Welcome back to an original aBlogtoWatch feature, “My First Grail Watch.” In this series, we ask prominent people in the watch industry about the first timepiece that they lusted after. Today, we are speaking with the fellow who’s been writing these interview articles for you, our own Patrick Kansa. Read on to find out how Transformers intersected his first grail watch, and what he’s moved on to since then.aBlogtoWatch (ABTW): Who are you, and what is your relationship to the watch industry?
Patrick Kansa: I’m… Batman. Oh, wait, scratch that. My name is Patrick Kansa, and I am a contributing editor here at aBlogtoWatch, along with being the managing editor over at WristWatchReview.
ABTW: When did your fascination with watches start?
Patrick Kansa: Well, aren’t you just a bit nosy? Don’t you already know the answer to this anyways?
ABTW: Well, yes, but you see, there’s a protocol to follow…
Patrick Kansa: Alright, alright. Say one thing for me, it’s that I like following the rules. Now, to your question. I guess you could say it started when I was a kid. I generally had a watch of some sort from a rather early age, but I really started to get more serious about watches, and trying to understand them, probably about four or five years ago. It was also around this time that John Biggs took a chance on me (being totally unknown in the watch or writing worlds) and brought me onboard over at WWR. This helped to broaden and deepen my appreciation and understanding of watches, which got yet another boost when I started contributing here at ABTW.
ABTW: What was your first grail watch?
Patrick Kansa: Time to jump into the wayback machine! The true first grail would have been a watch where you could disconnect the face and transform it into a little robot. These were definitely not haute horlogerie, but in the ’80s, anything like this (you know, like Transformers or GoBots) were hot. The truly rare ones (at least at my school) were the plated ones, I believe there were silver- or gold-tone versions. I ended up with a fairly pedestrian black-and-grey version, if I remember correctly.
ABTW: What drew you to this particular watch?
Patrick Kansa: Well, as I mentioned, robots that could change into other things were really quite popular at the time, being that they were more than meets the eye, and all that. While it may not have been practical to always carry around, say, Optimus Prime, this was a transformer that fit snugly on to your wrist and was always with you. Oh, and, you know, told you the time.
ABTW: So, it’s obvious we don’t need to ask if you got it. Let’s go at it a different way – how long did you save up to afford it?
Patrick Kansa: Well, at the time I got it, I certainly was not about to be able to afford it. I did receive it as a gift, however, and really cherished having received it. So, even though I did not have the terminology for it back then, I did indeed acquire my first grail watch.
ABTW: Do you still have it? Or have you moved on to something else?
Patrick Kansa: Unfortunately, this transformer watch got lost somewhere in the shuffle (or perhaps it was needed by its peoples), along with some of my earlier watches. There is one other particular one that stands out. It was a gold-tone digital watch that had one major draw for me – a button to press that lit up the digital display. Perhaps the start of my current interest with well-lumed watches?
Anyways, even if I still had it, I would have indeed moved on to something else. I mean, cool as it was, that robot watch was the epitome of molding plastic and quartz to low, low price points. Given my exposure to watches over the past few years, this is something that has evolved over time. These days, I would actually split my grails into two slices – ones that may be somewhat realistic in a nearer term (say, within 5 years), and others further out.
For those nearer term #watchgoals, I would certainly put the Sjöö Sandström Royal Steel World Timer that I just reviewed. Past that, there are three watches that fit that grail category, all from Rolex. When I first started thinking about “the” watch to get, it was the Rolex Explorer II (in polar white) that really got my gears turning. As of late, that is still a top contender, but the Rolex GMT Master II (aka the Batman – perfect for me, right?) with the blue-black bezel has given me a pause on the Explorer. Then again, I’m not 100% sold that the Mercedes handset is for me. Which is where something like the Rolex Datejust comes into play. Then again, that brings other decisions, like bezel and bracelet style. Ah, the luxury of choice.
For the ones further out, it’s again a two-for-one sort of a deal, albeit from much different brands. The first one I’d call out would be the Ressence Type 3. When I first saw how that oil-filled case just looked, simultaneously zero-depth and super deep (in terms of the dial look), I was sold. Then you start getting into the actual technology they had to come up with to make everything work, and wow, yeah, that is something else.
The other one goes in a completely different direction, and is something very recent, and it would be one of the recent releases from Bovet. the Bovet Récital Astérium. While the 20 is the more recent release, I find myself more drawn to the 18 (which we wrote about here). Why? Well, for starters, it’s a gorgeous watch. More importantly (or at least as importantly), it has an artistic – and complicated – approach for tracking a second time zone. Which, if you can’t tell, I’m a bit of a fan of. Finally, did you notice that there’s lume on the watch? Yeah, this one checks lot of my boxes, and maintains that “pie in the sky” sort of grail-ness.
ABTW: We know you got the true first grail, and that second set seems out of reach currently. How about the nearer term, those Rolex cousins – either of those hit your wrist?
Patrick Kansa: The two nearer-term grails – the Rolex GMTs – haven’t hit the watch box (though the Michelsen Arctic Explorer sort of scratches that itch for me), and most certainly the Ressence and Bovet are simply out of the question as far as I can see. For now, I keep satisfied with exploring the watches that cross my desk for review, and sharing that love of watches with my wife and children, and with the readers who put up with my ramblings.