A collector active on Instagram, @NYCWATCHGUY lives in the Greatest City in the World (his words), New York, and works as a venture capitalist but at heart, he is a watch meme maker. His many talents inspired him to a hobby we can all relate to; collecting watches. His journey started out traditionally but led him to more ‘out there’ watches. His Urwerk UR-220 Falcon is not the first watch of the brand to be featured in the Collector’s Series, but clearly is one of the most impressive.
Frank Geelen, MONOCHROME – How did you find out about Urwerk?
@NYCWATCHGUY – I definitely came across Urwerk casually on watch blogs in the early days of my watch collecting journey (around 2012). I always thought they were cool, but as someone who just owned a starter Zenith at the time (and the state of my bank account), making the jump to something this radical was not something I felt was in the cards for me. I continued on down the more traditional path of Zenith to Glashütte Original to JLC or IWC, to eventually an FP Journe Chronometre Bleu as my first independent watch. But still, Urwerk was too crazy for me.
A few years later, I ended up buying an MB&F Legacy Machine, which was my first “out there” watch, and that’s around the time that I started paying more attention to Urwerk. Redbar, the global watch collector meetup group that is headquartered in NYC, of course, helped as the brand would usually show up once a year with all their goodies, and I always felt they were the coolest watches in the world. Finally, at the start of the pandemic in 2020, I pulled the trigger on the UR-100 which I felt was a great gateway drug into the brand. It’s priced relatively “affordable” and is smaller and slimmer than most other Urwerks. Also, Michael Jordan, who is my God, is a big Urwerk guy and as they say, “I wanna be I wanna be I wanna be like Mike” (and if you don’t know that, look at the 1995 movie Bad Boys)
What was it that attracted you in Urwerk, in particular?
I am almost entirely an independent brand collector at this point if you ignore the handful of Royal Oaks and Pateks that I own. To me, MB&F and Urwerk are two of the most important brands for independent watchmaking as Max and Felix have always pushed the boundaries of reimagining what a time-telling machine on the wrist can look like. They toe the line between crazy and genius.
Urwerk to me is definitely a bit of an acquired taste, but once you understand how insane their creations are, I feel like you have to own one if you’re a serious “indie” collector and a technology guy, which I am both. Finally, the retrograde satellite system is just such a simple and yet clever way of telling time to me as an engineer. I can’t get enough of it.
Was that satellite system the reason why it had to be a UR-220 Falcon Project?
Well no, the UR-210 was always my favourite Urwerk watch, but the size and weight of the case always made me feel like there was no way I could wear that watch without looking a bit ridiculous. This is why I ultimately settled for the UR-100. When the UR-220 came out with the carbon case, which was slimmer, lighter, and had a curved case back which would let us sit better on the wrist, I knew that maybe, just maybe, Urwerk had finally created the perfect watch for me.
Phil Ogle who runs Urwerk in North America showed me the watch over zoom right before it was released to the public and I knew immediately that I was in love. My only hope was that it ended up being too big or too heavy again. Unfortunately, the minute I put it on the wrist, I knew that it was just right and I was, unfortunately, going to have to buy this watch. I finally bought the watch through Esperluxe here in the US. Damn you, Phil!
That said, I must admit that this is, without a doubt, the best overall watch that Urwerk has made. The satellite retrograde system is one of my favourite ways of telling time. Apart from the light-weight carbon case, the rubber strap is really unique, and overall, to me, if you’re going to buy one Urwerk, this is absolutely the one to own. Oh, also, there is only a handful being delivered each year, and as usual, I have no doubt Urwerk will eventually discontinue this one, so I wanted to grab one while I could.
Does your watch get a lot of wrist time?
Well, as with all watches, there is the honeymoon period where you never take it off. I am still going through that right now, so yes, it is getting a lot of wrist time. Eventually, I am sure it might spend more time in the safe given all the other watches in the rotation, but something tells me, this is still going to be one of my more worn pieces.
Do you ever get reactions from others when you wear it?
The first time I wore it to the office, my colleague who doesn’t know much at all about watches asked me if it was a Richard Mille, so yeah, I’d say it definitely gets reactions because it is such a strange-looking contraption on the wrist compared to a more traditional watch. That said, I think it’s a fantastic conversation starter and look forward to seeing how it performs in a post-pandemic world when we can actually meet people again.
Do you consider watches as an investment, besides a hobby?
The watch retails for USD 162,000. Given the way the secondary market works these days, all you need is a couple of dealers to get together and this could end up being a USD 500,000 watch. Who knows anymore? The market is insanity and I think it’s time for collectors to start getting out of the mindset of buying something and wondering how much money they are going to make when they sell it. The watches that have been appreciated the most in my collection are the ones I bought purely out of love for them, with no intention of selling, and they are still with me to this day. The ones that I got crushed on or could have made much more money on are the ones I ended up selling early.
Although you have a vast collection already, are there any more watches on your list?
Oh Christ. This is a loaded question. There are many watches I would like to buy, but of course, money is not unlimited. That said, one watch that I had been hunting for a long time was the Nomos Worldtimer Amsterdam edition and after years of hunting for one, I managed to scoop one up two nights ago, so I am excited to pair my New York 5th Ave edition with this Amsterdam edition this week. I personally love that I can appreciate a starter brand like Nomos just as much as an end-game piece like a UR-220 at the same time. That’s the beauty of the watch game.
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What would you say to aspiring collectors about this “watch game”?
Well, either work hard, marry rich, or make sure your parents are leaving you a nice inheritance because these things are not cheap. Oh, also, buy a safe and make sure you use WAX Insurance for your collection, just in case something goes wrong!
It’s cliché because everyone says it, but almost no one follows it: “Buy what you love”. It’s often easier said than done obviously, given the amount of money you see people around you making when they play the game and buy steel Rolexes, APs, RMs, and Pateks. But you know what watch has been appreciated the most over the past year, by orders of magnitude, larger than any of those brands? FP Journe. A once niche brand that very few people cared about, now is the hottest brand on Earth and you can’t get a piece unless you’re willing to do things that may or may not be legal. I think we’re going to see more of that happening over time as people start to realize how much cooler indies are compared to the more mainstream brands. Ultimately though, it’s hard to get out of the mindset of thinking that you need to make money every time you buy a watch, but I think it’s important for people to remember that making money isn’t the primary purpose that any of us should be buying watches. Making money is a bonus, but if you don’t actually enjoy the craftsmanship and soul that goes into making a timepiece, then you’re in the wrong hobby. And it’s good to keep reminding yourself, that this is a hobby.