I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that The Original Miami Beach Antique Show is the most exciting watch event of the year. As I write this I’m still seeing content released that admittedly has me yearning for more and already looking forward to the next one in 2025. It’s the perfect opportunity for collectors, dealers, and enthusiasts to do some real treasure hunting but more importantly, come together from all over the world and share our biggest passion. In this year’s panel, Geoff Hess, Head of Watches of Sotheby's U.S. put context on the event that for me was pretty touching. I’ll paraphrase here but in a nutshell, he shared that the real beauty in watches is not even the watches themselves but the people. The timepieces, the art, mechanics, the history and design can all be appreciated but the relationships this space creates is impossible to replicate almost anywhere else and the passion we have the privilege to experience is truly infectious.
One of the highlights for me was spending some time with our friends Cameron Bar and Tyler Vanes of Craft & Tailored. I had the chance to walk a good portion of the room with them, exploring cases from estate jewelers to more curated dealer collections. In tandem, we found a few great pieces for inventory, including a beautiful ladies 18k Cartier tank from the 1970s that I’ll be listing soon. Cam and Tyler also found a gorgeous Patek that I won’t spoil here but I know they were really excited about the find and it was nice to do some digging and learn from these two who are both always generous with their wisdom. We had the chance to spend a little quality time over drinks with my wife and dear friend Skip Powell (currently the Director of Private sale at Sotheby's) and the C&T team later that night. If you aren’t familiar with C&T they are some of the most knowledgeable and lovely people in the vintage watch industry and I can’t recommend them highly enough.
There was one other small Cartier that I had the opportunity to inspect with Cam next to me. We both were both a bit wide eyed seeing it initially and thought the dial and case all looked good but we were both curious to get more intel on the piece. I ended up taking a chance and buying this tiny little Tank Obus and showing it to a few more key folks. Mike Nouveau took a look at it soon after and suggested we make a video for his ever popular TikTok account while authenticating it to be sure it all looked correct. We went over to, as he phrased it, the “Cartier God” Louis Brisco of Louis & Company’s booth who had a sharp (and small enough) screwdriver to crack open the mystery watch. Sure enough, Louis confirmed that the movement is European Watch & Clock and that the piece is circa 1940s and all looks correct. Check it out on TikTok here. The reason I bought it is because it reminds me of the “Dice” Cartier that just sold at Christie's Auction House recently. Amazingly, that piece sold for CHF 7,500 in 2014 and went back to Christies in 2023, selling for CHF 138,600.
While tiny, I believe it is equally suited for a man or a woman and am excited to bring this charming piece to market soon (after service and a fresh strap). I also want to take the opportunity to say congrats to my friend Mike Nouveau on his recent New York Times feature. I had the chance to share this sentiment with him privately but I think it's fair to state here that he’s doing great things for the vintage watch community on multiple fronts from garnering exposure for the industry to a younger audience on TikTok to developing scholarship on Cartier. I’m really looking forward to seeing what else Mike will do and know he has a bright future ahead.
Of course seeing our friends Adam Golden and Jordan Alcolea of Menta Watches was another highlight of the week. I had a blast chatting with Jordan and looking through their case which had a few absolutely incredible pieces that stood out to me, including a Rolex Milsub, one of my grail watches, as well as yellow gold Zenith Daytona called “The Chairman” which was gifted to a small number of Rolex employees. Yellow gold Zeniths are in my eyes the most attractive and best value in the model range. The blue dial on this piece brings it to another level of rarity and I wouldn’t be surprised to see this watch well into the 7 figures in the future. Still losing a bit of sleep over that one for the record gents. I wish I could be in Florida more to work with Adam and Jordan but I’m excited for them with what sounds like an incredible new retail space coming this year. We should all be putting this on our list of visits soon!
Menta just published their segment on YouTube covering the show and you can see me in a segment here offering a handful of pieces I chose to bring for day 1. Check it out on YouTube here.
Menta Watches, the legendary Davidoff Brothers, and Kirill of Lunar Oyster had the brilliant idea of hosting a private event at Walt Grace Vintage which for those of you who are not familiar is a store that features vintage cars, guitars, art and now watches. This shop is a must see if you’re visiting Miami. They clearly have an affinity for interesting things, or, as I like to say, “they’re a fun enthusiast.” It just so happens that my family were just there about a month prior and noticed they were now offering watches (a recent addition and sourced through the reputable Menta Watches team). They sent me a photo of the case and I said “I actually sold that one to my buddy Adam.” The chances of this have to be what, one in a million?
A blue on tan Ferrari 456 GT which is one of the most understated cars the brand has ever produced. Truly the end of the classic era for them too!
