We met @RJKama at an Omega watch collector’s hospitality trip, and after instantly clicking with him, we became close friends. We still remember back then when we would pressure him non-stop about opening an Instagram account, and he wouldn’t do it. Finally, after several attempts on our end, he surprised the social media world with his passion for watches and incredible photography. @RJKama is a doctor that likes to be called SUPERDOC, and that sees health as a sensation of well being instead of an absence of disease. After launching his IG account many years ago, he rapidly became a most follow account for those looking for incredible photography of Omega timepieces with a very particular look and feel. Without a doubt, this is one of the most interesting interviews we’ve published on Watch Collectors here at WCL.
Now, you’ll hear straight from him all that he wants to share about this fantastic hobby that brought us together in the first place.
When Did You Start Collecting Watches?
I have always been a bit of a collector. As a kid, I was the only one in grade school wearing a watch. I always loved it as an accessory. I think that some people have a bias towards collecting things, and at the time I also collected hockey cards, action figures, comic books, etc. There was always something satisfying about the hunt and the acquisition of a piece that added to the collection. Even at a young age, I would have a few watches. I still remember the “calculator” watch and the “indiglo” Timex when it was introduced. They were all digital and purely driven by their features and functions.
When I got older, the aesthetics of the watch and its role as a fashion accessory became more of a priority to me. Things like the dial color, whether it was a dressy vs. sporty watch or the color of its strap started growing on me and became the factors in the decision making. Mind you these were all inexpensive watches that you get at a store for $10, but that was about what I could afford at the time.
As my situation changed, and the amount of disposable income increased, the price tags grew, but the same passion was always there. I have been fortunate to be able to swim in those high-priced waters, but I have always said that the value in a collection has nothing to do with the prices paid. Some people are incredibly passionate watch collectors, but can’t spend thousands of dollars on a watch. Even if I peaked at Fossil, I would still be a watch collector.
How Long Have You Been Watch Collecting?
I think that I started to consider myself a collector about 10.5 yrs ago. I already had a healthy number of watches, but it was back then when I started to become more enamored with the history and the art of watchmaking, the significance of the different brands, and each one’s contribution to the world of horology. It was then when I started seeing them as more than just fashion accessories, or jewelry, or status symbols and started to appreciate the watches as being more than the sum of their parts.
I started seeing them as moving objects, heirlooms, symbols of man’s perseverance, and the spirit of ingenuity to solve the problems that they faced in keeping accurate and precise time by using only gravity and the laws of physics. I can say that it's been precisely 10.5 years because my daughter just turned 10 years old. It is amazing how the idea of having a next of kin puts all kinds of things in the world into a different perspective.
What are your Favorite rands?
A few years ago, I would have defined myself as an “Omega-Man.” And I still very much love Omega. It was my first “serious watch” —the Bond Seamaster Professional 300—, and in many ways, the one you love first is the one you like the most. And I readily admit that I am a symbol of the success of product placement. After all, I would be lying if I said that I wasn’t drawn to the fact that it was James Bond’s Watch!
I think that a brand image and ideals have to have some consistency with your own, to identify with a brand. A big part of that is the marketing, the rest is the proven history of the brand, and the pieces, and the way that the brand has conducted business.
I always loved Omega being the more reasonable, less showy/boastful alternative to Rolex. I loved the history and the understated nature of being an Omega-man, yet still having a technical masterpiece.
I now also have a restored interest in Rolex. Shortly after achieving some financial success, I quickly went down that —what I call 'requisite'— Rolex road. I later reached a point of 'Rolex-rejection' where I came to the realization that I was buying for ‘status’ and not 'true horological appreciation.' This is what I refer to as my brief ‘watch-snob’ phase.
However, the more you learn about watches, the industry, history, and the more you get past your prejudices, the more you can’t help but respect the crown. Especially when you see brands do desperate, regrettable things like 'Hodinkee collaborations' or endless 'limited editions,' you realize that Rolex’s main priority is to be king in 100 years still, not just make quarterly sales targets.
