Kevin Rose, the Digg founder and Silicon Valley wunderkind, remembers the pushback he got in young-tech circles when he started wearing his late dad’s Rolex rolex daytona gold phantom fake watches a few years ago.
In a culture of T-shirts and app-centric smartphones, a mechanical Rolex daytona ceramic phantom replica watch Datejust in the 1980s looked like the equal of gray hair on a Google intern. One web programmer chided him, saying,”That’s an old-man thing,” Mr. Rose, 38, recalled.
As opposed to feeling ashamed, Mr. Rose developed a fascination with analog watches. And the deeper he glanced in to watch collecting, the more he watched business opportunities.
“As an entrepreneur you get started looking for industries which are comparatively untouched by technology, which makes them open for fresh innovators to come in the area,” Mr. Rose said.
That principle led to a most unlikely profession reboot. Last month, this tech-world highflier, that graced a BusinessWeek cover in a backward baseball cap, ditched Silicon Valley, where he was a general partner at Google Ventures, and moved his family to New York to interrupt the archaic world of mechanical wristwatches.
They are also exploring an internet auction system to challenge traditional auction houses like Christie’s, in addition to eBay. Mr. Rose said he believes the site can bring more transparency into the preowned-watch commerce, one which has long been a minefield for collectors.
With many sellers, especially less controlled websites,”There’s no trail of who has owned the watches the service work that’s already been achieved,” Mr. Rose stated on a recent afternoon, lounging in black and jeans Lanvin high-tops near Hodinkee’s loft-style NoLIta headquarters. “You do not know whether a watch was polished or not, which may destroy its worth.”
Along with providing ownership and service histories for each bit, the site would”provide you tools to view not only the outside of the watch from each and every angle at extremely large detail, but also the inside of the watch, using something at which the case back has been opened and supported by a legitimate watchmaker,” he said. Doing so allows consumers to be certain that a timepiece includes all original components, a massive issue in the classic market.
Hearing that type of opportunistic talk, an individual may think it easy to dismiss Mr. Rose as a carpetbagging techie looking to cash in on the watch business and move on. But his fascination with watches seems genuine when he talks about his very own set: about a dozen pieces, including a first-edition Swatch Sistem 51 that retails for $150 and an A. Lange & Söhne Zeitwerk Phantom. (The Ghost is a limited edition, one of which recently sold for more than $200,000, Mr. Rose said.)
Pushing the sleeve of his gray sports jacket, Mr. Rose showed off a second rare Lange, a Datograph in pink gold in the early 2000s, regarded as a favorite of Philippe Dufour, one of the most renowned living Swiss watchmakers.
“Each watch takes a year to make,” Mr. Rose said, lovingly describing its exquisite engineering. “Each component of the opinion is finished in a unique way. Each one is unique and done by one of six master engravers.”
In an era when young techies could wear an Apple Watch, if anything else, the Lange is a statement. “To me, the timepiece is a way to disconnect.”