Why watches?

It rolled over me, a Satori in a little downtown restaurant, sitting at a long granite counter, emailing, checking the market, waiting for one of the great sandwiches ever invented—but that is another tale to tell.


Why watches? Was it the first gold plated Bulova that was presented to me for a birthday in grade school with the “expandable” band, or the Mickey Mouse watch I gave to a little friend to help him through a tough time, watching the fascination on his face as Mickey’s hands with the white gloves pointed to the time? Did it have something to do with the neighbor’s clock from the black forest in Germany and the little pinecones dangling from the birdhouse where the colorful coco bird came out twice an hour to sing its little song?

Seeing the face of this clock in the design of a German watch in a famous Geneva museum years later, hearing the coco call again.


Was it the man on the subway in Tokyo that cautiously came up and remarked,

“Is that the new MeisterSinger chronograph?

The watch with just one hand to tell the time?

Unless you run the chronograph of course, but you have to be careful how you set it, or you could miss the train.

We don’t have that watch available in Japan, yet.”

Starting a conversation that took us all the way to Narita, parting with business cards that lead to emails that sealed an honored “watch buddy” friendship.


Did the French pilot on a flight to Hawaii, noticing the little round faced boy who was fascinated by his black faced watch, stop as a good will gesture or out of kindness to demonstrate the functions of his Breguet chronograph? Did the pilot know that he would be responsible for many years of fascination with chronographs, Breguet watches and a sublime reunion of the little boy (now a round faced man) and the same model of Breguet in a watch shop in Paris? A great watch shop that was recommended by another watch collector, moderator and friend, now connected back to the pilot, long retired and folded into watch history—spiced with the airs of Paris!


Is it the absolute adoration of Europe, Switzerland and European design that keeps the flow of watches always a feast to my eye, turning my thoughts to plucking one of the most beautiful, complicated, fascinating mechanical marvels for my private use and collection?  When art and craft and intricate design all come together in a powerful little package of precious metal and perfectly fitting leather, why does my poor old heart speed up and tax itself to keep up with the bliss running through my brain, lighting up places that were just dark recesses, sparking thoughts and ideas that needed to be shared? What is this magic, this obsession?


Why are two watches more interesting than one? What makes the 10th watch take me back to the 5th watch to see something that never really made sense until that 10th watch arrived?


Why is selling a watch to another collector a family event, like selling a thoroughbred to a stable you have checked out and know will care for the horse, keeping the horse if the stable is not suitable—after all, this is a watch!?


What makes dinner with other watch collectors a great evening, one you never forget and if you are fortune enough to attend some of these great dinners, enough to count on all your fingers and toes, (sometimes hard to do after a really great, long, watch collector dinner) then you may be done, satisfied and fulfilled.


Why does Vacheron&Constantin occupy such a large piece of my collector’s brain, what is it that they do so “right” as Jeff pointed out in January to all the dinner companions that were listening? What makes a (Patrimony) chronograph with a time tested movement, finished with the highest level of watch making and cased in WG perfection, drive me to distraction, make me wonder how it will look on my grand child’s wrist upon graduation and at that moment who they will share the glories of a manual wind movement, perpetuating the fascination and glory that we all love so much?


Why watches? There are so many more questions, some answers and mysteries that lead me to the only answer.


Why not!


So, the best to all who care,


feel the need, the tug and the itch to perpetuate this fine obsession of ours.


