We had the good fortune of connecting with Nick Ferrell and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Nick, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
Watches have been in my family for as long as I can remember, and like for many, vintage Seiko was my gateway drug into watch collecting at a young age. Few other watch manufacturers have the catalog of Seiko, nor the history for that matter, from the fantastic Seiko 6139 automatic movements of the “Colonel Pogue” and “Bruce Lee” fame to Seiko being instrumental to the start of the notorious quartz crisis in the 1970s with the Seiko Astron – not to mention Seiko, not Heuer nor any other Swiss brand – was the first to manufacture the automatic movement chronograph!
Accompanying all of the above is the phenomenal vintage watch collector community. I have met amazing people the world over – but in particular in the Los Angeles area – through a shared love of watches. Real collectors don’t collect for the passing status a brand name brings to the uninitiated; instead, we collect from an understanding of history and the unique beauty a work of art like a complex mechanical watch represents.
Fast forward to circa 2011, I realized I should take this passion and built-up knowledge as the foundation to start my own business – and here we are today, with our business going from strength to strength.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
We specialize in vintage watches, usually between the 1950s and 1980s, and usually vintage Seiko, Heuer, and Omega, and have a presence on both the east (Washington, DC) and west (Los Angeles) coasts. I myself am present in LA.
We’ve taken a “slow and steady” approach to expanding our business, by building inventory and marketing share over the last decade – instrumental in our growth has been expanding to LA in 2018, which has an enormous watch community, and far more potential for “watch sourcing” aka finding specific vintage watches for clients.
Related, we’ve been able to bolster our business massively by providing our unique sourcing service. Namely, a client comes to us with a request for a specific vintage watch, and we use our expertise and network to find it, authenticate it, and service it – all to ensure our clients get a unique vintage watch in great condition (sometimes new-old stock!) in great working order.
We bring the same customer service and dedication to all of our customers, regardless of the vintage watch in question – unlike some others businesses, we don’t look down on “lower end” Swiss and non-Swiss watches, or beginners to vintage watch collecting.
This sets us apart from most other vintage watch dealers, and few occupy our place in the business strata – ie: not selling Rolex and with a great reputation for transparency (unlike many sketchy sellers on eBay).
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Probably all the cliche cites, at first, depending on how many times they’ve been to LA – places like the Hollywood sign, Griffith Observatory, etc.
Its said the best trip an out-of-town guest can have is to have a celebrity sighting, so Sunset Blvd would also be on the list, as cliche as it sounds. Speaking of which, I love stand up, so the Comedy Store is a must!
For my moments of zen during the pandemic lock down, I frequently went on motorcycle rides throughout the gorgeous mountains surrounding LA and their curvy roads – Angeles Crest Highway was a particular favorite, but only during business hours on a week day when one can escape the weekend crowd.
You can sit up in the mountains, right off the road, in complete silence during those times and your only worry is that a bear – yes, a bear – might sneak up on you. A visit to LA is incomplete without taking in all the natural beauty we have on offer here.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
When we expanded from Washington, DC, to Los Angeles in 2018, Matt Farah (of the YouTube automotive podcast The Smoking Tire) was instrumental in helping us to build brand awareness in the SoCal area when he hosted me several times on his associated watch podcast, Watch & Listen.
We saw our social media followers explode following these well-received episodes, and with it, sales. Since then, when Matt has guests on his show and the subject of horology come up (which is often given the close relationship between automotive and watches), he rarely hesitates to give us a shout out – and we always see a bump in followers and sales when he does!
Also, we’ve sourced vintage watches for many within the acting community – and we would be remiss if we left some of them out, such as Daniel Dae Kim, Will Yun Lee, and Ronny Chieng, among others.
Finally, I am quite grateful for GQ Magazine writer Yang-Yi Goh selecting me to interview for his great article on Bruce Lee and his connection to the 1970s Seiko 6139, “Why I Bought Bruce Lee’s Watch.”
Last and certainly not least, I have to thank my wife for her steadfast support during this entire journey – and her unending patience when I prattle on non-stop about various small inane watch details.
Courtesy of DC Vintage Watches