The founder of Escapement on he fell in love with timepieces.
Angus Davies is a businessman with a love of watches and luxury goods that has led to him creating his own website dedicated to the finer things in life. He tells us all about his love of watches, which began when he was stopped in his tracks by a Rolex in the window of Mappin & Webb.
Angus Davies is a man with an eternal smile, or at least he has one when talking about fine timepieces. The businessman has a background in the chemical industry but has been led by what he calls his premier passion for wristwatches to create Escapement, a free-to-view website dedicated to the finer things in life, which naturally includes watches but also jewellery, cars, wine and bespoke tailoring.
Davies has spent more than a decade building his collection of haute horlogerie, and admits to an unshakeable penchant for expensive possessions. After all, his favourite watchmakers are Patek Philippe, A. Lange & Söhne, Glashütte Original, Breguet and Blancpain.
“My long-suffering wife Heidi will often remark that I am like a WAG,” reveals Davies. “Albeit not glamorous, but due to spending and amassing expensive possessions such as cars, clothes and gadgets.”
Davies recalls that his love of high-end goodies began with a watch. More specifically, it began in the late 1990s with the Rolex Submariner. “Early in my professional career my financial resources were limited and I remember walking past Mappin & Webb’s boutique in Manchester and staring longingly at a Rolex Submariner and thinking ‘one day’” reminisces Davies. “In 1998, I amassed the necessary funds and purchased my first proper watch.”
That watch was indeed the Rolex Submariner Date in stainless steel with a black dial and corresponding black bezel. Davies purchased it from the very boutique he first laid eyes on it for the not-to-be-sniffed-at price of £2,120.
But soon this much-coveted Rolex wasn’t enough. “Like many individuals, at the time, I perceived that Rolex must be the best as this appeared to be the most famous luxury watch brand,” he says. Once he realised there was a gap in his watch knowledge he set out to correct it and soon began to spend his Saturday afternoons quizzing retailers and reading watch magazines.
“As my career developed and I became increasingly affluent my interest in wristwatches grew and so did my thirst for knowledge, which then led to a growing interest in haute horology,” he explains. “Blued screws, guilloché, perlage and Côte de Geneve were just some of the terms I retained to memory in my early years of collecting.”
Soon after, Davies was seduced by his first haute horlogerie timepiece featuring such details – a Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Grand Date, a second purchase from Mappin & Webb but this time from the Edinburgh store. Well and truly bitten by the bug, Davies purchased several watches in quick succession after his Jaeger-LeCoutlre.
“I must confess I used a technique often attributed to wives and girlfriends,” he says sheepishly. “I would return from a shopping spree and bring my purchases into the house when my wife wasn’t there, or sometimes furtively hide them under my coat as I sneaked into the house, skipping up the staircase and squirreling them into the back of a wardrobe.”
Davies admits he would then bring his purchase out from the wardrobe at a time when he knew his wife would be paying less attention, but he always had a line ready just in case he was challenged, something along the lines of “I’ve had it for ages”. But, he says, while the strategy worked for watches, it was flawed when to came to luxury car purchases, which were a little harder to hide. “Heidi is wise to my shopping scams and now has highly tuned antennae, so purchases are invariably a process of counter-trade,” he laughs. “I get my watch, she can book another cruise.”
Soon Davies was gaining a bit of a reputation as a watch expert among friends and family who regularly approach him for advice on purchasing luxury timepieces. “If I found myself in a social setting, invariably my watch would cause discussion to ensue and my opinion would be canvassed,” he explains. “I decided that with a successful history in business and a wide circle of contacts in the watch retailing industry whom I had met on my travels, there was an opportunity to write about haute horology.”
And so he went about setting up Escapement, which launched two months ago, and so far Davies says he has been overwhelmed by the reaction from the watch industry. “Our initial plan was to quietly pre-launch the website on September 1, test the format, make adjustments and do a full launch with a fanfare on December 1. However, the plan changed as suddenly we found many manufacturers and retailers contacting us.”
Now Davies is finding himself filling an evident gap in the market, catering for consumers who want to read about watches and luxury products. “I have found the demand for our time amazing and each day my inbox is full of press releases, invitations, enquiries and notices from Facebook and Twitter that someone wishes to follow Escapement.”
Surprised by the success of a concept still its founding months, Davies has a diary crammed full of appointments, trips and events across Europe. “Hamburg, Oslo, Frankfurt, Copenhagen and Amsterdam to name but a few destinations I have scheduled in.”
But Davies says, even with the trips and the fun to be had with the numerous watch brands who have picked up on Escapement, he wants to remain true to the concept. “I endeavour to remain objective. Our articles invariably praise goods and services because we are already fans. If we don’t like the product we don’t feature it.”
To date, Davies has had many fascinating experiences in the world of watches and has already met some of his heroes along the way. “My most memorable experiences include meeting Willy Moret of Blancpain a few years ago and listening intently to his explanations of the Carousel. And very recently I was lucky enough to observe James Avery of Swatch Group working at a bench on various movements.”
When asked to pick his dream watch, Davies’ reaction is “only one?”. He adds: “There never is only one watch on the list. It would have to be two watches.” Davies’ choices are the Patek Philippe Minute Repeater, which he describes as an exquisite timepiece with an “amazing” complication. His second dream watch is A. Lange & Söhne’s Richard Lange Tourbillon Pour le Mérite. “The design is delightful and the execution exemplary,” he says.
He may have expensive taste, but like anyone who claims to know their stuff, Davies has started at the very beginning, has taken time to be the learner, and it is this adoration and passion that makes him someone worth listening to.
Playing the Watch Market
Buy: “The Blancpain Fifty Fathoms in gold, Breguet’s Le Tradition and Jaeger-LeCoultre’s Duomètre a Chronographe.”
Sell: “Anything quartz – where is the soul and the passion? Personally I can’t wear anything less than 40mm in diameter as they do not fit my large physique, however, there are some models less than 40mm that look wonderful on an arm more slender than mine.”
This article was taken from November issue of WatchPro. To read the article in full click here.