This week, we meet up with very dapper dude: Mr. Ruud de Jong. Known to most people as ‘Dapperdutchdude’, we had to contact this man for a chat about watches and his passion. We finally saw what most of you have never seen: the face that fits all of those tailored suits on his page and the man behind that great lifestyle account. Read about his vision and passion on watches and the industry and how he rolled into the world of premium watches.
Where better to have a cup of coffee with a real Dutch Watch Head than at Steltman Watches in The Hague; a place that breathes watches with a great collection, led by a team of very respectable and hospitable Watch Heads. We could not imagined a better scenery for this interview.
-Hello Mr. de Jong, very nice to finally meet you. We had a conversation about you not showing your face in any of your pictures online. Mr. Baars said that if you would walk next to us in the street heading to this interview, we probably wouldn’t recognise you. Is there a reason for not showing your face?
I probably don’t like the way my face matches the watches and suits shown on my page. No, just kidding, I just don’t think it’s necessary to completely display myself in that world. Its about the lifestyle and not about my face.
-How did you, the dapperdutchdude, become so watch fanatic? It is a fairly lovely collection we seen on your Instagram account. Tell us more.
It began with my brother; he was always spamming me with articles about watches. He sparked my interest for watches and soon we shared the same passion. My personal collection started when I bought my first great watch: the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Diver. When I became more and more fanatic, Chopard contacted me . I remember that moment as if it was yesterday. I was lucky enough to be selected for a collaboration with Chopard; starting September last year. I was always interested in watches, but that sparked my interest even more. I was amongst 19 others, working on the celebration for the 20 years of L.U.Chopard. When Chopard celebrated the 20th anniversary of their L.U.C. collection, they selected 20 men from across the globe to become gentleman ambassador for the brand. We work together for their look book, events and interviews about the brand.
-We could say you’re one lucky bastard. How did the whole Instagram thing started? Got any major things that sparked that success?
Well, I guess it all started with my Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Diver. I’ve been saving money for a long time to spend it on a nice watch. It took me almost a year to decide which watch would be my first ‘real watch’, but I was sure to skip the Omega/Rolex level. When I bought that Audemars Piguet , I shot a lot of pictures with it and it didn’t go unnoticed. People on the medium picked up my pictures. I became more and more popular as an Instagram account. It was fun and I still like doing it, because it’s exactly how I want it to be. No concessions are made. And I can guarantee you everything on my account is how I want it, no contracts or limitations by the brands I collaborate with. Nothing directed.
-People attention, want Instagram success buy an Audemars Piguet Diver, is it a bit like that? Will you ever sell it?
Yes, absolutely. It was the start of me being more and more interested in the watch industry. Will I ever sell it? That thought has not crossed my mind for a single second. I still adore that watch as I did back when I bought it. It deserves a new strap right now, but hey, I use it for the right purposes. I go for a swim with that watch, I do everything with it. After all, it is a diver.
-So you’re not afraid to put it to good use?
No why should I? How funny would it be if any brand would make a diver and then when you go swim with it, it breaks? A while ago, during a ‘head2headcopycat’ challenge, I posted a lot of pictures of that Audemars Piguet in the water. As a result, I received a few messages in my inbox stating I was crazy for swimming with it. I only answered ‘it’s made for swimming’. Can’t blame me.
-Was is specifically the Audemars Piguet Diver that attracted your attention back then?
No not really. I was just looking for a great watch that met my wishes. However, back then I was still active in the world of Basketball and Audemars Piguet was the thing in that world. They attracted even more players when they launched that LeBron James edition, so yes, you was the man when wearing an AP. That automatically aimed my vision towards Le Brassus.
-It is a watch fitting a basketballer’s wrist well though. Are you sure that’s not the reason?
Haha, good point there. However that was not the reason for buying one. It was just a piece that gave me the quality I looked for in a watch, it looked very cool and I knew it was of high quality. Audemars Piguet is a respected brand and that was an important factor when I bought it. I like it a lot, it’s a very robust piece. I’m not afraid to bash it into something. Yeah, it serves well.
-The watch you’re wearing right now is very different from that AP.
Yes, two different classes. I’m wearing a L.U.Chopard Quattro in platinum right now. A much more classy piece with elegant lines. It can’t be compared to the diver, however I like it as much as I like that diver. I’m still waiting on my own Quattro though, this one has a grey dial, I ordered one with a dark blue dial. Really like this timepiece. It suits very well when wearing a tailored suit, but it matches well with a jeans too.
-Before we go on…. For sure you get plenty of ‘coffee and interviews’ requests a day, why did you decide to go out for a cup of coffee with us?
Well to be honest, the interview you did with Max Büsser convinced me. I did a shoot at the MB&F Gallery in Geneva a while ago. MB&F watches and creations it’s unbelievable how crazy cool these things are. I really like the vision of that company. So, I was really triggered to see you guys made a step like that. I feel honoured to be the next in line. After Max Büsser and Kristian Haagen.
-It’s the sort of company most watch geeks won’t complain about; Max Büsser, Kristian Haagen and Ruud de Jong.
