Name: Sidarth Sondhi
Place of residence: Abu Dhabi, UAE
1. What’s the story behind how you came to own your first watch and what kind of watch was it?
My first notable watch was a Seiko Chronograph quartz model sometime in the mid-1980s when I was in my early teens. It was a gift from my parents and a silent acknowledgement from them that I was ready to own and look after a decent watch.
2. How did your passion for watches evolve over time and when did you realize that you wanted to be a collector?
From the beginning of my working life in the mid-1990’s, I immediately embarked upon collecting watches. I was fascinated by them throughout my childhood and started acting on my passion as soon as I was able to financially support it. The first few watches were all quartz models which were visually appealing and looked fashionable. I then started to read more widely and understand the differences in the quality of materials and accuracy of timekeeping. Once I discovered mechanical watches, particularly from Swiss watch brands, I was completely hooked.
3. How would you describe your collection and what does collecting watches mean to you?
After trying out many brands and models, I decided that I only wanted watches that I could wear at work, during sporting activities and while relaxing – without having to change them, if I so wished. I loved the look of the classic dive watch dials and therefore dive watches became my focus. I slowly started to trade my considerable collection (65 plus watches) and purchase fewer but higher quality, mostly Swiss mechanical models. I still had more watches than I could wear on a regular basis and started my long-term hobby of trading watches to keep refining my collection. The aim was to try to continually improve the overall quality of my timepieces.
4. Out of all your watches, which one are you are the proudest of?
My favourite watches and the ones which I will never part with are the ones which were given to me as gifts from my family – most of these are quartz models. However, the first automatic watch which I was completely obsessed over, was a relatively inexpensive Atlantic Worldmaster Art Deco reissue with a yellow gold plated case and see-through case back. I saw it on a prominent online watch store and it was love at first sight – I just had to have it. I wore it to the office daily and on all my work-related travels for several years. Eventually, it became slightly small (38mm) for modern tastes and I now wear it infrequently. It is still the favourite watch in my collection though.
5. What kind of relationship do you foster with other collectors?
I used to be part of many online watch forums but was unable to keep up, due to family and work commitments. I now share my passion with a few close friends who love mechanical watches – all who have far more substantial collections than me. I tend to speak at least once per week with them about watches.
6. What are the most important criteria for you to consider prior to buying a watch?
It sounds like a cliché but I always hope that whenever I purchase a watch, I will keep it for many years and ideally never sell it. As mentioned earlier, I also have a preference for multi-purpose mechanical timepieces. Therefore, my key criteria are:
1. Automatic movement (preferably Swiss)
2. Very solid case and high water resistance
3. Sapphire crystal glass
4. Strong luminous material on the hands and numbers/indices
5. Preferably a diver’s dial, although I also like pilot’s watches
7. What is your relationship with retailers like and what is their role in helping you purchase a watch?
I have built up a good relationship with many brick and mortar and online retailers over the years. The advantage is that I am one of the first people they contact when a watch I wish to purchase comes into their possession. Also, once they got to know me better, they started to suggest brands and models which they considered suitable for my tastes, whether or not I have owned these before. This helped me to get out of my comfort zone when looking at future purchases.
8. How does the most recent watch you bought reflect who you are and what has changed since your first watch in this regard?
The last major watch purchase which I have made is an Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean on a waterproof leather strap with 43.5mm case. This watch probably sums up my taste in watches better than any other – Diver’s watch with high water resistance, moderately large case without being huge, highly accurate automatic movement, well-known and well-regarded brand and iconic model, highly legible, long power reserve and excellent luminous material. The see-through case back is a bonus for a watch that is water resistant to 600 meters. It’s just about my prototype or signature timepiece. While a mid-priced model, it is far removed from the inexpensive quartz fashion timepieces which I purchased in my early 20s.
9. Which watch is your favourite “daily watch”?
Almost without question, it’s my current edition Breitling Superocean 42 on a rubber strap. The size, robustness, legibility and wearing comfort are perfect for daily use. I’m waiting for Breitling to issue an updated version of this model with a ceramic dial.
10. How do you use WatchAdvisor for yourself and where do you see its greatest benefit?
I have found that WatchAdvisor has perfectly filled a void in the market, as it provides much more than basic product information, price and payment/delivery options. The depth of the information on watches, links to stores, retailers and other members and the ability to list and compare different timepieces make the site quite unique.