Collectors' Series: Phillip Toledano
Known for his quirky yet perfectly elegant taste in collecting, New York-based Toledano is all set to launch his own watch brand next year with a collection of beautifully designed ‘sculptural watches’
There are some collectors that redefine cool and forge their own path through the often lemming-like world of collecting. With our social media feeds overburdened with the same hype pieces on repeat, it can be hard to look beyond the usual suspects and find a theme that is yours and, that more importantly, truly speaks to you. One gentleman that has found his own lane more comprehensively than most is New York-based Phillip Toledano. Known by many as @misterenthusiast on Instagram, Toledano is known for his quirky and yet perfectly elegant taste as well as his fledgling brand Viva Bastardo.
“I'm an artist by trade. A conceptual artist with a focus on photography, sculpture, painting, video - all that kind of stuff. Of late, I’m also the owner of a small clothing brand called Viva Bastardo and I'm about to launch a watch early next year. The watch brand will be called Toledano and Chan, Chan being my partner in the venture. So I guess, you’d say I'm a multi-hyphenate sort of person!”
Followers of Toledano will be familiar with his off-piste choice of both watches and cars. I was interested to find out what, in his mind, defines a collector. “Well to me, a collector is someone who has imagination and is curious and collects things that are a reflection of themselves rather than reflection of what other people like or current tastes or trends”.
When did he first begin collecting watches? “I really resisted collecting watches for a long time as I've always been a bit of a car collector. I resisted collecting watches only because it was such a cliché that you like cars so you have to like watches and vice versa. Eventually, however, I sold a car to a friend of mine who is kind of a big deal in the watch world. Well, he wasn’t a friend at the time but we became friends and inexorably I got drawn into the miserable wallet-vomiting wormhole that is watch collecting and I've been obsessed ever since!”
Toledano’s other passion is cars. Much like asking a father to name his favorite child, asking collectors to choose a favorite piece is tricky. I’ll ask though! What cars are closest to his heart? “It’s hard to say really as I've been lucky enough to own all sorts of really amazing and interesting cars. I guess I'm sort of an experiential collector from an automotive point of view, in the sense that I like to try things and experience them and then, after a while, sell it and trust something new will come along! At this point, however, I feel like I don't know what else there is to try that I can actually afford anymore, because everything is so expensive. I guess if I kept the collection to two it would be the BMW M1 and the Lancia 037, as they’re such great cars to own.”
What about if he could keep only one watch? “That's a tricky question also, because I've gone through so many different kinds of watches and every time I find something that I love, I think, this one I will keep forever. However, then my tastes change, I discover some new strange, dark horological corner and so then I sell that stuff and start investigating the new area. It’s cyclical! I'm pretty happy right now with the areas of Pateks from the 1970s and the Rolex Pre-Daytona. I think the Rolex 4768 I probably would never sell because I'd never find another one like that, at least for the price I paid for it, and probably some of the Pateks I will probably keep forever.”
So, are Rolex and Patek the main themes of his current collecting phase? “I'm a curious collector and I believe I’m pretty much brand agnostic in a way. I'm just a shallow, design-driven bastard and I’d be as happy to wear a Seiko quartz watch, as long as the design is amazing, as I would be to have a posh 70’s Patek. So, I'm kind of a snob about design, but that's about it!” It’s this design-driven aesthetic that would inform his five-watch collection. “If I had to narrow down to five, I guess the Patek Beta 21, the Rolex 4768 and the Rolex white gold Midas would be shoe-ins. Then there would certainly be a couple of Pateks from the 70s.”
Unlike a lot of collectors, Toledano has a very sedate track record of acquiring his watches, with not even a hint of a scary or epic journey ever to collect a watch. “I've never actually gone anywhere to pick up a watch. I'm lazy and so I guess expect people to FedEx them or they come to the city. I've never gone anywhere weird to collect to watch, which is a shame; I feel like I should at some point.”
The Viva Bastardo movement is picking up pace, with new drops selling out quickly. Is there a plan for a watch related line? “I'm not sure about a Bastardo watch, but as I mentioned earlier there will be a watch coming out early next year which will be sort of a collision between the Rolex Midas and brutalist architecture, in particular Marcel Breuer who designed the Whitney in the 1950s. This watch will be a sort of cocktail of those two things. I truly believe that what's missing these days is really beautiful sculptural watches. Sure, there's a lot of super complicated watches, skeletonized dials and floating sub dials, watches that can play the theme from the Godfather and have Jack in the boxes and whatever. However, there's not much nice sculptural design so that's what I'm going to do!”