As part of the exclusive content only available at Life of a WIS, I am very excited to share with everyone my very first interview post. And what better person to kick this off than my favorite aftermarket strap supplier and good friend... Ron, Owner of BandRbands.com (@bandrbands). BandRbands.com is your one stop for all aftermarket Bell & Ross straps and more! Great quality products, various sizes to accommodate all wrists, and extremely reasonable prices... no wonder they are my favorite place to buy aftermarket straps!
BRIAN: First of all, thank you Ron for allowing me to interview and feature you on my website.
RON: I'd just like to start by saying congratulations to you Brian on the launch of your website. I've already perused the site and learned valuable information from it. I urge all of the readers to take advantage of this site. Brian is not only a great customer of mine, but I consider hm a friend as well. And when it comes to watches, @lifeofawis is a mentor too.
Thank you Ron for that great opening and the kind words! But lets not forget that this interview is all about YOU! Like I said in my Favorite Bell & Ross Aftermarket Straps post, your customer service and straps are just top notch! Without further ado, lets get to the difficult questions that you must now answer...
When did you discover your passion for watches?
Well, like most guys, I've always liked gadgets. When I was around twenty and had a steady job, I remember falling in love with a Seiko ana-digi watch that I just had to have. I loved the digital dial at the bottom of the screen that could hold a second timezone, the date, an alarm, etc. It was a little over $200 which in those days was a fortune, but I finally saved up and got it. A couple of years later, when I had my own little business going, a buyer that I dealt with offered me a used Rolex 1680 Sub and it's basically been downhill since.
Which watches do you currently own?
I still have the 1680 and I also have a two-tone Sub that I had bought a few years after the 1680. I also have a Patek that my father-in-law (RIP) gave me for my wedding. To be honest, I haven't used it since the wedding. But on to my more current collection, I have a PAM 111, BR 01-94 Commando, BR 01-96 White Dial, BR 126 Officer, BR 02, and BR Pilot 10th Anniversary Edition. I still keep a couple of Seikos around. I have the 6309-7049 which I wear quite often. I'd call that my 35 year old beater. I also have a Spork which is a Seiko's homage to the Sinn/BR look. What else? A couple of Steinharts which I consider to be one of the best value watches out there. I currently have the Marine Chronometer and the NavB Chronograph. Both have great classic looks and solid movements for a fraction of the cost at other brands. I still hold on to my Helson Shark Diver Bronzo which hasn't gotten much wrist time lately but I'm not ready to part with it yet. And my most recent addition is an Omega Speedmaster Pro that dates back to circa 1978.
From your collection, which watch is your favorite and why?
That's a very hard one. I love them all. But if I had to pick two :-), because one is too hard, I'd say my 1680 Sub because it was my first "real" watch and it has a lot of history with me. As my second one, I'd say my B&R BR 01-94 Commando. As all my customers know, I have a passion for B&R, and my Commando was my first. Besides that, the watch is me. I know that you Brian get uptight about PVD scratching. For me, those are the battle scars of wear and tear. And I've gotten good use out of mine. And also, the 01 for me is unique in its form, and the Commando in particular just fits my lifestyle. I'm not one who wears a suit too often so I don't really need a dressy watch. The Commando suits my needs just fine, cool and casual.
Why did you decide to start BandRbands.com?
I had been in the children's shoe business, which believe it or not is a very physical job. I was in a boat accident at the time and got laid up for a few months in bed and a few months in therapy. There was no way I could go back to selling children's shoes. While at home I had plenty of time to surf the web and naturally spent time looking at watches as well. Since the first time I had seen pictures of the BR 01-92 in the Orange and Blue dial versions, I'd been a big fan of the instrument. It was love at first sight. As I surfed the web, I noticed that there were lots of guys doing Panerai straps but very few doing anything for B&R. It was a natural progression for me. From selling small shoes to selling smaller "shoes".
How are you different from the other websites offering aftermarket straps?
In two words, I care. When I make a sale I want the customer to be happy with his purchase. I will try everything in my power to make a customer happy, as long as his request is within reason. A happy customer will come back for more products and isn't that what it's all about?
What is the most popular strap you sell?
Since my line has expanded to other watch brands, it's hard to pinpoint one strap, but as a style or "look", I'd have to say the Vintage Canvas look. Those are unique straps with a unique look and really gives the wearer an eye-turner. I guess it's the combination of different materials that gives the buyer more fun and flexibility to choose his strap.
Have you see any interesting trends since you have been in business?
Yes, I have. When I first got in the business the classics were all you sold - plain leathers, gators, or exotics. These still continue to sell (and always will), but today you see the whole "vintage" look as a much stronger category.
Which watch is most likely to join your watch collection next?
Lately I've gotten that vintage bug too. I'd love to add a Rolex 1675 to the stable. I'm not sure if it's most likely $$$ to join, but it's definitely the most wanted at the moment.
Tell us something about yourself.
Me? I'm just a regular guy: husband and father, those always come first... who's been a bit by the WIS bug :-). I love music and enjoy playing around with a guitar. I don't play, just play around ;-). I also love fishing, but unfortunately my legs haven't been letting me fish as often as I'd like to.
All images in this post by BandRbands.com and used with permission.