Who are you, where do you come from?
Most and foremost who I am is a watch dealer. That term is a complicated one with a lot of emotion people put behind the words.
Some people don’t like being called a dealer while others try to pretend they are. But for me after 14 years of intense work in this field that’s who I am.
Also my view of what one is vastly different then most people feel it is. I am a hyper intense collector that goes through watches extremely fast without falling in love with them in order to entertain other people. I in my mind feel I am here to connect people with objects that give them utility and make them feel happy.
I currently live in San Francisco but I was born in Poland in 1982.I came to the states when I was a little kid with 2 amazing parents that had to leave everything behind because they thought there would be more opportunity for me and my brother here.
Tell me a bit about yourself, about your private life!
This one is a little complex. I am sort of a person that wears his emotions on his sleeve so you always know what I am feeling but don’t really share a lot of what I am or what I am really doing in my private life.Most of the time I’m connecting with other people online about watches.
But when I am not thinking or messaging people (I don’t like talking on the phone) about watches I’m usually hanging out with my wife who I love dearly, driving cars at the race track (I have an S2000 and M3 track car) , listing to music, or daydreaming about why we are here on this planet.
I used to do a lot of Yoga when I was younger but get more excited about lifting weights these days.
When did watches first become important to you?
They really became important to me while working at my first job after college. Another co worker of mine who many people know in the watch world, Eric Ku, was my co worker.
Eric is an extremely passionate genius type of guy. Though hard to access these days I had the luck of having him as my friend and being able to goof off at work and go to lunches together.
He was always busy at his job messing around with watches and it just became a part of my life. We quit out jobs on the same day to start 10pastten and the rest is watch dealer history.
What was your first watch?
A meters first 5513 I bought from Eric for $2000 (which was also how much I made a month in the mid 2000’s)
Are you just selling the watches or also collecting them? Do you have a private collection that you won’t sell?
Watch dealers are collectors that don’t fall in love as easily. I never really started to collect watches until I started buying them as gifts for my wife.
Over the years I have put together insane collections of mostly sport Rolex pieces but then sold them in order to finance things like a house remodel or new company etc.
Watches and the desire for them and the desire for specific pieces changes over time. Its’ kind of what makes it fun. I have a private collection of pieces but I don’t think anything is permanent and you can’t take it with you after you are gone. Some things I just hold on to for a little bit longer. Some references I don’t like but then start loving etc.
What is the most important watch or watches in your collection and why?
90% of the year I wear a Mark 4 Red Submariner. It is not the best one I have ever seen but one that I fell in love with and it has stuck around.It’s a memento of a younger simpler life and it just makes me feel happy.
When did you start selling watches?
Full time in 2006. And since then I work 10-15 hours each day doing it. I dream about them, I look at them, I wear them etc.
Do you work alone or with a team?
I have a very special team that works with me. It’s hard to explain but the watch dealing world at a high level is like a very high end restaurant. I’m the head chef but I am nothing without my photographer Matte or my right hand man Steve.
We work in union, very quickly and repeat a lot of the same tasks in perfect order to create an amazing online experience. What has changed in our space is the speed at which watches appear for sale and either get bought by us from the sources we have or get sold to the customers I have.
There are a lot of important choices to make very quickly that also involve a lot of money and expertise. It’s a hot intense kitchen but when it runs right I truly think we are one of the best watch dealing houses out there.
I know you are into vintage Rolex watches. How did it start and why Rolex? Do you have a special connection or you just like the designs?
It all comes down to a feeling. I look at an Omega and I don’t want to wear it. Occasionally I put on a Patek or an AP but I feel the happiest while wearing a vintage Rolex. I don’t know why that is.
What is your dream watch?
I don’t have one watch that is my dream because the dream keeps changing.
Share with us what drives your interest in watches. Is it the movements? Design? Brand?
It all comes back to how I feel wearing it. I love putting on something with a Pave dial because the way the light hits the stones.
Have you ever played with a kaleidoscope and just look at the ever changing way that light hits your eyes. It’s the same thing with watches.
My heart is in 2 very different Rolex worlds. I love things that have aged to brown tones and cracked and are distressed but I also love the insane fun funky crazy designs like the Leopard Daytona.
How would you advise someone thinking about starting a watch collection to begin? What are your top tips for starting a watch collection?
Start small with something like a Datejust or if your budget allows a vintage GMT or Vintage Submariner. Learn about them look at photos of them, daydream about them and then find a good dealer like myself and jump in. Wear something and see how it makes you feel.
Would you like to mention anything else?
www.tropicalwatch.com for me is a passion project for me. This is the last version of me as a watch dealer. The company is completely owned by me doing what I love doing the way I love doing it. I’m excited to share the love with all of you.
Thank you for your amazing interview Jacek! Lots of emotions, great advices! I really loved it how honest you are!