Aug 19, 2019 00:19

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Desirable Diversion

Brian M. Afuang

Reading Up On Rolex

Mondani books’ wealth of horologic information now readily available to Filipino enthusiasts by way of Horology Matters

Photos by Leonard Sytat

As handy a reference tool as Google and Wikipedia are, there simply exist subjects too arcane even for these two founts, explaining the dearth of relevant search hits. And when specialist forums can’t always be relied on either, then the best source of information may just well turn out to be a good old-fashioned bound assembly of printed ink on paper. It’s called a book.

Horologic esoterica is one such subject for which reliable information may be hard to come by—like those on Rolex watches that are no longer produced by the Crown brand. Now considering that Rolex watches of this sort are among the hottest commodities in the luxury used-goods market today—not too mention the surfeit of reference numbers and variations and every possible minutiae concerning these timepieces that one may one want to learn—an authoritative tome or two about the subject simply becomes indispensable.

And books bearing the Mondani name are widely regarded to be quite knowledgeable in matters Rolex.

Anyone who could instantly summon an image upon hearing “1680” knows Mondani refers to Guido Mondani Editore, the Genoa, Italy-based publisher of literature about Rolex and Patek Philippe—mostly the former. Company founder Guido Mondani, already in the publishing business by the time his interest in watches—in Rolex, to be specific—was hatched in 1986, authored a book about the Swiss brand a few years following his then-fresh interest. More books followed since, some of which he co-authored with his wife Franca. Subsequently, the couple’s daughter, Giorgia, also co-wrote, or edited, the newer titles.

Born around the time of his father’s newfound passion, Giorgia is presently the face of the Mondani book (and watch retailing) business as she handles marketing, social media and other engagements for the family affair.

The Mondani books can be purchased from the company’s website (besides other outlets). Around 10 of the titles listed, some with multiple volumes, are devoted to particular Rolex models, or to the brand’s history and other information regarding it. A couple of books are specific to Patek Philippe, and there’s one about Tudor. All can be ordered on the site, and can be delivered practically anywhere on the planet (shipping fees are waived for European destinations).

Here is where Horology Matters, a Philippine-based online store established in 2015, enters. The company has been selling a variety of hard-to-find Seiko and Grand Seiko models, as well as an equally fine selection of watch-related produce (straps, winders, mod parts). But following a meeting with Giorgia at Baselworld 2018, Horology Matters is also now making access to select Mondani titles easier by including these on its lineup.

Besides this availability, another draw of getting a Mondani book from Horology Matters is that a purchase can also turn out to be cheaper if the deletion of international shipping fees and other costs are factored in. And, like all the products the company carries, the Mondani books ordered can be delivered via courier service, or even personally handed over by one of Horology Matters’s proprietors, Leonard Sytat.

Sytat says he himself has found some of the books useful, especially when researching on a particular aspect of a Rolex model, as reliable information—not to mention clear photographs of the watches, or even their documentation—can be challenging to source.

“It’s one of the reasons why we introduced [the Mondani books] to the market. These can definitely help collectors,” Sytat says, adding; “I follow Mondani’s advice.”

He notes that the cost of purchasing a Mondani book is virtually negligible when this is compared to the amount one is willing to shell out when buying a used Rolex—a move which can quickly turn into a very pricey mistake if due diligence and research were not exercised by a buyer. This is why, Sytat argues, getting an authoritative book is actually an investment, much like the acquisition of the timepiece itself is.

The proprietor and certified watch lover, however, is aware that—like some of the products in the Horology Matters range—take-up for the Mondani books may not be as ideally brisk at the onset. “We’ve even relayed this to Giorgia,” Sytat says. “She understands.”

“Anyway, everything we have brought in, we didn’t know in the beginning if these would sell. Some were slow sellers at first, then picked up later. That’s business. But it’s also more that. Watches are also our passion,” he says.