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The 2009 Tampa GTG Photo Report>>>>>>>>

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Published on 11-07-2009 10:55 AM

Number of Views: 1272


By: John B. Holbrook, II


Ahhhh....the get together...or "GTG" as they've become known in the online community. An opportunity for watch enthusiasts to come out from behind their computers, break bread, and talk about their favorite subjects. GTG's have been going on for many years, but the best GTG's I've attended have been put together by Milos "Watchfan1" Klacko. By leveraging relationships with manufacturers and authorized dealers, and reaching out across the digital borders which separate the various online watch fora, he's able to put together on heckuva party. The first Watchfan1 GTG I attended was the 2007 New York City GTG, followed by the 2008 New York City GTG. Typically, Watchfan1 plans two GTG's a year, one in NYC, and the other in Tampa. This year was the first opportunity I had to fly down and attend the Tampa GTG - the 4th year in which the Tampa GTG has been held.

I got up at 3:30am on Saturday November 11th, and went to the Dayton International Airport to catch my flight - originally scheduled for a 6am departure, but I lucked into a 1st class upgrade on the direct to Tampa 7am flight, which actually got me in a half hour far, the trip was off to an awesome start!

WATCH TALK FORUMS Admin Team member and good buddy Scott D also flew from Atlanta to attend the Tampa GTG. Our flights arrived within an hour of each other, so we decided to meet nearby the Airport at St. Petersburg headquarters of Ball Watch USA, and the original Old Northeast Jewelers. I got a nice little tour of Ball Watch USA (it's mostly a distribution operation so there wasn't much to take photos of) and once Scott arrived, we had the opportunity to have a fascinating conversation with Jeff Hess (President of Ball Watch USA and owner of Old Northeast Jewelers) who had a great deal of wisdom and enthralling stories to pass along. Many thanks to Jeff for the time he spent with us - we're very proud to call Ball Watch USA a sponsor on WATCH TALK FORUMS.

After visiting with Jeff Hess, Scott and I grabbed some quick lunch, then headed over to Old Northeast Jewelers newest location in Tampa's swanky International Mall:

The store has only been open about six weeks, but is already reportedly going like gangbusters. It's a very well laid out, and surprisingly large space for a location in what is reportedly the highest grossing mall in the US:

Here's a photo of Scott D with one of the store's sales staff - it will be weeks before they get all the drool he left behind off those display cases.

ONEJ has become an authorized Breitling dealer in the last year, and had a strong selection on display here at the new store:

Of course, they have a fantastic selection of Ball watches:

Is that the new Ball Hydrocarbon Spacemaster I see??

Scott and I could have easily spent half a day playing with all of the fantastic watches in ONEJ - but soon we had to leave to make it to Mangroves Restaurant - the location of the Tampa GTG.

When we arrived, the party was already in full swing:

Here's a shot of Scott with our host for the evening - WATCH TALK FORUMS Patek Philippe moderator Milos "Watchfan1" Klacko:

As usual, Milos did a great job of lining up some great giveaways for the drawing which came later in the evening:

Here's a shot of WATCH TALK FORUMS Technical Consultant, "RickTheWatchmaker":

WATCH TALK FORUMS Vintage Rolex Forum Moderator Ed Delgado with WTF Member Matthew "tourbillon001" debating Ferrari vs. Lamborghini: :)

WATCH TALK FORUMS member and long time sponsor John Brozek, author of THE ROLEX REPORT and owner of QualityTyme also in attendance:

John brought a nice selection of watches from his inventory which were on display:

Ball Watch USA also was on hand and had a great display of some fantastic watches:

I was finally able to get some hands-on time with the new Ball Spacemaster:

Here's a shot of Jeff Hess working the crowd:

Jeff arranged for Ball Watch spokesman Brian Binne (United States Navy officer and one of the test pilots for SpaceShipOne, the experimental spaceplane developed by Scaled Composites) to be in attendance - it was a real thrill to get to meet this real American pioneer and hero. Here's a shot of Scott with Brian Binne:

And a shot of myself with Mr. Binne:

Eventually it came time for Milos to start the drawing for all the fabulous prizes which were assembled. I'm bitter....I didn't win squat.
Yellow Cuisine Font Gas Recipe

Here's a shot of Milos presenting the watchwinder donated by WATCH TALK FORUMS sponsor Orbita:

And the presentation of the Ball Fireman watch donated for the event by Ball Watch USA:

Having been up since 3:30am, I called it a night and headed back to the hotel after the official event was complete. But Scott, Milos, and the rest of the "night owls" kept the party going until the early hours of Sunday morning. If you'd like to see some additional photos which Milos posted, just click here.

Many thanks to Milos for putting on another fine watch enthusiast Get Together!! I hope to see everyone at the 2010 NYC GTG!!

**Photos & Text Copyright 2009 WATCH TALK FORUMS. No part of this report can be reproduced outside of WATCH TALK FORUMS without the expressed permission of John B. Holbrook, II.

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The 2009 Tampa GTG Photo Report>>>>>>>>
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