Seinfeld’s choice caused a minor stir in the collecting community, leading folks to start paying more attention to vintage Heuers. “I bought one,” says Wind, who credited Seinfeld for helping putting the pieces on the map for him and other collectors. “It was one of my first vintage watches.”
All the President’s Vulcain Crickets
In 1949, Swiss watch company Vulcain unveiled its new creation, the Cricket, during a glamorous launch at the Waldorf-Astoria hotel in New York City. The watch was not the first to be made with an alarm function, but the Cricket is the watch that got people to start taking them seriously. “It really was the iPhone of its day when it was released,” says Wind. Releasing the Cricket at the hotel was a gambit to get the watch on the wrists of American businessmen. “It was targeted towards the American market, which is where all the momentum and wealth was post-World War II,” says Wind. “All these traveling businessmen had no ability to have an alarm that was portable to wake them up. They were literally traveling with clocks.”
The Cricket was the watch of a serious person: someone who had appointments to attend and breakfast meetings to be awake for. The watch quickly caught on with U.S. presidents like Lyndon B. Johnson (above), who wore his on a metal bracelet and allegedly bought 200 models of the watch to give away as gifts during his time in office. Dwight Eisenhower, Harry Truman, Richard Nixon, and vice president Joe Biden all wore the Cricket, too.
While the tradition of wearing Crickets started with presidents who wanted a functional timepiece, it was carried on by Finnish jeweler Keijo Paajanen, who partnered with Vulcain to offer any commander-in-chief who visited Finland a Cricket. Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and Jimmy Carter all got Crickets from Paajanen. Donald Trump reportedly received one as well.
While the Rolex Day-Date claims the nickname of the President’s watch, the Vulcain Cricket could make a pretty convincing argument it also deserves the title. “From a collector’s perspective, they’re still extremely undervalued,” says Wind. “And you can find great ones for under $1,000, which you can’t do with most brands and watches today.”
The Rolex “Paul Newman” Daytona in Crazy Rich Asians
Wind got a desperate call on a Monday morning in 2017. On the other end was Crazy Rich Asians author Kevin Kwan, who needed to get a status watch to the movie adaptation’s filming location in Malaysia by Wednesday. “[Director] Jon Chu was looking for an appropriate watch for Astrid [Gemma Chan’s character], this very elegant wealthy lady, to give her husband. They wanted something special that would impress watch collectors.”
So Wind started calling around to everyone he knew in the area, looking for a watch that would fit the occasion. “I was trying collectors with Patek Perpetual Calendar Chronographs. I contacted A. Lange & Söhne and Jaeger LeCoultre collectors,” says Wind. “The response from most collectors I got throughout Asia was, ‘Crazy Rich Asians, what the heck are you talking about? What is this? And no, I’m not lending my expensive watch to this movie on such short notice.’”
Finally, with the help of Eric Ku, a Rolex dealer and expert, he tracked down a collector whose wife was a fan of the book. He had the perfect watch, too: a Rolex Daytona “Paul Newman.” “Getting a Paul Newman Daytona was an unexpected treat for sure,” Wind says. The watch, which broke the record for most expensive piece ever sold just a few months after the release of the movie, was the perfect piece to represent outrageous wealth. The placement of the watch went over so well that vintage pieces will likely factor into the movie’s upcoming sequel, too. “I was talking with John Chu and he wants to do more cool watches in the sequel because the response was so positive,” says Wind.
Steve McQueen’s Jaeger LeCoultre Memovox in The Thomas Crown Affair
After wearing a Cartier Tank for almost the entirety of the film (as discussed here), McQueen changes into a JLC Memovox while… picking melons. Like the Vulcain Cricket, the Memovox was one of the early watches that helped popularize the alarm function. “I’ve always thought it was such an interesting complication,” Wind says. “One of the unloved complications, given how technically impressive it is to build one.”
While the Tank seemed to fit neatly with McQueen’s uppercrust playboy role in The Thomas Crown Affair, Wind wonders if the Memovox was meant to hint at the character’s secret identity. “The character appears to not have any cares,” says Wind. “But the watch betrays that in fact he had this secret life robbing banks where precision was necessary. It seemed very appropriate for him—almost even more appropriate than the Cartier.”