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The Collector's Series

@watchfoodwithme Draws Us into the Cocoon of his Daniel Roth Papillon

On the wings of a Papillon we fly high into Daniel Roth’s marvellous universe.

calendar | ic_dehaze_black_24px By Frank Geelen | ic_query_builder_black_24px 13 min read |

An American-based watch collector, Sagar, a.k.a @watchfoodwithme on Instagram, works in Regulatory Affairs for Medical Devices. He might be only 31 years old, but if you look at his feed on social media, scrolling through his collection of watches, you’ll see that he already is quite a seasoned horology enthusiast. And he clearly has a thing for unusual watches and colours. From his home base in Minneapolis, USA, he explains why his Daniel Roth Papillon 10th Anniversary Model, which is limited to 110 pieces, is one of his most coveted pieces. 

Frank Geelen, MONOCHROME – Your Daniel Roth Papillon is awesome. When did you discover Daniel Roth watches?

Sagar, @watchfoodwithme – It was @Orangedial17 a.k.a Wayne’s Instagram handle, where I discovered this brand Daniel Roth in late 2020. He had a beautiful salmon dial chronograph and then I started learning about the brand and stumbled upon Frank’s Daniel Roth small seconds with a salmon dial on a MONOCHROME article. Trust me, I tried to find it everywhere, but I could only manage to get the Daniel Roth salmon dial chronograph.

Image Fred Merz/Lundi13 for Journal FHH

Why do you think Daniel Roth is so special? 

I am always looking for a watch that is unique and not too mainstream. The case shape of Daniel Roth caught my attention. This case shape is often referred to as ellipsocurvex, but interestingly, it is also known as stadium shape or discorectangle shape. Additionally, the guilloché Clous de Paris hand-finished dials with Roman numerals are the icing on the cake. In general, Daniel Roth watches are made really well, and they just ooze quality. It is just not any regular wristwatch!

That’s an understatement!

Indeed. And the Daniel Roth Papillon is my favorite of all the models for many reasons. The primary reason is that it has a jumping hour complication. For me, jumping hour and minute repeater complications are the epitome of art on your wrist. I love these two complications in general. Secondly, the dial has a Clous de Paris guilloché which is hand-finished. The dial is well balanced with the brand name on either side of the dial. Also, if you look closely, the blued steel minute markers complement well with the ruthenium and light grey shades on the dial. And then you add the contrast of the white gold case – oh la la bellissimo! You really cannot go wrong with this model. It is all in the details if you look closely.

Since when has it been a watch you desired to possess?

Since I saw Keet’s (@ialienam) Daniel Roth Papillon 10th anniversary model on Instagram, I started my hunt for the Papillon. I feel so embarrassed about asking him so many times if he would sell it to me one day. He still owns it, lol, and to be honest, this particular model rarely comes up for sale. I have been pestering many collectors to sell theirs, but they never sell.

Yet, you succeeded in getting one…

Yes, I recently bought this from a dealer who purchased it straight from the retailer who kept it in the vault for more than 20 years. It was not owned by anyone before or even used. It is believed that the store never sold it to anyone and just wanted to keep it in the safe and sell it when the demand was high.

But how did you get in touch with him?

I got in touch with that dealer on Instagram, and that is how I landed my Daniel Roth Papillon. Believe me, I tried asking every watch collector on Instagram if they would like to sell their Daniel Roth Papillon to me, but no one wanted to sell. So, the only option I had was to go this route as these rarely come on sale.

Does the Papillon get a lot of air time?

I own a rose gold Papillon, so I usually wear that on special occasions, like when I am in a very important meeting or at a fancy restaurant. I have not worn this white gold one at all but just wore it to take some pics for this interview and put it back (chuckles).

 

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Why not wear it? Do you prefer the one you had more?

I will be honest – It is in such great condition that I would like to keep it as is, in the condition it came in. Since I own both rose gold and white gold Papillons, it gives me an option to just wear one. If I didn’t have the rose gold Papillon, I would for sure wear the white gold more often.

Have others seen it, though?

Not a great many, but I always get compliments on my rose gold Papillon model because it is unique. You don’t see a watch like that every day. Even at watch events, it is a center of attraction for collectors who own some well-known brands. I had one watchmaker who happened to see this on my wrist when I went to him for a job on another watch, and he asked me to take a look at what I was wearing. He was amazed and said this was the best dial he had ever seen – he is a very competent watchmaker who repairs very complicated pieces from all the luxury brands for reference. 

People always think that the hour window on this model is a date window for some reason. Once a friend told me, ‘Hey, it’s not the 10th today,’ and I was like, ‘I know, it just indicates the 10th hour, not the 10th of the month.’ This sparks their interest, and then they try to learn more about how this watch functions. Let’s be honest, us watch folk may know about these watches, but to a layperson, they will say, ‘oh wow, it looks cool’! So I think this model is a great conversation starter!

My friends are mostly into other luxury brands, and they always ask me what I see in this brand. I always tell them you need to own one, and then you will realize what a beauty this is. They do appreciate this brand as well, and some have even considered buying other models of this brand and are quite happy with theirs.  

Have you convinced them yet?

Yes, some of them have bought other Daniel Roth models and are in love so far. Some have not because Daniel Roth watches are expensive, and it takes a very seasoned collector to consider an unconventional watch. I still recall a dealer who was hesitant about this brand but now loves it so much that he sells Pateks and APs for a living but wants to add Daniel Roth watches to his personal collection. This is after he took a close look at the Daniel Roth watch in person with a loupe to compare a Patek Philippe and Daniel Roth watch. He was surprised that a watch like Daniel Roth would have a finishing on par with the likes of Patek Philippe.