I always say that there are two types of Rolex guys, those who know nothing about watches, and those who know a lot about watches.
Then, I have recently fallen in love with Audemars Piguet —which is something that surprises me. I place a little bit of a barrier against AP because of the somewhat of the ‘baller image’ of some AP owners have, and me not wanting to be a member of ‘that’ club. But when you wear one of their watches, and experience the details, and recognize the care and skill needed to produce something like the bracelet of the Royal Oak, you are hooked.
My latest and current fixation though is Grand Seiko and Seiko in general. When I look back on my watch collecting journey, I never forget the fact that I came from nothing. My mother once bought my father a Seiko for an extraordinary wedding anniversary, and because he generally didn’t wear any jewelry, I was allowed to wear it. It was the most expensive, valuable thing I could have ever imagined wearing.
When you look at what Seiko gives you at every price point, you get the sense that they really care about the product and the consumer. Anyone with a Seiko on his wrist can be proud of his watch, and you get the sense that Seiko was proud to produce it. You can’t say the same thing about a fashion watch at similar price points.
I feel that same respect for the consumer is part of every level of Seiko all the way up the Grand Seiko line. And it is echoed in the stories about the founder of the brand. This could all be brilliant marketing, it is undoubtedly excellent storytelling, but the thing is, nobody is telling the story. You have to seek out this knowledge, which makes it seem so much more genuine.
The humble nature of the Japanese is probably a hindrance for them trying to be an item in the luxury watch market. But I am enamored with the idea that in an industry of 'brand ambassadors,' million-dollar product placements, and ostentatious consumerism, you have this incredibly beautiful, technically advanced, painstakingly developed product, that is humbly presented to a customer at a fair price point.
GS has become that 'Elegance without the Arrogance' that I just love.
Which of Your Watches Do You Consider Special and Why?
I'm in love with each and every one of the 60 to 70 watches I own and that to be quite honest, I've lost count. I could tell you something special about every one of them.
Obviously, the Omega Seamaster Professional 300 is particularly special because it was my first major purchase and I still remember almost having a panic attack paying $1200 for it.
The Omega 'MD’s Watch' —Museum Collection N° 10— with an ivory-colored dial with a pulsometer scale, I bought to commemorate my tenth year of practicing medicine. It was a particular way to celebrate a milestone while blending my passion for medicine and watches.
The Omega Speedmaster 'Grey Side of the Moon' is special because I had just met Raynald Aeschliman —current President of Omega Watches— before its release, and he was wearing the prototype at the time. I remember him telling me I would get the first one to come off the production line. Something that you would think was a throwaway line or hyperbolic empty promise, but I got the call before any formal availability of the watch.
The most recent one with emotional value is the Grand Seiko US Limited Edition. This watch also means a lot to me as I got number ‘007’ —yes I am crazy about James Bond—, and because of the efforts involved in acquiring it have given it the symbolization of perseverance and friendship.
But the one that really gets me choked up is my Red Gold Omega DeVille Hour Vision because that is the only watch —so far hint, hint— that my wife actually bought for me. She is very supportive, and she usually plays the role of permissive enabler or the voice of reason. This one watch, she went out and bought for me, without me even asking. I’m not sure if she knew that it was the first watch to house the in-house Omega Calibre 8500, if she just knew that I would love it, or if the aesthetics of the watch appealed to her. For whatever reason, it was a perfect choice.
For me, it is the symbol of our love because not only was it an extraordinary gesture from her, but she also managed to pick the perfect watch. And to be honest, she took a significant risk. Not sure how I would've reacted if she had bought me a Hublot.
Can You List the Brands and Watches You’ve Owned In your Watch Collecting Journey?
I still own the majority of the watches I've bought. I just can’t flip them as other watch collectors do. I've only sold and traded a few, and I regret doing that for each and every one of them. It even applies to those watches that were great deals, and I made a profit on them or those that I didn’t wear much. I guess I am a bit of a hoarder and I just like seeing them in the box.
