[Editor's preface] I came to know Joe from the insightful posts he writes on The Rolex Forums and I'm excited to bring you his story. He has also expressed an interest in being a contributor to WristTimes, so you may be hearing more from him in the future!
What is your name? Joe Lavender
How old are you? 29
What do you do for a living? I'm an Air Traffic Controller.
What got you interested in watches and what do you love about them?
I'm not entirely sure where it began. When I was younger, I'd wear a stainless steel automatic CTI which was trying very hard to look like a Tag. One day at work, a co-worker was sporting a Submariner and at that point I realized I needed to take my watches more seriously. The rest is history.
Do you have a favorite watch brand? If so, what is it and why?
Has to be vintage Rolex. To me, nothing beats a stainless Rolex from the days of lug holes and stamped clasps. Rolex has real history, iconic designs and a connection with aviation and exploration that interests me. Where you find history, you'll find a Rolex.
Omega is a close second. They've made some of the most important watches in horology and I can't get enough. Unlike Rolex, they've made so many designs over the past 70 years that it's impossible to know every one by heart. For me, this means there is always something new to discover.
What watch(es) are getting your wrist time lately?
The watch I wear the most is my silver dial Rolex Air-King 5500 [pictured at top]. It's a watch I find very comfortable, versatile, and full of history. Being a birth-year piece, the dings and scratches remind me of my own dings and scratches. Many Rolex and Omega watches have come and gone but the 5500 is a permanent part of my collection and will stay with me to the end.
The other watch I wear is my 1964 Omega Sea-Master 30 135.007-64 [below]. I wanted an example of the 30t2 30mm movement and the caliber 286 in the SM30 was a perfect fit. The movements based on the 30t2 are visually pleasing and I feel some of the finest mass-produced manual movements of the era.
What watch that you own or owned had the best story you could share?
I lucked into purchasing a Rolex Air-King 5500 made during my birth year. When picking up a Tudor I had in for service, the AD mentioned they had an old Air-King they took on trade that they'd like to sell. Once I saw the serial, I knew it had to be mine. Lucky find.
What advice would you give someone just starting out as a watch enthusiast?
Before you buy: read, read, and read some more. Find a brand you're interested in and become your own expert. While it's fun to read as much as you can about all aspects of watches, I've always found it more rewarding to specialize in a single brand and build your knowledge base that way. For me, the specialty has always been Rolex. Also, when you're starting out, have patience and ask questions. If a watch is drastically cheaper than the rest, there is a reason so don't be too eager to buy the first example you see. There will be many more.