High school teacher, watch collector and photographer — that’s Jorge, the man (the myth, the legend…) behind @thetravelingtimepiece! We recently chatted with Jorge to learn a little more about his love for the hobby and his growing timepiece collection.
Hey Jorge! Could you give us a brief intro into who you are?
I was born and raised in El Salvador, then moved to Los Angeles when I was 16. I’m now a high school Spanish teacher.
That is always surprising to people in the hobby. Teachers don’t stereotypically make a ton of money. But, those of us who love this hobby always find a way to get that next piece on our wrist! While some people may consider watch collecting to be somewhat frivolous, I don’t see it that way. Watches, unlike lots of items, can be considered an asset – you are likely to get some or all of your investment back if you have to resell. When you collect something that depreciates, like shoes for example, that may not be the case.
How did you get into collecting?
Growing up, I always admired watches, and I had a Citizen and a Fossil that I wore and got great use out of. But it wasn’t until my brother introduced me to mechanical watches that I really fell in love. He gave me my first mechanical watch – the Hamilton Khaki Navy GMT – and that watch gave me a whole new appreciation for watches in general.
Now, I can say that watch collecting brings me joy in a lot of other areas, besides the watches themselves. For one, I have met so many friends through the collecting community, both in person and online. There are people all across the world that I’ve met on Instagram through our mutual love for watches. However, we can have an honest conversation about lots of things, not just watches. That has been really great.
Watch collecting has also paved the way for me to get into other hobbies. For example, I would never have taken up photography if it weren’t for my interest in watches. I guess I can say that my love for watches opened the door for me to explore a whole new art form. Moreover, photographing watches has enhanced my appreciation for all the small details in a watch design. So the two hobbies are symbiotic, in a way.
Which watch helped you “get it?”
It was the OMEGA that came after the Hamilton that made me really “get” why my brother was into watch collecting. I started to notice all of the functions and what actually goes into the watch.
After that one, I got the Planet Ocean, which is what made me realize: “I want more. I want to collect watches.” When I got that timepiece, I had no idea what I was buying. I looked at the watch, tried it on, liked the inside and thought the logo was different. Plus, it was a diver’s watch which caught my attention. I’d love to learn more about diving just because of the watch. That’s a collector for you . . . first get the watch, then learn to dive.
The Planet Ocean is the base of my collection. I’ve taken it traveling and I got married with it. I’d probably never let go of it because of the memories. The memories make it so much more special.
What came next?
When I saw the OMEGA Mark 40 while I was visiting my brother in Mexico, I fell in love with it. When I returned home, my brother told me he had bought me the watch and that I could pay him back when I could.
One of the things I like about OMEGA is that even though they only have 5-6 different core collections, they find ways to play with the styles and the colors. That way, there’s something for everyone. Every year, they come out with different pieces that are different and don’t fit the mold. That’s why they’re probably my favorite brand.
What other pieces hold a special place in your collection?
My Bulova Accutron Spaceview is a particularly special piece in part because of how I acquired it. One day visiting my other dad -it´s a long story so we’ll leave it there- I noticed a German beer mug in the living room that I had seen other times but this time it caught my attention. I had been reading “A Man & His Watch” and read the story of the Accutron Spaceview, and thought: “what a cool, funky watch.” And what do you know, a few days later, I found it sitting inside the mug. It was purchased in ’67 and put in the mug in the 80s, so it had been sitting down there for close to 30 years. It’s a quirky and cool piece that represents an interesting time in horological history.
Another fun piece in my collection is my G-SHOCK “Casioak,” which I’ll always remember as the first watch I ever purchased at Feldmar! I got it because I needed a watch I could just put on without even thinking about it. It’s a great watch to go to the gym or do any sports. I liked the design, and the fact that it is almost indestructible. Plus, the watch is an interesting juxtaposition – it’s an extremely affordable Casio with aesthetic ties to one of the most sought-after luxury watches of all time – The AP Royal Oak.
Plus, Feldmar was able to source me two of these watches – one for me and one for my brother. It was great to be able to source my brother a watch that is extremely difficult to find.
