Tracking Time: RedBar Bombay
Watch enthusiast communities have proliferated on social media in the last few years. Our author reveals what he learnt from being part of the biggest of them all
In April last year, I joined the Mumbai chapter of RedBar, which is among the world’s largest watch enthusiast and collectors’ communities. Founded in 2007 by New Yorkers Adam Craniotes and Dr Jeffrey Jacques, RedBar’s 70 international chapters now have over 7,000 members. RedBar is primarily a social media group, but each chapter also regularly holds physical meetings or get-togethers (GTGs).
A GTG, typically held at plush restaurants mostly over the weekend, sees a bunch of enthusiasts admiring the pick of each other’s collections or the latest acquisitions over a coffee or a couple of beers. While not many of these have over the last two years for obvious reasons, RedBar Bombay, which also has members from other Indian cities, has held several online events called ‘Wrist Talks’ with brands such as MB & F, Urwerk, JLC, and IWC among others. Entry is free, but becoming a community member is not easy. The chapter lead vets new members using a variety of criteria.
I usually stay away from groups of any kind, both online and offline, but being part of RedBar Bombay has been, on the whole, an engaging experience, with more than a little help from WhatsApp’s Archived Chats feature.
Here’s what I’ve learnt about watch collecting and watch appreciating over the last months on the RedBar Bombay platform:
●You don’t have to own expensive watches to be part of a watch enthusiasts’ group. RedBar keeps it simple: they don’t encourage watch snobbery, and your passion for horology matters more than the timepiece on your wrist. It works perfectly for someone like me who writes about watches occasionally and has a fledgling collection of German watch brands.
●Being part of the group gives you interesting insights into watch enthusiasts’ demographics. They are mostly entrepreneurs, doctors, lawyers, and marketing execs, largely in their late 30s and early 40s. This bunch might appreciate and own the likes of Rolexes, Omegas, IWCs, and Langes, but at the same time, they are equally clued into the boutique brand scene. Baltic, Furlan Marri, and, at the upper end of the spectrum, Kurono Tokyo are some of the micro-brands for men in Mumbai and a few other cities — fancy. (It’s mostly men, yes, RedBar Bombay has only two women members.)
●Names such as Patek Philippe, Vacheron Constantin, and A. Lange & Söhne come up each time ‘grail watch’ is mentioned, but increasingly, timepieces from Grand Seiko and independent watchmakers such as De Bethune and F.P. Journe are highly regarded and lusted after.
●Watch enthusiasts are as passionate as car enthusiasts, but looking at the wrist shots that they upload on the group almost every day, it is clear that they are, on the whole, better dressed.
●One of the most tangible benefits of being part of a watch enthusiast group is knowing exactly how much to pay for a watch you have encountered at an e-tailer, a pre-owned platform, or another group. Simply put the details and photos of the watch out there, and you’ll have a clear idea of how fair the deal is.
●Another advantage of being part of a watch enthusiasts’ platform is the opportunity to participate in a ‘group buy’. The term is self-explanatory, of course. A ‘group buy’ helps slash the landed cost by a sizable margin, and is an excellent way to acquire a cool watch from a micro-brand.
●If you are the sort who likes to know who’s wearing what, a watch enthusiast platform is a great place to be. Just the other day, a RedBar Bombay member, who was watching an episode of The Kapil Sharma Show, pointed out the watches worn by the guests Telugu film actors Ram Charan and Jr NTR were a Richard Mille Rafael Nadal 35-02 and a Richard Mille 61-01 Yohan Blake.
●What’s in at the moment among watch enthusiasts? H. Moser & Cie.