For a number of years now our social feeds have become flooded with what’s-on-the-wrist type posts, with bloggers and ‘grammers scouring music and movie awards ceremonies, sporting events and any other occasion when a celeb flashes their wrist candy, deliberately or otherwise. Before these posts became mainstream, however, there was a hardcore of scholars who spent time researching old photos, movies, television footage and print media to decipher blurred images of watches from another time.
King of these researchers is Nick Gould aka @niccoloy. Based in Australia, Nick has been studying watches and the brands that make them for many years and has made some of the most epic discoveries, initially through picture research and then a follow-on interest in researching brands and their histories. He is now a contributor to a number of watch magazines and I have had been in contact with him since 2019, discussing his Tudor and Rolex finds. One of my favourites was a photo of The Boss, Bruce Springsteen, wearing a vintage blue Tudor snowflake Sub!
I caught up with Nick recently and I was fascinated to ask him how he first became interested in watches. “I’ve always liked mechanical objects, since I was a child, especially how all the small components are linked together to make something work. I first became interested in watches due to my mother’s Rolex Datejust. I liked putting the watch to my ear and hearing the sound of the watch ticking away and was fascinated by the magnifier over the date window,” he explains. It’s quite leap to dedicate so much time to scouring mixed media to try and decipher what watch is what. Was it always your plan to create a watch-spotting page? Says Nick: “At first I was just posting the occasional picture on my account, when I came across something interesting on someone’s wrist in the present day.” This soon became a key element of his Instagram account and he became the go-to guy for such detective work.
There is no denying that people love to read his posts and others like it. Why does he believe people enjoy these posts so much? “People particularly like the finds from the past, when watches didn’t have the “hype” attached to them. Notable people were wearing them at the time because they liked the watch purely for its aesthetics or function, such as a journalist wearing a Heuer Monaco or an actor wearing his own Patek Philippe Nautilus.”
His account is now, however, so much more than simple watch spotting. He is adept at researching brands and finding fascinating information on the different variations and models and some of their practical applications. Was researching the history of brands a natural progression? “Not necessarily, but I got curious in relation to a few things so decided to go down the rabbit hole!” One rabbit hole I’m grateful he went down was the Tudor Submariners issued to the US Navy, as specifically an extract from the 1973 US Navy Diving Manual, in which Tudor watches are listed within the approved suppliers list. Its small, but important information like this, that keeps him ticking.
Going back to watch spots, what are some of his favourites? “There have been many, but some standout ones include nailing down Dwight Eisenhower’s exact Heuer with Jeff Stein of On The Dash, King Faisal of Iraq’s 1518 PP, Vanessa Redgrave wearing a 5513 with Explorer dial and racing driver Lloyd Ruby with his Milgauss for winning the 65 Daytona Continental.”
And when it comes to louping movies, his top spots? “In A Silent Movie, I noticed that Paul Newman was wearing his now iconic 6239 Daytona. I’d also say the Cartier Santos seen, albeit for the most fleeting moment, on Timothy Dalton’s James Bond’s wrist in The Living Daylights.”
Finally, what tips does he have for budding watch spotters? “Always try view the highest resolution photos and double check the timepiece. On first glance, one model might get mistaken for another.”
You can find all the above posts and so much more by checking out Nick Gould’s Instagram account @niccoloy.