April 25, 202412 min Read

Jasper Lijfering – The King of Vintage

By Niclas Berglund

Late 1980s, Amsterdam.

The small doorbell chimes familiarly as the door opens to the quaint jewelry shop in central Amsterdam. Paul Lijfering greets the elderly lady who places a gold Chronographe Suisse on the counter in front of him. She asks if he can melt down the watch and pay her the value of the gold. It’s a completely new situation for Paul. However, he makes a quick decision that would mark the beginning of something big. What he didn’t know that day was that the family business, with the help of his son Jasper—who was not yet born at the time—would 30 years later become a leading player in vintage watch sales, renowned worldwide. We will revisit this scene later in our report.

March 10, 2024, Amsterdam.

The sound of rain hitting the canal waters is intense as I cross central Amsterdam, on my way to meet a person I’ve been following from a distance for many years. His way of talking about watches caught my interest early on. The first time I saw him was by chance on YouTube about ten years ago. He spoke Dutch, so I didn’t understand a word of what he said. But the watches he talked about were always the ones I wanted to know more about. He always started his videos with an enthusiastic “Wow!” Something that still sticks with me to this day. Jasper Lijfering has a knack for skillfully navigating our digital world and captivating his followers. He has made his mark in the world of watches as the foremost in his genre; Vintage. A word charged with meaning and for many, full of difficult decisions. But as Jasper chooses to see it – an amazing and exciting genre that carries a rich history and where each watch has its own unique appearance.

Jasper Lijfering at his company Amsterdam Vintage Watches’ chic new location in central Amsterdam.

– Today, some watches are made with ceramic bezels and chromalight. They are produced in millions of copies over many years. In 50 years, many of these watches will look the same as they do today. How exciting is that?

The question is rhetorical and Jasper continues without waiting for my response:

– If we take a Rolex Submariner ref. 5513, you will never be able to find two identical examples. Why? Because they have different stories, different owners who have used them in various ways, and thus they have aged differently. That makes each piece unique. It’s incredibly exciting – and for me, absolutely fantastic.

Jasper Lijfering outside the Amsterdam Vintage Watches premises, which now welcomes clients by appointment only.

Rolex Day-Date featuring a rare “Oxblood” Stella dial, Ref.18039

This watch showcases a rare variant of the Rolex President bracelet, adding a unique twist to the highly coveted Stella dial.

"Without my parents, Amsterdam Vintage Watches wouldn't exist"

Jasper tells me about how everything started for him while showing me around Amsterdam Vintage Watches exclusive premises in central Amsterdam. Jasper is now 31 years old, and it was about ten years ago that he took over his parents’ jewelry shop, a family business that his mother and father worked hard to build from scratch. It was difficult for his parents to adjust to Jasper’s new direction towards exclusively watches, and they were skeptical about whether this decision and marketing approach was well-considered. Even though selling vintage watches was something Jasper’s father, Paul, introduced to the family business.

– Without my parents, Amsterdam Vintage Watches (AVW) wouldn’t exist in the way it does today. They provided me with a fantastic foundation. I see AVW as a family business that I have developed and made my own. They are proud of where I have taken AVW, even if sometimes they find it hard to understand the value of the watches we handle and the way we operate.

In front of us on the table stands a portfolio filled with treasures from the past. Each watch carries a rich history and has played a significant role in the development of their respective models to this day. Jasper picks up a Rolex Triple Calendar Moonphase ref. 8171 “Padellone” from 1949, an incredible watch from Rolex that today achieves a value of around €200,000 on the secondary market. Ref. 8171 was only produced in small series for a few years, from 1949 to around 1952, making it an extremely rare and sought-after piece. It suddenly strikes me; this is a watch many never get to experience in real life, let alone own in their collection.

Jasper showcases an extremely rare Rolex Triple Calendar Moonphase ref. 8171 “Padellone”. AVW is renowned for trading exceptional vintage watches.

exclusivity and undivided attention

– A few years ago, we sold our physical store and now have an exclusive lounge where we receive our clients by appointment. Many might see this as a step back that we gave up our shop here in Amsterdam. But on the contrary, we can now take care of our clients better by offering them exclusivity and undivided attention before a purchase.

Jasper describes the mixed feelings about no longer having a store with open doors. He talks about the wonderful meetings, everything from the experienced collector to the first-time buyer, but also about the challenge of not being able to give enough time to everyone.

