Bank Employee, Watch Collector
Hugo Afonso is a bank employee living in Lisbon.
He inherited the passion for watches and specialy for OMEGA, from his grandfather Franscisco, who already had a strong relation with the brand and some friends amongst OMEGA brand. He grew up winding his grandfather´s watches every weekends. A story he used to hear very often from his grandfather was (while he was winding manualy one of his favorite OMEGAs – a jumbo solid gold Chronometre 30T2 – was: “This watch cost me the equivalent of a full month salary of a policeman when I bought it, and my salary was quite nice at that time respect to the average; that was more than 50 years ago, and if your grandmother had known about it at that time, she would have broken up with me.” My grandmother was hearing the whole conversation – actually he was talking loud intentionally – but she never said a word and discretely smiled. He went on: “The fact is that it was one of the best investments ever, the watch is here running strong after 50 years and only needed regular services; the money I spent is more than justified. An OMEGA is not only a watch, it´s a timepiece for a whole life, and for the generations to come.”
Hugo is a humble watch enthusiast who started a long journey of passion for mechanical watches, and in particular for OMEGA and Speedmasters. And a very specific reason is behind this passion: his birth date, 21st July 1976.
1. Do you remember your first watch?
Yes, of course I do remember, as a loan, my grandpa´s OMEGA 30T (34mm small size in steel) and as gift from my parents, a CASIO Calculator. Both at the same time because I´ve bagged for both, and here is the reason…
When I was 6 years old, the 1st day at primary school was a like beginning a new life to me: new cloths, new snickers, new haircut, and of course, new watch. I secretly took the 30T in my bag pack, and just in case, also the CASIO Calculator. The other kids laughed at me at school for wearing the 30T, but I didn’t care at all: it was just proud and joy for me. Of course the CASIO Calculator was a huge success.
In fact, I lost track of my original CASIO Calculator as time went by. Recently I´ve managed to find exactly the same watch, vintage of course, in NOS condition, through a friend who kept it intact as a real time capsule secretly since the 80’s and offered it to me.
2. The 3 most iconic watch models?
Hard to choose only 3, watchmaking industry does have a lot of landmarks. Definitely the most iconic of them all is the OMEGA Speedmaster.It is not only iconic, but represents a real milestone in every sense, it´s a timeless watch, … and lets stop here otherwise we would be here for the whole day. I would also choose the LONGINES 13ZN, it´s an iconic movement and watch, beautiful in all ways, for sure one of the most beautiful chronograph movements of all times. And the last but not the least… PATEK PHILIPPE 1518 for being the first perpetual calendar chronograph, elegantly well designed, a real beauty, and so much inside a 35mm case, a superb achievement for that time.
3. A noteworthy anecdote with one of your watches?
That day I lost my Speedmaster CK 2998…
I took the watch from the safe to enjoy it for the weekend. When I arrived at home, as usual, I put the watch inside a proper OMEGA wood box with 8 compartments. At the end of the day, other watches were there but the 2998 wasn´t. As you can imagine, I was in a panic mode, red alert, a man under stress. With a 3 years old baby girl at home that loves tictacs (that is how she calls my watches) everything could have happened… Who knows, she could have thrown it in the toilet and pulled the flushing (no big deal for her, she already did that with a dummy before)!? But nothing, no signs from my beloved 2998. After 3 long days of shrinking heart, finally the watch was found. Guess what, the blessed 2998 was inside my daughter´s babies boogie, very well wrapped and hidden inside the blankets. When we asked why she hidden the watch there, she just replied very seriously: “baby’s tic tacs”!
4. Are you more modern or vintage?
Definitely more vintage, although the fact of being an OMEGA man, I have to admit that OMEGA recent accomplishments are outstanding, I mean, not going any further or backwards just look at the trilogy for eg., look at the Snoopy, the new Mk II… Look at the Speedmaster 60th Anniversary, and the amazing respect that was taking in consideration for this iconic watch, with all its details, the high quality of the finishing, the patina, the applied logo, the bevels, the dial… everything is perfectly reissued here. Look at the Railmaster and the Seamaster, how amazing they are? That bezel, the lume dot, the sandwich dial, the hands, even the straight feet old style of the OMEGA logo on the crystal, it exhales patina, history, heritage! Look how harmonius are the new materials, the high tech in-house developments, the METAS certification, and all the innovation that OMEGA brings into the new models. Amazing! OMEGA is past, present, and future. The leadership of the Brand and OMEGA as a whole team are stronger than ever! Well done and just continue in this way!
