September 11, 202313 min Read

PetitSamourai – Rediscovering the Magic of Watches

By Niclas Berglund

– To be on Instagram, you need to be content with what you have. You need to be confident in yourself; otherwise, Instagram can become unbearable. If you look at Instagram accounts and become envious because you feel you’ll never have what they have, perhaps you shouldn’t follow that account. I’m aware of this since I’ve felt that envy myself towards people I’ve followed over the years. When that happens, I stop following that person. Don’t let Instagram bring negative energy into your life; the platform isn’t real, says PetitSamourai.

PetitSamourai, as he calls himself on Instagram, gives an example. Sometimes he dashes down to the pool with one arm in his jacket just to get that perfect shot for his followers. Then he immediately runs back up to his computer to continue working.

– That’s the truth, take that to heart, says PetitSamourai with a laugh.

The noise level is high, and there’s the clatter of dishes in the small restaurant. It’s the lunch rush, and as the waitress hurries past our table, without waiting for her attention, he shouts our order across the tables. It’s unclear if the order was heard, but the French Instagrammer seems to have noticed something I missed and continues our conversation. PetitSamourai is a regular at this small restaurant in central Paris and knows the staff well. He chose our meeting spot carefully since he doesn’t want to walk around Paris with watches on his wrist after the watch robbery he experienced almost a year ago. But more on that shortly.

Today, as we meet, he makes an exception and is wearing one of his favorites, the F.P. Journe Élégante 48. He also brought along two of his new additions to the collection: Tudor’s new model, the Black Bay 54, and the Ming Burgundy.

PetitSamourai wears his F.P. Journe Élégante 48 when we meet in central Paris.

The Demand Is Massive

– I bought my Élégante 48 just before COVID-19 hit and paralyzed the world. Paris went into lockdown, so it was my only watch for a very long time since my other watches were in the bank. At that time, hardly anyone knew about the Élégante. Part of me thought I was crazy to buy a quartz watch for that amount of money. But that feeling disappeared the moment I actually bought it. What an incredible watch this is. One of my absolute favorites in my collection.

He had put himself in line to get the watch from F.P. Journe in Paris. They told him it would take two to three months before he would receive it. However, he spotted an ad on a French watch forum. A guy wanted to sell his Élégante 48. The ad had been up for over a month, and not a single person had shown interest in it before PetitSamourai reached out.

– He couldn’t sell it, so I even managed to negotiate the price down below the purchase price. That was then; today, the demand is massive. By the way, I found out today when I visited the F.P. Journe store that rumors suggest they will discontinue this model with the white dial and only keep the one with the black dial. We’ll soon see if that’s true, says PetitSamourai.

The F.P. Journe Élégante 48 is a watch made of titanium. The watch weighs 72gr in total.

The watch wears slim with a profile of only 7.9 mm.

In a park in central Paris, PetitSamourai photographs his Élégante 48. 

"My Life Isn't Just About Cool Watches By The Pool"

PetitSamourai is a prominent influencer in the watch world. His over twelve thousand followers on Instagram can daily indulge in his colorful and stylish photos of his watch collection.

– You could probably say that I’ve been writing about watches for a long time. Before Instagram existed, I was very active on the French watch forums called Forum A Montres and Montres Mécaniques. There, I wrote reviews of various models. When Instagram came along, I slowly moved towards that platform. With Instagram, I suddenly had a platform that reached beyond France, says PetitSamourai.

He continues:

– For me, it’s about so much more than just the watches. I think about the preparations for my photos, to make my pictures attractive and appealing to my followers. There’s a thought process behind everything. From the shoes to the shirt – even the background. That’s essential if you want the photo to be good. I shoot everything with my phone, then I edit the pictures directly on the phone before I post on Instagram, explains PetitSamourai.

Today, the flow of information is immense, we’re accustomed to always being updated with the latest. PetitSamourai speaks about how the phone now functions as a computer you always carry with you, and how this accessibility has advantages but also drawbacks.

– To start with, I want to say that I also have bad days. My life isn’t just about cool watches by the pool with a glass of rosé in hand. I have days when I work very hard. I also have days when I lay on the sofa feeling worthless – who doesn’t?

The question is rhetorical, and he continues without waiting for my answer.

– Use Instagram to be inspired and to dream. But always follow your heart, not a trend. My advice to those who want to collect watches is to never buy watches on the secondary market that are more expensive than the retail price and are still in production. This has been my philosophy for a long time, and this rule has saved me a lot of money over the years, says PetitSamourai.

He talks about how many in his vicinity see him as the guy with a lot of luck in the watch market. PetitSamourai has managed to snag several significant models before the hype kicked in: Audemars Piguet 15202, Patek Philippe 5711 to name a few.

– When I was about to turn 40, I wanted to treat myself by buying a Patek Philippe Nautilus ref: 5711. This was a time when no one wanted that watch. I went to Patek Philippe in Paris who then had the 5711 in stock. But my birthday was still a few months away, so I wanted to wait to buy it until I had turned 40. A few weeks later, the salesperson called and said they had another Patek Philippe Nautilus ref: 5711 in. I said it was too early and declined for the second time, says PetitSamourai, laughing at the memory.

He goes on:

– When the salesperson called me for the third time, I thought I should go there so they understand I’m still interested. When I got there and explained that I didn’t want to buy it because I hadn’t turned 40 yet, the salesperson put a post-it note on the watch and wrote “Sold to PetitSamourai” then he said, “Come back when you turn 40, and the watch is yours.” I’ve had a lot of luck over the years, but that luck has come from following my heart, says PetitSamourai.

PetitSamourai takes me to a park in Paris where he’s going to take photos for Instagram.

