This is an excerpt from an article by Nick Foulkes published today in the Financial Times. Thought you'd find it interesting. Hope I don't get anyone in trouble for posting this.
At the Plan Les Ouates Manufacture of Vacheron Constantin, there is some fascinating correspondence that sheds new light on the passions, horological rather than carnal, of Henry Graves Jr, one of the great American collectors of the early 20th century.
Penned during the summer and autumn of 1928, a sheaf of yellowing letters written by Graves to Vacheron have lain unseen in Vacheron's archives for eight decades.
While visiting Geneva in June of that year, Graves had heard about a tourbillon Chronometer, which had been awarded "First First Prize" in a timing competition at the Geneva Observatory. From then until the latter half of October, his voluminous correspondence with Vacheron Constantin shows that he was obsessed by this watch.
His letters display the impatience and anxiety of a infatuated teenager in love.
He agonises over the inscription on the inside of the case and questions the factory closely on the way the watch would be transported so that he could "be assured of the safe delivery to me of the watch without unnecessary jarring".
The letters show just how completely Graves was consumed with the acquisition of his new watch; and it is testimony to the power of fine watchmaking that 80 years later in an infinitely more crowded and busy world, the power of haute horlogerie to bewitch is just as potent as it was then.