Exactly, feels really good to be a part of that. Compared to them I’m just an ordinary Dutch boy.
-Don’t be scared by this. Feel free to tell us whatever is on your mind, it keeps things interesting. Even if you think ‘I better not talk about this’, we are the right platform to talk about it. What would you like to discuss?
Hmm.. there are a lot of things that cross my mind when it comes to watches. I could say that Vintage watches is the latest thing that keeps me up at night. I really like Vintage watches, but to be honest I don’t know anything about them. I paid Amsterdam Vintage Watches a visit a while ago, and Jasper Lijfering and I had a really nice conversation. However, when he started to talk about why a certain detail on that particular GMT makes it tens of thousands euros more worth than any other GMT.. I was a little bit flabbergasted. You see, guys like Jasper have the knowledge to underline their findings. And explain it to me with such a passion. Me, I am more of a visual type of person. I see a watch, like it because of the looks and materials that are used. I do read a lot about watches I like, after all, I’m very interested in the technique and why some choices are made.
-What are you? Besides very dapper and Dutch, could we give you a certain stamp?
I have no idea to be honest. I would say blogger, but then again, I’m not really into writing. Instagrammer? Is that even a profession? Haha, no I would say Social Influencer, at least that’s what other people call me. I’m not really into these names or descriptions. I do what I like and I can help others with that, I guess that’s good enough for me. I find it very important to do what I like and only if I’m convinced about it. For instance, I did a collaboration with a brand from Hong Kong a while ago, looking back at it, I’m not happy about it. It felt not as good as it should feel. So, when that collaboration was over, I decided to only work with others when I was sure it felt good.
-You do what you like, but it’s not without efforts. Does it cost a lot of time and energy to keep your page up to date?
You could say there’s a fair amount of work behind all of those pictures. Some of the pictures I post a shot with my phone, others come from a shoot with a professional photographer. There’s a lot of work involved to get that perfect shot. Which part of the suit fits best with the watch, what kind of surrounding do we want. All of these aspects are important for a nice picture. I want to reduce the amount of pictures made with my phone, as a result I bought a camera. Now, everywhere I go, that camera is my most important gadget. It is crucial to get the perfect shot.
-If we take a look at the watches in your pictures, we can say that the range of watches knows a great variety. Do you have a favourite style when it comes to watches?
I’m a huge fan of watches that have a classy look and do not scream for attention when you’re wearing them. Chopard makes such watches, Lange & Söhne does that and a steel Royal Oak is also a great piece. However, I tend to like crazy creations like MB&F and Urwerk Geneve too. It’s not something you can wear each and every day, but the technique and designs are genius. You could compare it to wearing a suit: a blue suit is rather standard, but it gives you the opportunity to combine a lot of other items with it. An apple green suit is special, but after wearing it 3 times, people will immediately recognize it. I would go for a more versatile option.
–Wich watch could not missing in a watch collection?
Hmm.. I would say a well-tailored blue suit. No I’m kidding, an F.P. Journe Chronometre Blue will do. I really like that watch, very stylish and timeless. Still, a blue suit is important too.
-Do you have a big wish list when it comes to watches? Is there a certain watch you definitely want to obtain in the future?
If I had a free pick, it would be a Lange & Söhne and not far behind an F.P. Journe. Those two brands are fantastic. They match every aspect I find important in a watch. However, it is a price range that’s not accessible for most of us.. so I guess it will take some time and a lot of suits to be sold before you’ll spot me with such a watch. I turned 29 a week ago, so I have enough time left, but yes, they are really high on my wish list.
I like wearing crazy pieces and shooting them, but for wearing, I would pick a more classy piece above a crazy one any day.
-A Lange & Söhne is one of the more expensive brands when it comes to premium brands. How do you feel about the way watches are priced nowadays? The same complication sometimes costs ten times more if there’s a different brand printed on the dial..
I think price has to be decided through quality and exclusivity and heritage. If a watch is made from scratch, fully in-house like for instance Philippe Dufour, I can totally agree on a high price. Sometimes watches share the same amount of quality, but the exclusivity is different. Go to an event somewhere and you’ll see 5 people comparing their Submariners, but where’s that one guy with the Audemars Piguet ? I think exclusivity and quality should be the only aspects on which a price is created. Heritage doesn’t tell you anything about the quality or exclusivity of the watch. So that’s not important for me, it’s only marketing. Air. Useless for consumers, very important for brands.
-If we talking about exclusivity; more and more we see brands trying to put that stamp on their watch by creating a self-decided limited edition. What do you think about that?
As I said, marketing is useless for me as a consumer and enthusiast. I want a watch to be of high quality and special. A watch should attract you in every way possible. It’s not only the story behind a brand that convinces you, it’s the design, the materials and the technique that’s displayed in the window of a jeweller. I told you about my connection with the world of basketball. People there are almost in an instant fan of Audemars Piguet, included me, but when AP came up with the LeBron Limited Edition, I lost a bit of respect for the brand. It’s an ugly timepiece and it doesn’t fit in AP’s line at all. Those things are only there as cash cow, they are of no use for a brand’s fan or collector. Besides that.. limited with over a thousand pieces? Yeah right..
