I often joke about the idea of a Watch Illuminati, a cabal of super-collectors who are pulling the marionette strings of the industry. It’s not real—lol obviously—but the closest we may come to that reality is Rolliefest, the largest US-based collectors meetup. The gathering is so top secret attendees aren’t allowed to post scenes from it on social media during the multiple events throughout the weekend for safety reasons. The featured event of Rolliefest, which takes place on Sunday afternoon, is disguised as a “real estate conference” on signage directing guests to the gathering inside 30 Rockefeller Center’s Rainbow Room.
Rolliefest has been on pause since 2019 because of the pandemic. The event came back in full force this year, convening 175 collectors from 17 different countries. Geoff Hess, Sotheby’s recently appointed head of watches for the Americas, is the main organizer. The accumulation of watches is unparalleled. Collectors throw their priceless pieces down on the table, bringing together watches you’d be lucky to find on Instagram, let alone IRL. GQ sent a photographer inside the event to capture some of the very best watches.