Every watch collection is different, shaped by the experiences, interests, and whims of the collector assembling it. Some are hyper-focused on a single make, model, or complication, while others are eclectic and allow the various facets of the collector’s personality to shine through. John Edelman’s collection is without question the latter.
Edelman is a longtime veteran of the design industry and the CEO of Design Within Reach, a position he’s held since 2009. He’s a man with serious taste that encompasses the worlds of interiors, vintage cars, photography, watches, and more. But, what makes his connoisseurship so charming is the complete lack of pretension he exhibits when showing off the reference 6239 Daytona that belonged to his father or the Bertoia sculpture in the entryway of his Connecticut home. For him, these aren’t things to be coveted they’re tokens for recalling memories and making new ones. John is an extremely friendly guy and, as you can see in this video, a natural-born storyteller. He’s the kind of person that makes you want to grab a cup of coffee, lean back in an Eames lounge chair, and just open your ears.
All of this is why I’m so excited to present Talking Watches with John Edelman.
Porsche Design Chronograph
This chronograph is actually the second Porsche Design watch John owned. The first was a smaller ladies model (possibly fake) that his father brought back from a trip to Italy when John was a kid. He ended up trading it to a family friend, who wanted it for his wife, receiving this watch in return. It’s been a mainstay of his collection since then and a reminder of how he got interested in watches in the first place.
Rolex Daytona Reference 6263
When John graduated from college, his family was going to give him a trip to Europe to celebrate. Instead, he immediately went to work for his brother in the shoe business and a year later asked his dad for the watch off his wrist as an alternative gift. Luckily his dad agreed, and since then John has gone long stretches of time wearing this beautiful ref. 6263 Daytona every day.
John is as obsessed with watch boxes as he is with watches. This Bulova chronograph was a flea market find and has a great grey dial with white and neon orange accents that complement the barrel-shaped case. The box might be even cooler than the watch though. As you lift the translucent plastic lid, the tray holding the watch slides up to the present it to you. There’s something very sci-fi about it that just screams 1970s cool.
Ikepod Hemipode Chronometer
It’s probably no surprise that John is a big fan of Marc Newson’s designs, so he felt he had to add an Ikepod watch to his collection. The large Hemipode chronograph has a very unique profile, with rounded forms accented by sharp edges and varied finishing. The dial is extremely clean and legible, and the strap is the predecessor to the silicone Apple Watch bands you see all over the place these days. This is a great example of a simple design that reveals its complexity the more you look at it.
The Flightmaster isn’t a watch for the shy. What drew John to this watch is the way so much information and so many functions are clearly laid out, with color-coordinated pushers and hands paired with extremely bold and legible dial markings. There’s a lot going on, but it’s all extremely well thought out from top to bottom.
You’ll notice that John has a penchant for tool watches and straightforward designs. To him, this Seiko Turtle is the perfect mix of the two. He recently pulled it out to wear for a week and ended up wearing it for the better part of a month. John’s also quick to point out that not all Turtles are created equal the exact lines of the case vary over the years and it’s examples like this where the crown guards taper and curve to meet the crown that he likes best.
IWC Pilot’s Chronograph Ref. 377709
This is John’s black tie watch. Sure, it’s a non-traditional choice for that role, but he doesn’t really like wearing smaller, thinner dress watches (they’re just not his thing) and he doesn’t get dressed up too often in general. While I might balk if almost anyone else told me they wore this with a tux, it seems to fit just right for John.
Seiko 5 Sports
A watch doesn’t have to be expensive or rare to make its way into John’s collection. It just has to be interesting. This is one of many eBay finds, and the period bracelet was added long after John first purchased the watch. He loves bold, colorful designs like this and the fact that they get people’s attention and give him a reason to strike up a conversation about watches.
As much a car guy as a watch guy, John has a particular affinity for racing chronographs. This Seiko Speed-Timer has a bullhead configuration, with a sloped case and both the pushers and crown on the top instead of on the right side. This makes the watch easier to read and the chronograph easier to activate when driving. The black bezel and icy blue accents give the watch a really strong look too. Note, the period Seiko box John purchased a case of them so he’ll have them for any future Seiko acquisitions.
Panerai Luminor Marina PAM 422
Amongst all the vintage classics and quirky finds, there’s this workhorse Panerai PAM 422. The robust Luminor 1950 case, bold dial design, and sturdy construction make it a perfect weekend watch for John. If he’s lounging by the pool or running around on weekends, this is likely what you’ll find on his wrist.
Rolex Daytona Reference 6239
Seeing that reference 6263 on his father’s wrist when grown up (and now enjoying it on his own wrist) cultivated a real love of the Daytona for John. When he found this reference 6239 with a period box, from his birth year no less, he knew he had to have it. It was in rough shape, but he had it restored to wearable condition and he enjoys it in his regular rotation.
Rolex Daytona Reference 116520
To complement the two vintage Daytonas, John also has this modern reference. He prefers wearing it on an aged leather strap (from a certain shop you might be familiar with…), finding the bracelet a little too flashy with the polished case and bezel. The continuity of the Daytona design over the years and its enduring relevance makes it a perfect watch for John.
Autodromo Prototipo Vic Elford Edition
The Vic Elford edition of Autodromo’s Prototipo chronograph combines John’s passions for cars and watches in one. The bright colors, subtle references to history, and no-frill case design make it an easy watch to strap on for a drive. John particularly likes it paired with an old-school racing strap, though he knows its a divisive choice.