In what part of town do you live?
I live in Coral Gables.
How long have you lived in the area?
I’ve been in Miami since 1969, and then West Palm Beach and back to Miami Beach in 1990.
What keeps you busy during the week?
I am a single dad, so I am highly involved with my children. School pickups and drop offs, teaching them tennis and basketball. I’m involved with all their homework. I’m their Uber driver and everything for them. That’s my number one priority. And then I do work. I’m a vintage watch dealer. I buy and sell vintage watches.
How did you get started buying and selling vintage watches?
My father was a watch collector. I came home from college over one break and all these vintage watches were on the kitchen table. I’d been around watches a long time, since I was 12 or 13 years old. I liked them, but never took an interest like I did that particular day. I was going to school in Washington, DC at American University, and I just started going around to different stores, looking for vintage watches. I would call my dad to ask ‘Is this a good deal?’ It took me a year to buy my first watch. I went into banking out of college but ended up making a lot more money trading in watches and I got out of banking. So, I started doing it full time.
What do you wish you knew back when you first started?
Get into it sooner than I did.
Are there a lot of dealers specializing in the same space?
There’s some dealers worldwide that are pretty good. The way that I look at my business is multifaceted. I do wholesale watches for different stores, like Ralph Lauren. Then, I curate collections, like a really good art dealer would do for a collector. I put them in mint condition watches, that are rare and highly collectible. Everybody has different tastes. So, you try to figure out what they like. It’s a very big global business. I sell watches all over the world. The problem right now is a shortage of finding nice watches. There’s a low supply, but a very high demand. The prices are through the roof on special pieces.
What’s causing the rise in demand?
There’s a lot of collectors and some beautiful watches are held in collections now. In the late 1970s to the early eighties, vintage wristwatches started becoming highly collectible. Probably because of Italy. The Italians love fashion, and back in the eighties, watchmaking was just awful. So, they started putting on vintage watches, which were beautiful and had a great look. A few years later, people realized that these are actually rare and collectible. Then the Japanese got heavily involved in Germany. When the internet became popular, after 1997, there was an explosion in the vintage watch market. Forums started with information and it’s just grown crazy here in the United States.
Have any recent acquisitions made you particularly excited?
I’m dealing in a commodity that I really love. When I see a beautiful watch or get some new finds in I’m really happy. One watch that I was really happy about in the last couple of months that I bought is called the Rolex Milgauss. They reintroduced it today, but the original is from the 1950s. It was made for scientists that are around a lot of magnetic activity. If you put a watch next to a magnet, it will affect the timing. Rolex and a couple of other companies had these watches that were made for engineers that were safe around magnetic activity. It’s really impossible to find a really, really good example like this one. That’s what keeps me going, finding like a rare watch like that. I have a hard time selling some watches sometimes, but I can’t keep everything
Have you collected other things besides watches?
I collect art and I love vintage cars. I’ve had a lot of vintage cars over the years. I like the Porsche brand, but I’ve also had some really quirky cars. I’ve had the 1980s Woody Grand Wagoneer, an old corvette, vintage Porches and vintage Mercedes. And, I’ve collected other things like clocks and old Dunhill lighters that look like an aquarium with fish in them. I’ve gone through phases. I have a good feeling for the market on things. I pick up markets really quick and I have a good memory. I remember how much I buy and sell things for. I saw a guy who had bought a watch from me 20 years ago and I’m like you paid $5,600 for that and now it’s worth a hundred thousand dollars.
Has your knowledge of dealing in fine watches influenced your buying of vintage cars?
It’s funny, last summer I bought a vintage Porsche online. I just started going over the condition issues I had with the car. He’s like, ‘you watch guys!’.
With watches, the level of restoration that you do to a watch really affects the value. Certain things can make it not even collectible anymore – like if you repaint the face or over-polish the case. In vintage cars, it’s different. People bring them down to the bare minimum and then repaint them with a beautiful paint job. I’m more of a survivor type. I like one that’s been used and not repainted and it could be messed up a little bit, I don’t care.
You’ve been a long time customer at the market and also coming by the drive through. Would you share about your experience with LNB?
I discovered you at the Pinecrest market about five years ago. I saw those interesting Rainbows walking around the market and was like, ‘I have to try it.’ I fell in love with the Rainbows. And then, your Sweetheart lychees are incredible. Your avocados are incredible. I started doing some turmeric tonic with you guys and I play a lot of tennis and it’s really helped with my legs. It helps with the soreness. I was trying to find you guys after the market closed down and was happy that you started your little place in Kendall. I brought a friend the other day for the first time and he called me yesterday to thank me for introducing you guys.
What other places do you introduce friends to? Could you share some local favorites?
I’m more of a classic guy. I like the mainstay type restaurants, like Caffe Abbracci or Christys , or even Garcia’s Seafood Market, or Captain’s Tavern. These local gems have really good food and they’re not touristy.
What’s Miami’s best-kept secret?
There’s a place I’ll tell you about that makes an incredible sandwich called Airport Cafe & Liquors. It looks like a little liquor store, but there’s a little Cuban café in there. Once a week he makes a sandwich of the week. You can look at it on Instagram. They’re incredible. It’s off of 36th street near the airport. You’re surprised when you go in there and then you’re blown away by the sandwich.
What for you is a worthy splurge?
Vintage cars and travel. I take my kids like all over the place to experience a lot of new things. So I splurge on travel with them.
What community groups or philanthropic groups are important to you that you might like to promote or share?
I’ve have not been involved with specific groups, but I have gotten my children involved with giving back to the community a little doing some beach and mangrove cleanups a couple times a year.
Is there a pitch about your business that you would like to share?
I am very careful with what I sell to my clients to make sure that they are getting a really good product You’re dealing with somebody that is highly knowledgeable and honorable.
Are there any local watch groups?
Even though there are a lot of watch collectors here, it’s not like New York, LA, or Chicago, where they do have more meetups. I’ve gotten a few of my clients together to meet each other. My office is like an encyclopedia. You can learn a lot coming here. A lot of clients come here and end up meeting each other and we all sit down and have coffee. I would like to put something together, a little group that could meet every couple of months.
Is there a question you would like to ask us?
When you’re looking at an avocado or other fruit, can you tell that it’s going to be the perfect one from the outside?
(A+W) Not really. But there are some clues. Ripe sapodillas have a smoother stretched out skin. Avocados get plump. We typically harvest on size. We’ll select the biggest ones because they are the most mature. Jackfruits are ripe when they have give, and their spikes and color might change. You don’t really know if it will taste good until you cut it open and have a taste.
What question, advice, or challenge would you like to pose to the community?
I would to love to get Biscayne Bay cleaned up. That something I’d like to see done.
How can people reach you?