How To Experience Luxury Watches for Free: RedBar and Collector Groups

How To Experience Luxury Watches for Free: RedBar and Collector Groups

RedBar, a global community of watch collectors, began with two friends in New York City. Founders Adam Craniotes and Dr. Jeffrey Jacques met up monthly to chat about watches, a tradition that snowballed into hosting dozens of participants weekly. Over the years, RedBar expanded into other cities, countries, and continents. Today, RedBar Group operates the international collective known as the RedBar Crew. 

From what I understand, there are two distinct RedBar chapters in the United Kingdom: RedBar London and RedBar Leeds. If you are a watch collector/enthusiast in or near one of these cities, be sure to inquire about joining. I’m sure the @redbarlondon Instagram would be a good place to start.

Today I’d like to share three cool watches that I saw at a recent RedBar meetup. If it weren't for this group, I wouldn't be able to experience some of these jaw-dropping timepieces in-person. For a watch nerd like me, it's crazy to imagine that this is a free event.

Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda PF Micro-Rotor ‘Golden Siena’

Parmigiani Tonda PF Micro-Rotor

This is the Parmigiani Tonda PF Micro-Rotor No-Date. It’s one of the simpler variants of the Tonda PF silhouette: an ever-growing collection from the young brand. From its guilloche dial to its meticulously-finished movement, this watch exudes haute horlogerie. Although it’s classically executed, this watch has a decidedly modern design. In my opinion, this is what makes Parmigiani so special.

The ‘Golden Siena’ dial features a hand-turned ‘Grain d'Orge’ or ‘grain of barley’ guilloche pattern. Surrounding this dial is a knurled platinum bezel, camouflaged against a steel case and bracelet. Any and all sportiness (or everyday appeal) communicated by the steel “integrated” (not actually integrated) bracelet, is lost when you see the caliber PF703. This 29-jewel micro-rotor movement features stunning decoration. The bridges are adorned with Côtes de Genève and polished chamfers, the baseplate features perlage, and the platinum micro-rotor has a stunning ripple-like engraving.

Parmigiani PF703 movement

Image Source: Revolution Watch

It’s hard to describe how comfortable this watch is to wear. Despite the bracelet being sized a bit too large for me, it felt like this watch melted around my wrist as if it were personally tailored. Until this Red Bar meet up, I had only ever tried on the solid rose gold skeletonized version of the Tonda PF. Experiencing the watch in steel gave me a whole new perspective on (and desire).

Mid-1970s Hamilton ‘Chronograph G’

Hamilton Chronograph G

My face lit up when I saw this watch sitting on the table. The Hamilton ‘Chronograph G’ is a quintessentially-’70s chronograph with its cushion-shaped case, bright orange accents, and chunky applied indices. The originally-American brand made this manually-wound 12-hour chrono soon after they were acquired by SSIH, who would eventually merge into ASUAG and create the Swatch Group.

Inside the cushion-shaped case sits a Hamilton caliber 640, based on the ubiquitous Valjoux 7736. This movement powered countless chronographs from this era, but the ‘Chronograph G’ stands alone with its distinctive design. I’ve seen this watch on Instagram and eBay, but the example pictured is the first I’ve seen in person. There’s nothing more charming than a well-loved, well-preserved vintage watch, and that’s exactly what this was.

Omega Seamaster Ploprof 1200M Titanium 

Omega Ploprof 1200 titanium

More so than the Hamilton ‘Chronograph G’, I’ve been dying to try on an Omega Ploprof (of any variety) for some time now. This example, unlike its vintage steel siblings, features a full-titanium construction (grade 5 case and clasp, grade 2 bracelet), significantly reducing this watch’s heft. The case houses the beautiful-and-brawny Omega caliber 8912: a METAS-certified movement with a co-axial escapement. Simply, this is the ultimate modern Ploprof. 

Omega Ploprof Titanium on Wrist

At 55mm wide, 48mm lug-to-lug, and 18.3mm tall, there's no hiding the fact that this is a huge watch. Interestingly enough, seeing a picture of myself wearing it changed my perspective on its sizing. I removed a razor-thin vintage skin diver to put on the Ploprof, so my perspective was probably skewed from the beginning, but this thing felt every bit as large as it is on paper. As a matter of fact, I was giggling as I watched it flop around on my wrist. The owner of the watch came up to me, cinched the bracelet to fit a bit better (the clasp has great microadjustment that I didn’t know about), and took a picture of me wearing it from less than a meter away. From that angle, it looks actually appropriate on my wrist. I looked back down at my wrist and realized that I was in love. This minute-long wear fully converted me to a Ploprof believer.

Final Thoughts

If you love watches, I highly recommend you look into joining a local collector group. RedBar is an excellent choice because there are lots of chapters and a strong infrastructure behind the organization. The three watches I chose to include in this article were a drop in the bucket; I saw countless incredible watches at this meet up. Let me know if you belong to a local collector group and/or what you think of these watches in the comments below!

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