Do you know the current market value of the watch?

Yes, I do know the current market value of this model, as I have been tracking this model for a while now. This particular model in rose gold was sold for USD 80k at the beginning of February 2022 in a private deal. This is a verified purchase. Most of the deals on the early models happen privately and are rarely made public. Some other dealer has already started quoting USD 90k for this model. I will say that I paid a little less than today’s current market value i.e. 80K (as of Feb 2022). But I will say that it didn’t come cheap: I had to pay a premium, and the value is only going up. 

I came across this model at X price at some point in 2020, I felt it might be too high, so I thought I would find it cheaper if I waited longer. Then the next time it came on sale at Y price (which was, of course, higher than X), I still thought it was high, and maybe I should wait a little longer. Then ACM posted at Z price (higher than Y price this time), and I was like, ‘I think I may just need to accept the reality and pay premium’. I told myself if I don’t get this now, I will only be paying more every time I pass it on. I got this model because I really liked it and when you like something and if it’s rare and limited, you really have no choice but to accept the market rate and pay the premium. Every time this model has changed hands, it has only gone up. There is a reason because there are only 110 pieces in rose gold, 110 pieces in white gold and 30 in platinum. 

Secondly, Daniel Roth designed this model himself, so the demand is sky-high. It is one of the only 2,500-3,250 pieces Daniel Roth was actively involved in designing during his tenure under his brand. This is a very low production number which accounts for approx. 400-500 pieces a year. For instance, F.P. Journe makes approx. 800 pieces a year. It is just like FP Journe you know; whatever has touched his hands or gone through his QC has turned into gold now and is getting sold for a high premium. These days collectors want something directly associated with the master watchmakers themselves. It is estimated that this model may touch USD 100K soon with other early DR models, one of which has already crossed USD 180K for a DR Tourbillon that was sold at an auction on Loupethis.com not long ago. I think finally collectors have started recognizing the Daniel Roth brand and his work. It was long overdue, in my honest opinion. I may sell this white gold if I get the right offer based on the current market. However, I will keep at least one Papillon for myself as I think it is a unique watch, and I love the complication.

How would you describe your watch collection so far?

I think I’ve managed to do well with where my collection is at the moment. At some point, I had like 5-6 salmon dial watches in my collection, and they all were super rare. I only have one salmon dial now that I will never sell for sentimental reasons, i.e. a Seiko Sarb037 salmon dial. My collection is now some Swiss-made and Japanese-made watches from respected brands, and when it comes to some unique watches, I do own a Roger Dubuis Sympathie and Daniel Roth, of course. 

 

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Are there any more watches you would like to buy?

I would really want to buy an Audemars Piguet 15450 with a blue dial and an F.P. Journe Octa Lune with a salmon dial and platinum case. I have been on the waitlist for AP blue for almost two years, and I am still waiting for my stars to align. Regarding the F.P. Journe, I was told that I will be considered for 2023 so let’s hope I can get these grails soon.

Which brands do you think are doing interesting work out there?

Of late, I think AP is doing really well with their designs. Also, some Indie brands like F.P. Journe, Grönefeld, and Akrivia are doing fantastic work. I see a rise of independents over the last couple of years, and I believe that the Indie brands are gradually taking over some market share from the mainstream brands, mainly due to the lack of availability of desirable models from Rolex, AP and PP.

Can you give tips to other collectors who want the watch you possess?

My only advice for other collectors is to keep looking and not give up on this watch. If I was able to acquire this piece, then I think they also can acquire this watch. At times, all you need is patience. Regarding where they can find this piece, they could ask existing collectors on Instagram or wait to see if ACollectedMan sells his someday, or maybe at an auction house. There is really no other way to get this model besides these options, as this model will never be produced again. It is a gem! As a reference, Daniel Roth makes 1-2 watches under his own brand Jean Daniel Nicolas these days.

Plus, this model can easily be repaired or serviced by Bulgari if needed in future. Any other competent watchmaker should also be able to repair this watch if you face any issues in the future. 

 

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Do you have general tips for newcomers in the watch collecting scene?

My general tip for new collectors is to buy what you like and stop worrying about what others say about your watch. You will be happy. At the end of the day, it is your money, and you get to choose how you spend it on watches. There are some great educational videos on YouTube about watches in general, and one can learn a lot about watches through these channels. Another way is to join a local Redbar group. This way, they can meet other collectors in their city and learn about the brands they collect. At times, live interaction with collectors gives you a lot of information as they are really knowledgeable, and everyone is so passionate about the watches they own; it is always amazing. Once you join a local watch group or club in your city, the next thing you know, you will be sitting with 20 watches in your collection, lol.

Are you in touch with other collectors?

Yes, I love connecting with watch collectors on Instagram. I have created a WhatsApp group with James (@journehutong on Instagram) for existing DR collectors. I have formed some very meaningful relationships with collectors over the past few years, so much so that they take my feedback if they should jump on a particular watch and what I think about their potential purchase. That makes me feel very honored that someone would seek my advice in their watch purchase. I am always up for drinks or dinner with the collectors I have talked to on Instagram and I always look for opportunities to help anyone or guide them when they are looking for a watch based on their budget. I try my level best to stay in touch with the watch collectors as there is so much to learn in this hobby, and it is never enough. There is always someone out there who is doing some great work on watches, and you learn about them one day. 

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