The Couple That Collects Together, Stays Together

A few months back, one of my watch buddies suggested I follow a newish profile on Instagram. The handle is @doobooloo and he seemed to come out of nowhere; turbocharged by his breathtaking timepieces and heavenly photography.

I also heard chirpings that doobooloo’s wife had an Instagram account… She goes by @watchbirder and rides shotgun with her own high-octane wristwear.

Their respective watch collections drew me in, but it was their chemistry I witnessed through Instagram that got me hooked. I was curious to find out how watches played a role in the closeness of their relationship…

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How many watch buffs do you know that have two Instagram accounts – one for their watch addict persona – another for an audience of close friends and family? There’s a reason we sometimes elect to keep these two worlds separate: To an outsider, a watch collector might appear as someone who places too high an emphasis on material possessions. The opportunity doesn’t always present itself, to explain to coworkers and relatives, the reasons why we find watches so fascinating: That we’re blown away by the old world techhniques meet modern technology or that we can be awestruck by the nuances of a dial.

Watchbirder says “doobooloo deserves all the credit for making [her] respect watches.” But before doobooloo became the proud owner of some of the most revered independent brands, such as Dufour, Voutilainen, and F.P. Journe, he said he was “against purchasing [watches] due to the not-so-subtle connotations of conspicuous consumption associated with them…” Despite being grounded and having his priorities in order, the notion that perception is oftentimes mistaken for reality kept doobooloo from buying watches.

But that doesn’t mean he didn’t look at watches… You see, deep down, doobooloo fit the mold of an astute collector, as pointed out by his wife, who said “before getting into watches, doobooloo was into cameras. He is also an amazingly detail-oriented person; he always sees something that most people don’t notice. Watches are all about the numerous details, mechanical elements, and beauty.”

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The first brand that caught his eye was Panerai. One day, about three years ago, while walking past a boutique with his wife, doobooloo caved. He doubled back, walked in, and purchased a 42mm Titanium Radiomir – “totally on a whim,” he says. At the time, doobooloo revealed, “this was the most expensive, unnecessary thing I’ve purchased for myself ever…” The initial guilt he felt slowly went away. With the floodgates open, there was no holding back his pent-up feelings about watches. “I started to devour material available on the web – blogs, forums, etc. – and this is when I found that there was a community of people out there collecting watches passionately for the love of what they are and nothing more – and this made me really comfortable about diving deeper into the world of watches.”

But his wife still had some reservations about this whole watch thing… She remembered the days when doobooloo was absorbed with cameras. “He occasionally made me feel lonely and I sometimes complained about it. I knew once doobooloo started having an interest in watches he would fall into the world of horology deeply…” Knowing her husband all too well, that’s exactly what happened. “After work, he looked at watches and read all the watch-related articles, started-up an Instagram account, met with watch people, and text messaged with them until going to bed. I felt isolated from his world; it was hard for me to get his attention…”

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“After the beginning months of him getting into watches, I decided to get into this world to be with him. That was the motivation for me getting into watches; it was for the relationship between doobooloo and I.”

For watchbirder, watches turned out to be a whole different animal than cameras; they were something she could wear – and score some style points. “I would chose my outfit based on which watch I was going to wear that day.” But through the pieces that she’s owned, from a vintage AP Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar, up to her most recent, a Tiffany-signed Patek Philippe Nautilus, she’s come to understand watches to be more than fashion accessories. She said “the more I learned about watches, the more I appreciated them. Doobooloo taught me to pay attention to details of the dial and its movement.”  

Watchbirder has been a star pupil. Doobooloo says “now she understands the various facets that drive me as a collector and we can have a meaningful in-depth chat about watches with both of us engaged.” But he’s also learned a thing or two from her… For example, when it comes to choosing a new strap, he trusts her eye for fashion, saying “I always listen to her on what works and what doesn’t.” 

When they’re on a shopping excursion or dining out, they capture those moments by taking a photo with their phone – and sharing through Instagram. According to Watchbirder, Instagram has been a “positive” for their relationship, “we post watch pics and like each other’s pics. I got into watches to spend time with doobooloo and I’m very glad to see that it makes us even closer.”

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If you haven’t checked out doobooloo’s Instagram yet, be prepared to be swept off your feet… Between his account – and his wife’s – there’s no shortage of eye candy watches. That being said, doobooloo is smitten with independent watchmakers. How did he fall head over heels for them? He told me: “[After I] purchased a Centigraphe from the F.P. Journe boutique, I had some questions about it. Mr. Journe happened to be in town and was more than happy to meet me in person to discuss. Meeting him for the first time was a pivotal moment for me to distinguish brands and watchmakers – and the start of my journey towards independents. I feel that independent watchmakers are pure in doing what they truly believe in, and that buying an independent keeps me honest as to why I am buying the watch. When I see the watchmaker’s name on the dial, most of the time I have spoken to or met him and understand his values and character, which is reflected in the watch. There’s satisfaction in knowing that our money is supporting an artisan who has dedicated his life to his craft…”

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After being hesitant for a long time to buy watches, doobooloo finally came around to the idea. He warmed up to watches partly because he discovered an aesthetic that kept him “under the radar, where the watch doesn’t look like much unless seen by another watch geek.” Another important reason why felt comfortable embracing watch collecting – no matter what anyone else might think – was that he was fortunate to get to know the people who dreamt up the designs, as well as hang out with those who collect these “micro mechanical machines.” 

But I believe the biggest reason why doobooloo is at peace with his decision to collect watches has do with it being a hobby he shares with his wife. And while their tastes might differ: Watchbirder leaning “towards more masculine, sport watches whereas doobooloo prefers more classic, softer designs,” they both will agree that watches have allowed them to experience a newfound togetherness with each other. Watchbirder says, “we know that if a material thing drives us we will feel a sense of emptiness… so we talk to each other to make sure that what makes our lives meaningful and productive is not [watches], but love.” The love they have is strong; made even stronger by watches.

* All pictures taken by doobooloo

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