Billie Mae joins Dr. Todd Vladyka with his timepiece collection.
Dr. Todd Vladyka’s watch collection began at the tender age of seven with a Timex Snoopy Red Baron watch. His second, a classic Mickey Mouse, caught his eye a couple of years later during a family trip to Disney World. “That was a pretty interesting way to mark a trip,” recalls Vladyka. “Suddenly I am a 9-year-old with a watch wardrobe.”
As Vladyka matured, so did his tastes: He was a teenager when he spotted a vintage Bulova at a flea market. “I found this Bulova and took it to be repaired. I hunted around and found the perfect band for it. I was obsessed with [getting] it right.”
A family physician and former fellow of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia, Vladyka says that the desire to “get it right” has been a driving force in his life, as he grew into a man with a love of aesthetics and, equally important, curiosity about what is going on under the skin. “I was a biology major in college and I remember looking at cellular structures under a microscope and seeing how a cell and all its individual components work together,” he shares. “There is something innate in how functionality dictates the form of a watch. I find that to be very comparable to how DNA directs the functionality of proteins. It is an interesting metaphor.”
Vladyka has owned many timepieces over the years, including an original Uhrenmanufaktur Heuer, as well as a Tag Heuer, Cartier Pasha, Panerai PAM 61, Glashütte Senator Panorama, 1965 Omega Speedmaster, and a particular prize, his father’s Lancaster, Pennsylvania–made Hamilton. “It was given to my father [by my mother] in 1966. She had it inscribed. Occasionally I put it on, but it is such a small watch that it feels a little odd. I love it [though] because of the meaning it had for my parents.”
Vladyka’s fascination with the mechanical and the organic has allowed him to dream of a watch collection that would meld the two. “I thought it might be cool to have watches that speak to extreme physical human achievements, such as the Rolex Explorer that went with [Sir Edmund] Hillary to the top of Everest and the Zenith watches worn by astronauts as they’ve jumped out of the space capsule,” says Vladyka with excitement, but then the practical man of science returns. “As interesting as that is to me, it can’t be the overall principal, so instead I stick to timepieces that are a bit more practical, but also exceptional looking objects.”