Analog Appreciation In An Increasingly Digital World

Watches were the technological marvels of their time, and were indeed often looked upon as works of art and status symbols.

This is an excerpt from Lifestyle Asia’s June 2023 Issue.

Watches and their appreciation are different things to different people, of course. What used to be considered a rather nerdy hobby has now become, at least for the moment, something that much of the mainstream enjoys. I am being asked to do more watch talks than ever before, and these requests are coming from people who are new to the whole thing. This is wonderful because it means there is new interest in something that deserves it, and we can help to shape it so people look past the shallowness of price and trend.

READ ALSO: Timely Investments: Pre-Owned Luxury Watches Have Been Beating The Stock Market

This Oris watch has a ten day power reserve, which means the hairsping is both extremely thin and extremely long
This Oris watch has a ten day power reserve, which means the hairsping is both extremely thin and extremely long

Watches, and wrist watches and pocket watches and clocks, are these amazingly complex pieces of craftsmanship and science and art, and they have been man’s partners and companions in things scientific, historic, exploratory, and passionate, and more. They have been on our wrists, or our parents wrists or grandparents wrists, for many a joyous occasion or challenging moment. Their stories can be hugely personal.

These pieces are also hugely complicated, little gears and tiny teeth all powered by a tiny coil of a spring thinner than a human hair. They can go, and have gone, from store windows to the depths of the oceans and the heights of the earth, and past that to the heavens. They have amazing history and indeed often provenance.

So let’s look at some of the things that are particularly intriguing. 

Watch enthusiast meetups can include a wide range of pieces. This one included everything from hard to get Rolexes to vintage pieces to Philippine watch brands to cameras.
Watch enthusiast meetups can include a wide range of pieces. This one included everything from hard to get Rolexes to vintage pieces to Philippine watch brands to cameras

Refugees. It can be argued that the Swiss watchmaking industry owes its existence to the fact that religious persecution forced many craftsmen and artists out of their hometowns and countries to neutral, protective Switzerland. 

Craftsmen tended to bunch together, which makes sense because the skills were generally handed off by apprenticeship rather than any schooling. By nature, other things would start to match up as well, such as how you worship. When certain religious groups started to dominate, it forced many of these communities to move to where they could practice their crafts and earn their living in peace.

A closer look at the hand engraved Grand Seiko shows the work done separately on the case, bezel, and dial that all must flow properly together when assembled.
A closer look at the hand engraved Grand Seiko shows the work done separately on the case, bezel, and dial that all must flow properly together when assembled

Switzerland. In connection with this, look at what products from the past had the embellishment of engraving and the like. Clocks and watches but also weapons and tools. When art for art’s sake was considered superfluous and a waste of time, it had to be used only for things of proper work. So, tools, and weapons, and those things that helped us regulate our lives, timepieces. Besides, by nature these goldsmiths and artists could and would do more than just cut and shape parts.

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Photos by Carl Cunanan.

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