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  • Alvin

Why I like watches.

In a sentence, watches combine such a vast area of interest for me, it boggles my mind, philosophy, design, craftsmanship, engineering, history and the human condition. Each of which I will touch on below. If you've read my first post you might have surmised that from my perspective this is a hobby which I've decided needs some rational justification to allow me to continue to pursue it, because it can be expensive and time consuming. It's a deep subject from many angles and I find it astonishingly interesting, but my interest when it bites is flanked by a god damn ridiculous desire to buy a watch every week! I'm hoping my research, photography and writing will stifle my urge to purchase, we'll see how it goes. So below are short intros to the reasons I like and am interested in time, watches and horology, I will/may expand on each section with a dedicated post - all in good time.


Some of these below points will overlap, and that is a beautiful thing, my point proven and woven, exactly.

Tissot T-Complication Squelette / img: Me

Philosophy - time as an idea, is it a thief that takes from us, a relative gift, giving us all that we have, or is that thing that flies when you're having fun and will one day catch up with us and kill us. Is there a future, when every moment is the present continued? Humankind has tamed time, they keep it caged on their wrists, in boxes, and even though it's locked away it still steals life from as it leaves us behind, wishing we had more of it. The human keeps it on his wrist, keeps it close, a good idea, and reason to wear a watch as a way to remind oneself that time is limited, and you decide what really matters. In addition maybe it helps me see how the keeping of time became instrumental to the progress of humankind both in and outside of realms of timekeeping, and on the other side how comfortable people have become with time and the idea of wasting it, waiting for things to happen is not in the instruction manual for how to use time wisely! But then what is time but a human creation, we manifest time, if it's relative to each of us is it not in our control? To be continued...

Seiko SKX009 / Img: Me

Design - watches can define a style or accentuate one, represent a moment in time or artistic period, create a persons style or complete it. Design is rarely original, and watches are an example of how slight adjustments, remapping, recalibrating or tailoring to an idea can transform, extend or unleash an idea into a new age or market. A watch can be a design statement, a reflection of your personality or bank balance. It can be cheap and make one feel a million bucks, or expensive and make many nauseous. Watches can be a practical requirement, jewellery first, a work of art, or simply an accessory. To me, watches have always been works of art, extensions of my style and mood. Watch designs, brands and ideas have filtered through time, been interpolated, juxtaposed and deconstructed on pathways that weave through and into the hearts and minds of millions of people through the ages of humankind.


Arnold & Son Time Pyramid / img: Chrono24

Craftsmanship / Artistry - So this is a little different to design, while crossing over, but is more about creativity behind the dial, taking things to a plateau of potential, art for arts sake, for humankinds sake, or art for times sake. You humans have been creating beautiful things for no good reason than to stare at them, and feel good about yourself being able to feel things, and create things. Therefore when engineering meets art for what was initially a practical reason, it was a justifiable process and the progress and creativity flowed until as usual it gets a bit out of hand. But there is still no denying the beauty, dedication, skill, innovation and mastery of a professional watchmakers and designers, especially those renegade independents.





Credit: Hodinkee
A. Lange & Sohne 1815 Rattrapante Perpet / Img: Hodinkee

Engineering - the obvious cross over with the previous section, engineered art, that's what watches and the movements therein are. A stunning example of the human aptitude for problem solving and engineering solutions. The various complications, those useful and not, and the tiny scale making it all the more impressive. The many intricate and complex timepieces seen over the years are unmatched examples of how humans are able to solve problems beautifully, I can’t think of a comparable tangible example that combines practicality, design, intricate craft and artful problem solving (with mathematics being the ultimate (unfortunately) esoteric expression of simply beautiful problem solving).


History - The stars, the earth, the sundial, candles, hourglasses, astrological clocks, a pendulum, tuning forks, electric, digital, radio, atomic, marine chronometers and stuff like that. This shit is the real deal, pushing humankind forward, creating moments in time, and inspiring advancement in various fields. Checkpoints that mark the passage of time. Go to the maritime museum in Greenwich, London, the Patek Phillipe Museum in Geneva, or Musee de Arts et Metier in Paris, then go to Prague and see the astronomical clock, and look around you at the hundreds of people who are waiting for a cuckoo to pop out! The significance of the watch and clocks is undeniable, the pursuit for accurate timekeeping has pushed forward technological advancement in a number of fields, whether it be Chronometers navigating the seas, or GPS satellites in the sky, time is the key. The simple fact that it was clocks/watches allowed trains to run on time and facilitate the supply and demand of the industrial revolution is something that should not be forgotten when looking at a watch on your wrist and when you see the moniker railmaster etc.


Sentiment - passing a watch down through generations, receiving time as a gift, it's an age old tradition, and one I can relate to, though I try to be as rational as possible, this is just one of those things that can get you. That machine with an actual heartbeat, that can move yours a bit faster, my Samsung gear smartwatch shows my heart rate in vph, what more is there to say.


Negatives are subjective.


Oh of course there a negatives, but from a logical perspective to disregard an interest that allows growth in so many diverse areas would be seen as a very unfortunate event. Certainly it could be, and has been seen as pointless, and it can be expensive. I have a phone now and watches costs money, but who cares and what doesn't. It’s an exercise in exhibitionism or ego, or a human flaw, collecting junk for no good reason. Ego, in the respect that I have skinny wrists and I just want to defy them, it's a psychological hang up for some using material goods to satisfy misplaced urges, or maybe spending money you don't have to keep up with the masses. We can call out people who buy ugly watches, but if they like them, then really it doesn't matter. These are subjective, explicitly human problems, watches in themselves don't really have any negatives.


Now what?

So all the above considered, I use my watches to help me broaden my horizons, to plan my time, and think about life, and my life. The idea of time as a limiting factor in life is absolute nonsense, used as an excuse for those who don't know any better, they don't have time, because they don't understand how much time there is. For me, when I look at my watch, I see the time, I see potential, beauty and engineering mastery, I see something interesting, or a detail I haven't seen before, it may inspire a thought or a vision. I see the past, and the now slowing of useful innovation in humankind. So I consider time, I consider my time and act accordingly and watches are my reminder to deflect this idiosyncratic idea that one doesn't have enough time. This idea for me, and others comes across in the action of winding a watch - the actual physical manifestation of manipulating time. I only have one proper manual wind watch, the Tissot T-Complication Squelette, but when I wind that watch, I do with a smile on my face, with purpose and spark of inspiration, as the movements of those cogs and wheels somehow move me as well.

In conclusion, I think of humans, and life as often misguided, lost in the myriad distractions and comforts that modern civilisations offers, so if something helps give me positive direction, and expands my mind, I have a good think about it and then give it time. As for humankind, some things they contributed to the/my universe are worth noting, watching, observing, worth keeping an eye on and investigating. One of those things is watches, the idea of all that watches are, all they encompass and the connections they maintain, make life vastly more interesting, watches can be a compass for time and life, helping one find his true north. And that is why I like watches.


Alvin



 
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