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Watch Dealer

Luke Rottman entered the watch business at thirteen years old, as the industry’s youngest connoisseur. He spent his teen years accruing a following on his watch journal, THE WATCH ADVISER, while working alongside renowned collectors and watch manufacturers. Luke managed school, his website, and writing at Forbes, when he realized the watches he had been writing about could serve a lucrative purpose. He left school to travel internationally where he learned how to buy and sell rare vintage and modern watches. After over a year on the road, Luke continued his academics and now balances his fledgling watch business and his pre-medical studies.

1. Do you remember your first watch?

Bored on a rainy day about seven years ago, I was at my grandparents’ house rummaging through a bag of old knick knacks when I discovered my grandfather’s long-abandoned OMEGA Seamaster. I brought the watch to my grandfather’s attention to ask about its origins. He told me he had bought the watch when he and my grandmother were on their honeymoon in Switzerland. He was determined to come home with a Swiss watch, so although he initially planned to purchase a Patek, by the end of the trip, after a bit of gambling, he could only afford the Omega! I have this OMEGA still, and cherish every second of wearing it!

2. The 3 most iconic watch models?

I’d say the ROLEX Day-Date, the OMEGA Speedmaster, and the PATEK PHILIPPE Nautilus are the most iconic watch models. However, there are many runners-up: The ROLEX Daytona (worn by Paul Newman), the ROLEX Submariner (Steve McQueen and James Bond), the AUDEMARS PIGUET Royal Oak, and others. A tough call like this warrants endless thought.

3. A noteworthy anecdote with one of your watches?

Here’s a lesson learned. The first ROLEX I ever bought and sold, a mint condition Explorer dial reference 6098, the same reference worn by Sir Edmund Hillary, I found on eBay when I was twelve years old. I paid $2,500 for the watch, using a friend’s eBay account, and I had two weeks to repay the loan. Insisting it was worth at least three fold my cost, I rejected every offer that came my way because I knew I had made a smart buy. Nearly two weeks later, I had not sold the 6098, and I had no way of getting $2,500 immediately. So I accepted $2,600 from a nearby dealer who informed me that he was paying an unheard-of premium for this watch simply to help me out. I returned weeks later to learn that he had flipped it for $13,000. I won’t go on about this one, but I also brokered a ROLEX GMT Master 6542 with an un-cracked bakelite bezel for $14,500. The same watch, same serial number, sold in Sotheby’s for $63,000 a few years later. The moral of the story is never sell a worthwhile product short.

4. Are you more modern or vintage?

Definitely vintage, although recently I’ve taken interest in modern pieces with precious metals and stones. I’m drawn to vintage watches because of their charm and timelessness.

5. I love Speedmasters because …

I love Speedmasters because the watch-moon connection intrigues me. Aesthetically, the Speedmaster was such an original design when OMEGA first unveiled it.

6. Your favorite Speedmaster?

By far and away, the 2915-1 is my favorite Speedmaster.

7. A single personal item you would take with you for a long stay on the Moon?

I would take my guitar and lots of extra strings. More songs can be played on a guitar than on an iPod. And if two belongings were allowed, I’d probably bring a hoodie; I assume it’s quite cold there, but I haven’t checked the forecast since my last trip.

8. You just won the lottery. Do you first buy a sports car or call a financial advisor?

If I won the lottery I would give my mom her well-deserved vacation, followed by a Ferrari Superamerica 45 for myself, a home on the ocean, and some fine art. The rest of the money I would divide between my business, college/medical school savings, and donations toward medical research.

9. Where would you spend the next 24 hours if you had a teleporter?

I would go to the Serengeti with my camera to photograph and study wildlife.

10. How many times a day do you watch … your watch?

At least ten times daily. And I do not look at my watch to tell the time, I just love knowing I have something mesmerizing on my wrist.

11. The last watch you bought?

The last watch I bought was a really top condition ROLEX Daytona “Big Red” reference 6265 box/papers.

12. What’s on your wrist today?

Today I’m wearing the flamboyant ROLEX “Leopard” Daytona, reference 116598. You either love it or hate it!

Thank you Luke.

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