If you have any aspiration to the idea of owning a “collection” it’s a question you will have undoubtedly been asked. (invariably by your other half and usually as the holiday fund disappears into another must-have timepiece). I’ll be honest and say I loathe the enquiry, chiefly because I rarely have an answer that adequately articulates what is, after all, a feeling rather than a rational concept. I could be persuaded by the suggestion it is part of deep psychological need, in men particularly, that manifests itself in collecting everything from stamps to coins and much else beside. But, to be frank, I choose not to dig too deeply and prefer instead to articulate the feeling rather than explain it.
To put it as simply as I am able, for me there is nothing quite like the visceral experience of owning and enjoying an authentic time piece that has history in its very construct, history for which you are merely a player in its journey through time, rather than the other way around.
To see the embodiment of engineering excellence through the ages brought to life in the most basic of all instincts, to measure the passage of time, exhilarates me. Time, and its metering, is a part of who we are as a species I believe. Ancient Britons built Stonehenge to mark the seasons, John Harrison created the marine chronometer to determine longitude by means of celestial navigation. The soldiers of World War One adopted the previously feminine habit of wearing wrist watches to facilitate combat practicality and when man first went to the moon the legendary Omega Speedmaster marked possibly the most monumental departure and arrival known in history. You see time not only marks progress, but helps to deliver it too.
So for me, time and history are inextricably linked and whilst I would never dream of denigrating the idea of a brand new watch (I do own many and cherish them for their own sake) I derive an intense pleasure from gazing down at the face of a given favourite and wondering at what it has reflected back during its history. Every piece I own has been on a unique journey, much of which can only be guessed at and beyond the simple telling of time I see the technical marvels that power it, the manifestation of design taste that captivated its original audience and the history of ownership that enriches it. Even the odd bump and scratch speaks to me.
As to the value of history? Well, to paraphrase Nietzsche, if we bestow value on things because of the love we have for them then maybe that’s the only explanation we ultimately need. It’s the only explanation I’ve ever needed
The Watch Collector