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My First Grail Watch: Rob Nudds

My First Grail Watch: Rob Nudds My First Grail Watch

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 our very own Rob Nudds, who, along with writing here, also happens to be a professional watchmaker. Read on to learn what he originally set out studying and what “horror show” became his first grail, as well as what animal he feels the watch could defend you against.

aBlogtoWatch (ABTW): Who are you, and what is your relationship to the watch industry?

Rob Nudds: My name is Rob Nudds. I’m 30 years old and live in the London area. I’m a professional watchmaker working in after sales. I graduated from the British School of Watchmaking in 2012, where I completed my two years of apprenticeship. Before that, I worked at the Swatch store on Market Street in Manchester (my home town). Years before that, I worked in H. Samuels for the Signet Group, doing battery and strap changes. When I look back on it, my life has never been too far away from watches, even before I realised it was what I wanted to do with my time.

ABTW: When did your fascination with watches start?

Rob Nudds: While studying at University, I decided I wanted to be a watchmaker. I was half-way through a BSc in Archaeological Science when I realised the traditional academic path wasn’t for me. I got a job designing clothes (while still in University), which was when I realised I was interested in fashion. I decided that the pinnacle of men’s fashion was watchmaking – the most traditional of arts within an evermore transient industry. As soon as I finished my degree in Archaeological Science, I began my watchmaking journey. I always knew I wanted to write about watches. Being a practising watchmaker means my take on the industry and its wares is a little different, but it comes from the same place as most writers – a passion for horology. I absolutely love getting the chance to comment on the wares out there right now. It’s a privilege to share my knowledge and enthusiasm with a worldwide community.

My First Grail Watch: Rob Nudds My First Grail Watch

Omega Seamaster Ploprof 1200M

ABTW: What was your first grail watch?

Rob Nudds: I think the first time I became genuinely obsessed with a single model was when I finally decided that the Omega Ploprof was a masterpiece. It took me weeks of vacillation. At first, I was convinced it was an absolute horror show, but eventually revulsion became reverence.

ABTW: Revulsion to reverence – that is quite the transformation. What drew you to this particular watch?

Rob Nudds: It was, and still is, unlike anything out there. That kind of statement is thrown around a lot, but it’s rare for it to be so apt. There’s a good reason why nothing looks like the Ploprof – it’s absolutely nuts! It shouldn’t work (and for many, I am sure it does not), but for me, it’s more genius than madness.

ABTW: Was there ever a time in your life when you could afford it – and if so, did you get it?

Rob Nudds: Once upon a time, I had savings, but I burned through them in my pursuit to become a watchmaker. Maybe one day I will have a chance to buy it, but I’m not sure it really matters as much to me to own it. I didn’t get into watchmaking for materialistic reasons. The fact they are luxury items goes over my head a lot of the time. I see watches as art, as expression, as a puzzle solved in a beautiful and characterful way. Sure, I understand that they are status symbols, but I don’t crave that kind of status. I would rather create something for someone else and give it away. I guess my role at aBlogtoWatch gives me the level of exposure to watches I desire. I get to look at them, analyse them in depth, occasionally even wear them a short while. And best of all, I don’t have to insure them, or justify their purchase to my girlfriend while the Maldives are still above water.

ABTW: Does the Ploprof still hold pride of place? Or have you moved on to something else?

Rob Nudds: I didn’t buy the Omega Ploprof, and although it still occupies my theoretical shopping list, there’s a new grail in town – something I just can’t extol enough. If you read my work, you’ll know that I’m constantly banging on and on about the importance of brand identity. It’s obvious, right? Rule number one: stand out from the crowd. But how many brands actually do? It’s pretty hard to create something totally new (that isn’t simultaneously grotesque). I drone on about case silhouette because it’s one of the most clean-cut ways to build a visual identity. Mechanical uniqueness is so much harder to come by, and even harder to make visually arresting. But one brand has done it in a way that still excites me every time it pops into my head.



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  • While I do respect the Ploprof, I’m still at the “absolute horror show” and “revulsion” stage with its looks. And I always seem to mispronounce its name. But a seriously unashamed tool watch. Nice meeting you at BW 2016 Nob.

    I concur with the distinctive design passion. My friend and well watch dude, Richard Paige, says a watch should be uniquely identified from across the room (well at least at 10 feet away). So case shape becomes important in creating brand identity.

    Cheers and aloha buddy.

    • peter_byford

      Hi again Mark.
      I only recently heard the proper pronunciation of JLC , & that the Z is silent in
      Jaquet Droz ….so you are not alone. I’m listening to how a Frenchman correctly
      pronounces watch brand names… of the 3 languages in Switzerland of course.

      • peter_byford

        BTW….strange the article, or any comment, has not made reference to where Ploprof originates ? French,……PLOngeurs PROfessionnel. Explains to me why some comments are not on topic re it being a dive watch as opposed to any other genre……lack of in-depth knowledge methinks lol !

