This is part two of the wonderful interview with Kristian Haagen by the Australian Artist, Timothy John.
: Moving on from that rather disturbing lack of socks news and the Tom Ford lovefest, knowing that you mix in the circles of the extremely wealthy and celebrated, do you think money can buy style or good taste?
KH: Tim, come on, snap out of it, does wealth buy you style? No, absolutely not. I have witnessed too many examples of rich punters who look like drunken peacocks! No, Tim money does not equal style.
TJ: Do you care to name these drunken peacocks?? Hmmmm, I guess not. OK, you did happen to mention the IWC Doppel Chrono, that you have in common with your man love Tom, so I guess we have to “go there”, yes, you guessed it, watches. So, can you tell me how and when your passion for watches began?
KH: I am from the suburbs where you´re supposed to be good at playing soccer, street fight and be slightly criminal. I was not good at any of those and instead buried my face in a huge collection of National Geographic for many moons. I was fascinated by the daring young men featured in the stories and their mountain climbing, deep sea diving, KonTiki sailing adventures. It was a world of adventure and excitement, a world of escape and dangerous glamour for a young kid.
These stories often showed the adventurers with a cool watch on their wrists. For many years Rolex, Patek Philippe and Seiko filled up the first pages of the magazines with advertising and this had a great impact on the love and passion for watches that I have now.
TJ: What criteria do you apply when making a watch purchase?
KH: When buying a new watch it is all about love and seduction. I tend to fall in love with a watch. Making myself believe that I cannot live without it.
TJ: I think that is a common denominator of all watch lovers / collectors, that inner dialogue of convincing oneself that not only your world will be better for owning a particular watch, but somehow the human race will benefit too. I know that a few of my own watches are special to me, not so much because of brand or expense or exclusivity, but more because they have a “story”, they touch a personal place in my heart, there is that narrative between what is on the wrist and what happens in the head. Do you have a piece or pieces that have special significance for you?
KH: Of course, one of my personal favorites is a wonderful Rolex GMT-Master from 1968. The watch was offered to me by the widow of the late war / foreign correspondent / author, Jan Stage. She had seen a television programme on me and my collection of watches and it occurred to her that I did not have this particular watch in my collection. What she did not know was that I had been a huge fan of her late husband for decades and the possibility of owning his watch that had been worn when covering wars around the world, during a kidnapping in El Salvador etc. was a dream I held in my heart. A dream that she brought to reality, it certainly is a special watch to me, and one I will treasure forever.
I also own a Breitling Navitimer Co-Pilot that was originally purchased by the former Greek King Konstantin II in 1970. Which happens to be my birth year. Further more I actually bought it on my birthday six years ago making it a very special watch as well. Not a watch I wear much, but a cool watch to own due to the provenance.
TJ: That is such a great story, about having Jan Stage’s watch, very precious indeed. This may be tough to answer, but do you have favorite brands, and if so what makes them favorites?
KH: I must admit that I am a big fan of Patek Philippe. This is the top of the pops in terms of Swiss haute horlogerie. I actually do see my Patek collection as somewhat of a pension plan for me. Of course one should not buy watches for investment reasons, but admittedly I acknowledge that I have probably done good by buying the five Patek timepieces I currently own. Should save me a decent room and bed on the retirement home 40-50 years from now. Unless the SmartWatches become the next big thing in watch collecting. (Don’t see that happening though).
TJ: You know, talking of smart watches, I have heard that there are people who actually do not own a watch, and use their cell phone as a time telling device, I know…I know, it is strange, but true, and although I do not know anyone like this, I have heard they live deep within the sewers that run under our cities, it’s a scary thought!
So, Kristian, watches, for some, crazy people, people like you and me, are objects of desire, and we marvel at the beauty and artistry of their creation. For someone starting out collection watches, what advice would you offer them, what mistakes have you made that they should look out for?
KH: If you want to start your own collection, time is important (pun intended). Hours, days, and weeks, of research is a healthy exercise before putting your hardearned money into a wristwatch. Also, try to keep away from watches that may look good, but cannot be repaired due to lack of spare-parts. That would like having a nice Ferrari in your garage, however without an engine.
TJ: Well, on that sad thought of having a Ferrari in the garage and not being able to drive it, I will thank you for making the journey over to my imaginary resort in the Dubai desert, but before we sign off, we have the mega money round, where I ask you 10 in 10, 10 questions and you have 10 seconds to answer each question. So, if I can just find Raphael to ring the buzzer to start the round, we will begin. Oh ok it seems Raphael has finished for the day, so your time starts…. NOW!…
- Your signature cologne? … Kiehl’s Original Musk
- Favorite Drink? … The perfect Gin and Tonic (damn that Raphael!)
- What are you reading? … Bukowski, Easton Ellis and Coupland, all time favorites.
- What music are you listening to? … Kendrick Lamar, Justin and Frank Ocean, but also Queens of the Stoneage, and Danish band Quadron.
- Favorite place in the world? … I would have to say 3 places, is that ok? Barcelona, Hong Kong and Tokyo.
- Money is no object, what would you buy?. … Patek Philippe ref. 5970, A. Lange Söhne Zeitwerk Handwerkskunst or Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Perpetual Skeleton of steel.
- Most inspirational person? … again I have 3, sorry, Pharrel Williams, a Danish artist called Kasper Winding and Douglas Coupland.
- Favorite place to shop? … Jack Spade in New York, Red Wing store in Berlin and Grenson in London.
- Porn or Horology, which is the better industry? … Better industry? Well, both entertain me in a very satisfying way, can I say both?
- Panerai at COSTCO, good brand exposure? … Panerai at Costco is a disaster. Brand killer.
TJ: Thank you Kristian, it has been a pleasure.
KH: Likewise Tim, thanks for having me….now can you validate my parking?
*Kristian Haagen (43 years old) is a horological writer for many International medias and is published in Japan, Benelux, UK and Scandinavia. He has written five books on watches. Father of two. lives in Denmark, travels the world.… and sometimes, when the mood takes him, doesn’t wear socks.
About Timothy John
Australian contemporary visual artist, Timothy John has been exhibiting professionally since 1979. Timothy has shown in some of Australia’s finest commercial galleries, with the occasional ‘sojourn’ onto the international scene. ‘Discovered’ by leading Australian art entrepreneur, collector and gallerist, Kim Bonython, in the late 70’s, John has gone on to be a respected member of the Australian art scene, with contributions on a local and national level.