5. I love Speedmasters because …
I was born on the 21st July, therefore the Speedmaster has always been my favourite watch of all times, ever since my early passion for watches had started. A land mark as a day (21st July) for me, and for all mankind the 21st July of 1969, it is and has ever been, in my humble opinion, the most iconic watch of all times, the first watch worn on the moon, flight qualified by NASA for all manned spaced missions… Again, we could discuss all day long here. The unique design, the dial simplicity and readability, and the details… beauty is in the details… that step dial, or domed dial, those indexes, whether short or long, those baton hands, alpha hands, or those iconic broad arrow hands, the bezel (yes that bezel innovation: the first watch ever with an external bezel), those small details of the Tachymètre Base 1000 or a DON bezel, and of course, the way it lands on your wrist, it just suits like a second skin.
Yes, it looks at you and in a certain mysterious way, it talks to you. Simplicity, reliability, readability, design and all those specs are timeless, and that is precisely what a Speedmaster will always be… an iconic and a timeless watch.
6. Your favorite Speedmaster?
Very hard choice. My heart is divided in many pieces, then would be divided in two. But if only one, then I would chose a perfect OMEGA Speedmaster CK 2298-1 lollipop with chocolate dial. That perfect tropical dial, that perfect lume, those elegant alpha hands, that delicious good looking sexy lollipop hand, that dark chocolate brownish tone perfect tachymètre base 1000 bezel just ticks all my bells.
But I need to add at least another one… For the meaning of the year in question, for everything it stands for and represents, and for the rarity of the model in question… no doubts about it: a 1976 NOS Apollo Soyuz full set.
7. A single personal item you would take with you for a long stay on the Moon?
A direct and live video call device with enough autonomy to endure through all that long stay, so I could be able to talk and see my daughter every single time we wish.
8. You just won the lottery. Do you first buy a sports car or call a financial advisor?
Definitely a sports car, a classic Porsche 911 from the 60´s or a 911 3.3 Turbo from 1976 would be perfect.
9. Where would you spend the next 24 hours if you had a teleporter?
I would grab my wife and daughter, and travel around the world 24 hours non-stop, admiring the most iconic and breathtaking places out there, planet earth is beautiful.
10. How many times a day do you watch … your watch?
A lot, really a lot, I wear my watch not only to tell time, but to measure time, as a tool watch, and to plan my day. And of course to admire the beauty of the watch. I feel naked without a watch, it’s a part of my body as well. That says it all.
And talking about watches… To all my friends, to the ones that live on the left side of my chest, to my mentors, my guiding lights, my role models as persons of knowledge and wisdom, not watch friends, but true friends from the heart. A big thank you to you R. you know why and how much you mean to me; thank you S., thank you T., thank you I., thank you F., thank you C., thank you O., and thank you A.! You all know who you are! Special thanks to S. who helped achieve the dream of having my 2998 today as perfect as on its early days, I will never forget that. And a big special kiss to my wife and daughter who have to put up with this all watch thing.
11. The last watch you bought?
A New Old Stock OMEGA Speedmaster from the 80´s, it is really “zero miles” and the son of the original owner couldn’t find the original the papers, only the box, I cannot tell the precise year and date of delivery, but I hope it might be my wife´s birth year (1984). Incredibly or not it is still keeping great time and strong amplitude, and of course it has the red dot factory sealed caseback. No guts to open it yet. Guess I will only get to know precisely the year once I send it for the first complete maintenance service and apply for an OMEGA Extract of the Archives.
12. What’s on your wrist today?
My OMEGA Speedmaster Ref. ST 105.012-66 CB.
Join the discussion 3 Comments
This is not only inspiring. It’s deeply moving. PS: My first watch was a Mikey Mouse watch, also at the age of 6. I looked at my watch so much that I failed my all my classes that year.
I was very moved by your beautiful recounting of days past. Moving and relevant even today. Thank you for stirring that emotion within me.
Great interview. It is nice to know that I am not alone in this passion for Speedmaster considering that we both live in Portugal.