Departures Magazine: Profile of Eric Wind, Watch Bounty Hunter

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Departures Magazine profiled Eric Wind in a recent issue. The article is not online, so it is transcribed for reading here.

How To Find the ONE

The power collector’s latest resource: a watch bounty hunter

By Rhonda Riche

Eric Wind knows where all the watches are. And with his new venture, Wind Vintage, an advisory service for top vintage-watch collectors, the 32-year-old-watch-collector-turned-watch-writer is set to become the premier finder (and seller) for the truly obsessed. 

“Watch obsessives, and there are a lot these days, bring me in to help them shape where they go with their collections,” says Wind (pronounced like the breeze and not what you have to do to a 1930s Patek Philippe). “And they turn to me to find that one elusive piece.” Wind’s deep knowledge of horological history means that he knows which timepieces will best fill the holes in a client’s collection. And whether it’s a new rubber-strapped chronograph, a vintage pocket watch, or a rare 46 mm rose-gold Jaeger-LeCoultre, Wind probably knows a collector who has one—and who might be willing to part with it. 

Wind’s own interest in vintage timepieces began when he inherited his grandfather’s 1940s Hamilton in 2008. “My grandmother gave it to him when they married,” he says. The fact that it was mechanical made Wind love it even more. “There was as little world inside.” 

Around that time the online watch magazine Hodinkee launched. “I got involved first as a reader and then as a writer for them for five years,” says Wind, who studied international politics and business at Georgetown and Oxford universities. Wind started Hodinkee’s popular Bring a Loupe column, which covers rare watches offered by dealers and auction houses large and small. Wind garnered a following among collectors because of this weekly feature. As Hodinkee’s readership grew (and Instagram further expanded the #watchporn fan base), Wind’s expertise in rare and retro pieces soon caught the attention of Christie’s, the auction house. Until last year, Wind served as a vice president and senior specialist of watches.  

The secondary market in watches has exploded in the past decade. Auction houses such as Christie’s, Sotheby’s, and Phillips all have dedicated watch departments. And many upscale retailers and e-commerce platforms now offer vintage timepieces for sale. Wind Vintage has found a niche in this already rarified space world not only as a dealer but also as a resource, offering guidance that other seller’s don’t. “There are not many people in this space,” he says. “You can get an auction house’s opinion, but it’s not an unbiased opinion.” 

Wind’s popularity is growing thanks to his network within the dandy set. For example, he has been a faithful promoter of his friend Jack Carlson’s neo-preppy clothing line, Rowing Blazers. This past summer, Wind teamed up with Carlson to curate a selection of watches for his Rowing Blazers clubhouse in SoHo. Open through mid-September [Eric: now extended to be open through the end of January], the pop-up features appropriately WASP-y vintage timepieces from the 1960s and ‘70s.

Wind is committed to providing the personal touch. Finding a watch that’s nearly an urban myth (right now everyone is searching for the one-of-a-kind Omega worn by Elvis) is just as challenging as locating one with sentimental value. Recent assignments included finding a very specific model from 1949 that a client wanted to give his fiancé, because that’s the year her grandparents got married, and helping an NFL player acquire his first vintage piece—a rare Rolex Daytona with a silver dial and black hands. Wind also consulted on the film adaptation of Crazy Rich Asians, to make sure the right time-pieces were on the right wrists of the conspicuously consumptive characters.

With his name now well-known in the watch community, Wind has become as selective with his clients as he is with the timepieces he sells. “I like to work with a small, core group,” he says. But he also knows that in the secondary luxury market, reputation and customer satisfaction bring loyalty—and returning customers. “I often sell below market value because it brings good will,” he says. 

What also brings people back is a good watch, and Wind is always on the hunt—for both great finds and other watch obsessives. He calls himself, “collector of collectors.” He won’t reveal what he’s looking for exactly right now. As for his next great bounty, Wind just cryptically replies, “the watches are always there.”

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Eric Wind