Looking to beef up your vintage knowledge? Then your first stop should be Dan Henry’s Instagram page. There, you’ll get a peek into one of the most impressive vintage watch collections, belonging to one of the most knowledgable collectors (and watchmakers) in the world.
NAME: Dan Henry
OCCUPATION: Collector, founder of online vintage timepiece encyclopaedia Timeline.watch, and of Dan Henry, his own line of watches.
LOCATION: Sao Paulo
How did you first get into watches?
I was born collecting everything – seashells, stamps, money, stones, magnets, things that glow in the dark. Then I got a Roskopf pocket watch for my seventh birthday and that started me on collecting watches. Actually, even in my childhood mind, I always saw a connection between magnets, glow-in-the-dark objects and watches. They all work for free – you know, without power. From then on, whenever anyone asked me what I’d like for my birthday, I’d say ‘a watch’, and by the time I was 12, I had more than 15 in my collection. It all went from there.
It looks like an enormous collection. What are some of the highlights?
I collect all kind of quality timepieces but my big passion is precision – not complication, like moon phases etc. So, I have a big collection of pocket, marine and deck chronometers, also all the Heuer dashboard and memorabilia like old clocks from watch stores. I’d say my vintage collection has around 1500 watches, although I don’t know for sure as I don’t believe counting brings luck.
What’s your daily watch?
I don’t wear super-rare watches every day – I wear the mids of my collection. I’m usually in love with the last watch I bought. I always think, this is my definitive watch, now my collection is complete, I don’t need anything else, I will wear this watch forever. Then, after a week I find another love, or I’ll go back to one of the old Rolex submariners – I like the gilt era from the early ’60s. I also enjoy wearing an Eberhard with a step case, and the Universal chronographs from the ’50s and ’60s. And I have a big attraction for the Navitimer ref. 806, although I can’t understand why. I know the dial is very complicated, but I love the watch. I believe the Navitimer is the most undervalued watch in the market.
In general, I prefer the classic round style to the monster cases from the ’70s, although of course I have plenty of them – Mark 3, Flightmaster and many others – but I never wear them. I have a small wrist and those cases are heavy.
But anyway, all this talk is from before I created Dan Henry the brand. Since I started working on that three years ago, I stopped buying like crazy so that I’d have the money and time to invest in the brand. When the watches became ready, I started wearing the 1963 in black, and more recently I changed to the 1939 black dial.
Yes, tell us a bit more about the Dan Henry Collection. It’s inspired by favourites from your own stash, right?
Yes, although I’m not making copies – it’s about transforming old classics into modern realities without losing the vintage feel. I’m not aiming for a big market. I’m making watches for people who have my taste – a collector’s taste – rather than following fashion. It’s all vintage-inspired, with no bling, no carbon, no skeleton. Think about home cooking – that’s what I am doing. It’s the watch equivalent of doing barbecue or pasta with cheese.
You clearly love vintage watches. Do any modern watches appeal to you right now – other than your own?
I believe the coolest modern Swiss watch on the market is the Oris 65. The Omega line is also very nice and I like some IWC and JLC. But I’m not a rich guy. I don’t have savings. I save my money in the form of watches and antiques, and if you compare the prices of vintage to modern, it makes sense to buy vintage. The times I’ve bought a modern piece, I end up selling it later, and losing money.
What’s your daily ride?
I have a 1999 Opel with only 50,000km on the clock and a Honda PCX Scooter, but to be honest, I don’t care about anything that makes noise and smoke. Although I do dream of buying a Porsche… But really I’m a mountain biker. I do everything in my city with my four bikes.
How do you unwind?
I don’t consider watches work. For me it’s very natural, and I consider the brand an extension of my collection. So, to answer your question, on weekends I like to stay in the city to hunt for watches and antiques. I also ride my bike every day and go sailing every May in Europe.