I recently posted a thread about a recent ‘grail’ acquisition of mine on a watch forum and it was interesting to see how many people interpreted the meaning of a ‘grail’ watch differently.

‘Grail’ is a term I think is often over used in WIS circles, many people seemingly acquiring their ‘grail’ only to be seen to be flipping the watch in almost no time at all!

To me a grail watch is one that you usually covet for ‘some time’ but that you will never sell.

Typically grails are watches that are sought after by collectors for long periods. However I will say ‘usually’ covet for some time as I believe there are instances where a watch becomes available that you never thought would, or that you never even knew existed,  but instantly generates a level of desire and need similar to that of something coveted for a long period.

However for it to be a true grail it must fall into the category of never to be sold.

The only instances I believe where selling a grail may be acceptable are during times of financial hardship….and that does not include in order that you may buy another watch!

The argument may be put forth that selling a grail is acceptable if it is to purchase another ‘better’ grail. But does that mean the watch was a grail in the first place, or simply another watch in the collection ladder?! To me it is not a grail but simply one of your favourites in your collection that you would like to hold onto, but inevitably will let go if something better comes along.

I also find that grails take all shapes, sizes, makes and designs. My collection is made up of mainly rare vintage Rolex and Tudor sports watches but some of my grails are different animals altogether.

I have the watch I was given by my parents for my 18th birthday – a 9k gold Rotary dress watch that cost about £70 – my first ‘nice’ watch, which although now looks a little cheap and chatty alongside my collection I wore with pride during my first real job and it won’t ever be sold.

I also have a Paul Newman Omega Speedmaster. No not the Paul Newman ‘design’ but a watch actually from Paul Newman!! More on that in a blog post at a later date…

I have an Omega Speedmaster pre-moon watch that comes complete with box and papers that are dealer stamped and dated the day I was born – now what are the odds on ever finding that and how could I ever sell it?

Various others far too boring to tell you about except that my latest acquisition that I termed as the grail watch for the purpose of the forum thread was a simple 1965 Rolex 5513 Gilt Dial Submariner.

What is a ‘GRAIL’ watch and why?
Not the rarest watch in the world nor the most expensive, but one that I spent two years looking for and that had to have a perfect dial and then completely by accident it turned up at my front door. Having always regretted selling the last mint gilt dial example I had I won’t be making that mistake again!


So what does a grail watch mean to you, why and what are your grail watches?


I think we would all be interested in hearing about them…



  1. Paul Camsell

    I bought my first 2 watches at the same time, a G shock for work and a titanium Seiko for…. not work when I was about 19 and an apprentice engineer after doing a cash job one weekend and earning about £250, which at the time was equal to about 3 weeks wages after tax. I still have the G shock, but the Seiko was given to my brother who’s wife smashed it up after my brother and I buggered off to Africa for a month long road trip.

    Re winding slightly, when I was a teenager, say 13 or 14, I remember seeing a picture in a magazine of Lord something-or-other sitting in his massive house, with his beautiful wife, and hanging off his wrist was a red and blue Rolex. I know nothing about watches, and even less about Rolexes, but I swore there and then that I would one day own a watch like that. I suppose then that would be called a “grail” watch

    A little further up to date and the same week I finished my apprenticeship I asked the company I was working for at the time for more money. They refused and I promptly handed in my notice to look for another job.

    When I got my final wage slip it also contained the first months wages, that I had to work in hand, and thus I found myself with about £600, instead of the usual £300. That same day, I just so happened to walk past Ernest and Jones in Crawley and in the window, there it was, the “grail” blue and red Rolex from the pictures. I should mention, that I still knew absolutely nothing about Rolexes at this time.

    I tried it on, but was told it had been ordered in for someone especially and it was being picked up the next day. Imagine my surprise then, when I got a telephone call about an hour later to say that the chap no longer wanted it and that it was available. I can still remember the cost, £2350, so I put a £550 cash deposit down, and with my brother acting as guarantor (I had no job remember!!) I put the rest on interest free at £100 per month for 18 months, with no idea how I was going to pay for it.

    I swept the floors and did a bit of car and boat servicing for a local garage for 6 months (turning up to sweep floors wearing a brand new Rolex!!) to pay the monthly bill, before finding a proper job and 18 months since I first strapped it to my wrist I was the proud owner of a GMT Master II, which I am wearing at the very moment I type this post.

    I have since added to my collection an Omega Seamater, Cartier Pasha, Tag Monaco and Last but not least a Sea Dweller, as well as buying an old Oysterdate for my wife, but the blue and red watch that I saw all those years ago will never leave me and I still feel as good wearing it today as I did those 11 years ago.

    As time goes by, I look around and I can’t say there’s much else that I would covet more that my GMTII, looks wise. I absolutely LOVE the millsub on your website, but take monetary value out of the equation and I honestly don’t think I’d swap it for my GMTII.

    I’ve never sold a watch, but would be happy to part with all my others, apart from my GMT master II. I suppose you could say then, that I’m lucky – only the 3rd watch I bought was my “grail”. I bought it with the intention of never selling it and over the past 13 years my attachment to it has only grown.

    • Sweeping Hand

      Cool story Paul and definitely a grail!!

  2. Carl hewson

    I unfortunately do not have a grail watch either in my collection or on my wish list as such. I have perhaps a dozen watches I really want or sometimes need but I can’t think of an single watch that would be what I call a grail.

    I have nine watches and of those half tell a story of some sort-one I was hung over in a shop and bought with my heart not head but I don’t regret it!

    I do however have two watches,, the most expensive and least expensive in my somewhat modest collection. One is a gold Rolex 16808 which has some stories of its own and it is the one watch I want to give to my 8 month old son at some point, not too soon though as I like it too much!

    The other is a MG Sicura watch my dad gave me when I was 9/10, I remember wearing it to primary school showing off to my friends then panicking when I got home, I doubt it has been worn since, that was my first proper watch though I did not know it then. I have since bought two more as I really like the style, one I gave to my dad as he was my best man at my wedding.

    I love watches but I do not have a grail and why I do not know, the closest thing for me would a one of the ‘magnificent seven’ Daytona Spiders and the reason is simple, to me, one of the most beautiful cars ever made, rare as hens teeth, and so expensive that if I did see one I will never earn enough money in three lifetimes doing what I do to be able to afford one . So I know that the are out there but for for various reasons they are unobtainable.

    All the best


    • Sweeping Hand

      But you may have created a grail Carl! tell your son about that gold rolex when he is old enough to understand and make him wait a long time for it! Could certainly be his grail then!!!!

  3. Hey, I think of Grail as took me soo long to get and now am at the top. I had a red sub that was a grail watch for me and ended up selling it ( big mistake ) but my Grail watch had been a SS daytona for a long time i now have it and will be 6 ft under with that thing.

    • Sweeping Hand

      Cool Brad – wear it with pride!

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