Everyone seemed more relaxed at the event by evening and it was a treat to share some other adjacent hobbies with some of our friends that night. Tasty horderves were passed, there was a great cocktail bar set up and we even had a little acoustic jam session in the sound proof room with some epic sounding vintage Martins. This evening was really a highlight event for all who attended and one I’m confident will stay with us forever.
Another one of my favorite dealers and friends who I was excited to see is Jon Calvert of J. Coronet. Jon has a great reputation for sourcing quality brands from Audemars Piguet to Patek Philippe, Rolex and more. Whenever I see his listing I get excited to check out his recent finds and his great photography. Jon is based in Nashville and another dealer I can’t speak of highly enough. Regarding the show this year Jon stated:
“I look forward to the weekend of OMBAS every year. It’s not only a place to see many fantastic and important watches all in one place, but it’s a chance to hang out with great friends and collectors from all over the world that you’re usually talking to via a WhatsApp message or Instagram chat.
Whether you’re looking to buy, sell, or just chop it up with other enthusiasts, OMBAS is the place to do it. The amount of knowledge and experience that’s in the room for 5 days makes it virtually impossible to leave without learning a thing or two (or buying a thing or two 😉).”
Later in the week I was sure to say hi to some other dealers and friends, including the lovely Alan Bedwell of Foundwell. It's always a treat to be able to catch up with him and I especially loved this Piaget Polo as well as this Cartier Tank offered on a unique gold bracelet he had for sale. Alan has really incredible taste and has an expertise in not only vintage watches but a vast array of other antiquities. Alan is another dealer that I would confidently recommend as a genuinely knowledgeable and top expert to source a watch (and other treasures) from. I can tell he takes care of his friends and clients!
As the week cooled down Skip suggested we grab a bite with our friends Rob Burns and James Fisk to take a break from the hustle and bustle. It's always nice to catch up with these two and learn from them. James has a fantastic eye for detail and takes some of the best photos in the vintage watch space, helping our friends over at Wind Vintage. Rob I have equal admiration for and has wonderful taste in his own collecting. Be sure to check out his instagram as we can all learn a thing or two about how to take a proper wrist shot!
I asked Skip what he thought about OMBAS this year and he stated:
“Attending the Original Miami Beach Antique Show was a welcome reprieve from the cold and sleeting weather in New York. All of my industry friends were there, lending it an air akin to the recent Rolliefest event thrown by Geoff Hess. This was especially true inside the beautiful world of vintage cars and guitars at Walt Grace. Adam Golden, The Brothers Davidoff, and Kirill Yuzh pulled out all the stops for their gathering there."
While ostensibly there to generate business, the most valuable takeaway from the event was a general market pulse. While walking the show and seeing what’s in dealers’ cases, I was curious to see what was displayed most prominently, as well as hear what has been trading hands most readily.”
Speaking of the market, a lot of folks have been asking me what my view is on its current state. I would describe it as intricate. The shift from hype watches and steel sport watches has clearly moved to a dressier and design focus from Cartier, Piaget, Patek Philippe and Vacheron and more. Of course many of these pieces are also precious metal and smaller in proportion. As we see more celebrities wearing smaller watches, collectors are realizing that smaller can actually be more endearing. I believe that we've seen the major correction already occur and as prices come back to earth, especially in the modern market where pieces were produced in much larger quantities, collectors are becoming more confident in stepping in again and the real collectors have shown themselves for sticking around as speculation in the market has all but gone.
A few wrist shots courtesy of Skip Powell: From left to right - Skip's Rolex GMT ref. 1675 and a few personal watches I brought along including a platinum Jaeger-Lecoultre Master Ultra Thin Limited Edition, a Blancpain Flyback chronograph - serial #3 ;) in white gold and a Rolex Oysterflex Daytona in white gold.
Back to OMBAS! Sunday night I had the distinct pleasure of joining the legendary collector Alfredo Paramico at a dinner he hosted. Alfredo is incredibly friendly in person and the quality of the new-vintage collection he assembled for this year's show was astounding. The restaurant he chose was quintessential Miami and I was happy to sit across from Tony Traina who continues to produce some amazing writing for Hodinkee. His recent article covering the Piaget Polo is proof in the pudding! Ben Dunn of Watch Brothers London was also next to me and I can’t speak highly enough about him as well. He sources some of the most interesting pieces offered in the market today and does such a thorough job with the scholarship of his pieces.
After coming home I’m excited to be working on a great new haul of inventory to kick off the year. Some have gone into service as mentioned above but keep an eye out in the coming weeks as the pieces trickle on to the site. Wishing everyone a healthy and successful 2024 until next time!