When you think of that one watch collector on Instagram that is always striving to get his hands on the most pristine examples of some of the most iconic watches in the world, the first name that comes to mind is @Jfdorozco. From his mint Patek Philippe Nautilus ref. 3700 to his ultra crisp Audemars Piguet Royal Oak ref. 5402ST and everything in between, the condition of his vintage watches is simply out of this world and a real treat for the eyes. A real watch collector and not a watch dealer disguised as watch collector like many out there, @Jfdorozco holds very high standards when it comes to the watches he buys and the same rule applies to how he chooses to engage with his followers on Instagram.
Well known for his ‘battle of the watches’, unique hashtags and regular polls on the Gram that help him determine whether a watch or watches remain or leave his collection, @jfdorozco has had one helluva 13-year and counting watch collecting journey so far. Currently the owner of an extremely well curated collection with many watch grails in it, @jfdorozco is a savvy, friendly and non-pretentious watch collector with a true love and passion for horology. Very few collectors out there are as genuine and passionate as him and he is the boss when it comes to buying vintage watches based on their condition, to the point that there is now a hashtag created by him called #JFMint —more on that as you start reading below.
Now, you’ll hear straight from him all that he wants to share about this amazing hobby that brought us together in the first place.
When Did You Start Collecting Watches?
It all started back in the 90s when my dad gave me my first watch, it was a TAG Heuer Formula 1. I don’t remember exactly but I think I got it when I graduated 5th grade. Unfortunately, I lost the watch while playing Soccer and I remember it like it was yesterday. After a tackle I landed on an ant’s mound and they were all over my arm. I took the watch off and went to the bathroom to get cleaned up, when I came back the watch was gone. It was a horrible day, after that, I didn’t really own a watch, or at least a nice watch for about the next 12 years.
Fast forward 12 years after I graduated from my masters degree and it was time to get my very first “really nice” watch. After graduating from my Masters I had already been searching for a nice watch for two years. As soon as I landed my first job, I went to the Montblanc boutique in NYC and bought myself my first real timepiece with my own money, a Montblanc Timewalker GMT. At this time is when I can say that the madness started, from there it was all downhill, or perhaps uphill? Right then, I felt like I was a true watch connoisseur and I pledged to myself that I wasn’t going to be like everyone else, so I stayed away from Rolex for a while. My second watch was a Bulgari Diagono Titanium 44mm, let’s say, I just want to forget that one, LOL. My third watch was a Bell & Ross BR03-51 GMT, this was a cool watch and it was back when B&R was “in” and the watch was a cool hip watch that people would ask you about. Then, I bought a Cartier Santos 100 DLC and at this point is when I think the first chapter ends, these are all watch fashion brands and not true ‘montres’ in my humble opinion.
How Long Have You Been Watch Collecting?
The short answer is about 13 years, but I will do my best to take you through some of the details. To me it really started after I bought my IWC Portuguese 7 days and not after buying that first Montblanc watch. At that time I was so happy to own the watch with the largest automatic movement in the world; little did I know that watches needed to be slim as well haha. Then, I ventured into Jaeger-LeCoultre with the Master Compressor Diving Chrono, probably a shame that to this date this has been my one and only JLC. Afterwards, I was talked into buying my first Rolex, the Daytona 116520 in white dial. I went through the same experience that any rookie collectors goes through when getting their first Daytona from the Authorized Dealer, “they are impossible to find”, “you should feel special”, “there are no discounts”, and so I did! But honestly at the time I didn’t really appreciate what the Daytona really meant to the watch world. By this time I think Instagram started kicking in and my involvement in watch forums was heavy.
This is when I felt like I needed to step up my game and venture into what people called the “holy trinity of watchmaking” composed by Patek Philippe, Audemars Piguet and Vacheron Constantin. Patek was out of reach, VC although very nice seemed like watches for old people, so that’s when I bought my first AP, the Royal Oak Offshore Navy. I loved it so much that I had 4 or 5 different straps for it, a few horn backs and some rubber straps. Honestly the watch felt like a different level, I got the experience the amazing finishing of a Royal Oak case and it opened my taste to the finer details of a watch. By this time I’m starting to get the feeling that any respectable collection must have a Patek, so bonus time rolls around and after tons of research I bought my first Nautilus. I bought the 5726 cold sight unseen from Govberg and for the first time I started thinking, “what the hell am I doing?”, “what am I getting myself into”, honestly I felt a bit embarrassed to tell some of my non-watch (non-WIS) friends how much time and money I was spending on watches, it seemed ridiculous.
