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The Watches That Haunt Me

Paul White

In our latest watch blog, Paul White revisits the watches that he either passed on or traded in that haunt him to this day.

Paul is originally from New York City and received his undergraduate and graduate degrees from Indiana State University. A frequent contributor to industry publications, Paul is a passionate film buff, home cook, and reader. A former sports and news talk host at Indianapolis’ WIBC Paul and his wife Carolyn are happily retired in Phoenix, Arizona, love to travel and visit their children and grandchildren. Avid watch collecting enthusiast.

The time is late summer, 1973. I’d finished graduate school and just left my $2.25 an hour job as a cameraman at WISH-TV in Indianapolis. I’m driving a 1965 VW Squareback with a funky heater, no A/C, and very worn horsehair seats covered with old beach towels (which do not prevent the horsehair from poking the occupant in inconvenient places). This partially explains why the soon-to-be star, Jane Pauley, and I only had a couple of dates—but that’s a story for another time. 

Fast forward, and I’ve taken a job with the City of Indianapolis for just under $6,000 a year, seemingly a princely sum. I see an ad for a 1968 Porsche 911 for $3,800 being sold by a physician upon Spring Mill Road. The car needs some work, but I test drive it and scare myself half to death. Of course, I fall in love with the car. What happens next? I assess my financial situation, salary, college loans, living expenses and pass on it. Shortly thereafter, my VW blows an engine in a snowstorm on I-70, and I swap it for a Smurf-colored four-speed Datsun 510 sedan. Today, of course, I could put that 911 on my credit card, but unfortunately, it costs $90,000. 

1968 Porsche 911

The one that got away… 1968 Porsche 911 (reference photo)

Datsun 510

“The Smurf” Datsun 510 (reference photo)


Lesson Learned?

Lessons? Sometimes—whether it’s automobiles or fine wristwatches—it’s a good idea to follow your heart and tell your head to take the afternoon off.  


Breitling Premier 37mm


Here are a few examples of how I did not learn my lesson: 

It’s 1997. I’m still wearing my 34mm Tudor Prince Oyster Date. At Reis-Nichols, we are now representing Breitling. I foolishly think their watches look “too big” on my wrist and select a 37mm Premier. It’s a beautiful watch and one that I wish I still had today. But, of course, as the years went by, I began to regard it as “too small,” failing to recognize how much the vintage appeal and limited availability of the watch would still appeal to me down the road. It went in trade for something I no longer even remember. Now I know what it feels like when Charlie Brown misses the football… 





PATEK PHILIPPE, NEPTUNE, REF. 5085, | Christie's

Patek Philippe, Ref. 508



The little beauty with the black dial to the right is a Patek Philippe, Ref. 5085, stainless steel, moon phase, small seconds, power reserve, bracelet, you get the picture. In those days—late 1990

s—Patek manufactured about as many stainless steel wristwatches as the number of times I’ve won the Publishers Clearing House Sweepstakes. It was my time in life to own one of these, the world’s most prestigious timepiece brand and I did, the reference 5025/1J. Beautiful watch but today, with the value of rare stainless steel sports watches, especially from Patek, I wish I had reached a bit further for the brass, or in this case, steel ring. That’s what The Sundance Kid meant when he told Butch Cassidy, “Some folks got vision and the rest of us wear bifocals.” 

For fans of Tudor’s parent brand, the watch below needs little identification. It is, of course, the “Pepsi” GMT, one of the most valuable and sought-after watches on the vintage market. Yes…I had one and loved wearing it for many years. It brought a wonderful trade price as I eased into a white dial Explorer II, but today it would be at least a down payment on a pre-owned 911!

Pepsi GMT Master II

Pepsi GMT Master II

Tag Heuer Monaco Chronograph Mens 18k Yellow Gold Watch CW5140.FC8147

TAG Heuer Monaco in gold

I am an unrepentant TAG Heuer Monaco fan and own a blue dial model from the late 1990s. Many years later the gold version below crossed my radar at a wonderful price point, but I was distracted and failed to act on it. A swing and a miss for sure.


By now you’ve probably figured out that despite my three-plus decades in the business, my knowledge of the new and pre-owned market, and the terrific collection I currently have—I have whiffed on quite a few opportunities over the years. Of course, I have some regrets, but we move on and try not to think too much about the old fisherman’s bromide about “the ones that got away.” I still have the bug and if the prices are not too crazy, I just might revisit some of those lost horological beauties down the road. 

Speaking of the road, if you know anyone willing to part with a 1968 Porsche 911 for $3,800, you know where to find me! 

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