It’s author, photographer, and collector extraordinaire Auro Montanari, who goes by John Goldberger. John has the watch you’ve always wanted—plus a dozen others you didn’t even know to write down in your dream journal. Nothing is off limits for John, who wears Swatch, Casio, vintage Omega, Patek Philippe, and optical-illusion-grade Bulgari with equal gusto. He’s a legend, and he knows he’s a legend. My favorite thing about John is that, when I sat next to him at Rolliefest 2019, he used a pencil drawing of himself as both the lock screen and home screen on his iPad. He would have been the betting favorite for the WCOTY if we were making markets (next year!), but was edged out by just a few votes.
Our 2022 watch collector of the year is….
While Rob’s feed is sprinkled with bank-account busters from Lange and Patek, he mostly uses it to show off surprising, unheralded watches you want immediately. His Tudor Oysterdate flecked with blue, Universal Geneve Tri-Compax, and squiggly hands Movado would each immediately become the coolest and most unique thing in many people’s collection. Rob had ardent supporters on his way to the top this year, from folks like Adam Golden of Menta Watches. “Rob buys with his heart, and his eclectic collection really shows that,” Golden said. “He doesn’t buy trends, he buys what he personally likes. And let’s be honest, he brings the sexy back to the vintage-watch-world.” Indeed, our winners are defined not by their ability to accumulate the most hyped pieces in the world, but by a willingness to pursue their own tastes in whatever unique direction that means. I talked to Rob about his extraordinary victory.
How would you define your collecting philosophy?
I am a firm believer in the idea that you need to own watches from many different brands and eras before you can define your taste or philosophy. It’s one thing to decide whether you like a watch based on pictures or reviews, but another thing entirely to put in the time to research, find an example, and live with it. After many years of “experiential learning,” I’ve realized that two things matter most to me: I have an extremely high bar for quality, and my collection needs to be balanced across brands, styles, and eras.