11 DAYS OF LONDONERS: Day 2 – James Marks, International Watch Specialist at Phillips Gallery London 11 DAYS OF LONDONERS: Day 2 – James Marks, International Watch Specialist at Phillips Gallery London

11 DAYS OF LONDONERS: Day 2 – James Marks, International Watch Specialist at Phillips Gallery London


Editor’s note: A few months back, we announced that former Editor of GQ Australia, Mike Christensen, was to be our first European Editor. In this series, ‘11 Days of Londoners’, Mike will be sharing the stories of a few notable local collectors, starting on Day 1 with King Nerd, and with a stellar lineup still to come. Lastly, you might ask, why 11 days? That, friends, will become clearer over time … 

James Marks is a “horological globe trotter” for Phillips in Association with Bacs & Russo, who spends his time hunting down the finest watches from around the globe to offer for sale. With more than a decade and a half of experience in finance, working as a hedge fund portfolio manager, he brought his eye for detail and analytical skillset with him when he joined the auction house in the middle of 2018. In the relatively short time since, he’s shaken up the game, opening a bricks and mortar store in London called Phillips Perpetual, where the auction house can offer watches between sales, and he encourages collectors not to think of “investment watches” as a dirty phrase.

Tell us about the watch you’re wearing today

I am wearing a Singer Track1 London Edition that combines quite perfectly my professional life as a Watch Specialist and my love of Porsche and in particular the 911. The Singer design philosophy of “Everything is Important” is a mantra that I have adopted more and more as I get older because it sets the right example in the office and in the way I collect cars and watches with a distinct focus on quality and aesthetics. This great combination of automotive and horological, with one design language, I find incredibly appealing.

How would you describe your personal style? 

My personal style is super relaxed. I’ve tired of dressing to create an impression and love nothing more than sneakers and combats, and my watch-collecting style has begun to evolve in the same way. As such, the ’60s manual-wind pieces are becoming less appealing and those of the early 2000s are more on my radar.

I buy watches …

With my eyes and heart, and those that when I walk away have left a memory. I love watches for the unexpected, the journey of collecting and, like anything in life, how that journey evolves over time with age and experience. It is the refining stage of collecting that really appeals to me.

Other pieces in your collection: 

I own a very broad church of brands and styles, from the established, like Patek Philippe and the 5970J, to the less obvious such as the Zenith “Cover Girl”, to the independents such as the Ludovic Ballouard Upside Down. I am not married to anything in particular complication-wise but the Perpetual Calendar has always struck me as a favourite.

My favourite piece of 2020 is …

Easy question for me to answer: the Rolex Submariner 126618LB. I love the comfort of the new 41mm Submariner case and the ’90s allure of yellow gold, and the blue dial with white print gives a great vintage feel in Rolex’s newest release. What surprised me with that watch was how much I preferred the look to the Kermit, which in the flesh can appear somewhat contrived.

Someone to follow who knows a lot about watches:

My good friend Pierre Biver has a fabulous eye for contemporary watches, having grown up alongside the most influential man in the industry whose creative genius is seen in virtually every brand.

Keep up with James on Instagram @thomas_crownaffair.