Journal / Read

Elias Marte on Unplanned, Unconventional Watch Purchases

In Bezel's exclusive interview, we sit down with the collector, fixture of online watch culture, and lifelong New Yorker to explore his introduction to the world of watches, his unplanned, unconventional watch purchases, plus the most prized pieces in his personal collection.


Team Bezel

December 22, 2023


10 min read

Elias Marte (aka @staycrispymyfriends) has made a name for himself throughout the worlds of watch and style culture in New York and online over the last few years, and is now something of a regular at noteworthy events and happenings around town. With singular personal style befitting of his personality, and an eye for unique designs, Marte is the perfect example of a collector whose collection truly reflects their tastes and sensibilities.

In Bezel's exclusive interview, we sit down with the collector, fixture of online watch culture, and lifelong New Yorker to explore his introduction to the world of watches, his unplanned, unconventional watch purchases, plus the most prized pieces in his personal collection.

In Conversation with Elias Marte

Bezel: How did you get into watches? 

EM: I got into watches between the ages of 4 and 5. My aunt had a Pulsar Tank watch, which I would notice when she would visit me and put me on her lap. My mom had a Casio F91W watch, which she gave to me once I started going to school.

The watch was digital, so it came in handy for knowing when school would end – I didn’t like school, so I couldn’t wait for it to be over. Another interesting point is that neither of these two watches was round. Each was rectangular, or an irregular shape.

Marte's collection shot from above.

Bezel: Why do you think you favor unconventionally shaped watches? 

EM: Round watches are boring to me, respectfully. I try to limit watches of that shape in my collection.

You go to school, and they teach you all these shapes, and you’re only going to stick with the most basic shape? Why do that? That’s me, personally. Also, I collect watches from a jewelry enthusiast’s perspective.

On the wrist: Elias wears his Piaget Tank watch, fitted with an Onyx dial.

Bezel: What did your collection's evolution look like? 

EM: I always liked watches; however, there were periods when I didn’t wear a watch because NYC public schools didn’t allow digital watches. I started collecting on my own in college between 2010 and 2011. I would spend hours online looking at old watch ads – those from Elgin and Bulova, in particular.

I bought my first vintage watches (a 1945 Bulova Excellency and a Lord Elgin Driver) around this time, which I still have in my collection. Buying vintage has never scared me. The same approach goes for buying vintage furniture, clothes, and cars. The internet has played a big part in this, along with social media.

Post-COVID, I definitely got more aggressive with collecting once I started attending watch events. The most beautiful thing about watch collecting in the past 3 years has been all the new friends I have made from this interest. I can travel around the world and meet up with fellow watch enthusiasts.

Marte wears a Cartier Ellipse Paris Gondole, paired with a mulit-colored, gem-set bracelet.

Bezel: What’s your favorite watch in your collection and why?  

EM: That’s a hard question. I’ll give you six: 

1. Rolex Cellini Midas Ref. 4015

This was a grail of mine for a while, and it’s also my favorite Gérald Genta design. I love its overall architecture, and how it was modeled after the Parthenon. Definitely my favorite Rolex model. 

2. Boucheron Reflet

I’m a jewelry enthusiast first, so I collect watches from jewelry houses. The 18k yellow gold hobnail case and the interchangeable watch strap system – •chef’s kiss• 

3. Bueche Girod Baignoire

BG made cases for Cartier in the 60s and 70s, so if you know, you know. They were primarily a goldsmith.

4. Cartier Ellipse Paris Gondole

Cartier is my favorite watch brand – the king of odd shapes and a great jewelry house. I wanted to own a Paris dial Cartier for a while.

5. Piaget Onyx Dial Tank

This watch is a beauty all around. The gold checkered board and onyx – oof, so good. The case is particularly amazing, and a Piaget is a no-brainer to have in the collection.

6. Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso

This was another grail of mine for a while, and it gets compliments from all kinds of watch enthusiasts. After all, JLC is the “watchmaker’s watchmaker.”

Elias pictured at his Rolex AD, waiting to check out a new watch.

Bezel: Have you ever considered a sports watch for your collection, or are you dedicated to dress pieces? 

EM: The Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso is technically among the first sports watches, dating back to 1931, designed to withstand polo games in India. I also have a Cartier Santos, which is also another sports watch. The first pilot’s watch, to be exact – first introduced in 1904. These are two sports watches. 

A lot of times, we envision a sports watch as something rugged and bulky, with some sort of lume. I primarily focus on time-only watches, and maybe those with a date function. I’m very simple – I don't really need my watches for anything else besides telling time.

 I do have dive watches in my collection (Seiko SKX0009 and Citizen NY0040), but I wear them when I’m in the Dominican Republic because of the rain. My other vintage watches would definitely get damaged in a rainstorm.

On the wrist: Marte wears his Rolex Cellini MIdas Ref. 4015 in 18k yellow gold.

Bezel: Can you share 3 must-have watches listed on Bezel right now?

EM:   Definitely!

Piaget Polo Lapis Lazuli Ref. 81301 C581

Cartier Tank Basculante Ref. 2480

Cartier Tank Americaine Ref. 1710

Marte matches his octagonal Cartier Santos with a Cartier key-holder in red leather.

Bezel: Why do you continue to enjoy collecting watches? 

EM: The approach I have is to buy what you like, which is a motto I always tell anyone starting their watch journey. I don’t see watches as investments. Once you start buying watches for the sole purpose of investment, your collection will soon have common, “safe investment” pieces. 

Also, I have a never-ending appetite for collecting, and a lot of my purchases are unplanned. I exclusively collect vintage, so it’s always exciting to see what I end up getting. With so many different vintage variations of models, I don’t need to buy new.

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- Isaac Wingold


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