Bulang and Sons was founded by Bernhard as a celebration of collecting and enjoying vintage watches and the scene that surrounds them. The vision was to bring like-minded collectors together and offer watches, accessories and wider lifestyle products – style for watch lovers. Over the years friends have become clients and clients have become friends. Today we want to introduce you to a gentleman who is passionate about vintage watches and even more passionate about the pursuit of knowledge when researching key references. He’s a doctor, a Rolex GMT-Maniac and does a mean side-line in moonshine. It’s Conversation Time with Andrew H.
RP: Andrew, please tell us a little about yourself.
AH: Outside of the watch world I’m a 31 year-old medical doctor who’s just about to finish his training in hematology/oncology with a specialization in leukemia and bioethics research. I live in downtown Chicago in the United States along with my lovely wife and dog. Like a lot of people in the US, my family emigrated here in the last few generations from Russia, in our case by way of Venezuela (which is relevant to the questions below).
RP: When did you first develop an interest in watches?
AH: I’d always had a dormant interest – my grandfather had a few watches including an Omega pocket watch and a Rolex Oyster Date that I admired when I was younger. He fixed cash registers and bank safes for a living and was able to get my father’s family from Caracas, Venezuela to the U.S through his work. The Rolex was from the Caracas-based dealer Serpico y Laino (we’re unfortunately unable to find it). The Omega was given to him as payment when a client didn’t have enough cash on hand for his work on a safe. I was lucky enough to inherit the pocket watch around the time that I moved in with a roommate who was half Swiss. His father had given him an IWC for graduating medical school and after several months of pushing each other down the proverbial rabbit hole of internet watch forums, we each made our first significant watch purchases.
RP: Tell us about your first watch purchase.
AH: In medical training in the US, you go to university for 4 years and then medical school for 4 years, which is obscenely expensive and paid for through loans and/or scholarships. Your first paying job, unless you’d taken time off to work in something else, is your post-graduate training position and this lasts from 3-10 years. During that time you don’t make much but you can take on extra shifts for more pay. I was doing a couple of these shifts during the months my roommate and I were really getting into watches.
I’d always had an interest in NASA and the space program so a pre-moon Speedy felt like the right place to start. Luckily this was just before a lot of the prices took off so, after reading up on all the intricacies of ‘correctness’ for the 105.012 and 145.012’s, I spent the down time during these extra shifts looking at new pre-moon Speedy listings. During a shift, at 3 AM my time, a company called Bulang and Sons posted a really fabulous 105.012-65 with all correct parts and a full bracelet. Being a watch neophyte, I hadn’t a clue how the whole purchasing thing worked. The whole team was patient with my questions and general trepidation about such a large purchase. A few days later I was a proud owner and I’ve never looked back.
RP: So you’re a details guy! I guess there is a love of research that exists in your professional life that is mirrored in your watch passion?
AH: Oh yes – when I want to research something, I tend to go a bit overboard! After seeing the work William did for Speedmasters (speedmaster101.com) when I was researching my Speedy purchase, I wanted to fill in some of the gaps for other popular models. I also have an interest in that other professional’s watch, the GMT, and have since made a free reference website for the 1675 model – gmtmaster1675.com. I still have a few things left to fill in on the site but it’s nice to give back to everyone who freely shares their knowledge about different watches. At the moment I’m in the midst of doing the same thing for the 1016 Explorer model, which is a bit daunting because even less is catalogued about these.
RP: We know you have a particular love of ‘Pulsation’ scale watches. Tell us more about where this came from.
AH: I think the easiest way that I’ve come to think about it is this: how many people have a profession with it’s own type of watch? There are diving watches, watches for motorsport professionals, some anti-magnetic watches for those who work at CERN, and spelunking watches, but these categories apply to only a small minority of people. The two ‘professional specific’ watches that aren’t for niche professions are GMT watches for pilots and pulsations watches for doctors. Since the watch world was nice enough to make a watch that could help me out at work, the least I could do is to try and collect them!
