I’ve been into watches for as long as I can remember – easily dating back to around 11-years-old, I guess it was my father that got me started – he always wore ‘cool’ watches, and of course, he was my dad so he was my hero anyway. Whatever he had or did, I wanted just the same.
To me, watches (or if you’re an old Breitling fan, ‘wrist instruments’) represent so much, but even that changes with age; I went through the whole showing off stage, buying the biggest, most brash creations just so people would notice them, I’ve gone through the ‘creative’ and ‘different’ watches to mark me out as someone that leads rather than follows, and I’m currently in the ‘I’ll buy what I actually like’ phase – aka, being mature.
My daily wearer is a Red Arrows Citizen, but I have a few different watches to choose from, including a Winegarten’s Railway Regulator pocket watch, Bentima Star wristwatch, and a few more modern tickers – nothing of significant value, but all much treasured (and worn).
Vintage & Me
I have to be honest, I’m more of a … Homer J. Simpson rather than Groundskeeper Willie physique, so smaller watches don’t really suit me as such, but when fully suited & booted, the Winegarten’s or Bentima are the perfect accompaniment – they just add that finishing touch that any of my more modern stuff can’t do.
It must be said that vintage watches have a style unique to the decade they were made, and you can almost date a vintage watch to within a couple of years purely from the style alone, and it’s this that gives the older watches a new lease of life.
Certainly, some watches will never go out of style, or perhaps, never stop being collectible, these could be considered as iconic – the Rolex Sub, Omega Speedmaster, Audemars Piguet Royal Oak … the list is endless, but perhaps we should distinguish whether that’s a style thing, or a monetary one – are people buying these classics because they’re beautiful, or because it’s a collectible worth money (and will only ever rise in value)?
Perhaps a little of both.
The Beauty of Vintage
Certainly, some watches will always have significant value, but adding the ‘vintage’ label to them doesn’t make that necessarily so for all, and that’s another great reason to choose vintage – classic brands that have lost some of the retail mark-up already, so what you’re actually paying for is the timepiece itself, rather than the XYZ jewellers overhead, and the marketing for ABC brand.
Sure, one or two of these vintage pieces may have a the odd mark, scrape or scuff, but keeping with the marketing schmooze, we’d call that ‘patina’, and it shows that the watch has already been loved by someone, it has its own story to tell … it could have travelled halfway around the world on the back of an elephant, or been to the top of Mount Everest (or just down the local boozer as a ‘statement’ piece). The story itself is almost irrelevant (unless it really has been up Everest), what’s important is that it has a story.
I love vintage watches, and sure, it may not be the very latest ‘on-trend’ style, but speaking as a horolophile, have you ever brought a timepiece because it was on-trend? Because it’s a fashion accessory? Because GQ magazine (other fine magazines are available) told you it was cool? Pffft.
I buy watches that appeal to me, to my style, my need and my current thoughts, and that style changes … I wrote before how I wouldn’t own a Rolex because of the connotations associated with it (but I do love the style), but that changed when I saw the Pepsi Rolex Oystersteel on the Jubilee bracelet … that’s something that I can get behind.
And The Point Is …
The point is that styles and trends come and go, but classic horology is timeless; my Winegarten’s is getting on for (at best guess) 80 years old, yet every time I wear it, people tell me that they love it, that it just finishes my outfit perfectly, that they’d love to own something similar … it gets the sort of attention that a regular Rolex Sub wearer could only dream of, for a fraction of the price.
I love modern watches – the oversized, chunky, stylised look they give (wait, did I just describe me?), but truthfully, if you’re after something a little different, that takes that style to the next level, a vintage watch is the only way forward.