If you’re a fan of supercars and rare timepieces, tapping into Paul Maudsley’s social feed will be a click you won’t regret. Meet a real English gent and a true superstar of the watch world.
NAME: Paul David Maudsley
OCCUPATION: Renowned watch expert, lover of things vintage, and international specialist of the London Watches department at the Phillips auction house.
How did your love of watches begin?
It originates from when I was a young boy of 11, when I was given a 1940s Gruen Curvex wristwatch. From that moment onwards I was fascinated with mechanical objects and watches. It felt extremely special to be able to hold and hear a watch that, at the time, was over 45 years old. Whilst my peers at that age were wearing digital watches, it felt good to be wearing a vintage mechanical watch. That feeling has never gone away.
And, presumably that led to your choice of career.
It was way back in 1998 that I got into this line of work, as a specialist of watches at an auction house. As part of my love for watches, auctions and the thrill of visiting them was something I’d experienced since a young age. I applied to the various auction houses to be a porter, as you had to be one back then before getting into a department, and I did that for six weeks before applying for a position covering for a lady in the clock and watch department who was due to go on maternity leave. Having knowledge and enthusiasm for watches meant I was the one they chose, and so it all started from there.
What are you working on at the moment?
I’m currently sourcing vintage watches for our upcoming May auctions in Geneva and Hong Kong. We work on an eight-week deadline for print and final entries. I always know that when I come back from the Christmas break, myself and our other specialist colleagues have a small window of just a couple of months to find, research and catalogue around 200 rare watches with a combined value of around £15 million. No small task. The job is more than full-time and keeps me very busy. Social media is transforming the way our business is done and the way business is found. I’ve always kept involved with the likes of Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc. To me, social media is a fascinating tool and through it I’ve been approached by new buyers and sellers alike.
What’s your daily watch?
I don’t tend to have one as I like rotating watches from my collection, depending upon my location, the type of event I’m going to, or even the client I’m meeting. If, for instance, I were meeting a client with a Rolex collection then it would be a Rolex. Now this isn’t for the “look at me and my watch” – it’s more of a conversation starter as collectors love to share and discuss watches.
In regards to a favourite – it’s a hard question, as for me there are many aspects I like about different watches and different times, but there are a few that I’d never wish to part with. There’s my Rolex ref. 6239 Daytona from 1967, which is mint and has its box and papers. Also a Mulco triple calendar chronograph in steel and NOS condition. Think Universal Aero-Compax as that’s what it’s often mistaken for. And finally, my black dial Doxa chonograph. That dial, to me, is a thing of beauty.
My collection is very varied and I have a multitude of brands, styles, etc. The predominate theme if you placed them all out on a table would be firstly that they are 99.9% vintage, with the exception of the watch I designed and made myself, and the Tudor Bronze. And secondly, they are mainly chronographs, from a 1930s enamel dial single button chronograph to a 1958 Ref: 6234 Rolex chronograph. I am always looking to find interesting watches, and in particular world time and chronograph watches.
Tell us a bit more about the watch you made yourself.
The idea came about in 2009 after meeting a retired watchmaker, who had created some quite astounding pocket watch cases in gold. Many rare and beautiful watch movements lost their cases over time, in particular when gold prices rose, and he was able to bring those back to life. At that stage, he had never made a wristwatch before, and I asked if he would embark on the project with me.The aim was to give me a greater understanding of the technical processes and the skills of hand making that have existed for centuries, from the case, the engine turned dial, the hands etc. I was fortunate to get a Sea-Gull Tourbillon ebauche from the company direct (they don’t normally do this) and I used that as a base. It was a great learning process for me and we were both pleased with the final outcome, but I’ll stick to the day job for the time being.
Your instagram feed features a lot of fine cars. What’s in your own garage?
I’m fortunate to have a Ferrari 365 GT4 Berlinetta Boxer, one of just 58 produced in RHD and it’s from 1974. That’s an absolute thrill to drive. I also have a 1982 Porsche 911SC in Hellbronze Metallic and with Pasha interior, I love that car. At the moment I’m looking to buy – well replace – a Porsche 914 that I had 15 years ago. They are such fun handling cars and great for summer drives. I’m also looking for a Lamborghini Countach LP400 Periscopo, but I have a feeling the 914 will come first.
And what’s your daily ride?
A train and my legs. The best and most efficient way to travel around central London is on foot!
Why do you think there’s an overlap between vintage watch collectors and vintage car collectors?
I think the link between watches and cars has been around since the automobile was invented. In the early 1900s you would see the likes of the Gordon Bennett Trophy and watches would be mounted into cars for that. I think the mechanical aspect is one thing that draws both areas together. Having a watch to time yourself for speed trails, laps, etc was as important then as it is now. During the 1950s and 60s, racing drivers would buy their own watches, mainly chronographs, but it wasn’t until the early 1970s that we saw the first large sponsorship/partnership and that was with Heuer – the cars of Nicki Lauda and Clay Reggazzoni emblazoned with the Heuer name and the champions themselves wearing Carreras and Silverstone models respectively.
So, you collect vintage watches and vintage cars – anything else?
I’ve been a collector of many things since I was a young child, but at the moment I love electronic clocks. Also, out of the field of horology, I’ve started to build a collection of work by an artist called G. H. Davis. He was an illustrator for the Illustrated London News. His drawings in gouache were of ships, cars and ideas of the future, all in exploding diagram form. The level of detail he went into was stunning. They give a glimpse into the past and I love that.
How do you unwind?
I work and specialise in a subject that I truly love, so the handling and researching of rare watches on a daily basis isn’t a hardship or something I ever seem to get tired of. It’s not to say that I don’t get stressed occasionally, as it’s a business and I have deadlines and budgets to make. But in my down time you’ll often find me researching Vintage Ferraris.