Collector’s Corner: Meet Mateo Rossi, Founder Of Le Paris Watch Club
— Updated on 23 June 2023

Collector’s Corner: Meet Mateo Rossi, Founder Of Le Paris Watch Club

— Updated on 23 June 2023
Randy Lai
Randy Lai

With one of France’s biggest collector clubs, an online publication, and a soon-to-launch watch auction platform to manage; it’s little wonder why Mateo Rossi hasn’t found the time yet to take a clear and unobscured profile pic.

All kidding aside, the young founder of Le Paris Watch Club and Unekual is largely interested in letting the quality of his endeavours speak for themselves: among the chief reasons why – despite his own threadbare presence on social media – he has been referred to as “the MVP of under-30 watch fans in France.”

Despite his relative youth – and indeed, likely because of it – Rossi has demonstrated a keen knack for what makes younger collectors (many of whom fall squarely into the ‘Next Generation’ of luxury consumers) tick.

As a thought leader in the watch community, he has prioritised small and creatively authentic collaborations with brands (in so doing, contributing to the desirability of the various Le Paris Watch Club special editions); and over at Unekual, his own writing – focused on collecting old/neo-vintage Patek Philippe – is clear, concise and indelibly informed by firsthand experience.

Very much an inveterate flier (who splits his time for work between Europe and the UAE) Boss Hunting managed to wrangle Rossi for a half-hour chat over Zoom.

Check out the full interview below:

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Collector’s Corner: Meet Mateo Rossi, Founder Of Le Paris Watch Club & Vintage Patek ‘Ultra Fan’

(Image Credit: Unekual)

Randy Lai: It’s something we commonly ask all of our interviewees, but what was the first watch you ever owned that kickstarted your passion for collecting?

Mateo Rossi: The first watch I ever owned was a Ripcurl I bought in a factory outlet in Queensland – true story.

The indices fell off after only a year of wear, but I loved it. I’ve always been fascinated by mechanical things and the fact that my grandfather was a watchmaker definitely helped stoke that passion.

RL: No kidding. So, if I were to rephrase, how about your first ‘serious’ watch purchase?

MR: Well, my first Patek was a Ref. 5065a [Aquanaut] – I put that on a khaki strap and wore it every day. I ended up trading it for a Ref. 3700 [Nautilus] a few years later but have missed that watch ever since. Several months ago, I got one back in a deal and couldn’t be happier.

One of the joys of collecting vintage is having the opportunity to rotate watches around, falling in and out of love with a reference – that’s what’s fun.

RL: I think it’s probably fair to say that you’re a young collector. As somebody who’s deep into watch collecting in their twenties, what’s one big misconception watch brands continue to have when dealing with millennial/Gen Z customers?

MR: For the longest time, brands wouldn’t be considerate of younger clients when you walk into a store. I’ve personally had a few terrible experiences with brands – some a while back, others more recently – and that’s part of the reason why, for the most part, I’ve decided to stick to vintage.

(Image Credit: Unekual)

RL: That’s an interesting take. So you have terrible customer service to thank for your pivot toward vintage [laughs]…

MR: I think many collectors are following this trend – especially in the wake of Covid, after so many brands treated their long-time clients very poorly in pursuit of quick cash. I think the price drop on the secondary market reflects collectors’ sentiments in that regard.

Another thing is that brands almost always assume young clients are flippers – from my experience, it’s actually the older guys who flip products straight out of the store.

RL: In the past, you’ve spoken about how so many of the big glossy watch magazines/websites aren’t doing enough to make their content enjoyable for a wider audience. What are 2 or 3 examples that you think are actually nailing things?

MR: I think SJX is the most honest voice in the ecosystem of traditional horological publication. Then again, it remains traditional journalism – I don’t see it garnering attention from people who aren’t already into watches.

Funnily, I’ve seen guys on TikTok who are doing some interesting content to attract a crowd who weren’t previously into watches. Through fashion, these accounts help to advance understanding and exposure, among like-minded content creators, for the beauty of horology.

On the other hand, if you want some really nerdy Instagram content, accounts like @horology_ancienne and @pieceunique_ are great.