I have multiples examples of brands like Omega, Rolex, Grand Seiko, Audemars Piguet, and Seiko. And one timepiece each for brands like Breitling, Breguet, Cartier, Ulysse Nardin, Corum, Vacheron Constantin, Patek Philippe, Corum, and Oris.
The two brands that interest me the most, but I have yet to buy are Jaeger-LeCoultre and A. Lange & Söhne. I could see those entering the collection soon, but I have gotten more selective and thoughtful about my purchases.
Why Do You Buy Certain Brands and Watches?
Usually, because the sales representative gets me drunk and disinhibited. Seriously though, it is typically a mix of the aesthetics and the brand. If the brand image is incongruent with the picture I see for myself, or the image I want to project, I will not consider the brand. But ultimately, above all else, the watch has to get my heart beating fast.
My collecting philosophy has always been that any new watch has to have a different ‘wrist presence’ than others in my current collection. So any that I add now have to stand out from the current collection in some way. For instance, a complication that I don’t have, a unique dial color, a type of metal or precious metal that I still don't own. In the past, if I liked the watch, I would buy it. But then, you realize that you just don’t need that many black dial watches with black bezels in stainless steel.
I would never buy just on speculation of future value. I passed on the Omega Speedmaster ‘Snoopy’ so many times, even though I know that it went up 3x its cost, but it was just never my style. I would never wear it. Additionally, I have a job. I don’t need to make money from my hobby.
Which is Your Grail Watch you Wish to Own One Day?
I am only interested in the journey, not the destination. I honestly have no clue where this journey will end. Probably with an Apple watch, or nothing at all, but it is an endlessly beautiful ride.
How Many Times Do You Switch Watches During The Day?
Typically it is one watch for the day. Sometimes, choosing what watch to wear for the day is the only thing that gets me out of bed in the morning. It is a beautiful ritual though, a quiet moment, before the onslaught of stress for the day, when the only decision you have to make is which watch you want to wear that day.
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?
That is an impossible question to answer. So many different ways to respond from a practical standpoint to an emotional or aesthetical one. I guess I will say what my first thought was. The rose gold Audemars Piguet Royal Oak ref. 15400OR. Because sometimes, not very often, but every now and then, there are moments in one ’s life when a 'F**k You' watch is just absolutely, categorically necessary.
What does the “Watch Collecting Lifestyle” mean to you?
I think watch collecting is very sensual. We love watches on many different sensory levels. From the visual level in the beauty of the timepiece itself to the intellectual level of appreciating the technical prowess and obstacles and problems that had to be overcome to deliver a finished product. From the emotional level intrinsically assigned to the watch based on the circumstances of acquiring it, to even the auditory level while bringing the beating heart of the movement close to our ear.
To me, watch collecting lifestyle means applying all of your senses, and paying attention to all those small details that other people in the world might completely miss, or worse, choose to ignore. Because those details are where true greatness and beauty exists. Like the incredible macro photography on WCL.
I think that watch collectors tend to appreciate the finer things in life, not because we are trying to be ostentatious, but because when you pay attention to the details, you set a more demanding standard for yourself. The lifestyle is about applying that passion for the details of everything else you do in life.
As much as you experience and appreciate the watch, so should you experience and enjoy the life that surrounds the memories created while the watch is on your wrist. Be it travel, learning new cultures, viewing art, eating decadent meals, simply carefully sipping, tasting, and discerning the complexity of an aged single malt scotch, or cherishing the inimitable sultry draw of the perfectly humidified cigar; the watch collecting lifestyle is about relishing in the details that go ignored by most others.
None of this is about snobbery or exclusivity, although we often get judged unfairly as such. It is never about how much you spend, but how much you appreciate, those who take the time to truly indulge in the pleasures and beauty of the world around them are truly living the watch collecting lifestyle.