When we are looking for people to interview for ‘Words of Watch Heads’, we tend to contact people with a very unique vision and passion. People who started from scratch and love the watch industry because of the story behind certain events and brands. For this interview, we took a trip to Hamburg, Germany. Ready for a conversation with Mr. Zurab Zazashvili. Owner and founder of Swisswatches and a man that knows what he is talking about. A man with – like ourselves – a very personal way of looking at the industry. It came out to be a very nice chitchat and Mr. Zazashvili was well prepared for each question. Another good edition of ‘Words of Watch Heads’. Enjoy reading!
-Hello Mr. Zazashvili, could you tell us who you are?
Hi, my name is Zurab, I am based in Hamburg, Germany and very passionate about mechanical watches. I am very pleased you chose to visit here. Thank you!
-If you have to choose, would you rather listen to a symphony from Vivaldi whilst enjoying a good whiskey or prefer some Pink Floyd with a cold beer and friends on a party? Tell us why.
I would be very happy to be offered such a choice yet also very sad at the same time being forced to choose between the two. Both worlds live very well with me, but now when the summer really starts, I would opt for Pink Floyd, a cold beer with good company. That said, I have to admit that in wintertime after a hard day of skiing, Vivaldi with Macallan fine oak would have definitely have a better chance.
-Now enough about music, let’s talk watches. That’s what we like much more.
Most people know you from your Instagram account SwissWatches and your blog Swisswatches, to show the mister behind all those great watches that went through the fingers, when did your passion started?
The passion itself is began at least seven years ago when I was a student, but I began to share the passion with others about 3 years ago.
-What was your first mechanical watch you really worked for? How did you became interested for that particular model?
It was a Longines HydroConquest. I can still remember exactly when I first saw it. I was walking in the city after my last exam in the summer of 2009 when I spotted it by accident. I usually ride my bike daily, the Longines offered a very clean watch but with a masculine look, it was both sporty and elegant in appearance so I could wear it everywhere Even while swimming – ultimately a good daily watch that I always had on my wrist.
-What part of watchmaking, collecting and innovating do you find interesting?
For actual watch-making, I find attention to detail indispensable. The parts are mostly manufactured by CNC machines perfectly, so we have a lot of theoretically perfectly components of the whole body but without a soul … the work after that which gives life to these tiny parts is extremely exciting; from initial hand finishing to the final and often complex assembly – especially the first heartbeat!
When it comes to innovation, I prefer a technical innovation over a visual innovation. Something that can improve or even redefine a certain complication appeals to me more than that which serves only to represent. I find the research into physical materials also fascinating.
You can collect watches in very different ways with different purposes yet all they have their own justification. I believe this is a very complicated topic and should be discussed separately.
There are collectors who intend to collect watches, with the goal of investment and possible good returns in the future. This particular area of horology is a minefield and one you should not enter with half-knowledge. It has in my humble opinion less to do with passion or hobby but rather hard business. How this area operates is still very interesting.
I have the impression that there are also collectors who are afraid to do anything wrong. They collect watches that other people like. The passion may exist but not the courage, which you should have when you want to have your “personal collection.”
Then there are collectors that are not afraid to make mistakes, have a lot of fun and learn passionately along the way as they really collect for themselves. You can see this best in the personal taste and development of the collection. “The journey is the reward.” I personally find this method of collecting most exciting.
-Would you like to tell us something about your personal favourite(s)?
There is no clear answer for this question as it changes constantly! There really are a lot of watches that I find interesting, specifically good mechanical watches from classic simple models to modern skeletonized pieces. The highly complex watches are definitely my weakness but the discovery never ends. Overall one would notice I’m more technically obsessed.
However, I would not wear all of them even if I even could. For me, it is a question of the credibility and personality. For example, it would look beautiful but strange if I were to walk around with a Patek Philippe ref. 2499 for personal reasons. A half-truth is a whole lie. To share this passion is a very intimate thing and honesty is the highest form of intimacy.