RL: As founder of Le Paris Watch Club, tell us a little about the behind-the-scenes work that goes into working with a brand on members-only releases…

MR: It’s a lot more work than I thought [laughs]. Between brands and their ego – and collectors and their egos – it’s akin to walking in a minefield. At first, I tried to please everybody and let them have their input in the design process – but it was just impossible.

(Image Credit: Unekual)

Today, I deal with all the crucial decisions (e.g. model, metal, design) from start to finish; and then offer our members a final product that they buy directly from the brand. For collectability’s sake, we try to keep such series as limited as possible.

In general, the entire process takes close to two years.

RL: Do you have a favourite ‘club watch’ you’ve worked on recently?

MR: Definitely the Tank Cintrée we did with Cartier in 2021. It was our first limited edition and we only made 6 of them in platinum.

The dial is a matte blue but, depending on lighting, varies from a dark navy (almost black), to a light royal blue or at times even purple. It’s incredibly cool and I still have no idea how the brand made it [laughs].

For Le Paris Watch Club, it was also the perfect brand for us to start with – Cartier being the French maison.

RL: You recently profiled a couple of Patek Philippe references, as part of ‘GENEVA Watch Auction: Nine’, on YouTube. Talk us through those pieces and some of the lots more broadly at auction you were happy to see being shown love by collectors.

MR:  As an ultra fan of vintage Patek I’m always thrilled to see less obvious references get the recognition they deserve.

I was very happy to see the first series of 2497R [with cases made by Vichet] perform so well at Christie’s – it’s a reference I’ve loved ever since I tried one a few years ago (right off the wrist of Jason Singer).

The 2577R recently offered by Phillips was also great to see in the metal – it’s an extremely rare reference that hardly ever comes up for sale.

(Image Credit: Unekual)

One watch I’m sure shall garner lots more attention in future is the Ref. 3424 designed by Gilbert Albert – these are exceptionally rare pieces that have a similar aesthetical vibe to the Cartier Crash. However, being Patek, they were made much earlier; for a shorter period; in a far smaller production.

RL: On your own quote “not horological journalism” unquote platform Unekual, you’ve described the Patek 3970 as one of the watches that’s the most fun to wear and collect. Would you mind explaining that in a little more detail?

MR: I’m a huge fan of the Ref. 3970 for multiple reasons. The size to me, at 36mm, is amazing – despite being produced quite recently they look vintage and remain much more wearable than [other iconic references like the] 1518 or 2499.

Le Paris Watch Club
Pictured: Rossi’s personal 3970J – a ‘First Series’ execution fitted with leaf hands, baton indices, and a number of other distinctive features.

The other amazing thing about the 3970 is the variety within its production. Among the four series produced between 1986 and the early 2000s, the first two were still handmade.

Depending on your taste, you can look for large hallmarks; snap backs; two-tone dials; leaf hands; sword hands; doré dials; sapphire casebacks; diamond indices – there’s so much within this one reference that it’s quite incredible.

RL: Alrighty – quick hypothetical round. You can only wear two watches for the rest of your life. Gun to the head: what are they?

MR: That sounds awful [laughs].

Le Paris Watch Club
Pictured (left to right): The Ref. 3449 and 3700J with lapis dial – both exceedingly rare pieces in the pantheon of Patek collecting.

But, with a theoretically unlimited budget, I’d love to own one of the only three Ref. 3449s as a dress watch; and a 3700J with a lapis dial for my sports watch.

Honestly though, if you were to ask me again tomorrow, I’d probably give a completely different answer.

RL: And to finish, are there any watches you’re currently on the hunt for/close to pulling the trigger on?

MR: I’d love to own a Ref. 5004 – the inset pusher on the crown (for the split-second mechanism) just looks so cool. I’ve also been looking into the Ref. 2497 a lot.

Between the two the latter seems like the better option. Compared with any other Patek grand complication, they’re just so much rarer: with only 179 movements shared between the Ref. 2497 and Ref. 2438.

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Randy Lai
Following 6 years in the trenches covering consumer luxury across East Asia, Randy joins Boss Hunting as the team's Commercial Editor. His work has been featured in A Collected Man, M.J. Bale, Soho Home, and the BurdaLuxury portfolio of lifestyle media titles. An ardent watch enthusiast, boozehound and sometimes-menswear dork, drop Randy a line at [email protected].