By this time IG was getting really hot and every chance I got I would visit the top authorized dealer of every city I went to. I would start a conversation with the sales person, who usually knew less than 10% of what I knew which ended up getting me job offers, or getting the owner of the stored called to meet me, or the best of all, getting them to bring out pieces from the back. I started getting to know watches that I had no idea existed like Breguet, Romain Jerome, H. Moser & Cie., Urwerk, Richard Mille, Ulysse Nardin, MB&F, F.P. Journe, Kari Voutilainen, Roger Smith, Philippe Dufour, A. Lange & Söhne, Roger Dubuis, Romain Gauthier, HYT, Laurent Ferrier, etc.
Out of all those brands there was one that always caught my eye and that was F.P. Journe, and unlike other independents, they had actual boutiques to go see their watches in the metal. This allowed me to really get intimate with the watches as I got to wear them, inspected them, loupe them and really learn to love them. I was a regular at Bal Harbor Boutique in Miami, plus the group there was so nice, that you couldn’t help but love the brand even more. At this time I bought my first Journe, the Chronometre Bleu, a watch that had a dial that made you go insane. Here is when I really knew that I loved this brand, for the first time I felt like I wanted a watch but I couldn’t afford it, so what came next? I had to let something go, so I traded my 5726 for an F.P. Journe Octa Calendrier that I bought from Europe —my first transatlantic buy—, my God, what a pain in the neck, watch shipped separate from the croc strap and the whole nine yards.
At this same time I knew I had to have a watch designed by Gerald Genta in the collection, so I decided to trade my IWC Portuguese 7 days and my Daytona for an Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Extra-Thin Jumbo ref. 15202ST. The watch was so good that it ruined the Royal Oak Offshore Navy for me. The first felt like a timeless classic while the latter felt like a gimmicky watch that was too large and flamboyant, it just wasn’t my style anymore. Somewhere around this time, I bought my first Rolex and went into a Rolex Submariner 116610LV a.k.a Hulk. Now that I owned Genta’s biggest creation, I felt like I’ve always needed to have a Rolex in the collection.
But the story continues. After several months without my Nautilus 5726, I started to realize that having a Nautilus in your collection is almost an absolute must, everyone had them, plus I loved them. After major research I landed on my favorite modern watch, the Nautilus 5712/1A. This watch encompassed everything that I loved in a watch, triple complication —a useful one in the power reserve—, blue dial, very thin case, the Nautilus bracelet and the 240 base movement with the micro-rotor. To this day, there is not one other Nautilus that packs that combo, just fire! I named the watch the #BestNautilusOnTheMarket. In parallel to all of this my IG following was growing relatively rapidly with the help of reposts by some of the big accounts, honestly IG was so much more fun back then…This is when some of my hashtags started, I seemed to believe that some of the watches that I was buying were the best of their kind in the world —little did I know that I was still in diapers. By this time I had also given the Octa Calendrier the title of the #BestAnnualCalendarOnTheMarket, honestly I actually still believe this one is true. This watch packs in a 38mm platinum case a retrograde annual calendar movement, made out of 18k rose gold, with an off center rotor that delivers a 7 day power reserve, requires no pins to be set —all adjustments via the crown—, and has a layout that is just divine. That, is hard to beat!
At this time I felt like the Bell & Ross didn’t fit, and it didn’t, so it quickly left the collection. At the same time, I felt like I was ready for the next level and at the time, next level for me was movement finishing and complication, so I landed on what I called the #BestChronographOnTheMarket the A. Lange & Söhne Datograph. For those of us who have had the privilege of owning this watch you know that the L951.X movement is absolutely insane from a finishing, design and architectural standpoint, we used to mess around calling the movement a little village because of its depth. The Datograph marked a big shift in my collection because for the first time I significantly decreased the amount of watches I owned and it was the first time I owned a watch in “colored gold” this time pink gold. I called it, “upgrading by consolidating” and I think it stuck with some of the IG community as it was a way of really standing behind quality over quantity. During this time I kept the collection small, and added several pieces that not many people know as most didn’t last very long like an Audemars Piguet Royal Oak ref. 15300 with blue dial and with white dial, a Patek Philippe ref. 5711/1A, a Rolex GMT-Master II BLNR, a Breguet Marine Big Date, a Vacheron Constantin overseas Chronograph, and even an Omega Speedmaster CK2998 just to name a few. Some of them never even made it to my Instagram.
