“I’m just addicted to the thrill of the chase”: Confessions of a Rolex flipper

“I’m just addicted to the thrill of the chase”: Confessions of a Rolex flipper

Matt Pickering

Hi, my name’s Matt and I’m a watch degenerate … I don’t really want to be. I honestly go into every watch purchase with the heartfelt belief that this will be the watch that I will keep for the rest of my life and pass onto my son. But inevitably I change my mind (again). Before I know it, I’ve traded up for another watch that I simply cannot possibly live without. Ever. Until I discover that, in fact, it turns out that I actually can.

Why am I stuck on the watch-flipping carousel? The biggest problem, I think, is that my horological ideal won’t stay still. It continues to change and evolve. Either that or I’m just addicted to the thrill of the chase.

This particular tale has its origins firmly rooted in 2018. Baselworld rolled around and Rolex delivered the goods as usual with a new stainless-steel GMT Pepsi on Jubilee.

Sign.Me.Up.

rolex flipper

With Buckley’s chance of getting one of these bad-boys at retail my attention shifted to the smash hit of the 2018 fair – the Tudor Black Bay GMT.  At the time I owned a Tudor Black Bay Blue (also now flipped – insert facepalm emoji), so I was very familiar and happy with the format and style.

When I was finally able to try one on in the metal, well, it was definitely love at first wrist-roll. Unfortunately, the model I had the opportunity to buy was on the leather strap and I had my heart firmly set on the bracelet. So it was a no-go at this stage, but that watch stuck with me. I knew it was a piece I wanted to own and was confident it would scratch that Pepsi itch to the point where I’d be happy to move on.

Eventually the Black Bay GMT became available on bracelet. I happily paid a slight premium, strapped it on my wrist and off I went with what I fully intended to be my go-to travel watch for the next 20 years.

Tudor Black Bay GMT

And that remained my intention. Right up until I met the Grand Seiko Sport GMT with the high-tech 9F Quartz movement. Giving off incredible Explorer II vibes (the good one, not the huge sun dial that Rolex currently runs with) coupled with the price and the ridiculous finishing and build quality, this watch was an absolute no-brainer.

Yet for some reason, while I absolutely loved this watch, it never seemed to remain on my wrist for any sustained period of time. In fact, this was my problem. I actually had 10 watches at this stage, ranging from microbrands right up to my beloved Submariner. But somehow I constantly found myself picking up the same two or three watches over and over again (my Sub, an Omega Speedmaster and the Black Bay GMT). Sometimes I actively forced myself to rotate, but I always found myself not feeling quite as fulfilled …

All of which got me thinking as to why I’d ever bought so many watches in the first place. Like a man who gets dumped by the woman of his dreams and goes on a pointless spree of bedpost-notching to distract himself from his broken heart, was I simply trying to overcompensate for missing out on that elusive Rolex GMT?

That’s when the idea of flipping multiple watches and funnelling the funds into something more significant began to crystallise in my mind. After all, if I was only really wearing two out of the 10 watches that I owned, perhaps it was time to bump out a few bench guys for another definite starter.

The Black Bay GMT and Grand Seiko Sport pieces were among the more desired pieces in my collection, so they were the first casualties of my resulting flipping frenzy. Having banked some cash from their sales, it was time to go grail hunting.

OK, I admit my grail list at the time was pretty unimaginative. But one watch that had always eluded me was an Explorer Mk II dial. I’ve already covered my experience picking up the Explorer here so I’ll jump to the part where I’m now an extremely happy owner of a 2020 Explorer Mk II.  Out of all the watches I’ve ever bought, unboxing the Explorer and putting it on my wrist was by far my most immediate connection with a watch.  The size, the build quality, all were amazing – a horological anticlimax this was not.

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Except, deep down I found that – what do you know? – I now missed the Black Bay GMT. Suddenly, my decision to flip both my GMTs for a basic three-hander started to seem a little bit rash. While I’m much more confident this Explorer is a keeper and a family heirloom in waiting, I was left with an undeniable GMT-sized hole in my heart. Now I just had to fill it.

Here we go again …

Sadly, the original 2018 Pepsi still wasn’t an option, unless I was willing to go through the rest of my life a kidney light. So I pushed it to the back of my wish list. My main issue was finding a watch truly worthy of bumping my obsession for the Pepsi.

The answer eventually came in the form of another famous soft drink. After flipping the last two auxiliary pieces in my collection — a Rolex Rhodium Dial 39mm Oyster Perpetual and an Omega Seamaster 300M — plus a few bucks I had squirrelled away, I picked up my GMT Coke from Bob’s Watches.

With nothing left to flip and the beast deep within sated, I’m hoping I can now sit back and enjoy my severely reduced collection. That is until the 2021 releases start flowing …