In the early days of my journey learning about mechanical-watches, my good friend Patrice warned me that watch collecting is a slippery slope. I understood what she meant with that description; however, I would soon learn just how steep that slope was going to be and how deeply it was going to affect me.
I have always appreciated the practicality, look, and overall feel of wearing a wristwatch. In fact, I cannot remember a time when I didn’t own a watch. I was about 5 when I discovered in the family treasure case my very first wristwatch. The case was a rectangular box made out of a dark wood with gold inlay around the edges, and brass tone hinges and keyhole frame. Inside the unlocked box my parents kept coins, photographs, jewelry, and some very unusual –for some bizarre even- items such as my brother’s baby hair and first nail clippings; I am not a parent and that may very well be the reason I don’t understand the sentimental value of keeping human relics in the family jewelry case. For the record, my brother is still alive and in good health. I vaguely remember some other things I found in that box, but I believe I have done a good job selectively blocking some details from my memory bank. Anyhow, going back to the watch, I remember clearly pulling out this chunky and heavy rattling piece of metal with utter fascination. I must have seen somebody wear a watch before, or perhaps I was merely driven by instinct, but I immediately put it on my wrist and started to admire what I thought was a curious looking burgundy red dial. I was so captivated by the feel, sound, and look of this object that I returned frequently to pull it out of the box for inspection. A couple years after my initial discovery, I started to decipher the stuff on the dial, Orient Automatic.
I don’t know what happened to that watch; however, I am sure I lost some interest once I entered my early teens and got distracted with friends, music, social awareness, and other adolescent distractions. I can assume that the watch belonged to my father; unfortunately the emotional and geographical distance that currently separate us is large enough that I might never be able to find out what happened to that watch.
My early appreciation for watches was exclusively based on superficial aesthetics and price. If the watch looked good and it is was on sale, I was in! I always had more than one watch in order to rotate based on occasion and outfit. This mindset worked for me for years until one day, I decided to reward myself with a very nice watch. The occasion: graduating from grad school.
I had recently befriended Terry M., and we bonded over a shared interest on watches and quality beer. I had previously conducted all my research using online resources, but Terry definitely accelerated my learning curve. Terry is a true collector who incidentally is married to Patrice –obviously she spoke from experience when she warned me of the slippery slope. Terry graciously shared knowledge and experiences that only increased my interest in mechanical watches. He would bring different pieces from his collection every week and explain to me what made them special. I borrowed books, and I was gifted a number of magazines and catalogs. We continue this small tradition, meeting almost every week at our favorite local craft brewery for a watch show and tell. I look forward to continue learning from this fine man.
My intention is to share my opinions and experiences as they relate to my journey learning and appreciating wristwatches. Perhaps these writings are a way to deal with the anxieties caused by this journey, or perhaps I have too much time on my hands. Nevertheless, as long as it serves a purpose, I will continue writing.
So, is watch collecting a slippery slope or not? You bet it is. But it can also be an enjoyable experience.