Keeping time

“That’s one thing I love [about my collection]. Each one of these has been on my wrist, and each one I can give you a million stories about.”

By Cheryl Allen
Posted 9/7/23

When Seattle native Glen Mayeno arrived in Wellman in 2011, his new lifestyle took a little getting used to.  Back home he didn’t stand out.  Here, he did.

“Am I going to …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

Keeping time

“That’s one thing I love [about my collection]. Each one of these has been on my wrist, and each one I can give you a million stories about.”


When Seattle native Glen Mayeno arrived in Wellman in 2011, his new lifestyle took a little getting used to.  Back home he didn’t stand out.  Here, he did.

“Am I going to get pulled over for being Asian?” he joked with his girlfriend.  “She said, ‘Yes.  Yes, you will.’”  And she was right.

He started a new job at Casey’s and didn’t wear a nametag, but customers remembered him, greeting him by name when they ran into him in other places.  He was perplexed at how people he didn’t know recognized him.

“Glen, you’re literally The Asian,” his girlfriend told him.

“It was really fascinating to see,” he says.  “You go from a huge metropolis of almost half a million people in Seattle, and you come here, and it’s night and day.”

It wouldn’t take long for his customers to get to know Mayeno on a deeper level.  Among other things, they would learn of his passion for watches and his unique approach to collecting them. 

This, too, is informed by his Japanese heritage, as we will soon learn.

“Rich Uncle” sparks an interest

As he is a GenX-er, it should come as no surprise that some of the first watches to catch Mayeno’s eye were the unique and brightly colored Swatch watches that launched in 1983.  But it was another 80’s icon that would truly capture his heart.

“My sister, for my birthday, bought a cheap-ass Monopoly watch.  It had the Monopoly board and the main guy as the hands, and I thought that was the coolest thing in the world,” Mayeno recalls.  “I was just amazed that they could actually come up with artwork for a watch like that.  I wore that for a while, but I just liked [it].  I wasn’t collecting.”

The collecting started about 15 years ago, not much before he moved to Wellman.  An Invicta ProDiver Automatic caught his eye, with its sapphire-blue face and bezel. 

Although most Invicta watches are less tastefully designed, Mayeno says, “the ProDiver was one in the watch community, when I started looking at watches, that was praised,” adding that “a lot of people like that style because it looks real Rolex-y.”

“That was my first introduction into automatic watches, and that changed everything,” he says.  “Once you go from quartz watches to automatic self-winding, there’s no turning back.”

Quartz watches rely on battery power, whereas automatic watches rely on movement and energy from the wearer in order to keep time.  Where a quartz watch may have greater accuracy, an automatic watch has smoother movement.  A quartz watch generally lasts 5 to 7 years; those with Eco-Drive batteries 20-25 years. A well-maintained automatic watch can endure for generations.

A sense of wonder

The mechanics of automatic watches fascinate Mayeno and are part of what draws him to collecting. 

“It’s fun to know that, inside, somebody had made bolts and springs and screws and put that together to make that work,” he says. 

“There’s usually just three hands, your second, minute, and hour hands,” he continues.  “You have to screw those down just tight enough, but not too tight to go around.  Each one is doing their own thing, and they each have their own tension.  It boggles my mind that they have that down to a science like that.”

Mayeno isn’t a fan of “unnecessary complications” on a watch: 24-hour markers, millisecond markers, and other dials that look cool but are practically useless.  However, an “open heart” softens his heart.

“You’ll have a dial that is cut out and you’ll see the mechanism moving,” he explains.  “Not practical by any means, but cool.”

That peek into the interior operations of the watch wins him over.

Making a statement

It’s a rare day when a true watch afficionado walks into the Wellman Casey’s, but “My friends in Seattle all pretty much collect watches,” Mayeno says.  “It’s kind of an Asian thing.”

While his friends back home maybe doctors sporting Rolex status symbols, Mayeno isn’t that kind of collector.  He owns some 25-30 watches, and he wears every one of them, but he won’t wear a different one every day of the week. 

“I’ll change it out every two to three days,” he says, not wanting to show off.  “I’m not about that.”

What he really enjoys is making a watch his own.  He almost always removes the original watch band, which are generally heavy metal links that don’t enhance the dial.  He’ll purchase multiple bands until he finds just the right one, with the perfect color and stitching to complement the dial.  “Everything has to work” before he’ll commit to a band.

Choosing the perfect band “makes it way more personal,” Mayeno says.  “You appreciate your watch way more, instead of buying a generic watch and keeping the band that came with it.  You’re wearing their product [if you do that].  If you can just jazz it up a little bit, it makes it personal to you.”

People often notice the watches Mayeno wears, something he thinks would occur less frequently if he didn’t adapt them to his own style.  He doesn’t flaunt his watches, but enjoys when other people notice them, because that means they stand out.

Making it meaningful

In a consumerist society like ours, it would be easy enough to compulsively stockpile watches with a credit card and the click of a mouse.  But Mayeno isn’t about that either.  The watches he purchases have to mean something to him. Much research and deliberation go into every one of his purchases.

He favors Japanese makers because that makes collecting “that much more meaningful” to him.  In his collection you’ll find watches from Seiko, Orient, and Citizen – all Japanese companies. 

He can’t imagine selling any of his watches because each of them is personal to him. 

“That’s the one thing I think about collecting anything: you bought it because there’s going to be a memory behind it,” he says.  “That’s one thing I love [about my collection].  Each one of these has been on my wrist, and each one I can give you a million stories about.”

One watch that holds a particularly special place in his heart is one he didn’t pay for: his late father’s Timex.

“I have my dad’s Timex, and it is beloved.  It is awesome,” Mayeno says.  “It is from the 60s and it started off a white dial and now it’s that beautiful brown because of aging on paper.  Is it fancy looking?  Not at all.  But it’s my dad’s.”

What tugs the heart

When we caught up with him, Mayeno hadn’t purchased a watch in two years.  He enjoys researching watches, being part of the online community, and appreciates the insight of expert Teddy Baldassarre especially.  He patrols Amazon for beautiful watches at bargain prices.  He’s looking for something special.

“It just has to tug at my heart,” he says.  “It has to go, wow, that is nice.”