  • Raymond Wilkie

    Good interview.Your passion for the craft shines through. When describing the feeling of a mesh strap i to love the very tactile, almost snake like texture and movement of it. I hope you continue to expand your knowledge and go from strength to strength.
    Now the down side.
    Your choice of grail watches with respect go from awful to the ridiculous. Sure, you want to stand out from the crowd, but in this instance , you do, for all the wrong reasons. I hope with age your choices become more………….refined ( hope that doesn’t come over as too snobby)
    All the best. .

    • Maybe after tearing down gazillons of watches, he is on the look out for those less common. Cheers.

  • DanW94

    Great interview and I applaud your taste for the unconventional. But the description of your relationship with the mesh bracelet left me feeling a bit uncomfortable…lol (I don’t judge though)

  • peter_byford

    A true icon in watch history. Yes, ugly to some but no more so than some of the grotesque designs coming to market today IMHO. Has style, presence, sense of purpose. No useless tourbillon, or chronograph timing to 10,000th/ second. No bag of features cobbled together & thrown up in the air to be put on the dial where they land. No impressive sounding materials that don’t amount to a bag of beans cashiwise. No marketing hype, over-pricing, kudos chasing specification, or niche wearers. Jaques Cousteau was photographed hundreds of times wearing a Rolex for publicity purposes when it suited…..but his favourite dive watch was his Doxa Shark Hunter 300. Ploprof wearers are a rare breed , appreciate it as an icon ‘tool for purpose’, & giving reliable service today. My scuba diving buddy has one in his stable. Would I buy one ? No. Could I cope with wearing it , the size ? No. Would I buy the baby Ploprof in appeasement ? No. Could I afford a nice example ? Possibly. Are they easy to come by ? No…………………
    Do I love everything about it ? Yes I absolutely do !!!!! QED.

  • JimBob

    A bold choice. Like the bar scene, go ugly, early, eh?

    • peter_byford

      Is it any uglier than this ‘late’ U-boat 56mm ?…..a monstrosity IMHO
      The Ploprof looks positively handsome by comparison lol ! You makes
      your choice whatever the age of a watch. I’d take a branded Omega
      any day of the week.

      • Wow, I have a new found appreciation for the restraint (relatively) found in Graham watches (but my eyes are still bleeding from looking at the U-Boat). Thanks I think…

        • peter_byford

          Hi Mark.

          Yes, the usual cliches come to mind lol !
          ” One man’s meat is another man’s poison “.
          ” Beauty is in the eye of the beholder ”
          ” Seeing things through rose tinted glasses”

          I too brought Graham watches to mind….spooky or what !
          Here’s Brian Johnson wearing his chronofighter. I don’t know
          whether it’s diameter is less then the U-boat, as it looks ok on
          his wrist ? Do you know anything bigger than a Breitling Bentley
          lol !?

      • PleaseSpellRoman4AsIV

        Thanks for sharing this piece… Does the 56mm include the pushers or do they come on top of that?

        • peter_byford

          Ah ! Always an issue to consider lol ! I’m not sure to be honest. 56mm is the advertised size as per it’s specification. When I sell any of my watch collection, I normally get asked by any prospective buyer what the diameter is of it…..excluding the crown. I have always believed this measurement to be the best yard-stick to use. The width of a crown ( or pusher ) tends to be constant whether on a 40mm or 45mm watch, but not always, but a difference of 1 or 2 mm in the diameter of the case alone has quite a marked effect on the actual real estate ( footprint ) in size. The U-boat ( & most others ) specifically states….’ Case diameter 56mm’ so to my understanding that is excluding the crown & pushers.

          • PleaseSpellRoman4AsIV

            Okay, so they will just need to up size the case to 60mm and double the crown+guards and they would have a decently desinged mid-size watch…

          • peter_byford

            Ha ha ! Mid-size in the diving community was always 38mm lol !
            What !….tiny 38mm…whatever next ?…….Panerai, U-boat etc lol !

      • JimBob

        U-Boats are special. This one is pretty awful, even by U-Boat standards.

        • peter_byford

          Yes I agree, & have coined the word ‘monstrosity’. But people buy them & wear them with pride, & good on them. I possibly chose the worst looking one purely for effect to prove a point, so apologise unreservedly for that !…..some have more appeal to the eye…….This article is about the Ploprof, so size is an issue for debate, not just design lol ! I was in Cologne for the X’mas markets there ( & for the beer, Gluwein & frankfurters too of course ) & had my first sighting of the U-boat range of watches in a jewellers window. ” Bloody Hell !” was my reaction to the sheer size of them ! Compounded by the fact that 10 minutes earlier I’d been transfixed by another jeweller’s window displaying a comprehensive range of Lange models ( Price On Application ) .