The beginning of the last and most current chapter starts after all these purchases that truly never moved me. Nothing really was keeping me interested anymore, and I really didn’t enjoy going to ADs or watch stores anymore. So what did I do, what everyone else that gets here does, I went into the black hole that we all call “Vintage Rolex”. Unlike some that start from the bottom, I went high and I bought one of my true grails to this day, the Vintage Daytona 6263 Big Red. This watch changed my collection forever, for a while I wouldn’t wear anything else, the watch was lighter, more comfortable, and it just had an amazing charm that none of my other modern watches had. It also was part of a world that is full of details, a world in which a chamfer, a pointed crown guard, a chapter ring, an exclamation dot, an underline, a floating text, a simple lume plot or even the patina on a watch could be the difference between owning something average and a freaking GEM, it was intriguing and it felt right. I loved the fact that only true connoisseurs could differentiate between amazing and standard and only true WIS could understand how difficult it was to find certain watches, unlike modern all watches were different so finding the perfect one for you was a true treat. Hunting for a Vintage watch is nothing like hunting for a modern one.
Here is where I started venturing into Vintage and bought multiple renditions of multiple vintage watches, all in the Vintage Rolex and Vintage Tudor world. These two brands had too much to offer and required so much knowledge that I couldn’t try anything else. Some of the watches that I was fortunate to own include a Vintage Rolex GMT 1675 Mk1 with the coveted Fuchsia insert, a Vintage Tudor Snowflake 7021, a Vintage Rolex Sea-Dweller Triple 6 ref. 16660, another Tudor Sub Snowflake ref. 9411/0, a 1675 GMT Master Blueberry, and a Vintage Tudor Tropical 7928 Gilt Sub just to name a few.
By this time I’m extremely clear that for a Vintage watch there is nothing more important than its Condition. This is where yet another part of the Journey started and that was the never ending search of finding the best condition piece in all original condition that you can find. I call this #JFMint condition, what does that stand for? Is a step above the overused term #mint, only friends that have handled my watches understand how demanding #JFMint really is. Since then I have been fortunate to find an absolutely pristine example of a Mk4 1680 Red Sub, a perfect example of a transitional Vintage Tudor 7928 Gilt Sub and a flawless Vintage Daytona 6265 Big Red. Unfortunately the Red Sub is no longer with me, but the latter two are and will continue to be for a long time.
As I continued to be fascinated by Vintage watches, I really never lost my love for modern watches so I continued to venture into some of my favorite models, the Patek Philippe 5170G, the Rolex Daytona with cerachrom bezel ref. 116500 and the Patek Philippe Aquanaut Travel Time ref. 5164A. This last venture into modern watches inspired the last phase of my vintage watch collecting inclination and go into Vintage Patek, AP, IWC, Vacheron Constantin, Omega, Universal Genève, etc.
My six favorite iconic watches are the Nautilus, the Royal Oak, the Daytona, The Aquanaut, The Submariner and the GMT, so now I’m in the middle of finding the original rendition of all these models in the absolute best condition with the most complete set. Today, I am fortunate to say that I’ve checked five of the six boxes. I own a Full Set Patek Philippe Nautilus 3700, an Audemars Piguet Royal Oak B-series ref. 5402ST, a Full Set Patek Philippe Aquanaut ref. 5065, the Daytona ref. 6265 and the Tudor ref. 7928. I am proud to say that all of them are in true #JFMint condition.
So there it is, a little glimpse of what has happened over the last 13 years, and absolutely amazing journey that is just getting started, I fully expect the next 30, 40 or 50 to be even better.
What are your favorite brands?
This is a hard question, but I would have to say that Patek Philippe, Audemars Piguet, Rolex, Tudor and F.P. Journe are my favorite brands. Perhaps a bit boring, I know, but that doesn’t mean I don’t like other brands. I tend to like specific models from specific brands. I will say that now I pretty much like the original Vintage renditions of any brand way better than their modern sibling. I’m also a huge fan of independent brands, some of which are way out of my reach and more importantly very hard to source. Philippe Dufour, Roger Smith and Kari Voutilainen are probably my favorite independent brands. I have yet to own a watch manufactured by any of those brands, so hopefully one day I get to realize another one of my watch collecting goals.
Which of Your Watches Do You Consider Special and Why?
Honestly 5 watches in my collection that are very special, but if I had to pick one or two it would be first, without a shadow of a doubt, my Patek Nautilus 3700, why? Where do I start? There are six reasons why this watch is so special to me.
