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My travels to Japan, and my search for Nina

  1. Interstellar17

    Interstellar17 Mar 5, 2017

    Last summer I had the opportunity to travel to Japan to visit my girlfriend. Her and I had been dating for a couple years doing long distance. I was slated to graduate and finish all my schooling and training in early July.

    I've always had a love affair with the UG compax, unfortunately my discovery of the watch came along side thousands of others whilst reading publications from Hodinkee and the likes. Understanding that the hyperinflation of the watch will forever be out of my reach, I have held onto the unlikely dream of finding it somewhere in Japan in a shop unknown to the modern world. As naive as it sounds due to the interconnectedness of everyone in the community and the mediums of marketing, buying and selling, I will continue to dream.

    As a collector and someone who appreciate watches, I consider myself very limited in terms of horological knowledge. I do know what I like, and I do have an idea of the collector I want to become; however, in terms of how a watch movement works, and how a hairspring works I am hopeless (for now).

    The following thread will be a collection of pictures that I had the chance to take while on a random watch hunt. By "random," I mean that my girlfriend's mother's boyfriend... Yes... girlfriend's mother's boyfriend happened to be a huge horological nerd. His collection ranged from Rolex's to Breitlings' to a very dear Walthams gifted to him by his father.

    I don't speak any Japanese. My girlfriend however speaks perfect English. During dinner one night, she was translating for me my preferences for certain watches and was communicating this to her Mother's Boyfriend, let's call him Y. Y was positively surprised by my interest in watches and offered to take me to his favorite watch marketplace.

    A few nights before I had to fly back home, Y offered to take us into Tokyo. It was a whole family affair for two men who were simply in love with these soulful objects.

    I don't believe in keeping secrets and hiding what's good to myself so I am can share to you guys "real local knowledge" that was shared with me about where to find watches. If you're planning to travel to Japan, sure you can go to small boutiques in Shinjuku, or go to retails shops in Ginza, or "lemon" a watch boutique that is highly regarded, but it's strenuous to hit up all those places individually. I highly advise against going to joint camera and watch shops, or department stores that sells watches because there's nothing special about what's being offered there. Only common retail brands for retail brand prices.

    If you're hunting for vintage, or horologically unique references or pieces that you won't find elsewhere, you need to visit Nakano Broadway. Nakano Broadway houses a collection of shops that will definitely satisfy your needs.

    A simple caveat before continuing reading this thread. The photos were taken by a Gopro Camera by a very excited person. The camera has no stabilization software. I chose the best photos I could to share with you guys. So be patient with me :D GOPR2200.JPG

    I took this picture as I was leaving Nakano Broadway, I was rushing out of there so sorry for the blurriness.. Jack Road was probably my favorite shop in all of Nakano Broadway. It housed a collection of rare and vintage watches of many notable brands.



    A nice collection of vintage Wakmann, Heuers, and Breitlings. Some of these references I've never seen anywhere before.


    Vintage Tudors

    Beautiful Sunburst blue omega chronograph Reference 176.007. Was very tempted to buy this watch.


    Some beautiful Tudor Chronographs in superb condition. Excuse my finger.


    Some Tudor Divers alongside some Prince Oysterdates.


    Explorer 1 heaven, as well as an endless supply of Submariners. As you can see they aren't cheap either, I would say the prices have a hard time competing with the online grey market.

    A very blurry photo of an entire case full of pre-owned GMTs. Pepsi for days...


    A 6265 Daytona. If you have a cool 60k USD. Are you seeing a trend? Unlike North American watch shops with over the top security for their boutiques.. in a lot of shops in Japan.. having it behind a glass cabinet is sufficient security.
    It's an inclusive environment, you don't need to be a man in a suit in order to have access to timepieces that are a mid-tier luxury.


    A Paul Newman listed at 14.5 Million Yen which equates nearly 130K USD. The steel hammer was calling me to casually break the glass and walk out with a nice down payment on a couple of condos, a car, and a new life.

    GOPR2130.JPG The beautiful Patina of a vintage sub, for all you rolex collectors out there.


    Autavias!! Not a fan of the cushion case autavias, but nonetheless some very unique references that I've never seen before.
    GOPR2202.JPG GOPR2208.JPG
    Jack Road consisted of a shop full of watches as well as small tables set up for customers who wanted to try on watches. Their staff were multilingual often times speaking a few languages. All were very kind and considerate. You can see that most of the people there were in casual attire. At no point was I ever ill-treated for wear jeans and a T-shirt.

