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High Time

Fashion News
Matt Jacobson, head of market development at Facebook, and avid watch collector.

By Laurie Brookins

As Matt Jacobson talks about his passion for vintage timepieces, I can hear the Oahu surf rolling in the background. “This is such a special place,” he says of his Hawaii vacation home, located near the island’s legendary Diamond Head. “When we bought a home on Oahu, we loved the idea that never again would we need to pack. Whenever the mood strikes us, everything we need is already here.”


Jacobson’s homes may be growing in number—in addition to Hawaii, there’s the Southern California residence he shares with his wife, the interior designer Kristopher Dukes, and their now grown twin daughters, as well as a vacation spot near Joshua Tree National Park. But if you talk with the Facebook head of market development for more than five minutes, it’s clear he’s lured by a love of the surf. “I’ve been a surfer since I was a kid,” he says. And he’s had a partner on the waves since college: “That’s when I got a Rolex Submariner; that watch has surfed with me all over the world.”


That Submariner indeed spawned another lifelong passion for the 55-year-old Jacobson: a love of vintage watches, with a decided focus on Rolex and Patek Philippe. Favoring those brands comes as no surprise when you consider Jacobson’s personal style. “It’s funny, I’m the only guy at Facebook who wears a coat and tie. I’m pretty traditional and prefer classic stuff,” he says. (Famously, Jacobson was employee No. 8 at Facebook, and other than CEO Mark Zuckerberg is the longest-tenured employee at the social-media behemoth.)


Among the most prized pieces in his collection: a Rolex “Paul Newman” Daytona, highly coveted among watch aficionados for its association with the iconic actor, who wore the stainless-steel chronograph with contrasting dial and subdials almost exclusively until his death in 2008. “Everything about that dial is just so beautiful,” Jacobson says. “It is so clean.”


His original Submariner and that Daytona are two of exactly 12 vintage timepieces in Jacobson’s collection—no more, no less, and that’s by design. “I have a one-in, one-out policy,” he explains, noting that his love of collecting—he also acquires vintage cars, currently Volkswagens and before that, Mercedes—is precisely the reason the strict rule is needed. “I have enough space for this amount of these things. So everything is filtered through an idea of: Is this thing better than the thing I have?”

Jacobson owned a different Daytona, but traded up when a Paul Newman became available, while a Patek Philippe Beta 21 was swapped out when he came across a Patek 2526 from 1955. “Someone said I should get it polished, but no way. I love patina on things. I’m always looking for unpolished examples, pieces that look like they’ve got some battle scars. They represent the life that watch lived.”


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