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GPHG - Grand prix d'Horlogerie de Genève
GPHG 2015 - Interview with Eric Singer, the nomad of GPHG 2015

GPHG 2015 Interview with Eric Singer, the nomad of GPHG 2015

Our editor-in-chief talks watches with the legendary drummer, who is a member of the jury for this year’s Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève.

He feels that some of his fellow jurors might have been dismissive about him, but your editor-in-chief was impressed when he immediately recognized the Wyler Genève chronograph on his wrist as he took his seat for the interview. You may be more familiar with him heavily made up as the drummer of rock group KISS, but Eric Singer has been a watch fan for even longer than he has been a musician. WorldTempus met him just before the GPHG press conference as he struggled with jet lag and the confusion of European daylight saving time.

How did you first discover that you liked watches?
My dad was a musician on transatlantic cruise liners and he would bring us gifts back from his trips. Once he bought me a small German mechanical watch when I was about five years old and I still have it. He had a number of interesting pieces and I was always fascinated by them. My family seemed to know I liked watches because they kept buying me them as gifts.

Do you collect more vintage or modern watches?
It started off collecting vintage watches but now I collect everything. The vintage market started to change with the arrival of the Internet. It gave more people more knowledge, which was both a blessing and a curse. As the market changed it became harder to find desirable and collectible pieces. But at the same time a lot of brands also started making retro-style watches. More recently I have become interested in vintage watches again but some of the prices are incredible nowadays.

What do you look for in a watch?
Everything. Today I’m wearing a Grand Seiko GMT, which is the watch that won the Petite Aiguille prize at last year’s GPHG. I think it is comparable to any Swiss watch and I just appreciate any nicely made watch of any style. Having said that, the Seiko is much more conservative than what I usually wear.

Grand Seiko Hi-Beat 36000 GMT.

Do you have a favourite watch in your collection?
Based on sentimentality it would have to be my dad’s LeCoutre triple calendar moon phase watch. He told me he bought it in 1951 for 150 dollars.

Did your opinions as a collector converge with those of the other jury members?
Sometimes you can learn more by listening rather than speaking and because I tend to talk a lot I decided that this was an occasion where I needed to listen. Unfortunately, the person who got me involved in this was not able to attend the jury meeting, so I had nobody to hold my hand and I just had to listen and learn.

So what did you learn?
I learned that there are a lot of characters on the jury and that there is a lot of politics! I’ve worked in the music business for around 30 years but I also did regular jobs before that, like working in a factory and a car dealership, and one thing that I learned is that politics exists everywhere. People can see the same situation very differently and it’s all about what you bring to the table. Sometimes it is almost shocking that people can see something so differently to the way that you see it.

Given that you have such a broad taste in watches, how difficult was it to choose among the watches in each category?
There are a number of factors to take into account, such as whether the watch appeals to me personally and whether it offers good value for money. Sometimes you might consider the piece from a purely technical or purely artistic point of view. It’s interesting to see why people like what they do. It’s like music: people have different tastes in music.

Eric Singer, Kiss

How important do you think it is to have collectors like you in the jury?
As a first-time member of the jury I am what is known as a “nomad”, which means that I had to switch tables during the discussions after every four categories. So I ended up sitting with all the “resident” members of the jury. I could see that some of the other jurors were a bit sceptical about me, wondering who this guy who wears make up was. But I bring something different to the party and at lunch I ended up sitting next to one of the people who didn’t necessarily want to give me the time of day so I got some of my watches out to show him and his opinion slowly started to change as we found a common language.

You’re wearing a Seiko but what watch are you craving?
I went to have a look at the Patek Philippe pilot’s watch in white gold at the store in Geneva today. The wallpaper on my iPad mini is this watch and it has been there since Basel this year as a potential watch that I would buy. Now, here I am months later and I’ve just looked at it and tried it on. If I’m meant to have the watch I will have it, but I have learned to be patient. My advice to anyone is to learn patience because you will find the watch. It may take a few years but eventually it will come to you. Most people cannot find the watches they want, or can’t afford them, and we all know the policies with waiting lists. I don’t worry about that, if I’m meant to have it, it will come to me. If not, no big deal.

Patek Philippe Calatrava Pilot Travel Time Ref-5524

 

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