Interview with Argiris Develegas

MF: Michael Friedberg, IWC Forum Editor

AG: Argiris Develegas

Watch collector Argiris Develegas

MF: Thanks, Arg, for contributing here.  We don’t have a lot of collectors from Greece as regular visitors on the forum, although there are some. Perhaps you can tell us a bit about yourself personally.

 

AD: I was born in Kavala, which is a small city in Northern Greece. I live here now since I returned after my University studies and military service.

 

MF: I hear Kavala is a special place –after learning from you about it, I do need to visit it.

 

AD: Kavala is a beautiful city built on the bay of Kavala, and with a rich history through the ages. Nearby is the ancient city of Philippoi where in 42 BC Mark Anthony defeated Brutus. There is an ancient theatre located in the area, which is still operational today and hosts a theatrical festival. Also nearby is the church where Apostle Paul baptized the first Christian in Europe.

 

MF: That’s an incredible history –and to think that I didn’t know about Kavala until you joined the forum.

 

AD: There’s much more. Kavala was also the harbor where Alexander the Great sailed his fleet in his campaign to conquer Persia. After the Byzantine times, Venetians occupied the city and after them it was part of the Ottoman Empire since it was liberated by the Hellenic Navy in 1913. Today Kavala is a highly visited place for both its historical links and for recreational reasons -- those crystal clear Aegean waters!

 

MF: What do you do in Kavala?

 

AD:  I live here with my wife Natassa and our daughter Melina. My wife teaches economics, and for the last 10 years I have worked for a company that wholesales construction materials. My job is to be sure that our clients are happy and return to us.

MF: Was your family interested in watches?

 

AD: My family was never interested in watches, but I sure have been. I remember while I was growing up trying to identify watch models on peoples’ wrists. It’s a game I am still very fond of playing.

 

MF: Do you have interests beyond your lovely family, your work and watches?

 

AD: I am also very much attracted to other beautiful things besides watches, like furniture for example. I especially love architecture and design; in fact I always catch myself looking to discover all the small details behind things that fascinate my vision. I would also say that cooking and cinema are my other passions.

 

MF: With all these interests, how did you discover IWC?

 

AD: There was a certain Karma involved in my discovery of IWC Schaffhausen. There was this 1988 film called “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” starring Steve Martin and Michael Cane, where the latter plays a famous medical doctor among other roles. The doctor was Dr. Emil Schaffhausen and there was a scene where a bell boy is looking for him at a hotel lobby and shouting his name “Dr. Schaffhausen!!! Dr. Emil Schaffhausen!!!!”

This phrase was subliminally repeating in my head for years, without my knowing that there is a town by that name and that IWC has been part of its history for the past 150 years. Only after years during my first IWC factory visit in 2008 I had this revelation so this phrase had a new meaning for me.

 

MF:  And before your factory visit you bought your first IWC?

 

AD: Yes. Around 2007 I was looking for a good sports watch but all I was ending up with was Rolex and everyone I knew had one.  So I started looking around on the Internet and ended up on the IWC Schaffhausen website. There was a link on the splash page reading “IWC Forum” and that link changed my life forever.

 

MF: I guess that’s the point of the Forum!

AD: I entered the Forum and saw that people were uploading pictures of watches. I could not understand what they were talking about. I had no idea of the models or the calibers; I knew nothing but everybody seemed to know everything.

My comments were “wow such a nice watch” and “congratulations to your acquisition”. Not very clever, nor interesting. At that point I was about to give up when I got an e-mail from you, who back then as you know was the Forum Moderator. That e-mail urged me to keep up visiting and at the end it said, “In six months you’ll be an expert.” You were wrong: I was no expert by any means but I had my first IWC, the Aquatimer Automatic Ref. 3548.

 

MF: My thought back then was that you could significantly contribute to the forum community.

 

AD: Then, like a year later, I received another e-mail asking me if I wanted to participate in the Collectors meeting taking place in Schaffhausen just before SIHH.

There have been many more invitations and SIHH attendances since then, where I met people I only knew through their everyday writing on the Forum and who became my good old friends now. 

 

MF: It’s great when the Forum goes beyond virtual reality to an actual presence. And to me it’s very special when friendships develop.

 

AG: Indeed. Through the forum I met a guy. We had exchanged only some emails and small Forum chats, and now he has become family to me. It’s Roberto Muraglia from Italy –my best friend, brother and Godfather to my only daughter Melina. Roberto’s exquisite taste and unparalleled sense of humor are one of a kind.

So when my daughter was born I asked Roberto to be the Godfather which he accepted. There also were other collectors and very good friends who made it to the ceremony in Kavala like Dimitris Psaromialos with his wife Maro from Greece, and also Jim and Dorothy Pearson from the US honored us with their presence.

Good friends, Roberto Muraglia and Argiris

MF: And this all started with IWC watches and the Forum!

 

AD: For me IWC is like your first love. No matter what other watches you’ll own, no matter what design and movement debates you’ll have with other people, IWC will always be IWC for me.

IWC Schaffhausen is a big family, as it was from the F.A. Jones years to the Homberger family years up to now.

It is like a big family thing in the end. You get to know active Forum members and their families, and IWC staff and their families. If you visit New York there’ll be a small event organized for you. If you visit Hong Kong they throw a feast in your honor, and if you visit Geneva you can discuss watches over lunch with Andreas Dragonas and become a better man.

 

MF: I don’t think I know Andreas.

 

AD: Andreas Dragonas is a silent IWC Forum member whom I’ve met numerous times in Geneva and have the privilege to call him my friend. He is an avid IWC collector a great guy. Each time we meet I understand how limited my knowledge is concerning watches, and in general, too, I would say.

 

MF: When you talk about watches, what are your favorites?

 

AD: I catch myself hating and loving the same watch many times, over and over again, selling and buying back and reforming my all-time best list constantly. It was the design that got me to IWC at first. Watches like the Big Pilot’s Watch Ref. 5002, Portugieser Chronograph Ref. 3714, Ingenieur Automatic Ref. 3227 --those are a few of my all-time favorites. Design over function was never the thing with these models.

MF: I can understand what you’re saying because of your interest in architecture and the modernist architectural concept of “form follows function”.   But I would think that an emphasis on function might imply an interest mostly in sports watches. How do you feel about dress models?

 

AD: I love watches made for a purpose - like diver’s watches - but I have a soft spot for dress watches too. Mark Levinsohn, a specifically dear friend from the IWC Collectors family, once told me that the time you notice you like dress watches it is the time you notice you’ve grown up.

IWC has a unique talent to transform a tool watch into a desirable object. That was the case of Bund watches of the Aquatimer family. Also the Ingenieur SL from the Ingenieur family and the Mark 11 from the Pilot’s Watches family. They were all made to serve under pressure and limitations other watches would have failed, and moreover they did so in great style.

 

MF: Do you have a favorite family from IWC?

 

AD: From the current IWC collection, the Portugieser family is very appealing to me. Portugiesers are the crown jewels in the IWC Portfolio. I especially love the Portugieser Perpetual Calendar models. I also believe that the Portofino family is very well balanced and aesthetically appealing.

 

MF: You really understand IWC –even if it took a bit more than six months! What advice would you offer to newcomers to the brand and its Forum?

 

AD: My advice to newcomers would be almost the same I got around ten years ago: “Don’t give up in acquiring knowledge! Stay around the Forum and you’ll see your life change”.

 

MF: Excellent advice, and thank you for your time and thoughts.

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