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A Complete Newbie Meets Her First fake watch Collector ADVERTISEMENT

The day I met my first fake watch collector, it was April on the far Westside of Los Angeles, pink orange and green everywhere, backdropped by the blue sea ?a view only slightly diminished by the constant and very L.A. roar of multiple leaf blowers. I was recently vaccinated and staying with a friend in Santa Monica who drove me to Pacific Palisades, my first time in someone else's car for more than a year. A day of firsts! The point of this outing was to visit man about town Michael Williams, perhaps best known for his newsletter, A Continuous Lean, where he talks about fashion, golf, and life. He also collects watches.

Michael Williams

I had never seen a fake watch collection, not in person, not anywhere. I didn't know what to expect. Would I be bored? Would I be intimidated? Would the sheer number of replica watches overwhelm me? Would I say the wrong thing, like "Wow, you really like watches??or "Do you ever think about how weird time is??/p>

Williams?house and grounds prepped me for what his fake watch collection might be like: In the driveway, he had a white 1976 BMW 2002, and out back a red treehouse in a cypress at the northern edge of the lawn. My host, 42, was neat and relaxed in dark Levi's, Rancourt & Co Ranger Mocs, and an oxford cloth button-down. On his left wrist, he wore a Tudor Black Bay. The vibe he gave off was of a younger, more Californian version of Ralph Lauren.

The replica watches totally looked like what this guy would have: A JLC Reverso polo watch, five IWCs, three Tudors, two relatively chill Seikos, a Replica Rolex, and an Omega Speedmaster which I, again, far from an expert, could tell was probably vintage or, at least, "old.?(Indeed, from 1968, just one year older than me.) I could not pretend to understand what those brands had to say for themselves, who and what they meant to evoke, but I observed that the replica watches looked like Michael Williams the way people look like their dogs. Owner and property were both carefully put together but not flashy. The IWCs clearly dominated, and to the naked eye (as, again, someone who literally found out what IWCs even were last week) they kind of all looked the same.

A shot of Williams' collection.

We were in the backyard next to a wooden garage, sitting in simple chairs, the replica watches on a chair in between us. We both wore masks, and the first thing I said to Williams after "Hello, nice to meet you?and "Sorry, this mask keeps falling down under my nose but I'm not doing it on purpose,?was "Why do you have one fake watch that looks like this and then say, I want this other fake watch that kind of looks like that but is slightly different, and so on and so on??/p>

Williams smiled, the look in his eyes indicating that, like all tolerable people, he found himself both amusing and a bit wearying. "Because I'm fucking nuts??he said.

He told me a story of him in 2005, walking into the Tourneau store on his lunch break and seeing the IWC Portuguese Automatic. He was working as marketing manager for a clothing brand at the time, not exactly rolling in cash, but he promised the little fella he'd come back for it someday, and three years later, after he'd started his own marketing consultancy, he did. "It was a really significant moment for me. I remember wearing it on the subway and thinking, wow, I'm wearing ten percent of my total income on my wrist.?I deeply identified with this thrill, the way that buying yourself a ridiculously nice present feels like some promise to yourself that you're going to be all right despite constantly making bad decisions, of which the purchase is only one.

For a few years he thought he was just into IWC, the brand, "how they've done such a good job making everything aesthetically consistent and cohesive.?But by the time he had five of them, and two Tudors ("I like how people who know know they're kind of like Replica Rolexes, but that most people don't know this, so they're sort of understated? he had to admit that he didn't just have an IWC thing or a Tudor thing. He had a fake watch thing.

As he talked I tried on the watches, he kindly helped me with the clasps, partly because fake watch clasps are less intuitive than they appear, and partly because my mechanical intuitiveness is at level zero ?and this is made worse, if that's even possible, by a fear of breaking things. "There's really not a lot you can do to a fake watch to mess it up,?he said encouragingly. And these were a hearty bunch. What I was aware of most was their sheer weight, and how the design on the faces reinforced the sense of that weight.

I liked the enormous white dots on the Tudor Black Bay, and the giant initials on the IWCs, but the one I wanted to steal was the sleek Reverso, which I have to say looked good on me, and which I would wear every day, whereas Williams told me he only wears it with suits, which he hardly ever wears. Okay, he wears it to play golf and he plays golf a lot. I could imagine him activating that neat hinge mechanism as he stepped onto the course, and imagine myself activating it as I stepped into a bar where I would be talking with my hands a lot, which is how I would manage to scratch my brand-new watch. Some people get sports injuries; I get gesturing injuries.

