“Finders Keepers” is all about showing you a side of watch dealers you rarely see: The watches they aren’t trying to sell you. Those special timepieces they’ve come across that have a sentimental value far exceeding their market value.
Jacek Kozubek from H.Q. Milton needs no introduction. If you’re a watch dork and into vintage Rolex, you’ve probably heard of him. At the very least, you’ve got H.Q. Milton bookmarked. With watches becoming increasingly collectible and people growing more comfortable shopping online, there’s no shortage of sellers on the Internet. But H.Q. Milton is more than just a website with watches: The business is Jacek and his partner Scott Kaplan. “Every day’s a crazy day” at their brick and mortar shop in San Francisco, says Jacek. In between printing FedEx labels to ship watches all over the world, Jacek busts his butt juggling appointments with clients, manning the phone, replying to emails – you name it – all for the love of watches, and most importantly, to make his customers happy.
H.Q. Milton’s killer inventory turns over on a daily basis, so scoring your grail timepiece is only a page refresh away. But one watch you’ll never see listed is this ref. 1675 “radial” dial GMT-Master with an uber-rare “Blueberry” insert.
When you’re looking at watch pictures on Instagram, certain bezels catch your eye. Whether it’s a faded “ghost” insert on a Sub or a Bakelite bezel on a 1950s GMT, you stop and stare at these unique parts. Once in a blue moon you’ll see an all blue bezel adorning a GMT-Master. You can’t deny how cool it looks… But at the same time, you can’t help wondering to yourself “what’s the deal with it? Was it ever available to the public? Does it have some sort of military connection?” Uncertainty may exist about its origin, but there’s little doubt among Rolex experts that an all blue insert was manufactured by or for Rolex in the ’70s. Authentic ones are extremely scarce, but they’re out there…
Jacek purchased this GMT for his wife a long time ago; it came with a slightly-faded red and blue “Pepsi” insert. More recently he bought this Blueberry insert. In both instances the seller was his good friend, @ogmrvintage, a self-proclaimed “watch hunter” who managed to obtain a few Blueberry inserts from a reliable source. As I mentioned before, these inserts are rarer than hen’s teeth, which means they don’t come cheap. Let’s just say Jacek paid more for the insert than he did for the watch!
When he showed the Blueberry insert to his wife, she really liked it. Next thing he knew, he was swapping out the Pepsi insert on her watch for it. It’s been this way ever since…
This GMT-Master is NOT FOR SALE… Ever. Why? Well, for starters, its condition is insane: It’s unpolished and has a perfectly preserved dial with honest patina. If that wasn’t enough, there’s that beautiful Blueberry insert that pairs perfectly with the radial dial. But, in Jacek’s own words, the real reason this one’s a “keeper” is because “as a dealer I have to keep buying and selling to stay afloat, so [usually] everything is for sale. [But] when the wife likes something and I give it to her, it’s in the permanent collection.”
And, for a glimpse into a day in the life of a watch dealer, follow Jacek on Instagram @watchand.