Ignacio Conde Garzón
You might imagine that the managing editor of one of the most prominent watch magazines in the world would have a collection of multiple Swiss luxury watches each costing more than a year’s salary.
Well, you would be wrong.
With the exception of a Speedmaster, none of the watches in Nacho's personal collection cost more than $1,000. This counterintuitive fact goes far toward explaining who he is: a professional watch journalist with an honest approach to his craft and a demeanor as humble as his watch collection.
I first met Nacho on Instagram when he reached out to me through a direct message. He had wanted to say how much he had liked one of my profile stories, and as a good editor should, he pointed out a typo in the article. This first encounter started a conversation about watch journalism and eventually ended up with a video interview. I don’t get starstruck easily, but I was a bit nervous speaking to Nacho. After all, I had only chatted with him a few times, and he works for one of my favorite watch magazines, Fratello.
A Humble Path Into Horology
A few weeks ago, I happened to watch a YouTube review of the Casio G-Shock “Casioak” in which the narrator said that with a few rare exceptions, every watch collector had at some point in time a digital Casio watch in his or her collection. Getting a Casio seems to be a rite of passage for any budding watch collector, although it is funny to see that none of them, of course, ever imagined that they would become watch collectors when they got their Casios at age 10. Owning a digital Casio, though, is something we watch collectors/nerds/aficionados have in common, and like the rest of us, Nacho went through that step as well. Back when he was a kid, Nacho had a friend who owned a Casio F91W—probably the most well-known and cheapest watch in the entire history of watchmaking—and he dreamed of owning one himself. He bugged his parents until they agreed to give both him and his brother F91Ws (their parents engraved their initials on the case backs so that they would know which watch was whose).
From the moment he got the Casio until now, Nacho didn’t really wear watches that often: he couldn’t wear watches or bracelets for more than a few hours before having to take them off because they were uncomfortable. I can relate to that: I had to wear glasses as a kid, and I would spend the better part of my day chewing on the frame because I couldn’t stand them, but as is often the case, Nacho eventually changed his tune and started to look into watches a bit more seriously when he got his first job in his early 20s. A young working man, he reasoned to himself, should have a watch, and his eyes were drawn to the timepieces that usually appeal to adventurer types. He remembered with great nostalgia going to the seaside as a teenager and looking at the watches in display cases of stores and seeing Calypso watches (part of the Festina group).
His first purchase, which he made with his first paycheck, was a 200m Casio quartz diver. Although he liked the idea of having a tough diver, the watch was too big for his taste and the bracelet quite uncomfortable. Unfortunately, that prompted Nacho to go through another period of fasting from watch collecting until a few years later when he saw the movie “Lalaland” featuring Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone. Gosling’s character was wearing a vintage Omega, and that, my friends, is what truly started it all. Once we hear that inaudible click in the universe of our soul that marks the beginning of a new passion, we don’t ever come back from it. Seeing this movie prompted Nacho to research vintage watches and to explore the abyss that is the world of amateur watch forums.
His first goal was to acquire a vintage watch. After doing his research, Nacho settled on a 40-year-old, gold-plated, 34mm Montine (see photo below). Above all, he was amazed by the fact that such an old watch was still ticking, which demonstrated the resilience of mechanical watches, and this started yet another phase of his watch collecting passion: learning how the mechanics of a watch works. The Montine became a placeholder for a better watch in the future (can you guess which one?), so Nacho started searching the classifieds to buy all sorts of $50 watches, including other vintage watches and Seikos.
His reading and researching led him to become interested in Swiss chronographs, which at the time he knew he couldn’t afford, so he went back to doing research and found a dirt-cheap, broken Omega ST166.0190 from 1974 (see picture below). Well, it was sold as broken, which got him a very good deal on it. Since he had spent so little, he thought, why not pop open the case back and see what’s going on in there? He opened his browser to YouTube and started watching videos about how to open a case back and learned about the basics of fixing a mechanical movement. Thanks to the video, he realized there was a small lever he had to push to get the movement going (this is akin to the “Did you plug in your toaster?” kind of question that you should answer for yourself before calling customer support).
