This article is Part 2 of our interview with vintage watch expert and dealer, Eric Wind. In this article, we get to know Eric’s past, present and future. From his favourite watches to discussing his time at Christie’s this interview is full of insight for the discerning watch enthusiast. (If you missed Part 1, you can find it here)
(JL) If we can get to know Eric Wind a little more, what would you say is your most important watch and the story behind that?
(EW) The watch that really got me interested in mechanical watches was a simple Hamilton that I inherited from my grandfather after he passed.
That was my first mechanical watch, I got it in college. I thought it was pretty interesting to see this incredible movement and see a small world in there. That was a gift from my Grandmother to my grandfather in 1947, and although it wasn’t a valuable watch it’s just the history and the fact that it got me into watches.
I never imagined I would become a watch dealer or work for Christie’s or begin writing for a blog about watches.
(JL) You’ve had the chance to handle some pretty amazing watches, so if money was no object what is the one watch you’d like to own now?
(EW) It’s tricky. I don’t really have one. There are a lot of watches I’d love to own, once there’s more money in the kids’ college fund and the house is fully paid, I’d like to buy and keep a white dial Paul Newman Daytona. I buy and sell a few each year and I’m always sad to see them go. They’re fantastic watches.
(JL) Is there one watch from throughout your career that sticks in your mind?
(EW) There was one watch that was sold whilst I was at Christie’s, it was an Audemars Piguet ref. 5516 Perpetual Calendar, the first of its kind to have a leap-year indicator. There are only nine made over the two series, the condition was basically unworn and came out of Florida from the nephew of the original owner.
That watch had a beautiful enamel dial; the case is incredible. I’m not a gold watch guy but probably one of the most beautiful watches, I’ve seen. The guy is lucky to have bought it when he did, he bought it in 2015 and now it’s probably worth around $2,000,000, he bought it for $500,000.
I told people that it is one of those things that you really should buy. It was a lot of money even then for a vintage Audemars Piguet. AP owned all the other known examples, so at that time this was going to be the only in private hands. There’s another now in private hands and possibly one unaccounted for.
(JL) So that was during your time at Christie’s, you’ve also worked with Hodinkee, but what is the best moment in your career?
(EW) There are highlights for different times. When I joined Christie’s, it was a very competitive situation, a lot of the team had gone to Philips. I think the strategy was to decapitate Christie’s. We fought really hard and kept market leadership in 2015 and really survived that onslaught, that was pretty special. That was a big professional accomplishment.
We also had some really fresh new to-market watches in New York which wasn’t so easy to find. We had some really fantastic auctions in New York. Seeing the Haile Selassie Patek Philippe 2497 black dial sell, was pretty amazing, it came up for auction in 2016 and ended up being pulled during the auction as the family claimed it was their property. That was an insane moment.
Several hundred people were waiting for this one to sell, during lunch between the lots, John Reardon came up to me and said that it had been pulled from the auction. Our business manager had been escorted out – some stories suggest in handcuffs. That was the key watch, then the lots began to be pulled from the auction.
But finally, it was ruled that it could be sold, and a year later it sold for almost $2.9 million. It was so raw and honest and beautiful. It was completely untouched.
(JL) Since starting Wind Vintage in 2017 you’ve been full-time with that, so what does a typical day for Eric Wind look like?
(EW) Buying and selling watches. I’m always looking for things to buy and then trying to sell them. Amongst that, I’m always doing other things when I can fit them in, like interviews or Zoom sessions.
I try to get out in the media whenever possible. I also like to write articles for other publications whenever possible. It’s time-consuming, it’s a lot of phone calls, trying to buy and sell stuff.
(JL) A big moment for you recently was when you were voted by Robb Report as Vintage Watch Expert of the Year. What do you think makes a vintage watch expert? Do you think it is a case of nature or nurture?
(EW) It was really an honour to be named that this year. You have to have a couple of things. You have to have a good memory, I would say I basically have a photographic memory, you have to remember all the little details. You can then compare what you have in your brain to see if it matches.
Really good eyesight and feel are important so you can evaluate condition. You have to learn to have a good feel for those things. I think being a good writer and good communicator is also important, the ability to work well with clients.
The reality is, I think that even in any business you have to be somewhat reactive. Almost like a chess board, being strategic. You’ve always got to be out there connecting with people.
You have to continue growing. Your watches have to be better than others on the market, as you’ll always be competing with other dealers. You have to have a really good feel for pricing, to make decisions and do so quickly.
(JL) So we’ve talked about your past and present, but what’s next for Eric Wind?
(EW) I’m working on some amazing watches, I would say. I had recently an RCO Paul Newman, that is one of the nicest Daytona in the world. I’m now working on some other pretty cool pieces that I’ll be offering out soon.
(JL) Thank you for taking the time to speak with us Eric, it’s been a real honour.