I do not recall how long ago I met Robert-Jan Broer. It has been years, and one of the early bigger events he invited me to was the Speedmaster Event at ESA in Holland which probably must have taken place over 5 years ago.
Robert-Jan is an avid watchenthusiast, collector, blogger, and highly respected member in the watchcommunity. He is also the creator of Speedytuesday. Together with Omega they created two limited edition Speedmaster timepieces called Speedytuesday 1 and 2, the later one dedicated to Ultraman, the Japanese TV phantasy series. Both watches were sold exclusively online and sold within a few hours. A major accomplishment which neither he nor Omega anticipated.
Here is Robert-Jan Broer with his Ultraman Speedy on his left wrist. A watch that stands for him and which he stands for.
Since we know eachother for so long, I asked him if he would accept a short interview. And he did. I asked him seven questions which he probably has not yet answered elsewhere to make it more interesting:
1. What is your most loved watch you wear?
In the meantime, I have gathered many watches that have a special meaning to me, or that I love. So I can’t just name one, so I won’t. In random order:
- Omega Speedmaster’57 Re-edition that I received for my first Father’s Day back in 2013
- Gold Omega Constellation from 1969 that I inherited from my grandfather in 2011
- Gold Omega Constellation Globemaster from 2017 that has a special meaning to me.
- Omega Speedmaster X-33 that belonged to a Dutch ESA astronaut
- Omega Speedmaster Speedy Tuesday, for obvious reasons.
Omega Speedtuesday 1 and 2:
That is a lot of Omega, but I collect Speedmasters and there’s a strong family-tie with the brand. I also love my Audemars Piguet Royal Oak ‘Jumbo’, a watch that really was my grail for many years and worked hard to get it.
2. Do you have a dream watch? A grail watch you wish to own some day? Which is it?
To be honest: No. I have the watches that I really want, and I don’t really need to add a specific piece at this point. I have watches in my mind that are ‘nice to have’, but I have no list ready with watches that I am specifically after. I think, I wouldn’t mind buying a Rolex Day-Date 18238 at some point. Or a Lange 1 in rose gold. But I am not in a rush and if it doesn’t happen, then it is also fine. For a long time, I had this urge to buy a GMT-Master, Nautilus, Daytona, Royal Oak ‘Jumbo’, a solid gold Speedmaster, etc. But it seems I have or had what I wanted, and now it is fine. I also limited myself these days to the watches that I really love, not the ones that I just add for the sake of collecting (or hoarding).
My mind is at ease when it comes to collecting watches. That’s a very nice feeling, as I know how it can be as well
3. Why did you dedicate the Tuesday to the Speedy and not another day?
Easy, because it was a Tuesday when I put a certain wrist shot of one of my Speedmasters on Facebook and wrote ‘It is Speedy Tuesday’. I thought it had a nice sound to it, and quickly decided to use it. I never thought of changing it or come up with something that perhaps might sound cooler. It was a Tuesday, in Cannes (France) in 2012 during a holiday, so that’s about it.
4. What did you do before you got into blogging?
I have a professional background in Information Management and IT auditing. I worked shortly for an international consulting firm and did a lot of (crazy) travelling, then I moved to an investment bank where I held several nice (IT related) positions for about 7 years. I had a nice job and good corporate life there. But I was approached by people from the watch industry to start something new. It sounded interesting and for me the way to get away from corporate life and into the watch industry. This was in 2012. We collected (big) data on watch consumers, create awesome insights that would give brands and retailers some interesting information on their target audience, but in the end, that was difficult to get it profitable. Not everything can become successful, I guess. I also feel we were a bit too early on the market with those products for the watch industry. Since end of 2015 or so, the Fratello magazine has been my daily routine, but it has been there since 2004. What started out as a hobby now it is my actual job. My team and I transformed the website from a blog into an online magazine, which is something completely different, to be honest. It is so much fun, but a lot has changed as well during the years. We are now with quite a large team of people, working on the online magazine to keep watch enthusiasts entertained, which is a lot of fun!
5. Can you tell us a bit more about your old site at Omega-addict.com?
Sure, I was heavily involved and committed to the TimeZone and WatchUseek Omega forums in the late 1990 and decided to start a website myself, with some useful/interesting information on Omega watches. Also published my first reviews there. It is old, bad English and after 2000 not really updated. I just pay the annual subscription for the domain and storage and that’s it.
6. What are your plans going forward with Fratellowatches?
Recently, we made some organizational changes to Fratello. Since 2014, Fratello belonged to a German publishing house, who you might know from titles like WatchTime, Uhren Magazine and Chronos. Last year, we did a buy-out and Fratello is now a Dutch company again. We had a great boost with the German publishing house and are thankful for that, but in the end, we had different plans and we decided to go our own way. We want to become bigger and better, that’s why we have added new writers to the team, and we created a job position for a Head of Operations who can help us achieving our plans for the (near) future. A lot is currently happening on the background and in the meantime, we keep the articles flowing. So, although it doesn’t always show, it is a bit of a busy period for us. But in general, we want to have fun and keep developing our magazine where people want to go for their daily dose of watch entertainment. I won’t say education, because I think our readers are very well informed, but at least we always try to bring in something surprising or new for them.
7. Anything interesting you like to tell us about yourself?
Not really, as I have to admit that I am struggling with the fact that I am being interviewed being a watch journalist myself. I think that brand CEOs, designers, watchmakers, watch collectors etc should have a stage, not people who run a magazine. That said, I also understand that with the Omega Speedmaster Speedy Tuesday releases, I am also part of the other side of the table, I guess. I have other watches in my collection than Speedmasters as well, of course. I love all sorts of watches, but if there’s one thing I learned about myself in the past 10 years or so, is that I also kinda need to like the people behind the brand before I am spending my money. There are enough brands out there that just want your money and don’t even say Thank You, if you know what I mean. I sincerely dislike that. Even though their watches can be beautiful, if the people behind them behave like douchebags, you can count me out. Not many consumers are bothered by this I guess, as they’re not (deeply) into the industry. Luckily, most people I meet are incredibly nice and really passionate about what they do.
Thank you Robert-Jan for your time and insight.
Robert-Jan is founder of the Fratellowatches.com blog.