For as long as we've known him, Jeff Stein has been a fixture in the vintage Heuer community. The collector founded his site, OnTheDash, in 2003 and it quickly became required reading for anyone seeking to immerse themselves in the pre-TAG world of vintage Heuer. If you know Jeff, then you know that his site is very much a passion project. By day, he's a practicing attorney with a busy schedule and clients to service, but he's always found time to deepen the Heuer knowledge base with in-depth articles on OnTheDash. He's covered Heuer at auction for us, and he's penned in-depth articles too, including this great story on the origins of the Heuer Viceroy Autavia. He's even appeared as a guest on Talking Watches at https://www.replicacopys.com.
OnTheDash founder Jeff Stein
For years, Jeff's expressed a desire to modernize OnTheDash, and we're happy to report that that day has come. The new OnTheDash features a number of added and upgraded features, including a searchable database of Heuer references from 1935 to 1985. After getting a sneak peek at the site, we sat down with Jeff last week to ask him a few questions about the relaunch, from why it took so long to what he hopes to see the site become in the future.JOnathan BUes
When and how did OnTheDash start? Where did the name come from?Jeff Stein
OnTheDash went online in February 2003, and the purpose of the site was to cover the Heuer dashboard timers ?Master Time, Monte Carlo, etc. Back then, I had a lot of the dashboard timers, and very few chronographs, so I was hoping that someone else would create a site to cover the chronographs. I kept buying chronographs, and other collectors kept sending me photos of their watches, so the emphasis soon shifted to the chronographs.
But we stuck with the OnTheDash name ?it works for the dashboard timers and also evokes the speed associated with motorsports. Over the years, OTD has become a recognized name in the vintage fake watch world.Bues
Why did you decide it was time to update OnTheDash?Stein
The basic architecture of OnTheDash and the underlying code are over 15 years old. The primary purpose of the update is to get OnTheDash onto a modern, industry-standard platform, that includes blogging, photo display and database functions. With the new OnTheDash, blog postings are quick and easy; it's easy to add photos of the watches; and we can connect the replica watches and the words ?meaning that when we show a watch, we can add commentary and links to provide the reader with complete information. Also, from a design perspective, we wanted to refresh the site, to give it a more up-to-date look.
I'm a big fan of social media, and believe that sites like Instagram and Facebook are fantastic for collectors to share their photos and their passion for watches. People want to post quickly and easily, and the social platforms offer that. But the social sites are not useful for sharing in depth information about the replica watches or for providing comprehensive information. OnTheDash is a reference site that readers use every day to find comprehensive information about their watches. You can't get that on the social sites.ADVERTISEMENT Bues
Rumours of this update have been around for a long time. What took so long?Stein
Yes, we had the organizational meeting for the re-launch in August 2014, and we were on a four-to-six-month timeline for the project. Things were moving along well, when someone at our agency, Wondersauce, suggested creating a database to include all the information about the chronographs. That database covers around 570 models and executions, over the years 1935 through 1985, with 20 to 30 fields of data for each model. It took around 18 months to build this database, and then some additional time to develop and test the tools for searching the database.
The new OnTheDash features a searchable database of vintage Heuer models.Bues
How does a site like the new OnTheDash get built, by a single hobbyist, with no advertising or sponsorships?Stein
In terms of building the new site, we really had three sources of support, in three phases. TAG Heuer provided the initial funding back in 2014, to get the work on the site started. The agency Wondersauce contributed an enormous amount of work, all along the way, with the new site being a passion project. There are some serious fake watch guys at Wondersauce, and they have done amazing work for HODINKEE, Tudor and Eric Ku's 10 Past Ten site. In the third phase, I provided the funding that we required to complete the site.Bues
Where are readers coming from to visit OnTheDash?Stein
Last month, we had visitors from 168 countries. Around one-third of our traffic is from the United States, with the U.K, Germany, Italy and France filling out the top five slots. 3:00 PM, Eastern time, is the busiest time for the site ?the Europeans are settling in to look to catch up on the day's news; the East Coast folks are taking a mid-afternoon break from work; and the West Coast readers can check in during lunchtime.
In terms of the audience, we cover the full range. The newcomers are looking for basic information about the various models, and the experts might be trying to do some detailed research to authenticate a particular fake watch or to see what they can learn from a serial number. The new site is designed to be useful to anyone interested in the vintage Heuers, with an intuitive architecture and the full range of information.Bues
What are your hopes for OnTheDash over its next five to ten years?Stein
I'm not trying to sound corny about this, or overly dramatic, but I view the re-launch of OnTheDash, on a modern software platform, as the real beginning of presenting a world-class site. The new platform makes it much easier to collaborate with members of the vintage Heuer community, to add images and information, and to integrate content, within the site and through collaboration with other sites. So what we have now is only the beginning, and we can add a lot of information and images over the next five years.Bues
What about your discussion forum and the buy-sell-trade market?Stein
Now that we have re-launched OnTheDash, the next big project will be to move the forums onto a modern platform. With almost 200,000 messages posted, the forums represent a trove of valuable information that people use every day. We have to find a good platform, and then figure out how to migrate all these messages, user profiles, etc. But that should be a lot easier than re-launching OnTheDash.ADVERTISEMENT Bues
You've helped to uncover a lot of important historical information regarding vintage Heuer. What are a few of OnTheDash's scoops over the years?Stein
There are two "discoveries?that were real headline items in the fake watch world ?John Glenn wearing a Heuer stopwatch, on his mission in February 1962, and Barack Obama wearing a TAG Heuer fake watch every day, from the time he graduated law school in early 1990s through his first presidential campaign. People like the celebrity sightings, and John Glenn and Barack Obama are right at the top of the list, as well-recognized, global heroes.
Beyond the celebrities, we have developed a lot of interesting information about numerous vintage Heuer models. Finding original sources, to understand the origins and details of a particular model or execution, is very satisfying.Bues
How would you describe your own collecting habits and priorities?Stein
I buy replica watches to wear, so you won't see me paying a premium for the NOS watches, because they won't be NOS for long, in my collection. If I'm not wearing a fake watch any more, then I will sell it or trade it away. My interests tend to shift, as I am studying different types of replica watches or exploring different eras. So I'll be into the Heuers from the 1940s, then all of a sudden it might be pilots flyback chronographs or the Poor Man's brands. This keeps the collecting interesting.Bues
What's been the most enjoyable aspect of this hobby over the last 15 years?STein
Without a doubt, it's been spending time with the amazing members of the vintage fake watch collecting community. The camaraderie, sharing of information, and mutual support have been incredible.
In terms of OnTheDash, I have enjoyed the different aspects of operating the website. Whether it's doing some research, writing up a posting, taking some photos, or entering information in a database, this hobby seems different and interesting every day. I wake up early, to check the email messages and social media postings, and there are always exciting tasks ahead of me for the day. Many of these tasks will be easier with the new OnTheDash.Tag-heuer Heuer