It’s safe to say Luke is someone who keeps busy and has his finger in many pies. A Londoner by birth, Luke spent some time in the west of the country, in Dartmoor and then ended up studying at the University of Bristol.
But since that move, he has since returned back to the capital to work in Lloyds as well as other HR/recruitment roles. He now, however, is an executive board member of several companies. Recently Luke has made the move to rural Surrey in the UK to start a family. At almost the exact same time, Luke became one of our winners at Lux Watch Supply, winning the Rolex Daytona.
One thing that has remained constant throughout Luke’s evolving and changing life is his passion for watches. Sparked initially by his father, Luke is now an avid watch collector and has tried and tested many brands over the years.
From a collector’s point of view, however, what is the industry like now and where is it heading according to Luke? What does Luke have in his collection and what does he treasure the most? This is Collector Conversations with Luke Meadows.
What first got you into watches?
I first became interested in watches through my Dad, who definitely had a strong passion for, in particular, Japanese digital watches from the 70s that had quite unusual features.
I vividly remember him having a Seiko C515-5000 calculator watch when I was a young boy, and I used to love playing with it. Unfortunately, when I was 13 years old, my Dad passed away, but he left my mum with instructions to buy me my first ‘proper’ watch for my 18th birthday, which inevitably meant a lot. From then on, my true passion for watches was really kickstarted!
What was your first watch?
I believe that my first ever watch was an Animal one, which I had when I was around age 7 or 8. I distinctly remember having a Fossil watch, at around 12 years old. I absolutely loved this watch as it had an extremely cool feature that allowed me to change the dial colour from green to blue at the touch of a button!
That said, my first serious watch was the watch that I was gifted for my 18th birthday, which was an IWC Spitfire Chronograph.
Can you tell us the story behind this first watch?
My IWC is undoubtedly the one with the real story behind it, of course where my late father left instructions for my mum to buy me it for my 18th birthday.
Apparently, he specified getting an IWC (although he didn’t specify the particular model to get), however, I still don’t know the reasoning behind the choice of brand. At the time, I had never heard of this watchmaker, which sent me down the rabbit hole somewhat in terms of researching them and getting to know the brand.
I like to believe that this was his intention all along, in order to get me interested in the watch industry.
How has your collecting progressed from your first watch and where did you go next?
Throughout the end of my teens and early 20s, I delved more into my interest in vintage digital pieces (which were inspired by my Dad’s old Seiko, which I still have to this day) and largely because I didn’t have sufficient funds to pursue more luxury pieces.
I was able to pick up some awesome watches during this time, including some pretty rare Casios and Citizens. Once I had graduated from University and began working a full-time job, I was able to move into more luxury models, and once I was able to make that leap things snowballed from there.
So, what is the state of the current collection?
My collection now is incredibly varied! I still am not tied to one particular brand; I prefer to buy pieces that speak to me. I think it’s safe to say that I’m certainly making it hard to build up many longstanding relationships with authorised dealers!
The current state of my collection though includes IWC, Bremont, Tudor, Frederique Constant, a few Rolex and also an AP. Of course, I can’t forget my collection of vintage digital models too.
What is the one type or exact piece that defines your collecting style? What do you gravitate towards ordinarily?
I think that it links back to the IWC Chronograph, though I’ve found myself gravitating towards tool watches, and in particular divers and chronographs.
The Bremont within my collection really sums that style up; I bought it because I just appreciated the engineering behind it as I do with all my pieces. It is definitely a much bigger and bulkier piece in comparison to what I would normally go for, but the built-in Faraday cage (making it almost totally shockproof) and the fact that it boasts a mind-boggling 2000m water resistance, completely blew my mind and I had to have it!
Despite not being a diver, I loved the thought of having a piece with such insane capabilities in my collection. The fact that the watch would far outlast the diver in when going to extreme depths makes it all the more fascinating and wonderfully unnecessary!
What is one watch or watch story that you regret?
