Watch dealer to the CEOs
Power brokers searching for the perfect watch need make only one phone call: to Kirk Putze, their man in Detroit.
(Fortune Magazine) -- We all covet once-in-a-lifetime, insider deals: A rent-controlled apartment in Manhattan. A secret sample sale at our favorite designer's showroom. A line on an impossible-to-find watch that stores sold out of months ago.
For that last task, corporate types around the country call Kirk Putze, owner of Back in Time International in Birmingham, Mich., a tony Detroit suburb.
Putze is the go-to guy for encyclopedic expertise on vintage and contemporary watches at all price levels, from lowly (and lovely) Longines to the $750,000 limited-edition Audemars Piguet Grand Complication, a watch that takes one man a year to make.
One of the main qualities that sets Putze apart from the myriad watch sellers across the land is his ability to procure limited editions, rarities, and It models. When it comes to hot sellers like the Rolex Milgauss, customers simply can't walk into the nearest Tourneau and buy one - or even order it (I tried).
Such stores offer them to their best clients first and never even display them, for fear Internet dealers might snap them up and flip them. Putze, however, can help you obtain just about any watch you desire.
With impossible-to-get watches you'll have to spend more, or he can get preowned modern watches that he rigorously tests and warranties for two years. Working with him is the equivalent of having a bank get you in on a hot IPO - which is why he counts numerous CEOs, pro sports stars, and world-class collectors among his faithful.
The operation that Putze runs with his wife, Michelle, is boutique and refreshingly full of old-world-service touches. A significant vintage-watch collector himself, Putze has happily hand-delivered watches to customers across the country. He'll also buy watches outright or take trade-ins.
"You can go on the Internet and find plenty of high-end watches, which are often gray market and therefore don't have the correct factory paperwork and warranty. You might save a few bucks buying online, but ultimately, you'll lose out when you try to service or resell it," says Putze.
There's a master watchmaker onsite too- which means that rather than send a timepiece back to the manufacturer for minor repairs, Putze can service most watches in two weeks. After all, the point of tracking down the ultimate watch is so it can live on your wrist, not in the shop.