If you talk to a master watchmaker at Patek Philippe and ask him to create a 40th anniversary for the Nautilus, I can assure you it looks way different than the model we are spammed with at the moment. But we must not forget, we are talking about companies here. Companies have only one priority: make as much profit as possible. That’s what give them life expectancy, not listening to the few critics who think the Nautilus is way too big or doesn’t deserve diamonds on the dial. Understand what I mean?
-Now a question that undermines you dapperness: forever one lousy suit – no nothing like the ones you’re used to wear – or forever one watch? You’re allowed to pick any watch you want.
(Deep audible breath – silence- answer) …….Why do you want me answer this question? It’s not something I take lightly, I would never walk around in a crappy suit that’s not well-tailored, so I guess I’m going for the watch. If it’s free of choice, definitely the Patek Philippe 5970. What a beauty is that. Still, I’m finding this question very hard. I hate being limited in the things I do haha.
-How did your love for watches start? Is there a person that inspires you to do what you’re doing right now?
It all started with my younger brother. He’s a watch enthusiast himself and he used to bother me with short clips of watches and certain articles. Up until he showed me an episode of ‘Talking Watches’ by Hodinkee, I went crazy when he came up with another watch or anything. But when I saw that video, it got me hooked. The rest is history of course.
Hmm, I’m inspired by Watchanish.. no I’m joking. I have a lot of respect for what he does, but I don’t like that style. It’s a tad bit commercial. I like to keep it close to myself. When it comes to photography, you could say Kristian Haagen is a big inspiration. I really like his compositions and the way he keeps watches the essence of his pictures. Besides that, I like to entitle Lalle as a big inspiration too. He is our head stylist back in Brussels at our Tailoring boutique Valor. That man really has a good feeling for style. I guess you could say I’m a fan of all things Scandinavia.
-So flashy pictures with a watch wrapped around a bottle can’t be found at your page?
Oh no, you got me. I have to admit, I did this once. It was during the GP of Monaco, we were shitting around a bit and decided to take such a picture. Very wrong I know, but that was then. I think this picture was aloud and could symbolise that weekend. I’m a changed man now, haha. But you are right that is not my commend style.
-When it comes to style, there are enough Instagram accounts to follow. Which one is a must-follow?
Of course @Dapperdutchdude. After all, I wouldn’t be a proper Dutchman if I didn’t mention myself. But I can also recommend the account of our head stylist Lalle. He has a great taste, i love it.
-Can we say that there a more and more people and companies who promote watches as a part of an extremely lavish lifestyle? Forgetting the craftsmanship and passion that comes with most watches?
Yes absolutely. I hate the fact that there are more and more individuals who think their Royal Oak is useless if it isn’t accompanied by diamond-overloaded rose gold bracelets. I’m not going to call out certain individuals, but we all know there are a few of these show pony’s around. I mean come on, why would you even want to dress up like that? A watch should be respected and loved because of the quality and the craftsmanship that’s behind it, not the amount of money it costs and how many bracelets fit next to it. People that visualize the industry like that do not deserve the stage they are given. I mean, I rather walk down the street wearing this beautiful L.U.Chopard Quattro, which doesn’t attract attention at all, only people with knowledge will recognize it – than walking down the street with a golden Royal Oak completely sprinkled with diamonds. It isn’t even cool, why would you do that. If someone does something like that, he only wears it to show off, letting other people know how much money he has.
-So you’re not a fan of all this bling bling and the amount of show that comes with certain watches or brands?
Not at all. I remember an event for Grönefeld Watches a while ago, held here at Steltman Watches. It was to introduce their latest model: the Remontoire. Don’t get me wrong, Grönefeld is a great brand and those two brothers do exactly what a watch brand should do. Anyhow, I was talking to Tim Grönefeld about the Remontoire and a man joined the conversation. He asked Tim: ‘why did you do this the way you did it?’. Tim answered in the best way possible: ‘because we like it this way’. That’s exactly what I love. Being normal, passionate and doing something because you feel like it. No showbiz, just honest watchmaking. I think the brothers Grönefeld are a perfect example of what’s needed in the industry.
-We have a special request for you. As of today, we want to introduce a new idea with ‘Words of Watch Heads’, you’re the honourable person to kick off with. We want you to tell us which Watch Head(s) should be next in line?
Well, that’s a nice question and the answer popped up fairly quick to be honest. I would suggest you go and pay the Grönefeld brothers a visit. They are such talented men, I’m sure everybody would love to read an interview with them.
-Last question for you Mr. de Jong: what should be a good appropriate question to end this nice interview?
Hmmm, let me think.. are you guys going to BaselWorld next year?
-We are definitely going, yes!
Alright, it’s only fair enough to ask where we are going to drink a few beers? Let’s meet up at ‘The Village’ I’m not interested in where we’ll end. I bet you we’ll have some fun then guys.
We want to say special thanks to the team of Steltman Watches The Hague. The hospitality is just as great as the collection of watches they are having. Great to have an interview at a place that breath watches and meet the team of Steltmans ‘watch heads’.