For the first time in w&w history, we are pleased to present to you a reader submitted article. Richard Wheeler is an expat living in Europe, working for Specialized Bikes. It goes without saying that he is a watch collector, and after taking a trip to Frankfurt and visiting Guinand and Sinn, put together a brief encounter of his day-trip. Enjoy!
It’s been over two years since I moved to Europe and I can honestly say I have never been too fond of Germany. Aftre having lived there for 6 weeks, the decision was quickly made to jump to the other side of the border, and live in the Netherlands. That all changed on my last trip to Frankfurt.
I am fortunate in my job to travel around Europe quite a bit and recently found myself in Frankfurt. Instead of the usual: meetings, dinner, back to the hotel and work. I decided to search out a few watch finds. After some forum searches I decided to visit Guinand and Sinn. And for good measure I decided to hit up one watch store, David No. 10. My day ended early so I was able to get to all three in one afternoon. I plugged the address for Guinand into my GPS and off I went. I did not look too closely where it would take me, and as I was getting closer to the location it was starting to look a bit like an industrial area. I thought what the heck, just go for it. Sure enough it took me right to Guinand.
Upon opening the door you are greeted by a series of photos and posters relating to watches and aviation. Soon, a receptionist came out to help me. I asked if she spoke English and she turned away. A second later Horst Hassler, managing director, came out to greet me. He was a bit suspicious, but was nice enough to show me the watch collection for Guinand.
The show-room was small, filled with the current models for offer, hand lathes, a few mementos. Pocket watches, and a Heuer Chrono with a Buren 12 movement – same as their limited watch.
After looking around for a while, I thanked Mr Hessler and promised to be back with either money in hand or a bicycle…
Next it was off to Sinn Spezialuhren. I plugged their address in the GPS and realized it was in the same neighborhood. I am sure most of you know the history between Guinand, Sinn Spezialuren and Helmut Sinn, only making sense that they would be located pretty close. The GPS lead me through a series of spaghetti bowl one way streets, finally placing me directly in front of the building.
I walked in the ground level and in into what looked like a waiting area. It was in fact the waiting area for people picking up watches that had been serviced, I asked a person waiting if there was a showroom. He told me it was up on the first floor, so up I went. On the first floor, I found a very tidy showroom with nicely displayed watches, work area, and bits.
A Sinn employee was busy with a customer that was buying himself a present in honor of his first child being born (by the way, the gent had on a nice NOMOS Club Dunkel). One thing that I thought was great, this buyer was trying on a bunch of different watches with various straps and bracelets until he found the combo he liked – with the employee more than willing to help. Mind you this is not the level of customer service I have come to expect in Europe – very refreshing. I asked if it was OK to take pictures and The Sinn employee, Sean Patrick Becker said it was Ok and was more than happy to help.
The gentlemen purchasing the watch wrapped up the deal and left with a smile on his face. I then had the chance to talk to Sean about their watches and the movements they are putting in them. They too are concerned about ETA availability and are starting to show watches with Sellita movements. But with Sellita unable to meet production demand it will be interesting to see what the future brings for most of the watch makers using ETA and Sellita movements.
On to David No. 10. I chose this shop for several reasons. It was close to my hotel, directly across the street from the Frankfurt Central Train Station and within a block of a very good place for Turkish food.
He carries a lot of watches that are in the price range you would find on worn&wound. The place is jam-packed with watches. It will take you a while to sort out the wheat from the chafe. Lots of German brands are present here, from Ingersoll to Nomos, with most prices ranges in between. It took a while for David and his wife to warm up. I guess is doesn’t help when you come in asking if they sell vintage watches when all they have are new…But, in the end they were quite friendly. He has been in business for over 50 years and is quite savvy. We went on to talk about the future. In my opinion he is on the mark about Nomos being one to watch out for. The best part of the evening was when I asked him what he thought was the best watch size… His answer was quite astute and simple: “your eyes will tell you.” In the end I walked out with a Seiko SZNH 55K1 (Fifty Five Fathoms) with English and German day marking. Fun to pick up this desk diver that is not too readily available is the states.
If your travels ever take you to Frankfurt, don’t hesitate to visit these places and others. So what’s next? Glashuette anyone?
by Richard Wheeler
I am a watch guy, it started about a year and a half ago. I guess I am just trying to catch up for lost time. Currently in my collection – Omega Speedmaster Professional, Hamilton Pan Europ 1971 #1960, Seiko SKX175 on a Jubilee (my favorite), 1980 Citizen Challenger Timer and Orient Defender both on a NATO’s. I have no grail at this point. I guess once I do I guess the game is over.