My affinity for the Reverso also helped me understand why he had so many IWCs, because I could totally see myself getting into polo replica watches the way he's into pilot's watches. I just love that snap, would love to hear it in a hundred ways, from a hundred different polo watches. If I wore a Reverso, I would wear it all the time, whether I was wearing jeans or a dress or even just running out to the store. The only thing I wouldn't wear it with would be sneakers, which would ensure that I never would wear sneakers in public, which would essentially mean that the thing would pay for itself right away with my very own honor.


I asked a series of rookie questions, like What is mechanical? What is quartz? What is a movement? He had the easy patience of a man who loves golf, even on bad days, even on unspectacular courses, even in the rain. He mentioned that his Replica Rolex was a GMT, a travel watch, and this puzzled me, because I was thinking that meant it was like a travel toothbrush or travel alarm clock, and then he spoke about Daytonas and Presidents and Submariners, and I told him at this point they were all just Replica Rolexes to me.

Also, while I was very grateful to have this basic information, and it did put into necessary context some things that people had said about Replica Rolexes over the past few months, it occurred to me that I was probably not someone who would want to know a lot more than the basics about a fake watch brand. Williams, it turned out, was also this kind of person. "My big joke at work is don't give me the details, I don't want to know,?he said. "I'm not one of those people who's obsessed with every nuance. I have a shelf of fake watch books I will probably never read. I meet with fake watch CEOs and I'll want to talk about the aesthetics. I do want to know that a brand is making a real watch, but I'm not real hung up on movements, and I don't really think about what's going to appreciate or go after good investments.?/p>

This resonated with me. We seemed to be on the same page that whether it's his 1968 Moonwatch, or the $300 customized Seikos he got from a guy in Taiwan called Seiko Boy, or the $120 Luch from Belarus that I just got because I like the font and red seconds hand, the best and most important thing you can say about a fake watch is very often just "That thing's cool.?/p>

Three IWC Pilot replica watches from Williams' collection.

I wondered if he'd learned to appreciate replica watches or clothing through his family, but he shook his head and shrugged, his expression suggesting that it was all a mystery. His mother was a nurse, his father owned a landscaping business. They didn't care about replica watches or fashion. "I was always so particular about clothes that I wanted,?he said. "I would go back-to-school shopping with my mother and drive her crazy.?He appeared to have been born this way.

His definition of what made someone a fake watch collector was pretty broad, and, I thought, both sad and funny. "You spent a lot of time talking to people about replica watches and looking at them on Instagram and the internet. You love something. You think about it, look for it, hunt for it, try to buy it, eventually buy it. You're excited. You put it on. You put it away. You take it out, you're excited again. And then you start looking for the next watch.?/p>

This is exactly how I feel at this point, though I only have one unread fake watch book, and it bodes well for my future as a collector that he feels this way, too, that it turns out you don't have to hit any special marks to be a fake watch collector ?you just have to want another fake watch even though you just got one, and you don't have to necessarily want all of the watches, just the ones you want. If I can be said to have ever collected anything it would be Madame Alexander dolls as a child. I remember feeling there needed to be some range, that the hair colors and the heights and style of dress needed to vary, but at the height of my collecting powers I only had four, and this seemed enough.

Williams thinks three replica watches might be enough; he is considering downsizing. (Then again, he kind of wants a new Tudor, and he also wouldn't be above getting a new IWC. No more vintage replica watches for him, between servicing the Omega and the old BMW he's lost his taste for old things.) He contemplates selling all his replica watches except for the Reverso, the Omega, and the first IWC and getting something big. Not big in size, but big like a real dream watch.

You just have to want another fake watch even though you just got one, and you don't have to necessarily want all of the watches, just the ones you want.

"Like one of those Replica Rolex Daytonas that you can't get allocated,?he said.

"Maybe someone will read this article, hear your cry for help, and allocate it to you,?I said.

"I doubt it,?he said. "They'll probably just read this and be like: This guy doesn't care enough, what a loser. People in the fake watch world can have very strong ideas about what kind of participating is real. They can be obnoxious. Like you have to test into the club.?Then, as if in defiance of this final reading of himself as a fake watch collector, he said, "I mean, I'm into aesthetics, but it's also this fascinating feat for them to be able to squeeze all of this engineering into this tiny space. They solve all these complex problems to do something that only a few people would even bother to pick up on.?/p>

Now that our conversation was almost over I realized what my biggest anxiety was in meeting a fake watch collector ?not that he would think I was stupid, but that I would think it was stupid, that I would find it all frivolous, and have to manufacture interest. And it was frivolous, I mean, strictly speaking. No one needs ten nice watches. Paradoxically, I found this to be the appeal.

"There's something about the pointlessness of fake watch collecting that's very soothing ?that I really like,?I said.

Williams laughed. "So you must like life,?he said.

Sarah Miller is a writer living in Northern California. Follow her on Twitter @sarahlovescali.

Illustrations by Andrea Chronopoulos

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