Thoughts on Why Watches Appeal to Us
To some, a watch is merely a means to an end, an object which provides them the time of day at a glance. To others, the watch is a symbol of their position in life, a subtle indication that they have “arrived” at a certain point of achievement, and in a quiet but effective way they want to tell passersby who are observant. Some people wear watches which remind them of people they have known or loved, providing to them a human connection not ordinarily associated with many material objects. Ask somebody else, and he or she will tell you it’s just plain fun to own different watches.
To me, I guess, a watch can be all of these things and more. The best kind of watch for me is one that becomes part of my arm, and indeed, a part of my life – who I am, if you will. I am not a watch investor or speculator; I buy to hopefully gain momentos I will keep for the rest of my life. This is why I’ve come to feel it’s so important to carefully consider before buying or otherwise acquiring. In my case it isn’t just because I plan to deplete my paltry bank account a little further, and I’d better be sure it’s worth it before I push myself a little closer to financial ruin; it’s due to the fact I want to feel a connection to the watch long after the transaction is completed.
What human events are connected to this watch? Who made it? Does it tell something about the time period in which it was created, or pay homage to one that has passed or is yet to be? (If the latter rhetorical question seems a bit fantastic, look no further than the creations of Urwerk or Vianney Halter to see the vision of those who project traditional mechanics into a futuristic realm.) If it’s a pre-owned piece, or a vintage watch, who wore it and what did it mean to the original owner or owners?
In that vein, I doubt few watches I’ll ever handle will mean as much to me as my granddad’s 1016 Rolex Explorer, with it’s matte dial marked by aged, yellowed tritium and the reliable and accurate 1570 caliber movement. That well-used old Rolex is a classic and historically notable sport watch to be sure, but more than that, its basic and purposeful stainless steel form reflects the ethic of my grandfather–his sturdy character and his appreciation of elegant function over superfluous ornamentation. Someday, I will be honored to look after it, and would never dream of selling it. I would sooner give it to someone who had the proper respect for its human qualities as I see them, than take a sack of cash from a speculator merely interested in a valuable vintage watch.
As far as “new” watches go, my AP Royal Oak 15300 which I acquired last year has been my favorite; I have enjoyed it so much since getting it that I have honestly not lately been tempted by any new ticking beauties. I love everything about it, from its movement, to the legend of its creation, and even the design, which is a masculine ornamentation at its most tasteful. My Royal Oak is pure enjoyment, and wearing it brings a smile to my face, each and every day. Was it worth the money in retrospect? Hands down!
At the risk of sounding hypocritical after what I said before about being careful, I readily plead guilty to having made mistakes, buying watches which were later sold. But, that said, I’ve learned a lot through those experiences, not just about watches, but about my own tastes; I’m much more analytical at this point–and a lot pickier. I think the worst is behind me, and I have moved into a phase of real appreciation. This is opposed to acquisition mode, where frenzied thoughts of “What’s the NEXT great watch to get?!” are the first thing that spring to mind the very moment a new watch is buckled on the arm. I suppose we all have to go through some of the latter to arrive at the former, be it with watches or anything else in life, for that matter.
Is this to say that one can’t have many watches which are significant and non-disposable keepers? Of course not–each watch has it’s own unique appeal, history, or tale to tell. But, careful consideration of what makes a watch special to YOU, will make your watch collection–be it large or small–much more meaningful.
Even if it happens to be a collection of only one…