You probably remember your first watch, what was it and how did your passion start?
Absolutely, my first watch was a Gerald Genta Skeleton Perpetual wristwatch. It was a gift from my dad, he was very close with Mr. Genta and even worked on designing a minute repeater with him. Genta was one of my father’s most influential friends and mentors, who later went on to design the Patek Philippe Nautilus and the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak. My passion stemmed from growing up in the industry. When I was just a toddler, my playpen and crib were in the watchmakers room, and my first attendance to the Basel fair was in a stroller. I grew up around watchmakers and many people in the industry, including the Wexler family that owned Tourneau. My father started apprenticing me when I was 10, he wanted me to be a child of the arts ( I grew up speaking 3 languages and playing 4 instruments) so I viewed watchmaking as another form of art, and thats really what captivated me.
Whats in your personal watch collection?
My collection varies, I constantly buy and sell but my favorite pieces would have to be my Patek Philippe ref. 1436 split seconds chronograph from 1939, Alexander Shorokhoff Limited Edition Avantgarde, 1970’s Rolex GMT, Speake-Marin Face to Face Tourbillon and a vintage Zenith “El Primero” from 1971. When it comes to collecting, I’m very partial to Patek and a lot of the independent brands/watchmakers today because of the fact that they are producing unique pieces that give their owner a strain of identity with the watch. I am not in favor of watches that are mass produced by the thousands, as you end up walking into a restaurant or a place and find that 10 other people in the room are wearing the same watch.
Waldan Watches has a rich history, please tell us a little about its origin and how you got involved in the business
The origins of Waldan Watches lie with my father, Oscar. He is a holocaust survivor who was imprisoned in the Buchenwald and Theresienstadt concentration camps during World War II because of our Polish/Jewish background. At Buchenwald, the camp watchmaker named “Manek” took a very big liking to my father and took him on as an assistant, which essentially saved his life in the camps (the SS and the Gestapo loved this watchmaker, obviously because he could fix all of their watches and if you didn’t have a use, they would send you straight to the gas chambers). After the war, we had lost everything and everyone, so after some time in a “displaced persons camp”, my father came over to the U.S in 1946 with a dream to make a name for himself in the watchmaking world. To him, it was either that or die hungry. He worked so hard that by 1953, he was designing for the Tissot company. By the early 70’s he had held an impressive resume of working for various groups such as Universal Geneve (Vice President of Merchandising and Styling), Holzer Watch Co., and maintained close relationships with key figures in the industry such as Rene Denten (former President of Rolex), Hans Homberger (IWC), and Adolphe Vaillat (Omega). He had one particularly close relationship with a Mr. Kubel Wilsdorf, who was from the Wilsdorf family that founded Rolex and as his knowledge grew, so did his flair and talent for design and manufacture. In the late 70’s, he established Waldan International and we began producing for companies such as Tiffany & Co, Tourneau, Asprey and Verdura. My involvement was my father’s doing originally, as he was much older and knew he wouldn’t be around as long as other father’s typically would be. He trained me from a young age to be his successor as I was the sole heir to his legacy, and I assumed responsibility for the company when I was 21, due to his declining health. I pioneered the transition from a traditional small company to a brand. Most recently, I just designed 12 pieces commissioned by CBS media, which were presented as gifts to valued executives and actors.
How does your company operate today and what does the team behind Waldan Watches look like?
My company is based out of New York, NY, and we operate out of our offices on 53rd Street and Madison Avenue. We have a select few retailers on the East Coast of the U.S and accommodate International orders by means of a digital boutique on our website (waldanwatches.com) but are looking to expand over to the West Coast soon. As we are a boutique brand, the team behind Waldan Watches is small, but specialized. We have about 5-10 employees here in New York who specialize in logistics/management and subcontract out some of our digital/advertising work to companies that we partner with here in the U.S. Our service department is based out of New York as well, which is important for us since a lot of service work by other brands takes place overseas. By keeping our service department and watchmakers here in New York, we are able to reduce turnaround times and provide efficient watch repair/servicing (of all brand watches, not just our own) at a fraction of the price/time that the competition offers. All of our design has been either spearheaded by my father, or myself.
What is the inspiration behind your Watches?
The inspiration behind my watches comes from the time period of the 1950’s-1980’s, where men’s dress watches reflected a traditional and conservative size and appeal (34mm’s in diameter to 38mm) and more attention was centered on the inner workings and what was going into the watch. We also only use precious metals, such as 18K solid rose/ white gold and platinum to reflect the classiness of this era.
What movements are you using and why?
The movements we use are all vintage, mechanical movements such as the Valjoux 7751, Zenith “El Primero” 3019. PHF, AS 1931 and various ETA calibers such as the 2892. We utilize these movements because of their known reliability and durability. The Valjoux 7751 was known as the “workhorse” of the swiss watch industry and the Zenith “El Primero” is known to be the most iconic high beat movement made in Switzerland.
Where is your company located and where do you assemble the watches?
My company is located in New York, NY and this is where we do all of the assembly.
Where can we buy your watches and what is the price range?
You can buy our watches from our website’s digital boutique (www.waldanwatches.com). We offer fully insured priority overnight shipping at no cost to our customers or you can also purchase Waldan Watches from any of our retail partners if you are in their respective states. We have retail partners in places such as Newport, RI (Grenon’s of Newport), Boca Raton, FL (ECJ Luxe) and Charlotte, NC (Diamonds Direct). The prices vary, but our most inexpensive watch is priced at $9000.00 and our most expensive would be at $30,000.00. In terms of value proposition we think these prices are excellent. Our most famous watch is the Chronograph Chronometer model 0195, which sells at $10,600.00 USD. For that price, you’re getting an 18K solid gold watch with a Valjoux 7751 automatic winding movement that offers 6 complications (day of the week, date, month, GMT, rotating moonphase and chronograph) and is “Chronometer” certified by the COSC.