Lex Kittichoke is a Thai businessman with a love for family, travel, and a huge passion for vintage timepieces. You might know him on Instagram under the handle @VintageRolexMania.
Hi Lex, what’s your daily watch and why?
I don’t have a daily watch, I change my wristwatch every day. It brings me joy to see a different watch, and take the time to look at the dial and case under the loupe. To me, that’s the ultimate experience.
What else is in your collection? Have you got a favourite?
In case of watches collection, when I got new one whatever expensive or cheap, That’s means I fall in love with it. Not only Vintage Rolex, I love all watches that make me stunning, such as Omega, Patek or Seiko.
What is it you love about vintage Rolex?
About 15 years ago, whilst I was at the park with my family, I saw a foreigner wearing a nice patina’d ‘Red Sub’ (Rolex Submariner Reference 1680). He saw my Green Submariner (50th Anniversary ‘Kermit’) and showed me his watch. At that moment I fell in love and it was the exact moment I decided to change my collection to focus on vintage.
Do you remember your first piece, the one that started it all?
My first piece was a Rolex Datejust reference 16233, from my mum in 1991. My first sports Rolex that started it all is Rolex GMT 16710 with a black bezel. I still have the Datejust that my mum gave me, and plan on giving it to my son when he grows up. And I ended up selling the GMT to a friend, as I’m addicted to vintage Rolexes, and it was too new to me.
Is there a vintage piece that you’ve been lusting after, yet unable to find?
I think I can find all the pieces that I want, but now the price has gone too far to reach it. For example, the Rolex Daytona Reference 6263 ‘Paul Newman’, a Rolex Submariner 5517 ‘Milsub’, or a Rolex Submariner reference 6538 ‘Big Crown’ — are all pieces I’d love to own. As I said, the prices on these models are now unfortunately too far out of reach.
What is the most prized piece in your watch collection?
I have two. My Rolex Submariner reference 5514 ‘Comex’ and Rolex Daytona reference 6262 ‘tropical’.
I purchased my 5514 Comex from a dealer about five years ago. It’s a cool watch and unique — aside from being rare in today’s vintage market, it was never a model that was offered to the public for sale. These were tools Comex gave their divers. The number engraved on the caseback is different and still a mystery to me.
On the other hand, my 6262 Daytona was purchased just eight months ago. I love the character of the dial, it’s just so different. It’s got this tropical brown fade to it that’s just stunning to look at.
How have you seen the vintage Rolex landscape change since you started collecting? The good and the bad?
I love to collect timepieces. I’m not a dealer — I don’t buy them with the intention of selling. Since I first started collecting, I’ve seen prices increased more than 300 per cent, so I guess you could say my way of collecting is not good! I don’t buy to sell!
Lastly, can you please tell me about your custom Tudor Black Bay? What is the story there? I understand it’s limited to 16?
At the start of 2016, my watch-lovers group wanted to have a special timepiece to commemorate the group. We chose the Tudor Black Bay and decided to customise the dial. We changed it to look more tropical and changed the font to simply read the water resistance. It was a great experience to make it for the 16 members, and each got their name engraved on the caseback with a big ’16’.
We used a local Thai watchmaker to assemble them. The dial was sent to a factory for customisation in Switzerland.