– Let me give you an example: If you come in to buy your first watch, then I want to give you as a client my full attention, all my time. I know this moment is something you will carry with you for the rest of your life. I love these moments. But then to have clients standing in line behind me who also want my attention became too difficult. That’s why we decided to switch to appointments and have an exclusive lounge where we can take care of our clients in peace and quiet.

I wonder if he believes someone who is buying their first watch will take the step to book an appointment with him.

– With this new concept, I’m aware that we’re also missing a certain customer segment. Today we have watches starting at 15,000 euros and up. But now I can stand for what I offer my clients, and it’s a lot about my time for you as a client. We’re all enthusiasts, and several of my bookings are also about meeting and talking about watches – sometimes it leads to a purchase, and sometimes not.

Jasper apologizes and asks if he’s talking too much. I assure him that this is exactly what I want him to do – it makes the report better.

– When it comes to watches, I can’t stop talking, says Jasper and laughs.

Rolex Daytona ‘Paul Newman’, a model highly sought after by collectors, valued at approximately €300,000.

For over a decade, Jasper Lijfering and his company, Amsterdam Vintage Watches, have offered first-class service and a selection of rare vintage watches.

The cream-white dial contrasts with the black sub-dials and the distinctive red ring, exemplifying Rolex’s iconic design.

the unique is also reflected in his surroundings

Amsterdam Vintage Watches is today a giant in the watch market, and their client base extends all over the world. Their new premises located in central Amsterdam tell a story of rich history with high ceilings and beautifully aged wooden floors. As we enter, we are greeted by a long meeting room with windows facing Amsterdam’s lively streets. Jasper leads me further, the next room has a bar with warm and comfortable lighting, the wooden floors creak homely as I walk up to the bar counter. I notice how the wall behind the bar is filled with drinks from fine breweries, including editions made exclusively for AVW. It strikes me how Jasper’s taste for the unique is also reflected in his surroundings. We take the stairs to the upstairs where there’s a guest room where AVW can offer their clients overnight stays. One floor down, there’s a lounge with mini-golf and poker games.

– When we decided to leave the shop, we wanted to offer our clients a complete experience. It feels fantastic that we’ve finally got all this in place, says Jasper.

A grey, overcast day in Amsterdam sets the backdrop as Bezl Magazine meets Jasper Lijfering, the founder of Amsterdam Vintage Watches.

well-known face on the streets of Amsterdam

It’s time for lunch, and we decide to go out and pick up food before continuing with the interview. Jasper moves effortlessly between the city’s beautiful canals. The bad weather, however, makes us quicken our steps a bit. Once at the lunch place, Jasper doesn’t need to look at the menu. He instead hands it to me and asks what I want. I quickly reply that I’ll have the same as him. As soon as Jasper orders, a young guy comes up and holds out his phone to him. He shows a watch from Cartier and wants Jasper’s advice and thoughts on this model. Jasper listens patiently and gives him his full attention. They are soon interrupted by the guy’s food being ready, and he thanks and hurries away.

– It happens to me several times a day, that watch enthusiasts ask me for advice. It’s fun, but this time I don’t know if I was of much help; he asked me about one of Cartier’s newer models.

It’s clear that Jasper Lijfering is a well-known face on the streets of Amsterdam, and I can see how those he meets appreciate getting the chance to talk to him. Jasper has a way of moving and meeting people that feels natural. His demeanor is both friendly and professional.

While waiting for his order, Jasper is approached by a young man seeking advice on a Cartier watch.

Jasper Lijfering strolls through central Amsterdam, a city as timeless and classic as his passion for vintage watches.

a watch with a red and blue bezel

Late 1980s, Amsterdam.

Paul Lijfering has just agreed with the elderly lady that instead of melting down the watch, he buys it from her. From that day on, Jasper’s father began to buy used watches to refurbish them and sell them on in the family’s store. By displaying the watches towards the street, customers started dropping in spontaneously to buy or sell watches to them.

Years pass, and the calendar flips over a decade. One day, when Jasper, now eleven years old, visits the family’s store, he notices his father wearing a watch with a distinctive red and blue bezel. Curious, he asks his father about it. Paul sits next to his son and explains the historically important reference from Rolex.

March 10, 2024, Amsterdam.