Nacho didn’t yet know anyone else who was into watches, and let’s face it, our partners can only tolerate a few historical tidbits about horology here and there. That’s when the story becomes interesting.
From Collector to Managing Editor
His steady passion for horology now gave birth to the drive to meet like-minded people with whom he would be able to share his passion for this niche part of human creativity. What makes watch collecting addictive and fun is the existing community of fellow hobbyists, and one good way to find this community is by joining Instagram, which is what Nacho did. He simply started photographing his collection and talking about the watches he had acquired thus far. He soon started connecting with certain people, one of them being Eric from the “Rico’s Watches” podcast after Nacho had accumulated about 1,000 followers. Eric invited him on the podcast, which felt like a unique opportunity to take the conversation a step further.
Eric has had many prominent guests on his podcast, one of whom being the Founder and Editor-in-Chief at Fratello. After the podcast, Nacho was invited back on Eric’s podcast and from that moment was born the idea (proposed by Eric) that someone with Nacho's passion and talent for telling stories about watches would be a good match for Fratello. Eric encouraged Nacho to reach out to them, and one thing leading to another, Nacho interviewed for a position as a staff writer. When all of this happened, Nacho was living in Germany and working a steady job, though, and while the idea of quitting his full-time career for writing about watches was extremely attractive, to say the least, it also did not guarantee steady employment.
Nacho knew that he could only make that move if he could set it in stone with a contract, which was not possible to do living in Germany (one cannot live in Germany and legally work for a foreign company). The team at Fratello then invited him to move to Holland where the magazine is headquartered, which Nacho did in July 2021 (yes, the pandemic was still going strong; a courageous move if you ask me). Not long after he started working for Fratello, Nacho was presented with the opportunity of becoming the magazine’s new Managing Editor, a golden opportunity that he did not hesitate to take. Imagine going from posting Instragram photos of your watches to becoming the managing editor of one of the most prominent watch magazines in the world within a matter of a few months.
You and I can only dream of it, and we all secretly envy Nacho with love and admiration.
The internet is over-saturated with self-improvement and inspirational videos that are supposed to inspire us to do what we love. It’s a terrifying thought, because, first of all, how do we figure out for certain what it is that we love to do and can earn a living doing? Second of all, how the heck are we supposed to make this happen? In speaking with many people who made their passion into a reality, it has become clear that you just have to start doing it. Whether you want to create a watch company or become a watch journalist, you’ve got to start doing it, at first as a side gig in what time remains once you’ve fulfilled your family and work responsibilities.
Once you have started this and you do it authentically and with passion, then things start evolving on their own. People start noticing that you are doing something new and interesting, that the way you see watches and photograph them resonates with them. People start noticing your work, and you get invited to do a collaboration or do a guest spot on a podcast, or you find the courage to reach out to brands and offer to do a collaboration, or express your interest to write for a magazine. After a few months, an idea starts forming in your mind: you could make a career out of this. You could pay the bills and live a much happier life by pursuing your passion.
I know: it sounds so simple on paper, and the inspirational videos certainly make it look simple. Once you are actually working at it, though, it’s not that easy, and one can easily start feeling discouraged.
Thank Buddha that Nacho did not feel discouraged and that he had the mindset to get on the podcast without truly expecting anything to come from it, and it’s so lucky for all of us that Eric suggested that Ignacio reach out to Fratello, which opened the way for him to become the managing editor. A dream come true, certainly, but reaching that goal demanded a lot of time, patience, and hard work from Nacho. He truly loves what he does, and I feel inspired to do the same. You may not want to have a career in watch journalism, but you can easily relate to the idea of letting your passion dictate the next steps in your life and letting it take you places. For you, it could be becoming a professional watch photographer or an influencer, making YouTube videos, starting your own watch brand, combining all of these things together, or something not even related to watches at all.
There is something about Nacho that drove him to get where he is, something that made him successful, and that’s the way he looks at watches.
