Omega Serge Panczuk and his Speedmasters
...and his other Omegas, and Seikos, and much more besides. A profile of an avid and atypical collector.
We are extremely lucky to have a man like Serge Panczuk writing for WorldTempus. I know of few other collectors with such a passion for watches and a broad knowledge of the industry and its history. If you are not already familiar with his “Why not...?” articles, in which he plunges deep into the history and details about a particular watch, then I thoroughly recommend you take a look at them.
I had always been surprised that this Vice-President of Human Resources for a high-tech medical company based in California had the time to research and write such in-depth articles at a rhythm that would make some of our other contributors blush. But when I got to know him better I discovered that he writes his articles on the plane. And he spends a lot of time on planes. Last year he travelled 300,000 miles covering the Asia-Pacific region for which he is responsible. This year he has already covered 100,000 kilometres. “You could say that crossing the Pacific is my weekly commute,” he says.
© Serge Panczuk
Crossing continents and borders is therefore something that comes naturally to Serge. He grew up in Alsace, France, near the borders with Germany and Switzerland, the son of a Polish immigrant father and a French mother. His love for fine craftsmanship comes from a childhood spent watching his grandfather, a miner, repairing his colleagues’ shoes, as well as his father’s love of pens. His maternal grandfather worked in textiles – another type of craftsmanship that clearly influenced him. It was also his parents who bought him his first watch – a digital Certina. He still has it and wears it – on a NATO strap.
© Serge Panczuk
From that point his passion just grew… and grew. Serge is a fan of affordable watches and is not really impressed by grand complications. “For me, they are nice objects, but they are not watches,” he says. “A watch should be simple, appeal to the greatest number of people and survive the years without too many incidents. It should not be fragile or difficult to maintain. More important, it should tell a story and evoke something inside me. It is an intimate item that should speak to me rather than project an image”.
It’s no doubt for this reason that Serge’s collection is eclectic, to say the least. How many collectors have British, Chinese, Czech, German, Malaysian, Singaporean and… Hawaiian watches in their collection? Apart from Omega, he is also a big fan of vintage Seiko models and a “former” Paneristi who is waiting for the brand to rekindle his passion. But just how many watches does he have in his collection? “I’ve stopped counting, it’s a bit too scary,” he admits.
© Serge Panczuk
He does know, however, that he has at least 20 Omega Speedmasters, part of a passion for this model that dates back, unsurprisingly, to 1969. “I was sitting on the sofa with my parents. My father said, ‘look son, you will never forget this’. It was the moon landing and I was five years old. It’s as simple as that. Omega fits perfectly with the values I mentioned: it has great stories, simplicity and watches that sometimes go off the beaten track.”
Even with the Speedmaster, Serge’s tastes are still eclectic and perfectly reflect the values of “family, happiness and smiles” that he holds dear. “I am trying to get a Speedmaster from the year of birth of each of my children (1999, 2004 and 2006) and I hope to find a ST 105.003 from August 1964 (I currently have one from 1965). I love the soft sensation of the calibre 321 and I’m lucky to have two Speedmasters with this calibre.”
Omega Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch Apollo 17 45th anniversary © Serge Panczuk
But what is it that makes the Speedmaster so appealing? A recent encounter in Japan provides the answer: “Recently I was in a vintage watch store in the Ginza district of Tokyo. A gentleman was standing next to me looking at the watches. He was wearing a Speedmaster Mitsukoshi. I was wearing a 50th Anniversary. We showed each other our watches. He didn’t speak English and I don’t speak Japanese. And yet we stood for 45 minutes “talking” about watches with the help of Google Translate, gestures and smiles. That’s why I love the Speedmaster. It appeals to everyone and crosses borders.”
Omega Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch Silver Snoopy Award © Serge Panczuk
Serge also has an X-33 and several limited editions, including an Apollo 17 in gold. But his favourite is the Snoopy Award edition, which he bought to “celebrate” his cancer operation in 2015, bagging the number 1432 that matched the patient ID on his wrist tag when he was in hospital. Watch passion, variety and (dark) humour – Serge has all three in spades.
© Serge Panczuk
His most recent acquisition was the Speedmaster Apollo 8 last December and his next will be – what else? – the new calibre 321. “I can’t wait to see what Omega are going to do with this calibre,” he says. “But there will, of course, also be a Speedmaster to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11, for which I hope to get number 1432, and, since I live near Los Angeles, I am also looking forward to the next Seamaster James Bond model later this year.”
Omega Speedmaster © Serge Panczuk
If you read Serge’s “Why not...?” articles, you will know that he places great importance on finding the perfect strap for a watch and matching the outfit to the watch. I recommend you follow him on Instagram (@serge92604) to see the full variety of his tastes in contemporary and vintage watches, his extensive collection of straps and some rather fine shoes and leather goods. Look out for cameo appearances from the unique piece Berluti bag that he has had “tattooed” with an Omega Railmaster!
His unique piece Berluti bag featuring a “tattoo” of an Omega Railmaster © Serge Panczuk
Safe travels, Serge!
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