NEW YORK • You might not expect heavy metal hard rocker Eric Singer to be a serious student of watches. But the drummer of Kiss, and before that Lita Ford, Black Sabbath and Alice Cooper, is extremely knowledgeable about the watches he collects.
And he has collected a lot, more than 200. He collects them as he travels all over the world, often while on tour. "I like the look of watches," he said. "I also collect guitars and I don't play, but I love the way they look."
He also loves the engineering: "There's this little machine on my wrist, made by hand, counting time with precision. It's fascinating."
A love of watches - and music - is in his blood. "My dad had some nice watches. I'd take them out and play with them, before I knew I shouldn't.
"He had a Jaeger-LeCoultre Day Date Triple Month Calendar Moonphase. It was so cool; I could see the man in the moon. He owned a Gallet mini chronograph, the world's smallest chronograph. I thought it was just a cool stopwatch."
His father, who was band leader for the Meyer Davis band and his own Johnny Singer Orchestra, gave him his first watch, a mechanical timepiece from Germany, when he was five or six years old.
"My mum gave me a mechanical Swiss Glycine watch for Christmas when I was 13 or 14. My grandma gave me a Timex LCD with crystal display when I graduated from high school." He did not buy his own watches until he became established in the music business.
"I arrived in L.A. in 1983... I wasn't making any money to buy watches. Any money I made went to my rent and car payments."
But when the first gigs starting rolling in, so did the watches. "I went to pawn shops and bought old chronographs cheap. People had no interest in mechanical watches then. You can't do that any more. Thanks to eBay and the Internet, there are no more rare finds," he said.
He is fond of dive watches. "They're big, durable and adaptable. They can be worn with jeans, a suit or to the beach. They go with any style or setting."
Singer has lots of watch-trawling tales. During the 2008 Kiss tour, he bought a Blancpain 50 Fathoms and a 500 Fathoms to celebrate the tour's end; last year, he bought another 50 Fathoms, but this time in 18-karat rose gold.
However, he said he is no match for some watch fans. "Alice Cooper is a big watch guy. We'd go out looking for them when we were on tour. He'd buy a watch every day."
Singer knows what he is doing when he buys. He says: "I never went to college. But I've lots of life experience and common sense. If I don't know something, I look it up.
"I've been to Basel a number of times and I keep my eyes and ears open, and I ask questions," he said, referring to Baselworld, arguably the most important watch trade show in the world which is held in the Swiss city.
"There's no such thing as a dumb question."
Asking questions and reading, he was able to find out about what may be his most unusual piece - a Patek Philippe gold pocketwatch from the 1920s inscribed: "From the Leper Colony of Molokai to Tandy MacKenzie." It seems MacKenzie was an opera singer and the pocket- watch was given to him by the Hawaiian compound in appreciation for his performance.
What is next on Singer's wish- list? "Somebody stole my Glycine" (the watch his mother gave him) "when I was playing on stage. I still look for one online."
NEW YORK TIMES