Keeping time!

In my post below about VC awards, and where we all thanks Alex for his fantastic enthusiasm,

I write :

" But on my wrist I have a watch from 1948, the year I was born,

which I have worn the whole day.

All my art deco watches, 1910-1939,

except one is working, and has so done since I bought them.

Was things better in the olden times?


sorry to say. "

I have now had this one, my latest buy, from 1931, going for a week,

and it has not gained or lost one single minuteKeeping time!

Keeping time!

It's nearly, knock on wood, not so you dare writing it.

Still a watch with probably two owners before, Otto Ahren and his son Gerd, and even more possible,

lying in the great collection for years without beeing used, you just wind it up and it works perfect Keeping time!

Not so amazing you love Vacheron&Constantin at it best Keeping time!



the good ol' times :-) we sometimes tend to think things were better
01/17/2008 - 23:33

before because we take extra special care of our vintage watches, wear them when the weather is right, take them off before doing anything even remotely dangerous, whereas our modern watches are on our wrists day in day out and take a beating and when they stop functionning we say "ah it was better before, this doesn't happen to my 60 year + watch".

I'm deliberately pulling your leg Doc and being provocative but its worth the question: were watches "better" before? Better conceived and made?

Re: the good ol' times :-) we sometimes tend to think things were better
01/18/2008 - 17:10

Very interesting topic raised by Doc, and some good counter points raised by Alex.  I have to agree with Alex, that I don't wear modern VCs to do some of the things that I have done with my Rolex Explorer 2 or Daytona. 

Another, thought that crossed my mind was even of some vintage pieces are beautiful and kept great time how many of them have survived over the years?  Can we actually say that a watch made 60 years ago was actually better made than a watch of today if only 2 or 3 examples exist of a particular model (that is of course assuming the watches of the past were standard production models and not rare editions made in extremely small batches).  Obviously, we do not know why some watches do not survive, lost, catastrophic damage, etc.  Still it would be interesting to know what percentage of vintage VC's say pre 1980 that have survived and are still in use. 

Still, I do think some of the vintage designs are far more exciting that modern designs (and that goes for other brands also).  Perhaps thats why I like the Historique collection models.

Best regards,


Doc, Alex might be right... you're a bit unfair...
01/18/2008 - 00:30

...after all, isn't your DTR the watch you wear when chopping wood with a chainsaw? (i didn't forget that one... How could I?)

Seriously, I am very happy to hear that your nicest VC (IMO) is keeping time perfectly. However, considering all the technical advancements made recently and the prices we have to pay for watches these days, I would be very disappointed to hear that quality has gone down...

By the way, Doc, are you still in love with the Malte Perpetual Calendar Retrograde Openface?

Interesting question. Things may not have been better but more
01/18/2008 - 11:52

difficult. Constructing a movement was a game of toil, tests and experience no CAD machines to chew up the work and hand work was truly done by hand.

The old vs the New. The final answer!
01/23/2008 - 18:02

Doc and all, I fully agree and disagree with you! When I see the advances brought on by computers in my engineering field of work (and I believe the same applies to every other kind of job), and I see the work my peers did 20-30 years ago, I am amazed by the loss of the FUNDAMENTALS of what I do. Their understanding of the basic principles was far more advanced than what it is now. Computers have brought with them the concept of "Nintendo Engineers" where pushing a few buttons is all that is required to do a decent job. Is the job better done? I am doing things now my peers only dreamed about. I can do in a week what it took them months to do. Do I give a crap about most of what I do? No. If I screw-up the first time or something was amiss (remember the fundamentals?) I can just do it again, no problem. Same in watch-making. Bad batch? No problem, let's do another one. Can you go sky diving, chop wood with a chainsaw, dance to frenetic rythms with a modern watch? Yes. With an older one? No. The concept of "things were better made in the old days" is at least as old as the concept of "olden days" itself. Tradition this, tradition that, etc... from beer and wine to suits and watches and life in the woods. In the olden days, things tended to be hand made a lot more, and first and foremost, things were made to last. These were days where people bought something well made to last their lifetime and beyond, from hand-tailored suits made of the best materials, to quadruple hand-stitched leather shoes made from the back rump of lambs from Eastern Ireland aged between 1.5 and 2 years old, to cars made to last a lifetime, etc... When something was made to last, it did (cathedrals?). People making things by hand (lets call them artisans) had to learn for many years their trade and applied it with dedication and pride (not for the side-of-the-street sausage buns or cat burgers). The final product was something amazing that was meant to be worth of money you spent on it. So, were things better made in the old days? Yes, without a doubt. If you want a hand-made watch, look no further than early 1960s I would say. Anything post 1985 is definitely not hand made. People actually cared about the watch they sold you, from the finishing to the workings of watch. How long did it take a watchmaker to make a simple watch? Longer than a machine to laser-etch 50 complete movements to be chain assembled. Watches more hand-made still have a touch of the magical and "je ne sais quoi". So, are things better made today than they were? Yes, without a doubt. The technology used in materials engineering, piece design, and manufacture are without a doubt better than ever. A watch made today would be the envy of any older watchmaker including Breguet himself. Are watches nowadays made to last? I don't think so. Watch companies want you to have a watch turn-around to make you dizzy and increase thier profits. If you bought a watch to last forever, they wouldn't be millionaires. Look at the VC mini-movie ("secrets" I think) where the guy goes to VC with his father's old watch and basicalyl leaves with a modern version of it and leaves his father's watch behind!!! What happened to tradition, and bla bla bla? Don't forget that "traditional" beer made as they used to 700 years ago would probably taste like the worse crap ever made.

Good cigars can still only be hand-made. That is a last bastion of the good old stuff. It takes over 5 years to be able to roll the best cigars... How long did it take watch makers in the old days to be abel to make a watch? How long does it take them nowadays?

Where do I stand? I stand with you Doc, but things are better made now, just not made to last.

very interesting remarks! thanks Nico (nt)
01/23/2008 - 18:18