Welcome to the inaugural edition of the GQ watch survey. I started pulling this together because of the tremendous changes the watch world has gone through over the past couple of years. Most of those can be traced back to a single point: “Millions more people care about watches now,” said Eric Wind, Wind Vintage owner. That new mass of collectors made prices explode momentarily before they came slightly back to earth. More types of people—as in, not just wealthy white guys—are finally getting more involved. Taste is changing, too: collectors are embracing color, funk, and ambitious design more than ever before. To cover the enormous amount of shifting ground, I ask almost 20 of the most high-powered folks in the watch universe—dealers, watch-club founders, brand creators, auction-house specialists, podcast hosts, and mega-collectors—to help us understand the state of the watch world in 2022.
Name the most influential watchmaker in the world right now.
Jeremy Kirkland, host of the Blamo! podcast: Tudor. They set the tone for the new collectors, they have the inventory, they’re approachable, aspirational, and highly regarded.
Cara Barrett, founder of Parchie Pal: This is a tough one. My initial reaction—and most obvious— is Rolex, because they are the industry leaders in almost every aspect. They make watches that are wearable, well-designed, and they work really well. They also have the best name and brand recognition. Everyone wants to have the same prestige as Rolex (even if they may deny it). And before someone says they are boring—there is a reason Philippe DuFour wears one as his daily.
Wes Lang, artist and collector: Rexhep Rexhepi.
Jason Gong, founder and CEO of Complecto: Rolex, hands-down. They set the trends everyone else follows, every year. The industry goes as Rolex goes.
John Reardon, founder of Collectability: Patek Philippe.
Tim Bender, founder of Fog City Vintage: Rolex will always be the most influential in my opinion. They’re arguably the best marketer in the world. That said, if there is any brand that’s really taken off among the collecting community I’d have to say it’s F.P. Journe.
Rhuigi Villaseñor, founder of Rhude and collector: Richard Mille for the innovation. He and the brand do a great job at encapsulating what modern-day luxury is. I think young people are excited about the watches. Don’t get me wrong, I am Patek Philippe to the core, but I love what pushes the world forward.
Zoe Abelson, founder of Graal Limited: F.P. Journe.
Adam Craniotes, co-founder of RedBar Group: On the brand side, it’s still Rolex by virtue of volume, recognition, and quality.
Geoff Hess, senior international specialist at Phillips: It would be hard to challenge the spectacular influence that Rolex still commands in the watch community today.
What do you see as the most “popular” watch in the world right now?
Jacek Kozubek, founder of Tropical Watch: For me it’s still the Daytona.
Yoni Ben-Yehuda, Material Good’s head of watches: I’d say a Rolex Daytona or an AP Royal Oak.