Connecting Through Timekeeping
Being a professional watch journalist and leading a team of watch experts on a daily basis means that Nacho gets to see many watches come through the Fratello office. Before joining the magazine, all of the watches he would see were the ones he owned. Back then, his desire to buy more watches was probably stronger than it is now since he regularly gets to try on some of the finest marvels of horology the world has ever seen and to satisfy his curiosity about certain brands and models. Before long, then, his drive to buy more for himself relaxed, and this allowed him to curate a humble collection. His latest purchase is a pre-owned Hamilton Khaki Auto, a watch with a history and a recognizable name, but definitely not one that could have ever put his bank account in danger of bankruptcy.
In a sense, what keeps Nacho inspired to do his job is the same reason he got into watches in the first place: the chance to join a small circle of people (small compared to the totality of humankind and the enormous number of passions one could choose from) for whom the act of keeping track of time has the same emotional resonance. In a sense, he has connected to other people who think similarly about watches, and that has always driven him to want to write about watches and read articles about them. It is the deep connection we each have to every watch we own that echoes, as we know we have found like-minded people who understand each other on a deep and particular level.
As it is for Nacho and many others who caught the watch collecting bug, he also sees watches as a companion for his daily adventures. He may not be hiking snow-capped mountains every weekend, but in a sense, daily life is an adventure in and of itself, and Nacho likes to know that he has the right tools for it. Whether it be a Hamilton or an Omega Speedmaster—whichever watch he wears, really—it accompanies him through every moment, every event, and every adventure. He likes to hear stories of people who have taken their watches to faraway lands and used them on epic adventures. He may not hear of people climbing Mount Everest on a regular basis or walking solo to the South Pole, but he does interact with people who take their watches on their own adventures each day.
I used to think that accomplishing a physically demanding adventure was the only type of real adventure, especially when I was first reading about historic models being taken on epic adventures (the Speedmaster being taken to the Moon, for example). I was under the false impression that I would have had to become an astronaut or an underwater explorer to be able to claim that my watch went on a real adventure, but the more I have spoken with collectors, brand owners, and photographers, the more I realize that daily life is itself an adventure and that I can have as much pleasure wearing my favorite watch while typing this article at my desk as I would trekking the Amazon. In a way, I sense that Nacho feels the same.
When speaking to Nacho, it was evident that he doesn’t really get impressed by those who have the means to get the kinds of $20,000 watches that he can’t afford and that he can have a fulfilling conversation about horology regardless of what watch each person involved in the conversation wears. His dedication to what watches are, how they are made, and what they mean goes beyond the price tag or the name engraved on the dial. Nacho said that watch collecting is not about luxury and spending a lot of money. When he first saw the Speedmaster in a shop display case, he thought it looked too fancy and too big for him, but later on, he went back to it after having read the history of the Speedmaster and its deep connection to space exploration. He saw the watch from a whole new perspective, a perspective he could relate to.
Conclusion: The Power of Being Honest and Authentic
So far since I officially started Mainspring Watch magazine, I’ve spoken with brand owners, watch photographers, and influencers, but Nacho is the first watch journalist I have spoken with, someone who actually gets paid to write articles about horology and manage an editorial team at a prominent magazine. I won’t lie: Nacho did not turn out to be the person I thought he would actually be. Based on preconceived ideas I’ve had about what a successful managing editor of any type of magazine should be like—proud, lecturing, and a bit snobbish—I didn’t imagine Nacho would turn out to be (to put it simply) a really cool guy.
At the very beginning of this introduction, I mentioned that I had a very positive first contact with him via direct message on Instagram, and what I just said may come across as being contradictory, but hear me out: I’ve interacted with many professional watch people by direct messaging in the past two years, and the tone of the conversations I’ve had with them on Instagram did not always match the way our conversations went during the interview. It’s sad, but it’s true. As soon as I request for an interview, a natural and human phenomenon occurs: my request inflates the person’s ego, and the scope of the conversation switches to them and how great they are, and not what watches mean to them or how they started their collecting journey.
You will never read an article born from such an interview here, by the way. I don’t publish all interviews I conduct for that reason.
To return to the protagonist of our story: Nacho remained a steady, caring gentleman during the interview just as he was on direct message. He is the same person, he is driven by the same passion for horology, by the same interest in telling compelling stories about watches as a collector, writer, and managing editor.
Thanks for reading.