Father's Day with The Vintage Watch Company
In my life, I have been lucky enough to meet more than one James Bond character. Two such characters own the amazing The Vintage Watch Company in the Burlington Arcade, London. It is of course all a cover, because no one really knows where they are after hours.
The dynamic duo are father and son, John & David, they have their own Ms Moneypenny, John's daughter Sara. Discretion is their speciality and a good job too, as their watches have gone to some of the most well know people in the world.
David has two beautiful sons who, you guessed it, have been trained as mini Bonds.
Father's Day at their household is, as you can imagine, filled with the most beautiful dads, who are so family orientated, it's a dream.
So how did it all begin......
John, how did you get into vintage watches?
Nearly 25 years ago now, I sold my business and was looking for something to occupy my time. The opportunity came to place some watches with a friend in an antiques centre in Bond Street. He sold jewellery and antique silver and I was given a small counter to play with. At first I started with a number of vintage watch brands, including Rolex, Omega and Longines but it became clear very early on that the demand and interest was all around Rolex. I began to think how special it would be if I could focus entirely on one brand and try and showcase as many vintage pieces as possible. After a few years my daughter Sara joined me and we began to expand within the antique centre itself, eventually taking our own unit dedicated entirely to vintage Rolex watches.
John, which watch would you feature for Father's Day this year?
I always feature a Rolex from the person's year of birth as the most amazing and sentimental gift for anyone. For a man, as we have so little available in jewellery, I would say this is the most amazing gift.
John, it's a big step to ask your children to work with you how did you all decide to do this?
I didn't really ask any of them!!! It all rather fell into place as the years went on.
Sara joined early on and allowed me the flexibility to be in and out of the shop which for me was too restraining day after day.
David worked for a long time doing other things. His passion lay always in retail and he had worked for a number of years for Paul Smith. He even kept his Saturday job there whilst he worked in an office Monday to Friday.
It doesn't work for all families, but if you can all get on then I think the combination is a very powerful one as ultimately you are all very heavily focused on the same goals and share in the benefits of your hard work.
David, so how is it working with Big Bond and Moneypenny?
Well Moneypenny has a lot of time off tending to her young family and we try and keep big Bond to very restricted hours.
David, would you like your boys to continue the family business eventually?
I suppose it's a lovely dream but ultimately they must, as I did, start work in the real world first. They must have a boss that gives them instructions, stress, deadlines, normal exposure to working life. I think entering a family business without any "other world" experience is a very dangerous and closeted thing to do.
David, which of your Vintage watches would you like to see in a Bond film ?
Well Rolex always was Bond's choice of watch from Dr No in 1962 right the way through the 1970s... I would like to see it resurface in much the same way Aston Martin has and to feature some of the old vintage pieces in a film would be amazing.
John and David, you're obviously very close what would you say makes this happen in a father / son relationship?
I would say my father is more like a best friend and I think this is the key to our success. He is firm, he is tough and he does run the shop as if he had a staff of 1,000 people. For him it is all about the basics and this gives me immense discipline. I am not allowed to buy whatever I like without reconciling what I have spent and equally he insists on making sure the mundane is running smoothly before we even entertain any elaborate ventures. His motto is and has always been, "look after the stock and the stock will look after you...". Keep the shop and the stock glisteningly clean, make sure everything is tested and ready to go, don't rest on your laurels.
John and David, how are you spending Father's Day?
We don't know yet, but if we are all around then we will inevitably be together at some point during the day. We don't need to have fancy meals or arrangements in place... As long as we are all together, that is enough!
David & John, what's your work life balance strategy?
We both struggle at this one... For us, when the shop is open generally we need to be around as it is a very unique store and ultimately you never know when someone is likely to turn up. On Sunday's we have a rest and once a year we holiday together so we actually have a relationship that is with the children/grandchildren away from the business and in a relaxed atmosphere.
David and John, what words of wisdom would you give your boys?
Ours are simple words of wisdom. As we said before, "look after your stock and it will look after you", and "don't put off until tomorrow what you can do today".
David and John, what would you like from Cotton and Pearl this Father's Day?
John - anything relaxing...
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