Berend Bulang — The Rising of the SonBy Ross Povey
The story of Bulang & Sons started in 2012, when founder Bernhard Bulang turned his passion into his profession. A successful design and branding agency owner in the Netherlands, he was a serious collector of important vintage Rolex watches and co-founder of the world-famous Rolex Passion Meetings. Bernhard has always had a desire to collect things that he connected with either aesthetically or emotionally, including vintage chairs, pens, military jackets and timepieces, so it felt like a natural progression for him to set up a brand focused on vintage watches. Unlike other vintage watch dealers, however, Bulang & Sons is a brand that truly offers style for watch lovers, including accessories, fashion and lifestyle collectibles. As Bernhard hoped, when his sons came of age, they too shared his love of collecting cool things and one has already decided to join the family business.
It seems that Berend Bulang shares his father’s vision for what Bulang & Sons stands for. He says, “We don’t particularly see ourselves as a watch boutique or as dealers, but more as a lifestyle brand for watch lovers. The entire team here is passionate about vintage watches and we only sell what we personally love to own. I think that is something you can see in our web shop in which we sell more than watches, including the accessories, designer chairs, luxury bags, collectors’ items, magazines and many more cool pieces. That is why we are more than a shop with watches but ‘style for watch lovers.’” The watches offered are very eclectic too. Says Berend, “We don’t pin ourselves to specific brands or models, more like we sell what we love. We are vintage watch geeks and this drives us to seek the finest examples in original configurations, and we are very proud that we can achieve this. I don’t believe that there are many dealers around that have the condition that we consistently offer.”
Berend officially joined the company a year ago but being a family business, he has always been involved. He tells us, “My father always took us with him to meetings, gatherings and watch fairs. That is such a blessing, as my dad and I created so many watch memories over the years. I will never forget when I received my first Rolex, a Datejust reference 16030. It was a present from a good watch friend of my father, and I have worn this watch for so many special moments in my life. My biggest inspiration has always been my father, who guided me to think about watches as being more than just a bling or jewelry piece but as a memory, a piece of art and life journey on your wrist.”
As truly a next-generation, millennial watch enthusiast, Berend is bringing a new perspective to the brand and inspiring young collectors who are themselves beginning their watch collecting journey. As well as overseeing the brand’s social media output, he also enjoys buying and selling watches and guiding collectors in their quest for finding a great watch. He says, “The biggest piece of advice I would give to young collectors is to follow your heart, do your own in-depth research and try to handle and see the watches. When you start out with your first watch, go for the very finest example you can find. Try a Rolex Datejust or Date, a neo-vintage sport from Rolex or Tudor or maybe a Speedmaster and explore from there! Find a seller that you can trust and who will guide you with a true heart to find the right pieces.”
Having been immersed in a world of incredible vintage watches since his childhood, Berend has developed a nuanced understanding of the vintage watch world. He explains, “Over the years I have really created my own taste and my love for watches is, for the biggest part, in the aesthetics and stories that they tell. Personally, I really love the Rolex Datejust because it is such a cool and stylish watch; there are so many funky variations, and they are still financially accessible in the main. My favorite watch, though, is the Rolex Explorer II, and I am so happy that I was recently able to buy one. It’s a reference 16570 with a beautiful polar dial and since I am a vintage geek, I had to have one with a tritium dial with some great patina! My ultimate grail is the first reference of the Explorer II, the 1655 Mk 1 with orange hand. I really think aesthetically it is one of the coolest watches ever made; it is just so different to other Rolex models and I have always been a person who likes to explore places, new interests and make memories.”
Berend’s presence at Bulang & Sons has helped the brand stay in touch with a new generation of young collectors. Says Berend, “I personally love to see so many young people with an interest in vintage watches and, through social media, this has become an even bigger global passion that we can share together each day. The downside is that I think it has become so much harder to get into the scene, as prices have been growing and keep growing every day and it has become more and more difficult to find the right quality. So don’t wait too long to buy your first vintage piece before they will be fully out of reach!”