Wednesday, July 18, 2012

One-on-one with a Sydney watch collector Part 2

Exclusive one-on-one interview with a Sydney Watch Collector Pt 2
Previous part is here

TST: There are a numerous collectors out there who swears by mechanical movements only, and would not touch a quartz watch with a 10 foot pole. Where do you stand on quartz?

SWC: I'm one of those non-discriminatory watch fanatics. I have absolutely nothing against quartz watches. I do have issues with brands charging ridiculous money for quartz. I'm sure your readers will know perfectly well that in terms of accuracy, nothing beats quartz. But there's quartz, and there's quartz. Some quartz movements are nothing short of amazing as well, believe it or not. For example, Citizen has this super quartz watch with a thermocompensated movement that is accurate to +/- 5 seconds a YEAR! These movements are also hand assembled and what not. The brilliant Seiko Spring Drive brings together the best of mechanical and quartz technology, so to lump all quartz watches into one category is a bit unfair. For me personally, I have numerous quartz watches- Sometimes it's just really convenient to pick up a watch and go- I have a few Casio G-Shocks, and a number of Swatches that are quartz.

TST: But most of your watches are mechanical, correct?

SWC: Yes.

TST: Why is that?

SWC: I really admire the craftsmanship that's gone into a movement. You have all these really tiny springs and cogs and wheels, all working together in such a tight tolerance, and it's able to do this day in, day out, with no problems for years on end, whilst keeping pretty accurate time! And it's all mechanical! I find that so amazing. And then there's these high complication watches with 4-500 parts within the movement, all crammed into such a tiny space, it's simply mind blowing! To be honest I'm surprised these things don't break down more often!

TST: So out of all your watches which one is your favourite?

SWC: I love all my children equally.

TST: Fine. There must be some that you tend to pick up to wear more often than others?

SWC: I go through phases. For example, right now I'm wearing my G-Shocks quite often. They're not the high end solar powered radio linked super G shocks, but the more basic ones you can get. I think they're just such great value for money though, I mean you're getting an extremely tough watch, with perpetual calendar, world time zone, stop watch and timer, alarm and what have you- all for about $200. Plus the battery life on these are amazing! I think one of my G-Shocks must have lasted at least 5 years, and that is with constant use and abuse, and who knows how long the battery's been in the watch before I had it!

TST: The G Shock is very casual. What would be your current pick if you had to 'suit up'?

SWC: I have a Tissot Le Locle, which is really nice, very dressy and elegant, great proportions and perfectly balanced design- I really love this watch. Such great value for money as well. It'll easily pass for watches costing 10 times more, and it'll keep just as good a time, since it's powered by a reliable ETA 2824 'workhorse' movement. It's also relatively thin, so it'll fit under the cuff no problems. What I would do, is put a decent alligator strap on it. The calf with fake alligator grain strap it comes with does NOT do it justice.

On the other end of the scale, is the Jaeger-LeCoultre Master World Geo. The dial is probably a little too busy for a dress watch, but it's all useful busy, not busy for the sake of being busy. The world time is a really useful function for me, as I do need to speak to people in other countries at times, and at one glance I can see exactly what time it is in any of the 24 time zones.

TST: Just to play Devil's advocate - doesn't your phone tell you that?

SWC: Yeah but what's the fun in that? But it is a good question. Everything has a time on it these days and a smart phone can tell you pretty much anything that your watch can possibly tell you, so why bother with a watch? Some wear watches as their jewelly, some as status symbol, to show off, but I like to think I'm part of a secret society - in that only people in the know will truly appreciate what you have on the wrist. There is a sense of excitement when you see someone with a true classic, or something that's quite obscure or underappreciated, you know that they also share this 'secret'. And I suppose...  the secret handshake is that knowing nod,  the subtle acknowledgement.

TST: From what you've just said, I'm guessing you don't really like the so-called "mainstream" watches?

SWC: Yeah... you could say that. I mean, a classic is still a classic, and I have a number of classics, such as the Omega Speedmaster "moon watch" I mean, the design on this has not changed for more than 50 years and it's as fresh today as it was 50 years ago, and I will most likely get a Rolex Submariner or a Sea Dweller just because. But I do prefer to have something that not many others have.

TST: Such as...?

SWC: Ok.. I'll pick the more obscure ones-

1. 70s (I think) Seiko Manual. Got this on the cheap. All I needed to do was to get it serviced and put a strap on. It's just so different and funky!

2. Fortis IQ watch Rolf Sachs. The case and movement is nothing special, but I really liked the dial! All the 'chalk' part glows at night too- even the smudges. When I first saw a picture of this, I knew immediately I had to have it...

3. Nike Triax Chrono - This I also got on the cheap - seems like it didn't sell very well, and I'm not surprised. The customer that would buy a Nike watch would probably pick a digital over this one. I love the organic shape and the fact that it's an analogue chronograph! It's so not Nike and that's part of the charm.

4. Omega Speedmaster Split Second- This one is so ugly that it's got such character. Completely unbalanced, and extremely thick and chunky, again, not a watch that sold well. This one sat in the dealer for a very long time till I brought it home. Obviously rare since I've had a couple of half decent watch retailers asking me if it was fake cuz they ain't never seen one. I don't have it any more and I think given the chance I'll most likely buy it back.

The third and final part of this interview will be up shortly!

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