Meet Adam Golden of Menta Watches: Vintage Watch Expert and Dealer, Porsche Diehard, and Walt Grace Vintage’s Watch Partner.
Since Walt Grace Vintage first opened the gallery’s doors, the unexpected, yet undeniably perfect pairing of cars and guitars hasn’t just set us apart – it’s allowed us to engage with and share our passion for both with enthusiasts and collectors from either world. We’ve seen firsthand on a daily basis the way these things bring people together, the way car enthusiasts find their way into the guitar world and vice versa, and the shared magnetism these things have. There’s a mutual intrigue between vintage guitars and vintage cars; a direct connection to a different time, to a golden age of design, and to the simple, tactile joys of things made before the digital revolution made the things we use on a daily basis all feel a bit disposable. It’s why both worlds have birthed wildly passionate collector communities – and it’s why bringing vintage watches into Walt Grace Vintage’s offerings makes perfect sense.
Like classic cars and vintage guitars, vintage watches have a rare combination of history, heritage, functionality, and variety available that makes them the ideal daily usable connection to the charms of the past. All three also share the distinction of being increasingly strong investment categories, each with their own booming markets. And like classic cars and vintage guitars, vintage watches all age in ways that speak to the lives they’ve lived, that gives them all their own unique personalities. They become more than just a timepiece, but vessels for stories. Whether an example lived out the first half of its life in new-old-stock condition in a sock drawer (like a “barn find” 911 or a case queen guitar that was tossed under a bed and forgotten) or strapped to the wrist of a diver, timing laps for a motorsports hero, or exploring space as part of an astronaut’s kit, they all show their experience in ways that are both wildly fascinating and make each one truly unique. However, you don’t have to over-intellectualize the fact that there is just something cool about old mechanical watches. It’s something our new watch partners at Menta Watches understand deeply.
Menta’s founder Adam Golden is one of the most respected vintage watch dealers in the world, and he’s one of us. A Miami local, a Porsche fanatic, and a guy that leads with his passion first – an approach that’s always been at the core of everything we do at Walt Grace Vintage. Adam and his team at Menta aren’t just dealers, but curators that appreciate the whole spectrum of interesting vintage watches available regardless of price point or rarity. Cool is cool, right? In the following interview, Golden shines a light on his philosophy as a watch dealer, his own attraction to the vintage world, his love for the Porsche marque, and why, in his own words, a partnership between Menta and Walt Grace Vintage makes so much sense.
Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Adam Golden and I'm the owner of Menta Watches. Our specialty is vintage watches – particularly those made from the 1940s through the 1990s. We dabble in high end contemporary watches if they’re interesting, but our main focus is vintage Rolex, Audemars Piguet, Patek Philippe, Omega, vintage Heuer, and we also love lesser-known and niche brands like Nivada Grenchen, Universal Geneve, etc. All the good stuff that had character; if it’s a cool watch in the right condition and the right quality, we’ll sell it!
For me personally, the name on the dial doesn’t matter that much as long as it's a cool watch. Menta Watches started as an extension of me building my personal collection and getting involved that way, so I like to really curate the stuff that gets listed on our website and I generally don't sell watches that I wouldn't want to personally own myself. That approach has helped us become a highly respected dealer in the vintage world and we’re known for sourcing and selling some of the best pieces that you could possibly find. I’m constantly treasure hunting and we scour the globe for interesting and rare watches to make that happen.
Why does the partnership with Walt Grace make sense for Menta? How do vintage watches fit into the ecosystem here from your perspective?
The Walt Grace gallery is a space curated by people who I feel are truly like minded. The space and the atmosphere that they've created there is just second-to-none. I don't know of another store that exists that's quite the same as Walt Grace Vintage – that’s as special, really. What they've created there is really something different; the team there is very laid back and fully driven by a passion for the things they bring into the gallery – whether it's a car, a guitar, or now, a vintage watch. There’s a shared thing in being led by that passion first, where it isn’t necessarily about profits or status, or anything outside of an infatuation with the item itself.
Anyone can walk into Walt Grace Vintage and you don't need to know shit about guitars or cars to appreciate that what's hanging on the wall and parked in there is all really remarkable. And if you don't know something, there's somebody there who is more than happy to explain why it’s cool because they also really love that thing. They're not just trying to sell you something, they're genuinely excited and deeply knowledgeable about those things – they just also happen to be for sale. That passion-first philosophy goes hand-in-hand with vintage watches and watch collecting in general. From the minute I walked in, it felt obvious that a selection of vintage watches curated with the same passion-first approach they curate their guitars and cars with would be a perfect fit.