Due to the nature of my social media feeds, I try not to reveal too much as anticipation is half the fun but I am a big fan of a very young brand; Akrivia (Instagram: @akrivia). For me, it begins with personality, the people behind the brand, in this case embodied by the creative madness of two young and talented brothers, Rexhep & Xhevdet Rexhepi (Instagram: @Rexhep.Rexhepi & @Xhevdet.Rexhepi). A truly fascinating young brand, I would highly recommend visiting their Instagram page to discover more! For me, their Tourbillon Chiming Jump Hour has become a feast for the eyes and ears and is on my personal list!
I could go on but everything else about this question you can see on my page otherwise we may never finish!
-What’s the greatest icon when it comes to watches in your opinion?
There are many. People who leave their exceptional mark on the “watch world”; George Daniels, an exceptional watchmaker, Nicolas George Hayek, the Savior of the Luxury Watch Industry, Gerald Genta, a watch designer like no other. Henry Graves, an ardent watch collector like none before him and many others. The Swiss watch industry is built on such great icons. In addition, we mustn’t forget our contemporaries; Philippe Dufour or Francois-Paul Journe, both pioneers in this field. There are many others but I will definitely forget someone and wouldn’t want to cause offence.
-How do you transmit your passion?
To be honest, it’s easier to infect than the flu and in my circle of friends, many are already “deathly ill.” Through all kinds of communication, from the face-to-face discussions to sharing on social media, we just talk about it, no matter where and when.
-If you could give a few tips for beginning collectors or bloggers, what would they be?
I would recommend reading, listening, understanding and asking questions, then try to explain to others what it is that you think you understood. If the last point has been successful, you are on the right track. You need to have your own consistent standards of quality. Primarily you should do it for yourself, regardless of where the journey is heading – writing articles or collecting watches, you have to try to understand what you are doing properly first. Finally, don’t forget there is always room for improvement.
-What do you think of the industry and the innovations in displaying time? Think of different timepieces like HYT, MB&F or others.
The display or legibility in modern watches is overstated as such brands strive for innovations of all kinds; both technical and visual. This is what makes them unique. These people are creative, they enjoy their work and try to make extraordinary and unique watches. Ultimately, I think everything fits together as there is also a market for it. I’m a big fan of the likes of HYT, MB&F, Urwerk, etc.
-What’s your vision when it comes to the industry and the developments as we see them? Are there any developments you regret or find very interesting?
Due to the technical progress in social media and rapid information dissemination, the brands have better opportunities to reach potential customers even more quickly and accurately than before. Theoretically all of them can use this opportunity creating an increased competitiveness in the industry.
Those who understand and meet the challenges of the modern world can achieve some competitive advantage. Some experts said that the luxury market would not be affected in this way but they are also starting to notice the potential of what is involved and how important it is.
We live in an internet age. I wish brands would be more courageous, try new ideas and learn from the results. This is an iterative process. You always can do it better next time.
-In terms of complications, how do you like your watch?
Many complications are nice gadgets, I find them all technically very interesting even if they may not be practical in today’s world. For example, Tourbillon’s are always nice to watch. Minute repeaters always brings a smile to my face and Moonphase complications fascinates me as they can be visualized in the different ways. Annual or Perpetual Calendars are quite nice but it depends on the design. I prefer models where the complications are very well-structured and clear. This corresponds to my lifestyle.
-When we would say, no boundaries, nothing is crazy, how would your dream watch look like?
I do not have a dream watch. Not even in my imagination. I leave my inspiration to the experts in this field.
-Last but not least, do you like House of Chronos and the subjects we discuss and do you have any tips for us?
Thank you for your invitation for this interview, I very much like your blog as the content is clear and visually strong…just how I like my watches! In line with my advice above, stay consistent and principled and your readership will appreciate your efforts.
If you like what Mr. Zazashvili does, make sure to visit him on his Instagram account. Click here to go to his page and see much more of these beautiful timepieces.