Watch specialist Leslie Fleischman.

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1 How did you get your start?

I was apprenticed as a jeweller in Hatton Garden from the age of 15 but realised that I preferred selling to making. By the time I was 20 I owned a retail jewellery store in Baker Street retailing handmade designer jewellery and top-end watches. After many adventures I closed the business after 12 years. I just got tired of being robbed and it happened too often for my peace of mind. I went into marketing for the next 30 plus years running my own agency.

2 When did you start your current business?

When the lockdown came in 2020 my marketing business went quiet. I’d built up a fair collection of watches over the years and thought I’d rather use my time constructively, so I spent nearly six months building an online store, The Vintage Watch Room, which specialises in affordable vintage watches. Here we are a year later and I’m really loving it.

I had done a few antiques fairs including Ally Pally a few years ago but I was inexperienced and learnt a lot of lessons. Just before Christmas we did our first fair and we envisage running a number of fairs and road shows in 2022

3 What sets your business apart?

Anyone looking for vintage watches will notice that most retailers and dealers in the area concentrate on the top end of the market. This area has no attraction at all for us. To us, one Rolex Daytona looks a lot like another one, so you will find our watches start at around £100 and usually the top end is around £2500. It allows us to offer a vast range of vintage timepieces at prices pretty much everyone can afford.

We focus on 20th century Americanmade watch brands like Bulova, Benrus and Illinois. There are also many relatively unknown French, Belgian and German brands, alongside the Swiss watches by Omega, Longines and many others.


A 1960s Longines gents dress watch with diamond inset dial, priced £350.

4 What is one question it is important to ask before buying?

Besides ‘does it work?’ I would hope that they would ask about the watch, the brand behind it and its history. If you know that, you will feel much more connected with your timepiece. The other thing we stress is the importance of regular servicing as it not only keeps the watches alive but also the trade of watchmaking and watch repair as we need new blood in the trade to learn from their predecessors.

5 Real ale or espresso martini?

Neither: local-made distilled gin, Fever Tree tonic and lime or grapefruit (never lemon!) with lots of crushed ice. Or, failing that, a nice glass of port.

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