A mechanical wrist watch is a funny item in today’s world. Almost everyone carries a smart phone from which the current time can be observed with ease. The precision by which the time is provided by these devices far exceeds the accuracy of most any wrist watch. So why do some of us have such an interest (some would say an obsession) with the mechanical marvels from Breitling, Heuer, Omega, Panerai, Rolex, Ulysse Nardin and more?
For me, like I suspect for most of you reading this, this interest in watches is multidimensional, and is much more than just an interest in the watches themselves. My collection includes models that are produced in the thousands, some that are limited editions and some that are quite rare. Of these I have acquired some new and others in the pre-owned markets. For each piece, my enjoyment extends to the story behind the watch: who made it, who I acquired it from, perhaps the occasion prompting the purchase and always, how it makes me feel when I see the watch on my wrist. Each watch has a story.
I encourage you to explore the stories behind the brands and watches that garner your interest. It could be the circumstance of how a brand was started, or how a particular watch model came to be (or became famous), the mechanical complexity, the materials used, the real people behind the brand or notable people past & present that wear the watch.
Certainly with the long established brands, the stories may go back many years with fascinating histories about artistry, ground breaking manufacturing techniques or founders who long ago passed from this earth. However it is not all “ancient history” as there are also people in the here and now that have started new companies to make contemporary mechanical watches. One of my favorites in this regard is Bremont, founded by brothers Giles and Nick English. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting these guys. Their reverence for the art of fine mechanical timepieces is peerless and two nicer guys you would be hard-pressed to meet. Even if other watch brands may appeal to you, check out Giles’ and Nick’s story, it’s a good one (hint: love for country, fast cars and old planes are all part of the equation!). Two modern guys running a modern company making mechanical wrist watches. Pretty cool. And there are many such stories to be discovered. Regardless of the brand, exploring in this fashion will result in a watch well purchased.
A collector that I know of, when asked about his favorite watch, answers “the one I don’t own yet.” While I see his point and somewhat agree (after all, the hunt is part of the fun), I have also learned that a watch well purchased will also qualify as a favorite, as each time I put it on my wrist I remember the story behind it, and smile.