– It was a Rolex GMT Pepsi ref. 1675. Dad said it was called Pepsi, and by that point, he had my full attention. I loved the drink Pepsi; it was cool. I wanted to know more, says Jasper, smiling at the memory.

He continues:

– He explained that it was made to help pilots read the time in two different time zones simultaneously. I was completely engrossed. Pepsi and pilot in the same watch – my little boy eyes twinkled with dreams.

From an early age, Jasper’s father showed him how old jewelry and watches were something to be respected. They carry a rich history, a life that new jewelry and watches do not have. Paul Lijfering, who was also a goldsmith, demonstrated how the craftsmanship behind these older pieces was solid and often superior to what is made today.

But it would be another five years before Jasper could buy his first own watch, a Rolex Datejust ref. 1601, for which he had worked hard and saved up long to buy. One day, he found a perfect condition piece on eBay.

– I thought it was too good to be true, so I went for it. I eagerly awaited the arrival of the watch. Then the day came when the package arrived. I opened the box, and it was empty. I thought the mailman must have stolen the watch. But I emailed the seller anyway and told him what happened. A few days later, I got a reply, where the seller admitted that he had only sent the box without the watch. I had been tricked.

Jasper laughs as he recounts the incident that taught him a vital lesson. If something seems too good to be true, it probably is. But it also taught him to take responsibility for his actions and their consequences.

– I told my parents what had happened, and they then gave me an ultimatum. They bought the watch for me, but they said they would keep it in the bank until I had paid off the entire debt. I polished a lot of silver in our shop before it finally became mine, says Jasper, chuckling.

We are interrupted by Jasper’s security staff, who apologize and start speaking Dutch with Jasper. They exchange a few quick sentences, and Jasper looks at their phone.

– We are installing a new security system in our premises, and they need to update our cameras, Jasper explains.

The Paul Newman edition introduces a distinctive dial style to the renowned Rolex Daytona, initially marketed for race car drivers. This version was available in either white, silver or black dials.

A renowned expert in the field, Jasper’s keen eye for rare timepieces reflects in his every step, embodying the spirit of the past with every tick of the watch on his wrist.

Jasper’s critical eye and deep knowledge illuminate the intricate world of horology, making him a trusted figure among collectors and enthusiasts seeking to preserve the legacy of classic watches.

You don't wear the box and the certificate

I tell Jasper that I am not very knowledgeable about vintage watches myself. I often feel uncertain because there is so much to keep track of to avoid making mistakes.

– That’s true, you need to know certain things to avoid bad purchases. But that’s also where I come in as an expert in the field. If you turn to us at AVW, we take care of that part. There’s also a frenzy about everything being a “full set”, meaning the watch should come with its box and certificate. This is often a “dealbreaker”. I don’t understand this. You don’t wear the box and the certificate on your wrist, nor does it guarantee anything, it doesn’t tell you if a watch is in an unaltered condition or even genuine at all. Even more so, I would become suspicious if these accessories were still present after many decades, and for good reasons: fraudsters often use counterfeit or made-up documents to divert from the watch. The condition of the watch is what matters most – condition before everything.

In today’s watch market, the phenomenon of “full set” is seen as value-enhancing and is a must for many collectors to buy the watch. I ask Jasper if he can’t understand the concern about buying without accessories in case one might want to sell the watch later.

– You touch on something again that I see as problematic. Many people start thinking about selling the watch even before they’ve bought it. I understand that you want the money to remain in the watch, but sometimes we think too much. Watches aren’t something we need – they are something wonderful to have. Let’s enjoy them, says Jasper smiling.

Unlike the classic Rolex Daytona, the Paul Newman model is particularly notable for its dial’s contrasting outer rim, adding a striking visual difference.

There is one watch - one that money can't buy

Jasper Lijfering is a major profile on YouTube and Instagram, and over the years, I’ve seen him wear amazing watches, rare pieces that few get the chance to experience other than in pictures. I get curious about whether there is any watch out there that entices him, that makes him dream.

– There is one watch – one that money can’t buy – my dad’s Rolex GMT Pepsi ref. 1675. That was the watch that sparked my interest in vintage watches. Without that watch, I wouldn’t be where I am today. My dad still wears the watch every now and then. I hope it will be a long time, but one day when dad is no longer with us, I will wear that watch. It is my dream watch, says Jasper Lijfering ⏱

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🎥 See the trailer with the Jasper Lijfering.