Your brother has played a big impact in your collecting.
Funny story, my brother and I end up buying almost all of the same watches. We both have Speedmasters, Planet Oceans and Black Bay GMTs. We definitely bounce collecting decisions off of each other, and the best part about it is that we’ve bonded more because of watch collecting. He’s 15 years older than me and lives in a different country, but our mutual love of watches has brought us closer together.
Let’s talk about your Tudor Black Bay GMT – what drew you toward that watch and what purpose does it serve within your collection?
Really, the Tudor Black Bay GMT is a watch that you just can’t argue with. It’s a dive watch, a GMT and just a versatile, great watch. From the second it came out, I knew I had to have it. I watched and waited for the price to drop a bit and then went for it. After I got it, I couldn’t take the Tudor off for a week or two. It’s a very neat tool watch that you can pretty much do anything with. I’ve taken it to the beach, to weddings, hiking, etc.
Why a Tudor GMT vs. a Rolex?
First and foremost, price. I also thought about wearability. As opposed to the Rolex, the Tudor has a very utilitarian vibe to it. It’s less noticeable than the Rolex, but has a similar aesthetic footprint. Moreover, Tudor as a brand appeals to me because you get some of the same design language as a Rolex, but in a more robust way. Unlike Rolex, Tudor watches aren’t necessarily synonymous with a luxurious lifestyle. They are tool watches. In a way, I think Tudor is now doing what Rolex originally intended to do – make high-end, reliable watches that are meant to be WORN and not necessarily admired.
Next up you got your Rolex Polar Explorer II. Tell us about your adventure with that one.
As much as I love Tudor, I believe that every watch collector, whether or not they want to admit it, wants a Rolex in their collection. We all have different tastes and of course, I’m a young collector, but I still think the brand is amazing. In a way, it stands on its own. The Polar Explorer II first caught my eye because it fits the Rolex look, but is quite unique, as it is one of the only Rolex Sport pieces to feature a white dial. Moreover, it has a very “tool-like” look. In my opinion, the design doesn’t fit the bill of a luxury item. I spent months and months looking for a good example, and thinking about pulling the trigger, but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it.
That holiday season, I was just finishing up school and didn’t have a ton of time to shop. On Christmas Eve, my parents and I went to their favorite store – JC Penney – to pick out some last minute gifts. JC Penney definitely isn’t a place I would associate with luxury wristwatches, so you can imagine my surprise when I looked over and saw a sign advertising 25% off on pre-owned Rolex watches. Being that my parents are somewhat averse to my collecting habits, I sent them to check out the tennis shoes while I went straight to the watch section. I go to the case, and lo and behold, there it was – a Rolex Polar. And not just any Rolex Polar, mind you – this was an EXCELLENT example. Tritium lume, sharp lugs, and in fantastic shape. I called my brother, my go-to watch enabler, and he made the decision for me: “GET IT!”
I had to call the bank and get the transaction approved and it was the longest 10 minutes of my life trying to complete the purchase before my parents found out. I bought some garment to wrap the watch with, and had the sales associate put everything into a standard plastic JC Penney bag. It all worked out! Best of all, my parents still don’t know about it.
I feel like my acquisition of the Polar was meant to be. It’s almost like the universe brought us together that fateful day at JC Penney.
What will your next acquisition be?
I’m super excited for this one, especially because I will be getting it at Feldmar! It will be the Grand Seiko SBGA429 Soko “Shadow.” Also, it will be my first Grand Seiko piece, and I feel like every collector needs to give Grand Seiko a shot. Grand Seiko combines their technology seamlessly with their design, and does it all in house, which is amazing. Eventually, this brand is going to pick up even more than it already is. For my money, you just can’t beat it.
Thus, the watch will serve as a reminder of that trip, and of the different adventures I’ve had while teaching overseas. Like I alluded to earlier, its not just about the watches – it’s about the memories and experiences tied to them.
Thank you for your time, Jorge! We are honored to have you as part of our extended #FeldmarFamily.