At the time I didn’t have sufficient funds, I turned down the chance to buy an Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Chronograph a few years ago.
I have recently purchased the exact same watch, but it cost me 25% more than what I would have paid back then. Safe to say, in hindsight I wish I had paid with the cash I had at the time and paid the rest with my credit card! But that said, you live and you learn.
On the other hand, what is the best moment in your collecting history?
This is definitely a tough one. My favourite memory is somewhat ironic, but it would probably have to be winning the Daytona through Lux Watch Supply.
The moment I found out; I was sitting beside my labouring wife in the hospital. My son was born 24 hours later. I really feel that it is a gorgeous watch and to win something so special and desirable felt amazing.
I fully intend to pass it on to my son one day, although he will probably have to wait till his 30th birthday rather than his 18th. I want to get my fair share of use out of it first!
What is your most important watch?
Once again, this is a tough one. It is definitely between the Seiko C515-5000 and the IWC Spitfire because of the sentimental links back to my father, but I’d go for one of the two.
If money were no object what piece would you buy right now, in other words, your grail watch?
This is an easy one. I would go out and buy the Patek Philippe 5968A Aquanaut Travel Time, with the orange strap combo. I lust over that watch more than any other at the moment! Although if money really were no object, I’d have to buy an F.P. Journe Tourbillon Souverain!
What is the coolest/best watch you’ve worn?
I actually tried on an iced-out Nautilus once, it certainly is not my style at all, but it was pretty cool, nonetheless.
What is next in your collecting journey, what is next on your list?
I’ve certainly got a few in my sights at the moment. I’d really like to add a Speedmaster and a Panerai to my collection, potentially one being a birth year model. I’d say the Speedy would be my preferred choice as I really like their vintage look.
The next watch that is on my hit list though is probably a vintage Rolex Day Date, preferably one from the mid-to-late 70s. I find the yellow gold on crocodile strap very intriguing, I absolutely love the look of them and I am certainly lacking a gold watch in my collection.
What is the brand, whether attainable or unattainable that you admire the most and why?
I’d probably say an F.P. Journe or perhaps a small independent watchmaker such as Dornbluth & Sohn. I admire the romance of a small producer like Dornbluth, the idea of machining every single tiny component by hand to produce something truly special and unique is certainly pretty unique.
What do you, as a collector, make of the industry?
I really feel that the watch industry is in quite a funny place currently, the hot model trends are quite bizarre, and I feel that people are looking for particular watches as a result of new trends. Unfortunately, people aren’t actually wanting a particular watch for personal reasons anymore, trends are beginning to dominate the watch industry.
I do believe that this isn’t particularly sustainable, and it is quite likely that we will see a bit of a bubble burst with some of the aftermarket prices, particularly on steel sports models.
As a collector what trends or interesting moments have you noticed over the last five or ten years?
The birth of the micro brand. Kickstarter has been an amazing tool for people to gain traction in getting their ideas and products out there and that’s no different for the watch industry.
I think there is a level of stigma that can be attached to some Kickstarter-funded brands, not to mention a level of snobbery in some corners of the industry.
And sure, there are a fair few poor homage pieces out there that you have to wade through, but also there are some really passionate watch nuts out there putting out some pretty awesome pieces.
Where do you see the industry heading?
In the longer term, I feel we are going to see a bit of a shift away from the popularity of the historical Swiss brands.
The newer generations who are definitely struggling to move out and get on the property ladder, certainly won’t be able to drop £5000+ on a watch alone. I think that this will therefore lead to an increase in the popularity of brands in an early/middle level of luxury, such as Oris, Frederique Constant or Sinn. This is exciting and will certainly increase the choice among consumers.
What is one piece of advice you’d share with someone getting into watches?
Buy what you love! I’d really advise you to not fall into the trap of believing watches are an investment, as it will definitely take away the joy of owning one. If you feel too nervous wearing the watch, if you may scratch it, then don’t buy it.