The Timerider










its through watches that I met some of the nicest people and even
04/03/2010 - 00:36
some of my closest friends. Around 2000 I walked into a watch store looking for a Mercator, the manager greeted me and we got into a really interesting conversation on watches, he was obviously passionate and it wasn't just a job for him. I came back often on week ends to discuss and his shop ended up becoming a kind of salon for our group of watch geeks. He is now the Godfather of my youngest son. Another I met on Time Zone about the same time while discussing repeaters, via our private mails we realised that we lived in the same city we met up and today he has become one of my closest friends. I remember the first manufactory I visited, in 2001 or 2002, it was Lange and it was a trip like I have never lived before. It is Doc whom I met while moderating the VC forum on The Purists and who was detrimental in the creation of The Hour Lounge It is all the other Loungers I met at different events and the different friendships I've seen spark amongst the Loungers after these events. And Tim, I remember that Breguet like it was yesterday.... Why watches? Because of the human experience
As Alex says,
04/03/2010 - 01:12
you meet so many nice people in this  world of collecting watches. All hours that Alex and have had during the years are just fantastic! Each of you have something to say, and often more than just about watches, and it's the spin off that is especially intersting. I think there is a general high intellectual level of the members of this forum, that goes far above some other 'clubs' ! I have collected art, old Swedish silver from 1700, original art deco posters and sculptures, but I never have enjoyed the comradeship that exists between watch collectors, especially Vacheron&Constantin aficionados. I have belonged to clubs like Rotary and some orders, but I left them all. It's really amazing that I know many of you, that I even don't know the face of' more than I knew these people of the different organisations. Rotary was just a pain in the a--. You had to be there a certain times a month. For me impossible and the conversation was, yes exactly, about nada. No, serious watch collectors, especially Vacheron&Constantin are in a class of themselves. And Hour Lounge is for me the most exclusive club I can imagine! Which brings me to ask: 'What happened to our little Malteser Cross to wear in the buttonhole of our jackets' Love you all Doc
You have touched a nerve
04/03/2010 - 18:45
Doc and all,  I too have had many friendships made around watch collecting and associated adventures.  Certainly among the highlights, meeting dining with Alex.  Your comment about Rotary gives me pause.  I have been in Rotary for many years and through our small club, made a difference in many many lives.  I was also lucky enough to lead a Group Study Exchange to Turkey shortly after 911.  Many of my friends asked why I should want to travel to a Muslim country at that time.  I replied, "this is the perfect time!"  The people I met, Rotarians and not, during this trip were some of the most interesting and friendly people I have ever been lucky enough to encounter.  The world can be small or large depending on your feelings.  I feel very lucky to have met many people all over the world through both my travels with Rotary and through my love of watches.  My life is richer for it.  Regards to all,  Richard
We are all difference, thanks God :-)
04/03/2010 - 23:19
What I meant was I'm not a person who can spend time in meetings and fulfill quotes of participation, as I rember it was 60% per month? I was member in Rotary between 1984-94. For me this is a more free participation, but we all are individuals! I love this place anyhow Doc
No worries!
04/04/2010 - 07:27
I just wanted to step up for Rotary.  I agree with you, that participation is an individual choice and we all are charitable in our own way.  I'm glad you were involved for as long as you were.  As you know, polio has nearly been irradicated thanks to Rotary.  I also agree with you, thanks to Alex, yourself and many others, the Lounge is a special place indeed.  Peace and Love,  Richard
Re: No worries!
04/07/2010 - 03:03
This is a great discussion
04/03/2010 - 05:32
Perhaps the most enjoyable aspect for me is communicating and learning about the personal experience of  owning a unique and fine watch such as Vacheron Constantin.  I love the Loungers' scans of homes, family, dogs that bring the personal to the forefront.  Only something really fine, enduring and consistent can pull this off.  Robert
Tim I really appreciate ...
04/03/2010 - 12:43
your thoughts and share a lot of your sentiments. For me it started with watches and today it is more about the people behind - watchmaker, owner, collector ... SIHH & Basel this year was all about passionated people and watches "only" have been the reason to met them. Still love the watches, of course Looking forward to meet passionated friends again and new ones, in the future! Thanks for sharing your thoughts and Happy Easter! Oliver ps: A Mickey Mouse watch was one of my first pieces I bought at a antique watch fair, years ago ...
It's a soul quality
04/03/2010 - 14:33
Outstanding thread! For me, it's a certain soul quality that allows us to see and appreciate the beauty & artistry in a finely crafted mechanical timepiece. And, as Alex said, the fine people associated with our passion. Gary Sir Gary Samer KGSJ SOSJ Knight of Grace Sovereign Order of St John Knights of Malta In continuous service to humanity for 962 years.
Great questions, Tim....
04/03/2010 - 20:18

While I find watches interesting in and of themselves on so many levels (historical/technical/aesthetic/etc), I also highly value the process of collecting them as well as the social aspect that comes with it, from relationships with fellow collectos and retailers, to the poeple at the brands (or even watchmakers themselves if you go with an independent).  Bill

Why watches, indeed.....
04/03/2010 - 22:08
They're functional.  At a minimum they give us the time & some give us more information. They're beautiful.  It doesn't matter if they're 18K or steel or whatever. They're mechanical masterpieces (& VC's are so wonderfully executed).  Don't we all just love that? They're almost the only jewelry men can display, perhaps other than rings.  OK, there are some of you with bracelets & chains.  Nothing wroing with that. They thrill us.  Doesn't that watch you inherited from your father or other loved one conjure beautiful memories whenever you slip it on?  How about that special find you stumbled on?  Don't you remember every purchase: the research, the sale, the haggling, waiting for it to arrive, the magic moment you strap in on & know it's yours?  Tim was so eloquent in remembering his magic moments.  I loved that.  Doc is right saying you get to know a gentle, intellectual group of fellow admirers.  Alex's remembrances are so poignant. And isn't everyday when you choose which one you'll proudly display on your wrist, knowing most of the world will be unaware of your little treasure, isn't it still wonderful to behold it throughout your day?  It is magic. Why watches?  We just love them.  And love is hard to explain.  Nicholas
Not easy to answer
04/04/2010 - 00:36
...let me come back to you when I've worked it out. In the meantime... I can't actually think of a better way to invest money, (having done the groundwork / research), in something for yourself that says something about you, that makes you feel good, that gets noticed by the right people, that can be meaningfully handed on to loved ones, is ignored by the tax man and is worth more after a few years of love than it cost to acquire. I could add good wine, but it's trickier to carry around with you, and makes you look like a vagrant if you do.
Beautiful Prose; Thank-You Tim (nt)
04/04/2010 - 04:14
What a truly great pleasure to be a member of The Hour Lounge!
04/05/2010 - 03:12
Easter is ending with a big rain storm in California, I just read all your posts after a soggy day and must give many thanks for making it a fine, sunny day on The Hour Lounge. Best to all, Tim
What a truly great pleasure to be a member of The Hour Lounge!
04/05/2010 - 03:13
Easter is ending with a big rain storm in California, I just read all your posts after a soggy day and must give many thanks for making it a fine, sunny day on The Hour Lounge. Best to all, Tim
A man's gotta have his toys...
04/06/2010 - 10:21
especially technical ones! Some collect cars, others stamps. Then there are the ones who are into art or wine bottles or even batman comic books, not to mention the sports cards collectors... No matter what it is you gather for years it is the sheer pleasure of collecting and the whole aura around it that makes you hunt and kill for the desired object. I second Bill - there are so many great aspects of collecting watches you can never really get tired of it and the watches rarely get old on you and you rarely get tired of them... Watches are so durable in every way ;-) Besides, I personally know of only one car model that never gets old on me Porsche 911... And stamps, no not my cup of tea...