So Oakleigh Watches turned one year old on the 1st of November 2014 – clearly quite a milestone – but to be honest I didn’t think about what it really meant until I, well – thought about what it really meant.
Here’s the story of Year One:
For more years than I care to recall I held high level positions in high level quality retail organisations, the swankiest of which had me constantly flying all over Northern Europe and staying in beautiful city hotels two or three times a week. Of course the reality of a situation like that is that what to the casual observer looks remarkably like living the high life is in fact lonely and tedious.
I’m a born collector and ever since I was in my late teens I’ve loved watches. A few years ago, through the encouragement of a good friend, I put the two together and developed a collection of vintage Rolex and Omega that I was very proud of.
It was following a meeting of Watchnerds (now forever known as ‘Kaitens’) in a pub in Knightsbridge that I decided that enough was finally enough. Very soon after, I left my executive position, combined my skills with my passion and Oakleigh Watches was born.
Twitter was and still is an incredibly important part of our business, giving us access to friends, colleagues and customers and allowing us to share photos and stories – Twitter is a Godsend and was the mainstay of the business in the very early days.
Two great friends of mine then helped me to build this website of which I am extremely proud because it genuinely represents the ethos and attitude of the entire business – Oakleigh Watches is about quality, luxury, pleasure and above all, the customer.
The cornerstones of Oakleigh Watches were laid purely on the basis of gut feel – I knew what I wanted from a luxury watch trader and I suspected that others would respond well to the same thing. In the first year our customer base has grown to a level that I couldn’t have imagined and many of our customers have become friends – so it seems that this thing about putting the customer first really does resonate.
Our business is split about 60/40 between selling from stock and sourcing watches to satisfy the desires of our watch sourcing clients. I’m often asked which side of the business I prefer and to be honest, they’re both pretty great – finding superb pieces to add to the website is a constantly rewarding challenge because ordinary just isn’t good enough around here, but there’s also something really special about helping a client to find the perfect thing just for them – you can get a great feel for how satisfying it all is by reading our testimonials.
The photos at the top are of some of the most important watches to me both from my personal collection and from things that we’ve supplied in the past 12 months:
1) My first watch was a Texas Instruments LED digital in about 1974 – I managed to find one exactly like it, with its original box and I will keep it forever.
2) The first watch that I bought for myself was this 1984 Swatch ‘Tennis Grid’ – box and papers? of course 🙂
3) The prettiest watch we’ve supplied this year has to be this 18ct Rose Gold Rolex Pearlmaster – I wish I could have kept it just to look at.
4) The best watch we’ve sold so far is this 1999 Rolex Zenith Daytona Full Set which I reckon had been worn a handful of times in its 15 years and was as good an example as I’ve ever seen.
5) My favourite watch of the year was a Panerai Luminor PAM 372 which is about the most beautiful thing that this fantastic Italian company have ever produced.
6) The best investment watch that we have supplied so far was a beautiful early 1970’s Omega Speedmaster Full Set on its original bracelet – A Rolex Daytona with a similar specification would cost £25,000 and this Speedie was a little over £3,000…. We always try to have a vintage Speedmaster in stock now but they have to be right and so it’s not always possible.
I was flattered to be asked to write a regular column for The Norwich Resident magazine which seems to be well received and is certainly a lot of fun to do – you can read them on this website if you’ve missed them so far and visit their website to catch up with more luxury related content.
And so, today is the first day of Year 2 and I’m wondering what that will hold.
I know that whatever it holds will be the result of more of the same from us – we promise never to take ourselves too seriously, to embrace the fun that is supposed to lie within the world of luxury and to spend every working minute trying to make the best possible watch buying experience for you – our customers.
Thanks for everything.