Collector’s Corner: Phil Toledano (AKA ‘Mister Enthusiast’) On 70s Patek & Boxy Cars
— Updated on 8 February 2023

Collector’s Corner: Phil Toledano (AKA ‘Mister Enthusiast’) On 70s Patek & Boxy Cars

— Updated on 8 February 2023
Randy Lai
Randy Lai

Even in a universe populated with as many weird and wonderful characters as that of watch culture, Phil Toledano (better known by his online pseudonym @misterenthusiast) is a veritable force of nature. The British-born concept artist, who spends most of his days working in and hooning around New York, is not your garden variety watch guy; with nary a Royal Oak Jumbo or GMT-II in his possession.

Rather, Toledano approaches watches with the same sort of gleeful abandon he does his other primary obsession – car collecting. A prolific and uproariously entertaining voice in that space (Hagerty Media even gave him his own podcast) he’s developed something of a reputation as an iconoclast: specialising in interesting vehicles of yore – jokingly referred to by the man himself as “ugly cars” – which have their roots in homologation and the Italian design boom of the 1970s.

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This predilection, for motors “designed for a reason other than [to just look] good,” has seen Toledano drive everything from Maserati Shamals (the “Baron of Boxflares”) to the Jaguar XJ220 – one of those great supercar-based oddities of the 1990s and source of the hilarious ‘Friends Getting Out of the XJ’ Instagram series.

In our first ‘Collector’s Corner’ of 2023, Boss Hunting has a quick chinwag with Toledano to find out – amongst other things – what the self-described bastardo has been collecting of late; why certain aspects of watch culture really grind his gears; and which mid-engine rally car he’d take into the grimdark days of a hypothetical apocalypse.

Collector’s Corner: Phil Toledano (a.k.a. ‘Mister Enthusiast’) On Obscure Patek And Boxy Cars

Randy Lai: It’s a banal way to start, but we have to ask – how did you get into watches in the first place?

Phil Toledano: I’ve been a vintage car collector for a while now, but have always resisted the cliché of collecting cars and watches. That is, until I sold a car in my collection to somebody who was hugely into watches – we became friends soon after and I now blame him for sucking me down the wormhole.

RL: Over the years, has your taste in collecting changed? Or are you still devotedly – in your own words – a “pathological contrarian”?

Phil Toledano watches

PT: I’ve always stayed a contrarian but my taste has also changed quite substantially in the 8 years that I’ve been collecting. I started off with Lemania; I was (and still am) a huge fan of vintage Breitling; I had a decent [military] watch collection for a while; until finally, I washed up on the shores of pre-Daytona Rolex and 1970s Patek Philippe.

RL: All throughout your watch collecting journey, what’s one element of ‘the culture’ you could do with less of?

PT: I suppose…the horological Cold War mentality that is prevalent between certain types of collectors (for whom ‘collecting’ isn’t about weapons-grade nerdery, but rather just another opportunity to showcase one’s bottomless bank account).

RL: What’s one piece of essential advice you’d dispense to younger enthusiasts who are just starting to get into watches?

PT: “Buy who you are, not who everybody else is.”

RL: Like a number of other venerable watch collectors, you’re also a massive ‘car guy’. Is there any overlap in your approach to collecting, say, old Group B cars and oddball mechanical watches?

PT: Certainly! I’m always trying to look wherever few to no other people are. It’s no fun showing up to the horological sausage party wearing the same thing as a dozen other people.

RL: What’s the biggest change watch culture/the broader industry has undergone since you started collecting?

Phil Toledano watches

PT: For me, it’s been less than 10 years but – until recently – everything seems to have gotten very speculative.

RL: What is the most egregious example of a watch many other enthusiasts love which you simply can’t get into?

PT: Modern Rolex Daytonas. They’re the definition of a ‘nice’ watch: neither rare, nor particularly imaginative. For me, a healthy dose of artistic imagination is crucial to collecting.

RL: Tell us a little about your most recent watch purchase.

PT: A Patek Ref. 3733 dated to 1972, with a lapis dial. I’ve been hunting for this particular example for years.

RL: In a hypothetical ‘house on fire’ situation – what’s the one watch and car combination you’d immediately try to salvage?

PT: Hmmm…likely my Patek Beta 21 and Lancia 037.

RL: To finish, do you have an ‘endgame’ in mind for your collection?

PT: Sadly not – my appetite to waste money on useless and/or obscure wristwatches just keeps growing…

Phil Toledano watches

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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].


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