Opinion: When WatchRecon Alerts Tell the Story of Your Life

The oldest WatchRecon alert that I currently have set up on my phone is for a “Zenith Retro Timer.” I also have an alert for a “Zenith Retrotimer,” because I figure if I’m not really sure how the name of this watch is stylized, maybe a potential seller isn’t either. I think I added this watch to my list of alerts sometime in 2018, or thereabouts. I was falling in love with Zenith as a brand, discovering all kinds of weird Defys from the 1970s and ana-digi watches from the 80s, but the novelty of the Retrotimer loomed especially large. This is Zenith’s continuously running, monopusher flyback execution of their famous El Primero chronograph movement. A push of the button near 4:00 sets the minute totalizer and chrono seconds hand immediately back to zero, but it just starts right up again. Zenith apparently didn’t make many of these (it’s kind of the definition of a niche product) and it seems like the kind of thing WatchRecon was invented for. 


I’ve always felt that we can learn a lot about ourselves, and our watch collecting friends, if we stop to consider our WatchRecon alerts. This simple app crawls over the most popular watch trading forums (Reddit’s r/watchexchange, WatchUSeek, Rolex Forums, etc) to find listings matching a search term. It takes the leg work out of searching every forum individually, and when you make use of automated alerts that tell you when something hits, you theoretically have a leg up on the competition, and can fire off a DM to the seller that much quicker than a casual browser who stumbles upon a listing for your dream watch. 

Over the years, I’ve set WatchRecon alerts with very deliberate intention, and sometimes it’s the beginning of the final phase of actually buying a watch. I’ll make a decision that, yes, I want to purchase a second hand Tudor Pelagos LHD. I’ll set the alert. I’ll watch them come in, and when I see one priced fairly from a reputable seller, I take action. But more often, my WatchRecon alerts represent a type of watch collecting fantasy, capturing the watches I’m curious about, or would buy if I had unlimited amounts of money. They provide a very specific (though incomplete) education on the watch market, and over time I feel an attachment to the alerts themselves not unlike the watches they (hopefully) turn into.

The Retrotimer is as good an example as any. I’m probably never going to own one at this point – my taste has shifted in the years since I first asked WatchRecon to tell me when an example of one of these strange watches was up for sale – but keeping the alert set on the WatchRecon app all this time has taught me something about the watch, and perhaps the people that collect them. First, there were two versions. One in steel with a silver dial on a bracelet, and the other coated in black, on a rubber strap. The former, based on information gleaned from listings and the relative frequency of their appearance, was likely considerably more rare than the latter. It’s also apparent that Retrotimer owners are holding on to them – this alert is one of my least active. They also shot up considerably in value, following an article posted on another site you may sometimes visit. The day that post landed is the day I may have subconsciously given up on the Retrotimer search, but the alert is still there. I still want to know what’s going on in Retrotimer world, even if I know there isn’t one on its way to my watch box. 

The elusive Retrotimer on a bracelet

One of the most chaotic, and sometimes totally insane, alerts that I currently have enabled is one for “Credor.” If memory serves, I set this alert after the release of the Credor Eichi II in 2017. This one was purely for educational purposes. I wanted to see what kinds of asking prices these were getting if they even appeared at all on American watch trading platforms. I’m sure there have been a handful listed for sale over the years, but the rewards of this alert have come not in catching a fleeting glimpse of an Eichi II being sold by a gray market dealer, but in the constant buzz of sales activity around far more approachable and affordable watches sold under the Credor badge. There are so many beautiful JDM Credors dating to the 90s and early 00s, frequently using the best-of-the-best Seiko and Grand Seiko equivalent movements. The Credor Pacifique has become a particular point of interest for me, and was made in both high-accuracy quartz and automatic versions. It has a case profile that vaguely reminds me of a Nautilus, but is more ornate, and just more Credor in general. If thin dress watches are your thing, there are dozens of old Credors available at any given time, and for a few hundred bucks you can pick up something with Cartier-like style that’s arguably even more unique and special. 

Credor Pacifique, courtesy thepaleh.com

Another facet of WatchRecon that can’t be ignored is the way it asks you to engage with watch collecting. You have to be active in a real sense if you’re going to use WatchRecon with any success (whatever that might mean to you), and that means navigating push notifications on your phone that can sometimes give you a false sense of your grail watch being close at hand. Depending on how many alerts I have set up at a given time, I might receive a handful or more notifications during a typical day. And even after all these years, you better believe there’s still a dopamine rush when I glance down at my phone and see that I have 20, 30, 50, or more hits on those alerts. While some might be promising, either leading to a potential sale or at least information that I’m after, most, unfortunately, are just going to be posts where the watch I’m looking for was mentioned in passing, perhaps as part of a potential trade. No, there are not actually 20 H. Mosers now for sale, it’s just one person consolidating, and the WatchRecon crawler mistaking what he’ll accept in trade for what he has for sale. 

If getting these false positives is just part of the WatchRecon experience that we all have to adapt to, so is the deeply personal experience of figuring out how to cull those alerts over time. The iPhone version of WatchRecon caps users at just 8 alerts. Eight alerts! Two of them are devoted to my beloved Retrotimer, so figuring out what I want to search for with the other six is one of the great psychic challenges of my day to day life. While I’m not ready to divulge all of my secrets (I’ve already told you so much) I will tell you about the newest alert, and what I anticipate will be a mainstay for a little while, at least until I see it hit for the first time. 

Right at the top of my list, and apparently the rarest watch I’m currently curious about, is the Bell & Ross BR 03-94 Multimeter. Reader, I have been obsessed with this thing since I read about in the midst of Watches & Wonders hysteria ‘22. I’ve never seen one in person. I’ve never even seen “live” photos of one. I’ve never seen one come up for sale, and I’m beginning to wonder if I just hallucinated the whole thing. Everyday, though, I wake up, and it represents a new opportunity for WatchRecon to tell me that someone wants to unload their fresh to market Multimeter. Am I a buyer? It’s hard to say. If it’s still available once the excitement from seeing the alert wears off, I might just be interested. 

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Zach is a native of New Hampshire, and he has been interested in watches since the age of 13, when he walked into Macy’s and bought a gaudy, quartz, two-tone Citizen chronograph with his hard earned Bar Mitzvah money. It was lost in a move years ago, but he continues to hunt for a similar piece on eBay. Zach loves a wide variety of watches, but leans toward classic designs and proportions that have stood the test of time. He is currently obsessed with Grand Seiko.