The Instagram profile composes the next post for his Instagram account.

In a park in central Paris, PetitSamourai photographs his Élégante 48. 

"Paris Is Poisoned By Watch Thieves"

Suddenly, our food arrives, and I’m taken aback. It seems the order PetitSamourai shouted out twenty minutes earlier got through. The owner herself serves us. They exchange cheek kisses, and he introduces me as a journalist writing about watches. She greets courteously and then inquires about the watch PetitSamourai is wearing today. He displays his wrist. She’s familiar with his passion for watches and compliments his Élégante 48.

– We have a group of watch collectors here in France who used to gather at this restaurant. We’d bring several watches from our collection, laying them out on the table before us. Sometimes there were up to three Nautilus models on display, and people passing by would stop to ask questions – some even tried them on occasionally. Nowadays, it’s impossible. We can’t meet outside anymore; it’s heartbreaking. Instead, we have private dinners, and even then, some only bring a single watch – which they wear on their wrist. Paris is poisoned by watch thieves, a harsh reality I bitterly encountered one day a year ago.

PetitSamourai was dining outside at a restaurant with some of his friends, who, like him, are watch enthusiasts. They met to discuss watches and share personal stories. The watch PetitSamourai wore that day was special: a Daytona Zenith. A rare piece in the sense that it was bought from the original owner, who had bought the watch in Paris in the 90s. It was a full set, meaning everything from the purchase date was included: the box, papers, manuals, and even the original receipt. To buy this watch, he had to sell several others from his collection.

– I was followed by two men as I walked home after dining out. They ambushed me right outside my Paris residence. Everything happened so fast, and they managed to steal my Daytona, says PetitSamourai.

He continues: 

– For a while after the assault, I contemplated selling all my watches. The risks no longer felt worth it. I lost the joy in collecting, and the watches became a reminder of that incident.

We eat briefly in silence, and I ask how one moves on after such a traumatic experience.

– Now, I have some perspective. I wasn’t injured, and I’m still healthy. That’s the most important thing. After the assault, I had many thoughts about my collection, but after some time, I decided not to make any moves. Not to sell the watches or buy new once.

PetitSamourai was attacked outside his home in central Paris a year ago. He was robbed of his Rolex Daytona.

"I Was In The Wrong Place At The Wrong Time"

After the assault, PetitSamourai contacted the police who, through surveillance cameras in Paris, were able to review the incident. They could see how the men spotted PetitSamourai and his friends at the restaurant, and then planned to rob him.

– I immediately thought they had located me through my Instagram. But that wasn’t the case. I saw on the surveillance footage how the men happened to notice my watch by chance. I was in the wrong place at the wrong time, says PetitSamourai.

A year after the attack, PetitSamourai has started to find his joy in watches again. They are no longer something he associates with negativity. But that summer day incident led him to “start over,” as he puts it.

PetitSamourai straps on one of his new watches.

Ming Burgundy.

PetitSamourai rocks his Travis Scott Nike shoes along with his Ming Burgundy.

Ming Burgundy is a limited edition. The watch measures 38mm.

"Discovering New Watches"

– For many years, I only looked at models in the high-end segment. Models like Nautilus, Royal Oak, and Daytona, to name a few examples. But after the assault, I started looking at watches in the lower price range. Paradoxically, this has done me good. It made me discover models I hadn’t considered before. Tudor and Ming are two brands that have helped me rediscover the joy of collecting watches, says PetitSamourai.

Today, he doesn’t wear his watches in Paris. The only place where PetitSamourai feels comfortable wearing his watches is on vacation in Greece. But even there, he is very cautious about how he showcases them.

– I’m meticulous about how I post on Instagram now. I don’t think my followers notice much of a difference, but I now carry a sense of safety that I didn’t have before the assault. I never show where I am, and if I do, I never post it while I’m still at that location, says PetitSamourai.

We’ve finished our lunch and head out onto the bustling streets of Paris. We accompany each other to his car parked a short distance away. I follow him with my camera and am struck by how easy it is to photograph him. I hardly give him any instructions. He moves with ease in front of the camera.

– I know what you’re looking for, PetitSamourai laughs.

Black Bay 54 is one of Tudor’s new popular models.

PetitSamourai photographs all his watches for Instagram using his phone.

The Tudor Black Bay 54 measures 37mm in case diameter and has a profile of 11.5mm.

The Name PetitSamourai

PetitSamourai takes me to a nearby park to photograph his Tudor and Ming watches. Along the way, I ask if he’s completely given up on the higher-end timepieces. The response comes quickly.

– One day, I’ll buy a new Daytona. It’ll be exactly like the one I lost. I believe it’s the only way for me to truly get over the loss of that watch they robbed me of. I love my Tudor BB54 and my Ming Burgundy, but these are watches that are readily available. With a little patience, you can acquire them within a few months. It’s fun but also a bit boring. Part of the allure of collecting for me is hunting down that elusive piece. Having a watch few others possess. It’s a wonderful feeling. So, I know in the future I’ll try to replace my Daytona. But it’s also a matter of funds. It’ll take time, says PetitSamourai with a relaxed smile.

PetitSamourai has been collecting watches for a long time, and I see how he’s experienced it all. He is a solid individual who rests in the knowledge that watches are a pleasure to own – they’re not a necessity. Watches come and go.

Lastly, I ask about his choice of Instagram name. “Petitsamourai” doesn’t make me think of watches.

– PetitSamourai is a nickname from my wife. She’s always call me ‘Mon Petit Samourai’. I’m on the shorter side – but why she added ‘samourai’, I don’t know, says PetitSamourai with a laugh ⏱

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🎥 Watch the meet-up with PetitSamourai in Paris.