          • JimBob

            The Ploprof’s size is the least of my concerns about it. I kind of dig it, but I can’t see myself strapping it on for a night out.

          • peter_byford

            Neither would I lol ! But I see Rolex DeepSeas at weddings lol !

  • ZL

    I’d personally love to rock a Ploprof, especially one of the newer ones. Though it would probably not be my first choice in the ugly-cool genre. That would be Urwerk, as long as we’re on the topic of fantastical grail watches.

    • peter_byford

      Of the genre of mega-money alternative technology watches, Urwerk is a favourite of mine. The thought of miniature wind turbines powering it, & ‘satelite’ this n that is intriguing to say the least lol ! Not my cup of tea in the aesthetic dep’t, & I probably wouldn’t have the balls to wear it in public anyway lol ! But I like the efforts & design model of the 2 founding brothers, a lot. Expensive, yes, but they have a backlog of orders to meet & sell everything they make…….what an envious business position to be in !

  • Ulysses31

    It’s a giant metal tombstone but I like it. It is extremely masculine and durable (has that air of solidity and function without ostentatious additions). The downside is that it looks unsophisticated and crude, more a thing to be used than a thing to be loved.

    • peter_byford

      I’ve never loved any of my watches, from day 1 , even those in my collections.
      But then I hate the use of the word ‘passion’ which pervades the watch world lol !
      I’ve never heard ‘passion’ coined in relation to Leica, Zeiss, Rolls-Royce & other
      top line inanimate objects ?…….I’ve never heard any Omega from any era described as
      ” unsophisticated & crude ” lol !…but then ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder’
      so give ground to you on that. The Ploprof dates to 1970’s, look to the 1980’s to the present day for crude, unsophisticated designs. Many modern’ sophisticated’ looking watches won’t be around in 50 years time, their crudeness long consigned them to obscurity, unloved if you will. Watches tell the time……whatever else they do & how novel they go about it is just jam on it IMHO.

      • Ulysses31

        Note that I said “looks crude”. As in, it has the appearance of something crude, like an adjustable spanner or some other tool. It is designed to do a job without pretence.

        • peter_byford

          Oh dear !….my Ba ( Hons ) Eng.lit is getting me into deep water & offending people ! Sorry, I took the usage of the word ‘ crude’ too literally. Ask Ariel, even he’s apologised for offending me with his use of the word ‘gadget’ to describe what the Japanese watch industry produce lol !

          • Ulysses31

            Don’t worry, I wasn’t offended. I can see how it could have been misread.

          • peter_byford

            Yes, both my big mouth & ego can get me into trouble as fast as it gets me out of it sometimes lol !

  • Yojimbo

    great choice for a grail watch, probably not something you can wear in all situations though 🙂

    • peter_byford

      It’s a specialist ‘ tool for purpose’ dive watch, so ‘No’ not for all occasions or situations lol ! But then guys buy a Rolex Milgauss because they ” liked the green dial & zany second hand”….not a clue about the watch’s specialist feature, so maybe I’m talking nonsense ha ha. True dive watches are ‘tools for purpose’…for diving with ! ….they don’t set out to win in the looks department or being worn by a vain lounge lizzard !…..” Horses for courses ” as the apt saying goes.

      • Yojimbo

        learn how to appreciate sarcasm before you jump all over a comment

        • peter_byford

          My apologies friend. The saying is ” Sarcasm is the lowest form of wit “, but I disagree, many famous poets have sarcasm trending through their work, so if it’s good enough for them, it’s good enough for me & you. I try not to be sarcastic in my own comments for the very reason you replied in the manner you have, as sometimes it can be taken as serious comment, not a playful one, ok ? Point taken, wrist slapped lol !

        • peter_byford

          Sarcasm Jack Dee style .
          ” I love to watch Baywatch each week. Not for Pamela Anderson or all the other bikini-clad girls, but because every week I get to see an American drown ha ha !

          I certainly appreciate that one, no doubting the level of sarcasm in it lol !

  • iamcalledryan

    Good stuff – it’s a solid illustration of the principle that you should not trust your first impressions, especially if they are negative. There is something to be appreciated in almost any watch, and something to be loved in most too.

  • ??????

    Good interview, ugly watch.

  • Thomas DeLucia

    I was lucky to know a retired naval diver who had a plo prof and the gasket failed so he just put it in the draw and forgot about it for 20 years and then gave it to me to restore. It is now one of my favorite watches

    • peter_byford

      The winding stem came straight out of the case on my Rolex Seadweller, & the sapphire crystal on my scuba diving buddy’s Sub’ shattered under water after a slight altercation with a rock. I love Omega as a brand, make no apologies for that, but the Co has a reputation for returning watches from servicing with well overtightened case backs crushing the gasket , ruining it’s profile, shortening it’s working life. I got to see an example that was in this condition AND was packed with silicone grease !

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