpetual, I know what that’s like so I don’t need to live that everyday. And there’s also a lot of really nice modern watches. I think that modern watches have found a real, I don’t know… momentum. They’ve stopped going crazy big, so I think that they’ve sized really well. So that’s why I’m saying “both.” Maybe right now the next one is going to be modern, but the one after that can be vintage.
What’s more important to you — design or functionality — and why?
I think a little bit of both. Once again maybe a cop-out answer. I mean, I think the Rolex Submariner and GMT are beautifully designed and amazingly functional watches. I think that the Cartier Crash is really beautiful, but that might be a little too designy for me. G-Shocks are really functional, but they might be a little too functional for me. I’m going to kind of say “split the difference.”
Do you build your outfits around your watch, or do you choose the watch to go with your outfits?
A lot of times I’ll match the watch to go with the outfit. If I’m working in my office in New York, it’s very suit-and-tie, so I’ll wear a dressier watch. My office in LA is very much jeans-and-a-blazer, so I’ll go more casual. I will say that a Rolex Submariner goes with everything. So when I can’t decide, it’s: Tuxedo, Submariner. Beach, Submariner. Going hiking, Submariner.
You picked three watches from Analog:Shift’s collection to wear for our photo shoot. Which did you spring for, and why?
Rolex GMT-Master 'OCC'
The first one I picked was a vintage GMT. As I said, I’ve always loved the GMT. That one was just gorgeous, has aged beautifully, and is in fantastic condition.
A. Lange & Söhne Cabaret - IN THE SHOP
The second one is a Lange. It’s a really unusual Lange — it’s really elegant. I’ve become a big Lange fan. I only have one yellow gold watch, so I’ve been kind of eyeing yellow gold lately and I just knew that was just a really elegant way to go.
Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Milspec 1 - IN THE SHOP
And then the third one, the Blancpain. I love the vintage Blancpain. I love the history. I love the fact that they’re affiliated with Cousteau. And that one was just absolutely beautiful and it looked really cool on that NATO strap. And the Fifty Fathoms is a really great alternative to the Submariner. They have everything great about the Submariner, but they’re a little more sophisticated, which is why I absolutely love them.
Edited by Oren Hartov
Interviewed by Katrina Vrakas
Photographed by Michael Sawyer
Directed by Paulo Salud