In Wrist Watch — our monthly column dedicated to ‘watch spotting’ in the wild — resident horology enthusiast Randy Lai chats to key individuals whose collections exhibit some aspect of excellence (e.g. craft, rarity, historicity). This June, we’re back at WatchBox HQ: talking 80s Rolex and watchmaking-as-decorative-art with Josh Srolovitz, Director of Sales at the e-tailer’s Hong Kong office.
Returning readers of ‘Wrist Watch’ will remember that our profile of WatchBox Chairman Tay Liam Wee bore some real horological fruit: between the one-off Journe tourbillon and boutique-exclusive APs (long since discontinued), I immediately got the sense upon speaking to Tay that WatchBox was a vintage/pre-owned space that is made for and by the genuine watch enthusiast. Needless to say, when we were invited back a few weeks ago — to speak to Josh Srolovitz, Watchbox Hong Kong’s eminent Director of Sales — I was excited.
A Philadelphian native, Josh was introduced to the world of fine watches at an extremely early age through his father. He formally joined the industry in 2012: first, as a sales associate at Govberg Jewellers, where he helped clients build their collections, before graduating to a buy-side role. In 2017, he was tapped by WatchBox co-founders Justin Reis and Tay Liam Wee to lead the platform’s expansion in Hong Kong, where he now serves as Director of Sales.
Despite having easy access to some of the most coveted pieces in the collecting world — a 5970 here, a platinum Daytona there — Josh has an indefatigable interest in Rolexes — more specifically, solid gold dress models produced in the 1980s. “I’m generally drawn to pieces with exciting dials,” says Josh. “Whether they’re engraved, painted or even made of hard stone.” The maximal, ostentatious aesthetic which seems to typify Rolex during that era has gotten a bad rap of late, though Josh frames it in a much more positive light; seeing the use of diamonds, rare stone and exuberant illustration as a kind of artistic expression, reflecting each wearer’s own unique character and tastes. When you put it that way, I guess I see the appeal. View five of Josh’s personal favourite ‘extravagant’ watches below.
Rolex Datejust Ref. 116200
“This Datejust is my go-to watch for daily wear and travel. I’m a firm believer that there’s isn’t a more versatile or durable everyday watch than a 36mm Datejust: regardless of the case material or dial colour, they fit beautifully into casual and formal settings. Furthermore, they’re virtually indestructible — built with a serious level of water and shock resistance. This specific model features a white dial and the ever-elusive red & black roulette date wheel.”
Jaquet Droz Grande Second Paillonnée
“Jaquet Droz is one of those lesser known (and even lesser appreciated) watchmakers. Originally founded in the late 1700s, it has been producing some of the most artistic, and in many cases complicated, watches on the market. This edition features a Paillonnée enamel dial: simply put, this term describes the process of applying multiple coats of enamel to a base surface, after which gold appliqués are added in a decorative pattern. When I look at this piece, my mind instantly travels to the gilded halls of Europe’s finest palaces.”
Rolex Datejust Ref. 16018 (with Lapis Lazuli dial)
“This particular watch is special to me for several reasons: first and foremost, it’s a vintage Datejust that’s in impeccable condition, on a lovely Jubilee bracelet. The most captivating part is of course the dial: whereas most Datejust models from this period have very simple dials, this example features a fantastic stone version fashioned from Lapis Lazuli.”
Rolex Day-Date Ref. 19018 (Oysterquartz)
“This piece is extremely special to me as it was one of the first watches I acquired while in Hong Kong. It also has a lovely Chinese calendar wheel. Though Rolex produced the Oysterquartz for an extended period of time, it was only available in small numbers. Finding one in pristine condition (with the original polishing intact) is becoming more and more difficult as time goes by. In future, I’m certain this will be a real collector’s item!”
Rolex Day-Date Ref. 18238 (with red vignette dial)
“In keeping with the ‘vintage gold Rolex’ theme, perhaps my favourite piece that I’ve ever acquired is this Day-Date 18238, which sports (in my opinion) a stunning, dramatic red vignette dial, embellished with diamond markers. This is a piece that I acquired at auction, complete with all of the original accessories.”