Eight years ago, on the subway on the way back home from a lunch held by Kobold Watch owner Michael Kobold, two New Yorkers got talking. It transpired that they worked a few blocks from each other in Midtown, and had a shared interest in collecting and discussing watches. What was once a monthly post-work chat over a drink or two, quickly became a bi-weekly and then weekly gathering. Taking its name from the venue in which it was first held (now long-closed), the rise of Adam Craniotes’ and Dr. Jeffrey Jacques’ Red Bar get-togethers has been largely in line with the meteoric growth of wristwatch-related (and, increasingly, horological) material on the internet.
The hashtag #redbarcrew now boasts over 15k photos on Instagram, with posts appearing from Toronto, Philadelphia, Dubai and Switzerland, and while this pales into insignificance when compared to #watchporn (850k), #watchnerd (285k), #watchanish (225k) or #womw (330k), it’s not to be sniffed at – and perhaps that’s why the brands already appear to be sniffing around. Co-branded events have already been held with fellow NY-based horological powerhouse Hodinkee and the Horological Society of New York, and watch writers, brand representatives and ‘bloggers are often in attendance.
Last Saturday was the first “official” Red Bar Crew event in London, following a Red Bar London “teaser” earlier this year. Craniotes was accompanied on his #RedBarEuropeanTour by Chief Operating Officer of the newly-created Red Bar Group, Kathleen McGivney, and resident photographer Atom Moore. Atom had brought along his Leica Type 240 and Macro Elmar-M 90mm f4, two pieces of reflective white card and a rather nifty video light, which was just as well, as the bar in which the event was held was a tad on the dark side. Even so, his photos (posted to his personal IG account and to the RedBarCrew account) show an attention to detail not often seen when #watchnerds gather; their focus can sometimes tend to be on the watches rather than the quality of the photos.
Red Bar Group has been founded as an umbrella organisation to promote the creation of other Red Bar chapters, as well as local community support. By its nature, these events tend to be invitation only; as the popularity of watches and watch collecting has grown over the past decade, so has the need to protect attendees from unwanted attention. As you can see from the small selection of photos below (and in the Flickr Album here), there were some pretty unusual and desirable objects on display. Adam, ever the man of the moment, showed off his new IWC CF3* – an iron cored version of the Spitfire Chronograph, with coffee-coloured C3 and the often divisive triple date replaced with the traditional date window.
The event was small, but the quality was outstanding: vintage Heuers, boutique edition IWCs, piece uniques from various independents all rubbed shoulders with a Rolex GMT Master II BLNR and Bremont x ATG Vintage S2 Special. But there were also watches from MAD, including a carbon fibre-dialled Milgauss, a fantastically rare Speake-Marin Perpetual Calendar, and Jaeger-LeCoultre’s stunning Géophysic reissue.
Another thing that interested me was the proliferation in ownership of the Loupe System. I’ve played with these a few time now, and the quality of the glass is high – it’s a nice, bright loupe with a large, rubberised grip and is ideal for use as a handheld magnifying device. I understand that an iPhone clip / mount has also been developed.
My thanks go to @JPVFX for the invite, and Adam Craniotes, Kathleen McGivney, Jack and all at Red Bar Crew. Best of luck with your plan for world domination!
*CF3, or the IW387808 Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Edition “Collectors’ Watch”
A few photos from the evening – more in the Flickr album here.