    At the other side of the hallway was an area that was primarily for only trying on watches. It was more of a lounge where I suppose the customers could spend more time with the representatives. I love this aspect to Jackroad, although I can only assume the guards were hidden behind some secret door ready to bust people like me. But this is Japan, they were probably hidden behind invisibility cloaks.

    GOPR2209.JPG At last! I stumbled upon a corner in Jack Road where they hid all their Vintage UG watches. Unfortunately, but expected, there were no signs of Nina or her evil sister. Even if they were there, I am sure they would be more expensive than if they were listed on Chrono24.


    Some of these Longines watches were reasonably prices though. A very sharp looking 1940's time only watch.

    Before Leaving Jackroad I took a few more pictures for you guys. Shoutout to all Panerai lovers out there. Here you have a nice Pamily portrait.


    Some German dude apparently made these watches.... Never heard of them. ;)


    GOPR2119.JPG GOPR2117.JPG
    Goodbye Jack Road.

    Are you guys done with this post yet? I am quite tired a this point.. Take a coffee break people, only a few more pictures to go.

    Just down the hallway, there was a very neat little shop that sold rare dials and bezels along with rare specimens in their entirety.


    If you're ever in need of buying a bezel for each day of the week for the GMT. 50 shades of Pepsi.

    Some more vintage subbies..

    You can see some nice examples of reverse panda rolex dials behind that stunning GMT.

    GOPR2134.JPG Feeling like a gold 1675 today? Not me.


    If you ever mess up on baking your own dial, this is the place to go to find properly baked dials... There must be something special about Japanese convection ovens.


    A Freccione in the flesh. Drool....

    Ever heard of a 16550? It's nicer in person. That cream isn't just lighting my friends..



    Just a few more goodies from this store.

    The watch had a nice selection of leather straps as well for the average strapaholic. Last photo of the shop before I left for the final shop for the day.


    This shop seemed be less oriented around vintage pieces and more geared towards modern pre-owned watches.

    GOPR2172.JPG Walking into the store I was greeted by an iced out Hublot, not really my taste but some eye candy that currently isn't being worn on the NBA courts.


    Towards the door there were some preowned Longines watches, cheaper models and not too difficult to find elsewhere in Japan.

    Good to see some Junghans grace the shelves of Japan. A. Lange shouldn't be the only german maestro around here.


    Moving inward in the shop there was an amazing selection of Panerais, they definitely have a lot more charm in person given their enormous case size.

    A nice selection of pre-owned Rolexes and Tudors.

    You can't complete a watch trip without trying on some Monacos. Plot twist.. they look terrible on my wrist.

    Well I moved on to looking at the infamous El Primero that Mr. Benji Clymer (shout out) loves so much... I decided not to try it on to keep the dreams alive.

    Unfortunately in this case full of IWC's was quietly sitting a vintage Mark 12. After lusting for this watch for 2 years.. I got to try it on. Once again my heart was broken at how underwhelmed the beautifully crafted 36mm brushed case looked and felt. After that I just decided to stop trying them on and rather appreciate them from a distance. I couldn't take a picture of the watch because it was simply too painful.

    I decided to move on to Preowned Rolex divers, watches that unfortunately don't call out to me even the slightest at this point in my horological journey.


    Some nice samples of OMEGA.. of course the best brand out there.. Cough Cough. Omega Forum admins.. but seriously.. nice speedmasters, but nothing I've never seen before.


    More speedmaster references that you've probably seen powersellers like kringily and kaberui sell.

    Before you are some very expensive ETA watches... I think they're called Breitling. Professional instruments made for Pirates I believe. Yes.. Pirates.


    If you look to your right, more pirate watches. Black Bays.


    A brand that I know Robert Downy Jr. really adores. Some Seikos lol. "Hold Frame"


    The guy next to me is wearing some very expensive sandals, I promise.. the shop only allowed him to come in to witness the magic of German engineering only if he had expensive sandals.

    5 points if you can identify those sandals. Glad I had the opportunity to see this watch in person. I didn't get to see the movement though, they didn't open the case due to security concerns (guy to my left).

    Last photo guys.. it's been a nice journey sharing my experiences with you all. I hope you enjoyed this thread. Please post a comment or a reply. I need to reach 200 posts so I can begin selling on here. hehe.

