Talking Rare Cars And Even Rarer Watches With Putnam Leasing CEO Steve Posner
The worlds of cars and watches intersect often. And when you’re in the business of leasing rare and exotic cars, rare and exotic watches aren’t too far behind.
Rarely do two worlds collide as often and as kindly as watches and cars. Aside from the obvious practicality of clocks in cars or the history chronographs on the racetrack, enthusiasts passionate about automobiles seem to be naturally drawn to timepieces as well. Whether it’s an appreciation for the mechanical engineering or the love of good design, it is undeniable that the two industries are kindred spirits. Case in point: Steve Posner, CEO of Putnam Leasing.
Steve Posner started out in the car industry working for luxury car dealerships and leasing companies, delivering cars to customers. In the decades since, he’s become a mainstay in the exotic and vintage car leasing business at Miller Motorcars and Putnam Leasing. It’s an area of expertise that probably has its roots in Posner’s having owned and sold hundreds of cars over the years. It’s also enabled him to collect more than a few very extraordinary timepieces.
He admittedly gravitates towards cars from the ‘70s since he started in the business around then. Posner prefers “quirky and interesting cars,” as he puts it but admitted that he would buy cars “just because they look good.” It quickly became obvious that’s how he curates his watch collection as well. “Quirky” is one way to put it, but “eclectic” might be more accurate.
I sat down with Posner in the lounge of the Miller Motorcars Pagani dealership in Greenwich, Connecticut, to chat about his favorite pieces in both of his collections.
Mercedes 300TD Wagon
“I’ve owned Porsches, Ferraris, Bentleys, some 20 Mercedes SLs over the years, but my favorite car that I’ve ever owned, and I still do, is my vintage Mercedes 300TD Wagon. My kids hate it because of the way it sounds, but I told them if I can figure out a way to fit it with airbags, it’s going to be the car they learn to drive with.
“It’s easily my top car. Mine is super clean. Like, really, really mint. You could pull up to the fanciest restaurant in a Rolls-Royce or a Ferrari, but when I pull up in my Mercedes wagon, everybody looks and showers it with compliments.”
1992 Porsche RS America Roadster
“I owned a 1992 Porsche RS America Roadster before the market went nuts. I think I paid $40,000 for it. It was grey with a light grey interior and only had 12,000 miles on it. I loved it, but I sold it because I got tired of it, but it’s on that list of cars I wish I still had.”
Ferrari 246 Dino
“I owned a Dino for a very short period of time. Great car, and, as small as it is, it’s very comfortable inside. It wasn’t the fastest Ferrari you can drive, but it sure sounded like it.”
“When I turned 40, I bought a Bentley Mulsanne as a gift to myself. It was probably the most reliable car I ever owned, although I didn’t own it very long. It was maybe a $30,000-$40,000 car back then. When I was ready to get rid of it, I leased it to my stockbroker, and then when she was looking for a new car, she found someone for me to lease it to. So money-wise, it was a pretty good car!”
1997 Rolex “Zenith” Daytona (Ref. 16520)
“The watch I always identified with as a young man in the automobile business was Rolex. If you bought a Rolex, you were successful. All my bosses wore Rolexes. I wish I still had some watches I sold over the years. I wish I still had watches I sold only a couple of years ago since the market is more insane right now than the automobile business!
“I picked this one up because it has an incredibly interesting background. I know who the driver is who won it. I’m into racing and motorsport.”
1977 Rolex GMT “Blueberry” (Ref. 1675)
“The Blueberry wasn’t available for sale in the United States or at any jewelry store, exception for in the Middle East. As the story goes, this watch was made only for the Italian Army and the Middle Eastern market. This particular watch had a box and papers, an original bill of sale, and it was sold in Saudi Arabia.
“What drew me to this watch was the intrigue. Is it real, or is it fake? Apparently, with the Blueberry, there are more fakes than real examples circulating on the market. I have another one that I just sent to Rolex to check the authenticity, but it takes a year, so I’m still waiting to hear back.”
1966 Rolex Cosmograph Pre-Daytona (Ref. 6238)
“I picked this one up because I love the design of the face and that they only made it for about a year – or a year and a half – before they came out with the first official Daytona with ‘Daytona’ branding.
“The dealer that I work with, out in California, sent me a picture of it before he put it on the site because he knows I like pretty obscure stuff. And just to show the volatility of the watch, the asking price has gone up 20% in the last two months.”
Patek Philippe Flyback Chronograph with Annual Calendar (ref. 5960P)
“I just happen to really love this watch. It’s as simple as that sometimes. I just really, really like the way it looks.”
Mid-1980s Rolex Day-Date President (Ref. 18239)
“The dealer I got the Pre-Daytona from, out in California, had this on Instagram, and as soon as I saw it, I called him and had him send it to me right away. It’s white gold, with a walnut face and silver markers, which Rolex did not make a lot of. It made a lot of yellow gold watches with the walnut, but this combination is very rare.”
(Photography by Watchonista)