Thursday, September 23, 2010



Everyone collects something. Some people have a closet full of cowboy hats, others have separate houses for their classic cars. I like watches. I also have a lot of DVDs (some would say too many), but those don't really count in the way I have defined "collection" here. Not to go all steampunk on you, but I've always been enamored with examples of finely-tuned precision, from typewriters to Rube-Golberg contraptions. A beautiful old watch is the pinnacle blend of craftsmanship and function. I remember being young and holding the fancy watch my mom bought my dad for his birthday and being enthralled with the mechanisms held within such a small package.

The first watch I ever bought myself was a Fossil with a neon orange face and a silver band I saw in some mall display when I was 15. It had a unidirectional rotating dive bezel that made satisfying clicks whenever I twisted it. I never cared to find out the practical purpose behind the clicks. It took one trip to the beach before it became clogged with sand and would never click the same. The face weathered dings and scratches that would have certainly destroyed a lesser watch. Even the clasp became so stripped and worn that any sort of swift arm motion would cause the watch the frisbee off my arm. I loved that watch, but it succumbed to its injuries sometime during my freshman year of college, and it was time to graduate to a more "adult" timepiece. By adult I don't mean a pocket watch, I mean something that wasn't orange and didn't click. After a little searching, I found a watch that fit my budget (virtually nil) and made me wonder how I ever lived without it.

This is a Skagen. The first of many Skagens I would own. Sleek, sexy, simple, no numbers (watches don't need numbers people), IMPOSSIBLY THIN, virtually weightless. Did I mention how thin it is? I don't know where they fit the innards and moving parts, but it is a prime example of European engineering. I still wear this watch. This is the watch that catalyzed my love of watches. It took less than 2 years for its clasp to start flapping around, but by the time it did, it had already been assimilated into a hearty rotation of watches. In trhe years since, I've pared down and teased out exactly what I look for in a timepiece. Leather or Metal band? Leather. Simple or Messy face? Simple. Digital or Analog? Analog, of course. Unidirectional Rotating Dive Bezel? I'll take my chances, thanks. Here are the other watches in my collection:

Puma Move - I love this watch, but the face is more oval that I thought it would be and the battery died. I would wear it more if it weren't for that last point. I should really invest in my own watch tools and learn to do it myself.

This is my Nike Sportband running watch. It's a great running watch, and a pretty solid watch overall. The band is rubberized plastic, and the whole thing is comfortable and functional enough to wear casually if that were your cup of tea.

This is another Skagen. It has a rubber band and maintains the simple face and thin profile that Skagens are known for. I love it.

Another Skagen. I told you I have a lot. This is the last one though. For now.

This is a dirt-cheap Timex I bought to wear hiking/camping and it is fantastic. I find myself wearing it a ton in the summer when it's really hot, as leather bands get sticky (and smelly).

I got this WALL-E themed watch for free when I went and saw it at the theater. It's more of a novelty. I'm not even sure it fits around my wrist.

Lucien Piccard 26967WH. I think I had a gift certificate and used it on this. I wear it a lot, but I think the white stitching on the band is a little tacky. The checkered part of the face is hard to see in person, which is a good thing. Writing this post has made me realize that all my watches look the same.

This is the crown jewel of my collection and also the only one I've paid more than $100 for. My Eco-Drive. If you aren't familiar with Eco-Drives, they are solar powered. These aren't solar powered like those stupid calculators in 4th grade that would die if you covered up the solar panel with your finger. Eco-Drive can run for 9 months in complete darkness after being charged. It tells you the day/month/year and AM/PM if you're a narcoleptic. It does a lot more things I don't even know about. I bought it on Chronoshark, a Daily Deal watch website that is responsible for at least 3 of these watches, and a business I have a complex love/hate relationship with.

Up until a few weeks ago, these watches were strewn haphazardly on my bureau between a box of Q-tips and a bottle of cologne, but now they rest on a nice leather watch display stand compliments of Ms. AG. Now before you lambaste her for enabling me, I'd like to state for the record that the stand can only accommodate 9 watches, which is precisely how many I own now. DRAT!


  1. You should look into Philip Patek watches... Also, you should still look into mechanical watches (you wind them) if the PK watches are a little out of your price range. I haven't seen any on Chronoshark yet... but maybe... lol

  2. You mention old typewriters. When I was in the army, I fixed teletypewriters. Talk about steampunk. These were essentially analog data transmitters using punched paper tape. You'd create a message, and it would be stored on the tape. Then, you would feed it into a transmitter, a radio, to its receiver.

    This thing had dozens of springs, friction clutches, and a simple motor. The motor would be calibrated with a tuning fork that had small tabs fixed to the top of each blade of the fork. These tabs overlapped each other and had a small slit in them. The motor had a wheel on the front of it with two white dots and kind of worm gear speed adjustment. You'd strike the tuning fork, and then look through it at the wheel on the motor. What you'd see is a view of the wheel at 400 Hz. If the motor's going too fast, the dots would advance, and so on. You would adjust the speed until the dots were still.

    This was during the cold war (okay, I'm dating myself, but if I don't, who will?) and they were used because they wouldn't suffer the effects of an EMF burst of a nuclear weapon.