Lifestyle Watches

Subdial Co-Founder Ross Crane Talks Watches, Art and German Cars

Ross Crane (Subdial) Interview

We talk cold cuts and khanjars in this interview with Ross Crane, the cofounder and CEO of tech-forward pre-owned watch specialist Subdial.

What was the last watch you bought?

There are two answers to this! Technically the MoonSwatch – I bought two while I was in Edinburgh early in the morning, saw a queue and thought why not. The last proper watch I bought though was the Royal Oak 14790ST. A couple of years earlier I got a 4100, slightly smaller in bi-metal and loved it. It was a bit too dressy for everyday and was still box fresh, and I felt bad every time it got a ding – so when a beaten to hell one came in I had to jump on it!

Do you collect anything outside of watches?

I’ve recently started collecting art in an incredibly amateur way, swapping watches for paintings. Otherwise, I have the same kind of interest in cars as I do in watches – I got a 1999 BMW 3 series after getting carried away over a pub roast. If I had all the money in world, I’d fill up a garage with 1990s German cars.

MoonSwatch Pluto

MoonSwatch Pluto

What, other than a watch, is at the top of your wishlist?

I just repainted my house and every wall was crying out for some colour, so I’m looking to get some more art for them! Something modern, ideally from Eddie Martinez if I could afford it. It’s almost cartoony with really bright colours. I need to work out a way to trade my way up to one of those.

A recent find/discovery?

Transylvania was amazing, not what I expected at all. It has a Germanic feel to it with beautiful Alpine-esque architecture. But watch wise… when we’d just started out, we were sent a pic of a Daytona with the Omani Khanjar on the dial. I thought it was a joke. But the owner told me all about it, sent more pictures and I realised it might be genuine – he was given it by the Sultan of Oman on one of the first British tours over there to modernise their air force. I gave him the ballpark price – £400,000 to £800,000! We managed to find a buyer and both he and his wife enjoyed their retirement.

Rolex Daytona Omani Khanjar

Rolex Daytona Omani Khanjar

What inspires you?

We started a company to do something meaningful, exciting and tech-led in an industry that didn’t have it. How can you find a way of making something that people use every day better? Watches was a chance to work with a really passionate group of people that appreciate it. Collectors that are a genuine pleasure to deal with make everything worth doing. That’s the motivation.

A book/podcast/album that changed the way you think?

From a business sense my favourite podcast is This week in start-ups, which covers all things entrepreneurial. Hearing what other people in other industries are doing that you might be able to learn from is incredible. I take a lot from knowing that other people are going through what I’m going through.

Eddie Martinez art

Eddie Martinez Artwork

Who is a celebrity/person of note/intellectual you admire?

I don’t particularly put people on pedestals.

What’s your ideal long weekend?

With the dog and girlfriend somewhere quiet. I love living in central London, but getting way to the Lake District, Camber Sands, somewhere like that is exactly what I need. Walk, drink, sleep, maybe some eating. Basically, as little as possible, a bit of exercise, reading in the evening, just life away from the city. Either that or a long weekend on a boat, drive down to Southampton and get on a sailing boat – to sail, drink, sleep, and maybe eat.

Ross Crane and the Subdial team

Ross Crane and the Subdial team

What would we always find in your fridge?

It’s permanently stacked with Romanian snacks and cold cuts. Every time my girlfriend’s parents come over to visit they bring a smorgasbord of meats and drinks – including Pálinka which is basically Romanian grappa. Apparently, it’s an acceptable way to start the day and it looks at me every time I open the fridge.

What’s a rule/mantra that you live by?

I’m someone that generally hates the thought that there’s a right way or a wrong way of doing something. You shouldn’t need to follow a process or a document without wondering why you’re doing it that way. It’s all about building things up from first principals, from approaching things fresh and new. For Subdial, technology was the only part we had some grounding in and the rest was self-taught – it gives you the freedom to do things the way you want to do them.

Find out more about Subdial (and Ross Crane) at their website.

About the author

Sam Kessler

Legend has it that Sam’s first word was ‘escapement’ and, while he might have started that legend himself, he’s been in the watch world long enough that it makes little difference. As the editor of Oracle Time, he’s our leading man for all things horological – even if he does love yellow dials to a worrying degree. Owns a Pogue; doesn’t own an Oyster Perpetual. Yet.

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