In my experience, it’s pretty easy for most enthusiasts to bridge the gap between one vintage item with a collector culture and another, and Walt Grace is essentially built around that concept, but can you explain the allure of vintage watches to the guitar or car enthusiast that might not have really considered a vintage watch before?
As a car guy, the feeling of driving a brand new Porsche 911 versus driving a 964 or something from the past is just totally different. Old things just evoke so many different emotions; they move you in a way most new things just can’t and take you to a bygone era when you use them. They put you in a completely different mindset and remind you that things used to be a little bit simpler. There’s a feeling of authenticity in vintage things that you just can’t get from new stuff; it was all closer to its original intended form. These things carry an emotional quality that you really have to experience firsthand.
With vintage, there's history, there's character, there's simplicity, and there’s beauty in that simplicity. Probably the most important thing is that with vintage watches, no two are truly alike. You can walk down the streets of South Beach or Wynwood or wherever you are in Miami and spot 10 people wearing a modern “ceramic” Rolex Submariner and all of those watches look exactly the same. Same thing applies to more modern watches; there isn’t anything wrong with those watches and they’re popular for a reason, but they're also all the same from example to example. With a vintage watch, the way it’s aged, the dial variant it had, the life it lived before coming into your ownership makes it something truly unique. It’s why they all look different. Even the same references from the same year – though they might look similar – all aged differently. Materials and finishing techniques have changed, so modern watches don’t age into unique pieces. They’ll never develop that kind of personality because they're built specifically not to really age or be differentiated between one another. They're really made to be walking advertisements for these brands now; you see somebody wearing a ceramic Daytona, you know exactly what that is from a mile away. You could be walking down the street and somebody could be wearing one of the rarest “Paul Newman” reference Daytonas in the world and most people would have no clue. It could be a $3 million watch and 99.9% of people would have no clue. There’s something really fun about that. It’s a wink and a nod kind of thing.
What are some points of accessibility for the person that's just getting into the vintage watch world, but may feel overwhelmed or like they missed the boat on getting into some of the classic references when they look at the market these days?
The beautiful thing about vintage is that you can get your feet wet with a really cool watch in literally any price category. Whether you’ve got a few hundred bucks to spend or a blank check, you can still get something cool, interesting, and unique that speaks to you because there are so many different brands and so much variety available. There's really no missing the boat in that sense. That said, it's like collecting anything and you just have to work your way up. Even if you just have to have a Rolex because that's what you've always wanted, there are so many different models that were made over so many different years and in so many iterations of this and that. I’ve also had clients buy smart and take their time and collect their way up into their grail watches. It still happens.
You're a serious car enthusiast and, like the rest of the Walt Grace team, particularly deep in the Porsche world. How did you get into those cars?
I've always been a car guy, but I eventually gravitated towards Porsche because I wanted a reliable track car that I could still use for the street. I didn't want a track-exclusive car, but I wanted one that would really do that thing well and no one does that dual purpose thing better than Porsche. I ended up buying a 991.1 GT3 RS, which I loved, but then – kind of like how I got into vintage watches – I just started going into the older stuff and the obsession snowballed.
What I love about vintage Porsche is that you can get behind the wheel of basically any vintage 911 and you already kind of know what you're getting yourself into; you know how they handle, you know how they drive, you know the quirks of the brand. 911s almost remind me of the Omega Speedmaster in the sense that they’ve evolved and changed over the years, but just enough to retain that same familiarity and DNA. I've owned so many different Porsches and like every time I drive a different one, I feel comfortable behind the wheel. And I think there's just a lot of beauty to those cars; the simplicity of it is huge. The other big draw for me to Porsche is that there’s such a great community around the brand. I don't think you really get that with any other brand; there's sects of people that are really into Ferrari or other brands, but with Porsche, the community is not only huge, but really welcoming. You can go literally anywhere with a Porsche and meet somebody who shares the same passion for it as you. I was driving my 912 around during Monterey Car Week this year and literally any time I passed another Porsche owner, it was always smiles and waves and a sense of community and it doesn't matter whether you’re driving a 996 or a Carrera GT or a 959, everybody in the Porsche world seems to respect and appreciates everybody else within it. It's really a community that I appreciate within the car world and a rare thing. I'm very much a visceral person and I don't have to really have to think too much about the why and the what of what I like, a lot of it is just an instinct or gut thing and the same really goes for watches. You have to trust your taste and go for what really makes you happy and not overthink it, and I think that applies across the board with all of these things, and I think that’s something the Walt Grace Vintage team really gets fundamentally.