RP: That’s cool – so they are literally a ‘tool watch’ for you?
Absolutely, yes! I really enjoy the fact that my pulsations watches are a functional part of my life. I use them at work on a regular basis when examining patients. Usually, they also help ‘break the ice’ when I’m meeting a new patient for the first time – these people are often sick and families can be stressed when I meet them. But, almost invariably, they all look at me with curiosity when I use my watch to check their pulse – and it gives us a ‘break’ from talking about their cancer. Many people share their own stories about a watch, their father’s watch from when they were little, or something they’re passionate about that we’d otherwise not get to talk about. It’s a great way to learn about them as people and not just as a patient.
RP: Tell us about a couple of your favourite pulsation scale watches in your current collection.
AH: I’m not a collector who aims to collect one brand or all the iterations of one model. Even though I have the GMT website, I’ve only owned one or two at a time. With that background, I’ve structured my pulsations “subcollection” around finding one pulsations variant for each major brand. I can’t say that I have a favourite between those that I own because each is iconic in it’s own right and brings something different. The Nina is a ‘panda’ with a symmetric pulse scale, the Carrera 2447 has a soliel with blue pulsations text, and the Ed White Speedmaster has a black dial with a lot of three-dimensionality. I wear them all with equal joy!
RP: On a wider scale, what are your current favourite pieces that you own and what are you hunting for next?
AH: I hadn’t owned a panda dial before the UG so that is certainly amongst my favourites at the moment. The watch that will always be closest to my heart is a 5512 Submariner from 1959 that a family friend passed down to me several years ago. He was a US Marine and his mother bought him the watch in Key West right before he deployed. He used the watch during reconnaissance missions around Cuba during the infamous Missile Crisis and went on to wear it through 127 parachute jumps around the world. It not a perfect collector’s example by any means but it has a wonderful patina and glossy dial that reminds me of him and his service whenever I wear it. My friend Nick wrote about the watch here. As an aside, I was lucky enough to find a correct ‘big logo’ jubilee bracelet for it just this week!
At the moment I’m looking for other pulsations dials from Longines and Movado; while I’d love to get a Rolex or Patek pulsations, those are out of my budget — there’s a pulsations Daytona 6239 coming up at Sotheby’s this season and it’s expected to break $1M. Apart from just pulsations, I’ve had a fascination with the 5402 Royal Oak but finding one in great condition is very difficult. I’ve passed on at least 20 examples so far due to replaced parts, polishing, or dial damage. Hopefully the right one will find it’s way to me soon.
RP: What other interests do you have?
AH: Apart from spending too much time looking at strangers’ wrists, I also like making moonshine, which I like to think is high enough grade to pass as bottom shelf vodka (and has yet to make anyone blind). I have unhealthy obsessions with the works of Ingmar Bergman, Stanley Kubrick, and Joseph Campbell, and love to spend time with my large Russian family and church community. Oh, and I’m a recovering Arsenal fan.
Passion, attention to detail and a focus that is enviable – that’s what makes Andrew the fascinating collector that he is. We look forward to his next research project!
You can also follow Andrew on Insta under t_swiss_t
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“… space is there, and we're going to climb it, and the moon and the planets are there, and new hopes for knowledge and peace are there. And, therefore, as we set sail we ask God's blessing on the most hazardous and dangerous and greatest adventure on which man has ever embarked.” Happy 49th Anniversary of humanity’s landing on the Moon.
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Introducing GMT Master 1675, a Collector's Resource (link in bio). gmtmaster1675.com is a free website created to help understand the history and many iterations of the 1675 model line. It is still in its early days and a more succinct presentation of the content is forthcoming but I wanted to start sharing it publicly. It is my first website so feedback is encouraged. It is viewable on computers, tablets, and mobile. Thanks to all those who helped me create this, you know who you are!