BALTHASAR DE PURY
Balthasar made his first steps in the industry 16 years ago when he walked out of school and started working as a sales assistant for Cartier. He was thrilled and with his first pennies he could finally afford his first timepieces.
With a growing passion for watches, he left Cartier to work for a watch expert, with whom he was already spending much of his free time (& money). A few years later, he started his business which led him to become a specialist for auction houses, to open a boutique in Geneva and to be a consultant for the Swiss press & collectors.
After being independent for 7 years, he made a return to Cartier, followed by Piaget, where he worked in retail, training & communication, between the Watch Valley and Geneva. Watch specialist for the FHH since 2017. Avid collector since day one. His fav quotation: one watch is not enough.
1. Do you remember your first watch?
As being an 80’s child I was born in the aftermath of the quartz crisis. My oldest memory is probably that flik flak t-rex alarm clock or that cheap supermarket digital watch my parents bought me during an early 90’s holiday in Florida (that took water during its 1st swim). As well that white g-shock from the Brussel Airport & those swatches my uncle would give us every Xmas. I can remember vaguely as well a ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ watch I adored.
I was finally able to acquire my first mechanical watches with my first pay checks working as an assistant seller at Cartier from the age of 20 years old (still living at my mother’s helped as well).
My first love was the OMEGA Speedmaster that I would see heading to work every morning in the window of a boutique next door. I had the choice between the ‘one with a Snoopy on the dial’ or the one with a see-through caseback, I chose the 2nd option as I was fascinated by that mechanical wonder & would stare at the movement for hours. I quickly realized my mistake: I had to wait another 11 years to get my hands on a Snoopy again!
2. The 3 most iconic watch models?
Way too many great watches to classify them in a top 3!
I don’t like to categorize them, each one of them is truly unique to my eyes.
3. A noteworthy anecdote with one of your watches?
Many stories I wouldn’t dare to mention here, I’ll tell you a few when this interview is over around a beer! Maybe one, a simple 30mm chromed case watch that my grandfather had on his wrist during the WW2 as a night fighter pilot in the 219 RAF Squadron.
4. Are you more modern or vintage?
I am making a living thanks to contemporary watches but my heart is beating for Vintage. My collection is exclusively vintage except a few limited edition Speedies I still tolerate.
5. I love Speedmasters because …
It was one of my first love. Sitting so perfectly on my wrist. Discreet yet so filled with character, charisma, an amazing history & damn those perfect curves (!) And on top of that it is the only icon still equipped with its original & almost unchanged movement since 1968 – it’s like imagining buying the new Rolex Daytona today with a 60’s Valjoux 726 beating inside!
6. Your favorite Speedmaster?
Probably the first vintage one I’ve ever bought. A ref. 145.022-68 with original papers. Sold the 5th July 1969 in Zurich, only 15 days before the 1st step on the moon! I don’t have any pictures of it on my phone so let me show you this 105.012-65 that I love as much, one of the nicest patina I have ever seen on a Speedy!
7. A single personal item you would take with you for a long stay on the Moon?
All my Speedies, their value would increase significantly!
8. You just won the lottery. Do you first buy a sports car or call a financial advisor?
None of the two. I would probably disappear in my farm for good, geeking & lurking the net for rare timepieces, the only contact with society would be the postman delivering an infinite amount of packages every day!
9. Where would you spend the next 24 hours if you had a teleporter?
I would teleport myself in Geneva in the early 40’s & buy all the watches in town!
10. How many times a day do you watch … your watch?
Way too much I’m afraid without even checking the time: ‘Damn you look good on my wrist!’ … ‘Is that a new scratch on my Plexiglas?’ … ‘What have you seen during the WW2?’ … ‘Where have you been what have you been through?’ … ‘Enjoy your well desired retirement on my wrist’… If only they could speak!
One example would be this DODANE Type 21 which flew for more than 35 years in the French aeronavale! Followed by a career on the wrist of an Air France Concorde pilot. I just cannot remove my eyes from her when I wear it. Imagine the number of flying in the sun it took to give it that magnificent chocolate patina.
My apologies to the people who thought I was bored during a date…
11. The last watch you bought?
A Speedmaster Apollo XI ‘Mission’ I was seeking for a long time, produced in only 150 pieces in the late 90’s. The last contemporary Speedie I wanted!
As well a few pocket watches in stainless steel from the 40’s like this breathtaking UNIVERSAL Genève ‘Compur’ made for a CFF train operating officer as a retirement gift in 1941. One of the most beautiful watch I have ever seen.
12. What’s on your wrist today?
A probably unique UNIVERSAL Genève Polerouter Prototype. My luckiest find of 2017!