This time it’s my honor to interview @MikeSoub. Mike is an airline pilot from Guadeloupe.
He’s been a collector of watches for 3 years and he’s also a hobbyist watchmaker.
How did your love for watches come to be?
During my flight training, aircrafts were equipped with Type 12 chronographs from Breguet or Dodane.
Navigation was relying heavily on time and when you can’t see outside, your life may very well depend on your watch. Even if it’s a 55-year-old chronograph.
How is your collection made up?
I have an eclectic collection.
Initially, I wanted dials with a simple and clear design.
My first automatic watch was a flieger, an Archimede Pilot. That was to celebrate the fact that I became an aerobatics flight instructor. But to be honest, I didn’t fly with it. I was too afraid of what the G-forces might do to the mechanism.
Instead, I wore my first high-quality watch, a vintage style Bell and Ross, quartz powered.
When I became an airline pilot, I decided to buy the “Ultimate Pilot Watch” in my eyes. A Sinn 857 UTC Testaf.
Clear readability, automatic movement, a second time zone, and a useful bezel. I use that bezel to visually mark a future event.
I think Sinn is very well balanced in terms of quality and price. Sinn was founded by a former flight instructor, so their designs focus on functionality.
Then, I moved to Switzerland for work and that was the perfect occasion to buy a Swiss watch 😉
I was interested in Fortis watches. I loved their design, the fact that cosmonauts were equipped with Fortis watches, their value for money and their relative discretion. I found the one I wanted in Basel and I have not been disappointed.
Then, I became curious about watchmaking and my interest evolved. I love to see how time is measured.
When I joined my 3rd airline, I found a great watch for the situation: a Tissot skeleton T-complication. I wasn’t a fan of Tissot but this is a seducing piece and maybe one of their best projects in my opinion.
To sum up, my collection evolved with my tastes, with personal landmarks, but always with some characteristics that I find important: great quality to price ratio and humble and discreet brands.
Currently, what is the watch you love to wear the most?
The mighty Sinn. The one I wear the most at work.
What makes it my favorite are the readability and the bezel. Also, it’s very tough, I don’t fear smashing it against something in the tiny environment the Airbus flight deck is.
It could be worse, in a Boeing for example 😉
What is your vintage watch top 3?
I have a fascination for Zenith. Their history, their link with aviation, and their pioneering in chronograph movements.
When he crossed the channel in 1909, Louis Bleriot was wearing a Zenith.
The history and the legacy of the El Primero is also amazing, so my number one would be the El Primero A86.
Then, I just love the style of the old Tudor Submariner snowflake. Love at first sight, no explanation needed 🙂
To end this top 3, I’d choose the only Rolex I’d like to wear: the Rolex GMT master 16710.
I won’t tell the story of this watch here, but I love it for its strong bond with the airline industry and the glorious past of the Pan American World Airways.
Plus, I’m in love with the Pepsi bezel, I have to admit.
What is your grail watch?
I should write watcheS but an obvious one comes to my mind: a Zenith Cairelli Tipo CP-2.
A piece of history with a great design. Visually, this piece just makes my heart skip a beat.
As a bonus, I’m in love with the Breguet Tradition 7057. Not a vintage piece, but an homage to the very beginning of watchmaking.
What is the watch that is now on the wishlist but you will eventually own it?
A Tudor Pelagos, old generation.
For all the reasons I’ve listed earlier. I think this would be a nice addition to my collection.
If you’d start over, what would you do differently?
I only started collecting watches 3 years ago.
I wish I’d started earlier because a lot of watches have become out of reach because of the booming vintage watch market.
What is the next brand that will go through the roof price wise?
To be honest, I’m not quite sure because I don’t pay attention to that.
But I sometimes bump into high-quality movements in unknown brands with a great design.
Sooner or later, more people will recognize these watches for the great pieces they are.
Cyma, Helvetia, Olma and many others…
Do you have any tips for starting collectors?
Buy what you love, and only that.
I never bought a watch for a chance to make a profit. I only bought pieces that I liked.
Don’t be afraid to take your time! Sometimes we may have an intense wish to buy a watch, but that desire vanishes after a couple weeks.
So, time will make your choice wiser.
The picture above is a Breitling Aerospace from 1985, my year of birth. But I didn’t mention it before…
Here’s the story: When I was leaving my second Airline in Switzerland, my colleagues (Captains), knew they were flying with me for the last time.
One of them, one of the coolest guys on the face of the earth, was wearing a Breitling Aerospace. After our last flight, when it was time to say goodbye, he thanked me for flying with him and I saw him removing his watch from his wrist.
As a pilot, you often try to anticipate what could happen. But, I didn’t see this one coming.
He handed it to me and spoke the words, “I know it’s in good hands with you”.
I can’t describe what I felt at that moment but I’m sure you have an idea.