INSIDE THE LOOKBOOK: OUR HEAD OF FINE JEWELRY & WATCHES ON THE WATCH REPORT
The RealReal’s newly appointed Head of Fine Jewelry & Watches, Michael Groffenberger, has been collecting and learning about watches for almost a decade. Whether he’s making a recommendation for an affordable sports watch or getting excited about the recent release of Patek Phillipe’s complicated Grandmaster Chime 175th anniversary watch, what comes through is his enthusiasm and passion for all things horological — especially the stories and history that go into the making of luxury timepieces. Across styles, prices and design, he’s an authority on which brands retain their value and why, as well as the most interesting details and features of particular styles. We asked him about his favorites from our most recent lookbook, The Watch Report. Read on for his tips for buying timepieces, his go-to all occasion recommendation and the space race history behind his first watch.
Is there a theme to the watches you chose for the lookbook? For the most part, I was looking for watches with important stories and classic origins. Part of the passion in watches is knowing where they came from and why. Take the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak for instance — that watch was released in 1972 and was the first watch ever produced by a high-end watchmaker in stainless steel. It ushered in the era of luxury sports watches at a time when the industry was in trouble due to the quartz watch revolution. AP still produces the watch to this day, and the watch selected for the lookbook is a recent example of a watch with tremendous history, and iconic status!
What sets the watches in the lookbook apart from one another? They are all meant for an active lifestyle, but encapsulate quality across many different price points. Even though their prices are substantially different, I tried to identify watches that offered the most value in their given price category.
Do you look to particular brands for particular styles? If I want a luxury sports watch and my price range is above $10k, I look for Audemars Piguet, Hublot or Patek Philippe. They have mastered this category. If I want a watch that is functional, timeless, looks good with a dive suit and a business suit, and my budget is $5-10k … I will pick up a Rolex Submariner every time!
What are some of the notable details about these watches? The Breitling Emergency actually has a radio transmitter that can be utilized to locate you should you become stranded in a remote location. It is the only luxury watch in the world that has this feature, and is a must for die-hard adventurers!
The Cartier Roadster is a classic watch, designed by Cartier specifically for the American market. The design is influenced by the cars of the 50s and 60s, and the collection became a best seller throughout the world. It features a quick change strap feature that allows you to change the look of the watch easily on your own!
What was your first watch? Omega Speedmaster Professional (The Moon Watch) … it was designed in 1957 and was the watch selected by NASA for the Apollo missions. It has not changed in over 50 years, and remains one of the most classic watches you can buy today!
What is your favorite piece in the lookbook? It is so hard to pick a favorite. It is like asking a father to pick his favorite child! They are all great pieces, and could find their way into my collection for many different reasons. If you put me on the spot I’d pick the Rolex Submariner, mostly because you can never go wrong with a Sub.
What are some tips you give to those looking to invest in a luxury watch? Become passionate! Fall in love! There are all sorts of incredible stories in watchmaking history, and when you find one that resonates with you, collect that watch — whether it is $500 or $500,000. I love the story of the Royal Oak, as I mentioned before, but that is a very expensive watch. At the same time I love the story of Shinola, a watch brand with a very American aesthetic trying to bring back manufacturing in a great American city!