Watch Collector, Entrepreneur, Founder of Bulang & Sons
Bulang and Sons was started in 2012, with its foundation deep in the personal passions of Bernhard: while leading his own design and communications agency, Bernhard was always on the hunt for designer furniture, fountain pens, shoes, jackets, and other precious things. Finally, around 2006, the world of vintage watches caught his attention. Soon after, Bernhard created his personal blog 100 Percent Rolex with a focus on the affectionate and innovative photography style which has become a trademark of Bulang and Sons on the one hand – and on the other, an adapted formula in the industry by now. Bernhard says “For me vintage watches are synonymous with quality, value and durability and it’s my personal ambition to bring the world of watches, design and lifestyle together.”
1. Do you remember your first watch?
Yes, it was a HEUER Formula 1 watch I bought at Lake Geneva in my teens, when I was still surfing and in and out the water all day. I loved the tool watch feel of it. My first mechanical watch was a BELL & ROSS chronograph I purchased to mark the birth of my eldest son. It was a choice between that and an OMEGA Speedmaster Professional and I wore it until I started collecting vintage ROLEX etc about 13 years ago. I gave him the BELL & ROSS watch when he turned 18 years old. I guess for his sake, I probably should have chosen the Speedmaster back then!
2. The 3 most iconic watch models?
For sure the OMEGA Speedmaster Professional is one of them. I love the timeless design and the mixture between sporty, pure case design and elegance of the dial. Also they have such a great variation in feel with different patina, deep black dials, grayish dials, tropical brown dials, bezels etc. Each vintage Speedy has its own unique character.
Same goes for the ROLEX 5513 Submariner which is another all time favorite of mine. Such timeless and pure design again and whatever mood you are in, whatever style you are wearing and occasion you are at, they always shine on your wrist. Such beasts! My favourite version is one with a super dome crystal and some nice warm patina.
Last but not least for me the final most iconic watch is the vintage ROLEX Daytona. Since day one of my collecting career it was always my dream to own one one day. I still remember my first one and the friendships and trust involved in getting it. And the amazing feeling the first time I strapped it on. Till today, when wearing one, the smile is not leaving my face looking at it. It’s a bit of a pity they have become so expensive these days.
3. A noteworthy anecdote with one of your watches?
There are so many stories attached to the watches I have collected. But for me the biggest anecdotes always have been the great people I met on the chase and sharing those moments with friends around the world in the process. Like the day a friend and I met the original owner of a ROLEX 5517 Milsub I bought years ago and we spent the day with the ex-commando. Sharing his stories and emotional anecdotes about his life, training and history during and after his active career. That day has never left my mind and instilled in me such big respect for these tool watches and the incredible lives they have seen.
4. Are you more modern or vintage?
I am mainly ‘vintage’ as I am a sucker for patina. Watches that you feel could talk and share a bit of their mystery. I have owned many watches with special stories and adventurous lives in my collecting history. And that always added such a magic and joy for me. Also with vintage watches with a nice domed crystal the watches always change their look on your wrist. Every twist of the arm reveals a new perspective of the dial.
I tried many new watches in the past and only rarely found that excitement on my wrist. Most of them where quite dull for me. At this point I only own a few modern ones. The modern Speedmaster like the Snoopy and Apollo I like and of course the classic Professional is still a timeless standard. Also the modern Tudor watches like the Black Bay are such great watches for the money. A great bridge between vintage vibe and modern feel. Still real iconic designs.
To be honest, I have visited Baselworld watch fair over the last years and in my humble opinion there are only a few real nice modern watches. It has become such a game of re-issue, marketing features instead of timeless iconic designs these days. Not what really makes me happy.
5. I love Speedmasters because …
I loved them even before I related to their moon history. The aesthetics are just so nice. And it’s such a stylish beast, as you can wear it very relaxed on a loose steel bracelet but also on a wide variation of straps. It always shines and is such a great watch to style up for your mood of the day. I love to wear them on a nato strap.
6. Your favorite Speedmaster?
For me personally, its the ref 2998 early models with the slightly smaller case and without the crown protection. Such perfect proportion and style to me. And as a sucker for brown dials and alpha hands, a tropical dial and big white lollipop second hand watch would be my endgame Speedmaster.
7. A single personal item you would take with you for a long stay on the Moon?
A notebook and a pen. Work on so many ideas that are in my head without the daily distractions!
8. You just won the lottery. Do you first buy a sports car or call a financial advisor?
I just would spend endless time enjoying my family. Shared memories are priceless. I own the cars I like and have no major hunger for more… but ok, I might buy the new Porsche Targa. After some bad experience with a vintage 911 I am not ready to start on them again. But that new one is just so beautiful.
9. Where would you spend the next 24 hours if you had a teleporter?
I would get my wife, three kids and the Labradoodle and teleport us to the Dutch coast for the day… try and relive some of the enjoyment and precious time from our holiday this summer.
10. How many times a day do you watch … your watch?
I guess I lose count… I look at my wrist a lot. But to be honest, rarely to check the time. Just to see all these great details and vintage magic changing look with every twist of my wrist. How indexes get twisted by a super domed crystal, how they change color in different light and how different the case looks with different angles.
11. The last watch you bought?
I bought a 1940th stepcase steel chronograph with an amazing two-color (salmon – white) sector dial. I love the hardcore pure design. Some of the nicest case designs ever. And lately I am a sucker for salmon dial watches.
12. What’s on your wrist today?
It’s my ROLEX 5508 small crown Submariner. I love the size and understated look.