First of all, it is my favorite reference of all time; second, it is the original rendition of the watch designed by Gerald Genta in 1976; third, the watch is in perfect condition with all original parts; fourth, the watch comes in a full set including the cork box; fifth, it is a birth year watch for me, and lastly, because this particular watch is thought to be part of a very small batch of watches made between 1980/81 and sold to the public in 1981/82. These watches have what is known as the “dot sigma Swiss sigma dot” dial, a version that is only seen in watches with case numbers 539,xxx —maybe 540,xxx as well— and movement numbers around 1,309,xxx. I am extremely fortunate to own this piece of watch making/design history.
The other one would be the Vintage Tudor Gilt Submariner ref. 7928. This watch embodies everything that a vintage collector wants in a watch. The dial is transitional and is truly in perfect 10/10 condition including all lume plots & the exclamation dot, the patina matches perfectly between the hands, lume and even the pearl on the insert; the case is truly unpolished —another overused term— with mega wide chamfers, and it currently straps the tightest 7206 rivet bracelet that I have laid my hands on, there is not one single aspect of this watch that I would not consider grading it a 10/10. I would even go out on a limb and say that if this is not the best condition 1961 transitional gilt 7928 in the world it comes very close. Again, I am extremely fortunate to own this piece of watch making/design history.
Can You List the Brands and Watches You’ve Owned In your Watch Collecting Journey?
I think I covered most of them in the previous questions, I think if you scroll through my Instagram you will be able to catch most of them. I have not counted them before but I would say that I’ve owned somewhere around 80 to 100 watches from multiple brands, I’ll see if I can come up with at least one brand or model for every letter of the Alphabet.
A – Audemars Piguet
B – Big Red 6265/6263
C – Cartier
D – Daytona
E – Long “E” GMT
F – F.P. Journe
G – Gilt Submariner
H – Heuer
I – IWC
J – Jaeger-LeCoultre
L – A. Lange & Söhne
M – Montblanc
N – Nautilus
O – Omega
P – Patek Philippe
R – Rolex
S – Swatch
T – Tudor
U – Universal Genève
V – Vacheron Constantin
Z - Zenith
Why Do You Buy Certain Brands and Watches?
I look at everything but iconic designs, aesthetically attractive to me, historically relevant, technologically advanced, movements that can stand the test of time, and honestly watches that because of all of the above reasons hold their value better than others are where I mostly like to gravitate to. I can honestly say that I have been very fortunate to have been able to own a lot of watches and can say that I can’t remember one time when I lost money selling a watch —yes not even when I sold the Bulgari Diagono, haha.
Also, I have to admit that there are two types of watches in my collection, the keepers and the flippers, for the keepers I look for everything I just described, but for the flippers I browse Instagram, the watch forums or watch dealer pages every day to find good deals on watches that I like, can wear for a bit and the flip without much damage.
Which is Your Grail Watch you Wish to Own One Day?
What an impossible question to answer, the simple answer is there are way too many. To name a few here’s a short list: Vintage Rolex Daytona Paul Newman ref. 6263, Vintage Rolex Submariner ref. 5508, 5510, 6536 or 6538, Vintage Rolex Daytona Porcelain Dial ref. 16520 or floating R serial, Patek Philippe Perpetual Calendar Chronograph ref. 5970G, a 5070P, a 3712/1A, 3711/1G, an Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Jumbo ref. 5402 A-series, AP Royal Oak Concept Tourbillon, a Philippe Dufour Simplicity, anything from Roger Smith or from Kari Voutilainen.
If I had to pick only one, it would be a Vintage Rolex Daytona Paul Newman ref. 6263 with Panda dial in #JFMint condition.
How Many Times Do You Switch Watches During The Day?
It depends, most days I only wear one watch but that is because I rarely make it back home for lunch. However, when I do, you will see me wear a second watch in the afternoon. It also depends on what the activities for the day are. For example, if I’m wearing my Patek Philippe ref. 3700 during the day and we are going somewhere where the watch can get banged up by someone else, I would switch to something that can withstand that environment without risking a huge loss in value.
If You Had to Keep and Wear Only One Watch From Your Current Collection to Wear for the Rest of Your Life, Which One Would That Be?
This one will surprise many, as everyone would expect me to pick my Patek Philippe Nautilus ref. 3700. However, I do not think that watch is practical for a one-watch-for-the-rest-of-your-life. It is my best watch, but it requires a lot of attention and babysitting. For me it would have to be my Vintage Rolex Daytona 6265/6263 Big Red. I would own both bezels and just rock it for every occasion! That watch is as versatile as they come.