    GOPR2122.JPG GOPR2216.JPG
    Edited Aug 13, 2017
  2. NT931

    NT931 Mar 5, 2017

    What an amazing post, love the pictures!
    Do you have the name of the 2nd shop? Pretty amazing stuff they have... not that Jack Road is a slouch either.
    BrianPankow likes this.
  3. Interstellar17

    Interstellar17 Mar 5, 2017

    Hey NT931, thank you :D

    I actually posted a picture of the store name. It's called Good Watch 78!
  4. NT931

    NT931 Mar 5, 2017

    Thanks! Oops, I miscounted. I meant the last shop, the one with the Zenith? I could only see the japanese name, and some English text which ended in 'rake'?
    bstein likes this.
  5. Interstellar17

    Interstellar17 Mar 5, 2017

    Ahh gotcha! It's Kame Kichi !!
  6. omegaaddict

    omegaaddict Mar 6, 2017

    Sweet mother of......

    Japan is near the top of my visit bucket list. This post has helped nudge it up a post or two. Would love to spend a solid day venturing around and visiting all these stores.
    Sidnos, watchos, mikechi22 and 4 others like this.
  7. TNTwatch

    TNTwatch Mar 6, 2017

    Nice trip!

    This weird looking Rolex...
    bloomy, kingsrider, Baz9614 and 8 others like this.
  8. alohatime

    alohatime Mar 6, 2017

    I literally laughed out loud for the "Talking Watches" references!

    I noticed in they list two prices and the bottom price seems to be lower? What's the difference between the two? Also, I'm going to Tokyo this November and will definitely be hitting these places up thank you very much!

    PS are those sandals, Havaianas since they are all rubber?
  9. jaguar11

    jaguar11 Mar 6, 2017

    Great post!! Good luck and good health!!
    Interstellar17 likes this.
  10. PaulC77

    PaulC77 Mar 6, 2017

    Excellent post, an enjoyable read. It's interesting to see all of those watches on the shelves. Did you notice if the interest on the shops was more towards modern or vintage watches?
    Isomer likes this.
  11. Xeer

    Xeer Mar 6, 2017

    I love this post. Need to make my way down to Tokyo some time soon!
  12. NT931

    NT931 Mar 6, 2017

    Awesome! They have a website too - many thanks @Interstellar17 !
    Interstellar17 likes this.
  13. NT931

    NT931 Mar 6, 2017

    The lower price is the price without sales tax I suspect. As a tourist, just bring your passport along and they give you the lower price (w/o tax) straight off at the store with a document which they'll staple to your passport.

    So when you leave the country, there's no need to queue for a GST/tax rebate. Just hand the document with passport to the immigration guys as you exit, and you're done! At least that's what happened to me in end-2015 when I bought a watch in Tokyo. Brilliant system. I think their tax is 8% so getting 8% off is a pretty good deal.
    mikechi22, Interstellar17 and ffej4 like this.
  14. pippy

    pippy Mar 6, 2017

    Wonderful post. Do we have a place like that in the US. Not here in Knoxville TN.:(
  15. KstateSkier

    KstateSkier Mar 6, 2017

    holy smokes. I've never seen so many watches in a store! Thanks for the photos. I could spend all day in a store like that!
    Rodmar likes this.
  16. sxl2004

    sxl2004 Mar 6, 2017

    The density of watches....outstanding. thanks for posting.
  17. Interstellar17

    Interstellar17 Mar 6, 2017

    I never noticed that hahaha
  18. Interstellar17

    Interstellar17 Mar 6, 2017

    I am really glad you got the reference to GQ. I got quite sarcastic towards the end, I became a little tired. Regarding the prices, I can only assume one price is for cash and the other is with for card options like credit. That's my assumption.

    I hope you have a good time there though, if you have any other questions, definitely let me know!
  19. Interstellar17

    Interstellar17 Mar 6, 2017

    I noticed that each shop was different. Kame kichi was more geared towards moderne preowned, and Jack Road specialized in vintage watches.

    If you travel extensively through Japan. . You'll find their department stores offer a nice selection of brand new seikos and citizens, and any retail brand you could want. Nakano was special in that aspect where it offered very unique pieces not found in a department store.
    PaulC77 likes this.
  20. Interstellar17

    Interstellar17 Mar 6, 2017

    It's unreal over there. You would never find something like that over here in North America. They have a large concentration of very rich people in Tokyo. Along with foreigners who are willing to spend. It's just the right place in the universe to find the watch you've been hunting for, and if you're lucky you won't pay too much for it. I spent a good few hours in the store, but it was mainly to take pictures for you guys.
    Gedelix likes this.