At 32 years old, Florida Gulf Coast University alumnus Peter Glomb (‘14, business administration and management) is achieving success in a historic industry not found in a traditional university catalog – watchmaking.
The Clearwater, Florida, native lives and works in Hong Kong, on the other side of the world from where he grew up. After pursuing his watch curiosity from internet research to an elite training program to German manufacturers, he now has a workshop of his own.
“Watches are the only product in history that went from being a necessity to being a luxury,” Glomb says, explaining what drew him to this industry. “It’s an obsolete form of technology that we’re still investing all of our resources – time, money, energy – to develop.”
The mechanical watches Glomb repairs and authenticates for Hong Kong-based Wristcheck are less accurate than battery-powered watches by what he calls a “factor of hundreds.” In Glomb’s experience at least, people who treasure timepieces seem to care less about a watch’s ability to tell time accurately than its ability to tell a story.
“It wasn’t about the precision to most people – it was about the prestige, the craftsmanship, the history, the tradition. Today it’s probably thriving more than it ever has.”
In Hong Kong, watches are big business.
“Watches are rooted in the culture here,” Glomb says. “On the subway people have their arm up on the rail to hold themselves up and you’ll see a Richard Mille – a six-figure watch – and you’re on public transportation. In the States and Europe you’d never do that.”
He often finds himself at “meets” where watch collectors showcase their favorite pieces, sometimes strutting around with two or three watches on their wrists.
“They’re walking around with a couple hundred thousand U.S. dollars on their arms,” Glomb says. “It’s a flex.”
Although he says he dreamed of living abroad from a young age, Glomb never expected to get into watchmaking. He was drawn to mechanics and architecture, often assembling Gundam models and Lego kits. By the time he started studying at FGCU, Glomb was more into tennis than anything else.
And then came the internet rabbit hole. Glomb began eyeing watches online and learning more about how they work, how they’re made and their history until he realized the only way to learn more would be formal training.
He graduated from FGCU in December 2014 and started the two-year Watchmakers of Switzerland Training and Educational Program in Miami the following January. From there, Glomb moved to Germany and spent a few years working for two different watch manufacturers, including one now owned by Rolex.
Those experiences taught him a lot about the industry, including what he didn’t want for his career: to work for a large company.
“They’re such traditional historic companies that you’re just gonna be following what they’ve done for the last 100 years,” Glomb says. “I really wanted to be independent and have the freedom to manage my own workshop.”
In fall 2022, Glomb met Wristcheck’s founder and CEO, Austen Chu, and by January 2023, he was waking up in Hong Kong every day. Over the course of several months, he imported everything he needed from Switzerland to build his own workshop.
Despite cultural differences, Glomb feels at home in Hong Kong, where he estimates just three or four watchmakers at his skill level live.
“It’s all coming together since I got here,” he says.
“The working culture is motivating. Everyone around you is moving a million miles an hour. It’s motivating, but you have to love what you do.”
There are some reminders of South Florida though, even with a 12-hour time difference. “It’s very hot here in the summer. And there’s a really big tennis culture.”
When studying in Miami, he had the opportunity to work as a hitting partner at the Miami Open for two years in a row, with tennis stars he’d grown up watching, including Grand Slam winners Francesca Schiavone and Donald Young.
“That was probably a good way to part ways with tennis and move on to watchmaking,” Glomb says.
What’s next for this Eagle abroad? In July he dipped into the world of ASMR – the sound-focused videos that give listeners a tingling sensation on their scalp and neck. His video of a watch repair hit more than 1 million views, so now he’s added content creation to his role at work.
Apart from creating a commissioned watch for a Los Angeles client, he is also designing an entirely handmade watch. He plans to call the piece the Queen’s Road Tourbillon No. 1. Queen’s Road is a main street in Hong Kong; tourbillon is a complex watch mechanism named for the French word for “whirlwind.”
“I don’t own any watches, and I don’t wear watches,” Glomb says.
“Maybe I’ll wear this one that I’m making. It’s something I wanted to prove to myself I can make, and it’ll be the first handmade tourbillon watch in Hong Kong’s history.”
Our #eagles are flying high everywhere in Florida! These FGCU entrepreneurs flocked to Tampa for the 2023 CEO Global Conference and Pitch Competition last week. 🦅📈 #fgcu #entrepreneur #creativity #networking #wingsup #ceoglobal2023 pic.twitter.com/L7Vemz7t65— Florida Gulf Coast University (@fgcu) November 8, 2023