Vintage watch snobbery

That’s a very nice watch you are wearing young man”. I lift my eyes from the newspaper I was reading to turn to the voice which had hailed me. On the terrasse of the café in a little provencal village off the French Riviera where under a gentle Spring sun I was drinking my morning espresso; I saw a gentleman in his 60s elegantly attired, enthusiastic about the idea of – finally- meeting a vintage watch fan. We started talking about the cow horn lugs ref 6087 chronograph from the 50s strapped on my wrist. 

Vintage watch snobbery

Good morning papa” I heard a few minutes later. I turned to see to whom this gentle voice belonged and was thunderstruck! Was standing before my eyes the most perfect of God’s creatures, a wonderful mix of Audrey Hepburn and Penelope Cruz. I think my heart skipped a beat and I heard the chimes of all the minute repeaters Vacheron Constantin had ever created! 

Vintage watch snobbery

6 months later we were married!!!!!

This extraordinary story reflects the marvellous world of vintage watches: finding the rare bird, linking it to a story and never letting it go.

Being passionate about mechanical horology at an era where time is available on almost all electronic appliances can seem anachronistic...but preferring the subdued and somewhat outmoded charm of watches made at a time where running water was a luxury can be considered by some as pure provocation.

One word sums the attraction to vintage: snobbery!

I’m not talking of the vain ostentatious type of snobbery which we see much too often but the personal search of an impassioned collector looking for authenticity, confidentiality and aesthetics.

Let me explain: We live a strange period where the aficionado doesn’t know where to turn his head… and wallet. We are assaulted by adds praising the merits of marvellous time pieces made by Swiss virgins under the moonlight in the Jura mountains…and of course this craftsmanship made “like before” is offered at a price which would make your Diamond Amex card turn green!

So instead of buying a contemporary watch made “like before” why shouldn’t our WIS friend turn to a watch of yesteryear hand made in very limited numbers bearing the patina of time? A watch with a story to tell.

Is there anything more exciting than wearing a vintage watch knowing that no one will be wearing the same watch as you to the black tie party you are attending? Isn’t it even more thrilling when with a distant air you explain to the beautiful creature sitting next to you that you’re wearing a VC Chronometre Royal from the 50s? In one sentence you would have shown your taste for the finer things in life any your anti conformity…that’s class. 

Vintage watch snobbery

Later during the evening, when conversing with the same delicious creature you can explain to her that you collect vintage pieces and that you have auctioned part of your collection at Christie’s to finance, as a patron, the reconstruction of Venice’s Fenice. After that, chances are that the individual wearing that massive glittering watch and with whom she had come to the party with will end up going home alone!

Vintage snobbery as you would have understood does not only denote an attraction for beautiful things in general (an beautiful women in particular) but also a secret and poetical approach of a free thinker immune to marketing discourses and imposed trends, someone who refuses to be part of the system. If Sid Vicious were still amongst us, he would certainly be an amateur of vintage watches. 

Vintage watch snobbery

The vintage aficionado is in a way the ultimate rebel…just be sure you don’t call him a snob!
hilarious! Bravo :-) NT
07/21/2009 - 13:18
I enjoyed it Alex.....................
07/21/2009 - 13:39
as long as you don't suggest to her that she's a vintage piece! Best regards, Tom
Great post Alex, thanks for sharing!
07/21/2009 - 14:44
Your a very lucky gentleman.  It also sounds like you get along with your father-in-law very well, which is a really terrific bonus after already capturing the attention of your beautiful wife. BR, Dan
Re: Vintage watch snobbery
07/21/2009 - 18:07
A very enjoyable article and some lovely photos too. I'm still waiting to meet someone who can recognize any of my watches apart from the people here and at watch gatherings. I think its pretty rare. Usually I meet people who think Rolex is the ne plus ultra of watches or may recognize the name Patek. I guess I have to travel in your circles, mon ami Regards, Joseph
Vintage watch pornography
07/21/2009 - 20:18
Wonderful expression of the vintage watch aficianado...thanks for putting to words the thoughts of many of us.  However...your story reminded me of the letters written to certain, ahem, "adult" magazines that I used to read as a teenager, and those vintage V&C pictures are just as tasty as the fold-outs ! Now we have a proud new appellation instead of WIS: VWS for Vintage Watch Snob .
A tes amours! This is a splendid and remarkable piece within a
07/22/2009 - 06:01
piece, like a great watch. But you already knew that. Thank you Sir, just marvelous. Best to all, Tim
Gentlemen, to tell you the truth that's not the way I
07/22/2009 - 11:45
met my wife and unfortunately I don't own a ref 6087...or a repeater
Are you taking a job with The Times then or what??? ;-)
07/22/2009 - 12:54
Great read, Alex - thanks!
Or maybe a ghost writer for Harlequin Romance? :-)
07/23/2009 - 03:34
Alex, you do have a gift for writing.  For the sake of the Lounge, let's hope you use this talent for the good of all WISdom, not evil. BR, Dan
A very nice read, some wonderful thoughts about vintage collecting but
07/22/2009 - 17:44
Where do we separate truth from fiction?  You really had us going about how you met your wife.  LOL!  I remember a post you made several years ago on another forum when you stated that you took a job because you noted in an interview your prospective boss was wearing a Lange One.  "Gee," I thought to myself after reading the latest post, "How lucky that one's life could be so intertwined with marvelous timepieces!" Well, Mr. Ghotbi, I will grant you some artistic license in crafting this latest essay.  And even if the first encounter with your bride-to-be might not have been as watch-centered as your story, your life with the world's finest horology is, from this reader's perspective, pretty magical.  Nicholas
Thank you Nicholas, its true that I chose my 1st job because the
07/22/2009 - 17:57
partner I was going to work with wore a Breguet tourbillon!
Even better. I guess I'd go to work with him too! nt
07/22/2009 - 23:23
motivating cyber fiction! Alex, didn't know u possess such fiction....
07/23/2009 - 08:12
writing capability  almost convinced u had a marriage made in heaven ( in horology and in romance).  well, adapted from star trek's borg " resistance is futile" when u meet the right piece of vintage as u know it'll be a long time before u see another piece popping up. the charm is exuded in rarity, imperfection and a compromised set of tools.
Never knew that vintage watch can be a match maker
07/28/2009 - 07:28
Alex, Congrate on your awesome vintage pieces.  Totally agree with you. Regards Ling