You know, since we started Talking Watches some 21 episodes ago, we’ve
featured some incredible and varied collections – “varied” being the key
word here. Sure, all of the collectors we’ve spoken to have had some variation on a theme that
drove their interests, but today, we take a look at a man who has a
singular focus in collecting – that of shaped, time-only watches from
the great brands of the 20th century. Roni Madhvani has been collecting
watches for over 30 years, and though his home country of Uganda has
little in the way of a collecting community (#redbarkempala coming
soon?), he has built long-standing friendships around the world in his
travels. His collection is special, folks. This is your official Talking Watches with Roni Madhvani.
Patek Philippe Reference 3424 By Gilbert Albert
Roni’s collection is predominantly time-only, shaped watches from the likes of Patek Philippe, Vacheron Constantin, Audemars Piguet, and Cartier. Perhaps the most well known of the shaped watches are those designed by Gilbert Albert, the famed Swiss designer. The reference 3424 is probably the one that most think of when a Gilbert Albert Patek is mentioned, and this is a cornerstone of the collection.
Patek Philippe Reference 3412 By Gilbert Albert
This is another example of a legendary Gilbert Albert-designed Patek, this time with cross-hair dial and Beyer signature. The reference here is 3412, and is certainly one of the most interesting cases to ever come from Patek.
Vacheron Constantin With Guilloche Dial And Claw Lugs
Roni has always admired the work of Vacheron Constantin, but he says that because until recently there was not much information on their historical pieces, he stayed away from them. This is the one exception, as one look at the amazing dial and case of this one will tell you.
Asymetrical Audemars Piguet From The 1960s
This 1960s Audemars Piguet is probably my personal favorite piece in Roni’s collection – just look at it. Little is known about the piece itself – though it is engraved on the case back dating it to 1964. The watch, on the wrist, is magical.
Patek Philippe Reference 2549 Devil’s Horn
This is a fun one. The Patek reference 2549 is rare. So rare in fact that Roni’s pursuit of it became something of an online watchnerd legend. Some years ago, he saw this watch come up for sale at Antiquorum, but because the internet was spotty at his home in Uganda, he left a written bid. He ended up losing the auction by one bid. You can see his post about it right here. But, the world of watches is a small one, and occasionally an inspiring one. The bidder who ended up winning the watch, who up until that point did not know how much the reference meant to Roni, found out about this decade-long hunt and decided to pass the watch to Roni for exactly what he paid. The winning bidder who performed this act of kindness? Yup, Jason Singer.
Patek Philippe Reference 2550
In many ways, the 2550 fits Roni’s collection almost too perfectly. Again we have a guilloche dial and multi-ring case with extended lugs. Consider this the brother to the 2549 above.
Gold Patek Philippe With Markowski Case
This is, again, an exceptionally rare reference of Patek Philippe with a curved case carved from a single block of gold. It should be noted that, 20 years ago, these watches were some of the most valuable and desirable in the world. What’s even more amazing to think about is that Patek made watches like this at one point, and now it seems next to impossible that we’d see something like this come out of Patek.
Patek Philippe Reference 565 In Steel With Breguet Numerals
One of Roni’s well known pieces is this 565. He says it is everything you’d ask for for in a time-only Patek – steel, screw-back, Breguet numerals, center seconds. We tend to agree.
Patek Philippe Amagnetic Reference 3417
If you’re a follower of Roni on Instagram, you’ve definitely seen this one. The Patek Philippe reference 3417, a HODINKEE favorite, is never far from the world-traveler’s wrist. Its size, case shape, and durability make it a favorite for his “grab and go” watch.
Patek Philippe Reference 2471
Here we have yet another stylized Patek time-only, this time taking the shape of the reference 2471 tank with scroll lugs. This one is often called the “Bear Claw,” and you can see why.
Cartier Tank Cintrée With Special Dial
Though not as well represented in this selection of Roni’s collection, Cartier plays a big part in his appreciation for design. This is a special watch, a Cintrée in platinum, with a dial designed by Roni himself years before Cartier was acquired by Richemont.
Patek Philippe Reference 5004P With Breguet Numerals
Ah, the one and only outlier to the collection. This a Patek Phiilppe 5004 – that’s a Lemania-based, split-seconds chronograph with perpetual calendar and moon phase for the uninitiated – in platinum, with a custom Breguet dial. Roni is not a buyer of many modern Pateks, but after years of friendly chats with the London boutique, this watch was granted to him. The 5004P is considered one of the greats of the modern era, and this one with Breguet numerals is absolutely epic. If Roni were to break his theme for one watch, it makes sense it would be for this one.
For your mobile reading pleasure, with years of archived watch content plus new stories, breaking news, and access to great new features like HODINKEE Live, download the HODINKEE mobile app, free on iOS.