It should be said that like a passion for classic cars, art, or even the recent obsession with collecting limited edition sneakers, it wasn’t rationality that sparked my fascination with mechanical watches. “You can check the time on your iPhone. You have no need for an expensive watch, especially as a student.“
Right. This kind of wisdom could only come from a reasonable mother. Admittedly, there is little to disagree with at first glance, but to me, this objection still isn’t fair. Why? Well, let me explain it to you in this article about how I came to own my first mechanical watch.
is what allows a spark to ignite into a blazing fire. A passion for watches is not very different. My beginnings are far less romantic than a Jaeger-Le Coultre Reverso inherited from a grandfather or a Patek Philippe Calatrava 3998 as a graduation present from a father. Instead, in 2014, I came across my first timepieces on none other than Instagram.
It’s difficult to just scroll past an 18-karat yellow gold Daytona with a green dial accompanied by an equally modest Lamborghini Huracan. The more I consumed these and other less brash #Wristshots, the more curious I became. In almost no time, the first images were being shared with friends.
This was followed by discussions as to which model was the most desirable – also known today as a “Grail Watch”. When it comes to watches, even the most level-headed friend can present their opinion in a captivating, Steve-Jobs-esque manner. It wasn’t uncommon for these Instagram threads to spill over into a whiskey and wine-fueled gathering. Insight #1: Watches are the perfect conversation starter.
By this time my Instagram feed was already 70% full of watch blogs like Hodinkee, Ablogtowatch, FratelloWatches, WornandWound, Revolution, and many more. I was spending hours making my way through a forest of reviews, hands-on articles, unboxing videos, and watch encyclopedias.
The Speedmaster Moonwatch was the first watch on the moon. In 1953, Sir Edmund Hillary wore a Rolex Oyster Perpetual as he reached the summit of Mt. Everest. Steve McQueen had on a Heuer Monaco 1133 when he won his race in the movie “Le Mans”. I had finally understood. Insight #2: Watches are the bearers of history.
is needed to start a fire. This is how passing interest transforms into burning passion. As fate would have it, my story does include some of that watch romance: In the end, it actually was my grandfather who helped me to truly understand what the difference was between my Daniel Wellington and a mechanical watch.
While enjoying a glass of wine, I revealed my new-found infatuation with watches to him. As I tried to explain in detail why they were my new hobby, he stood up and returned a short time later with a Junghans Trilastic 17 Jewels. He set it down on the table and told me its story. It was his first watch. He had received it as a gift from his father for his 18th birthday in the 1950s.
The watch then led us to stories about his father and the many experiences he had had with it. I looked at the watch and imagined how every scratch and indentation came with its own story, which brought me to insight #3: Watches and their histories endure for generations.
had been lit. But how could I make sure it wouldn’t be snuffed out? You guessed it: I had to get my own mechanical watch. I came up with a plan. Which watch? How will I pay for it? Where will I buy it? The second question was easy to answer since I had already found a summer job and would also make further cutbacks. Six weeks of hard work for a mechanical watch? That seemed fair.
Question one was much harder to answer, but also more exciting than I had anticipated. As the saying goes: “The journey is the reward.” The hours I spent looking for the perfect watch remind me of a Shakespearean drama.
The euphoria of finally finding the right watch at the right price followed by the heartbreak of discovering that the forum post came from 2004 and that the watch had since doubled in price could have been penned by the Bard himself. You probably know what I mean. I was quickly confronted by insight #4: The journey is the reward.
I managed to whittle the contenders down to a Rolex Air-King, a Speedmaster Reduced, and a Junghans Max Bill Automatic. Ultimately, I decided to buy a pre-owned Speedmaster Reduced on Chrono24. Why this watch? As an entry into the world of Omega? It’s possible. Or was it the unmistakable design, automatic movement, and perfect 39-mm size? Absolutely.
That being said, my real story is the journey that led me to this watch. It is colored by plenty of hard work, time, and joy! It’s a story I will be able to tell my own grandchildren. In my opinion, this is why mechanical watches are made: to be our companions and to bridge the gaps of time, even the digital times when we no longer need mechanical watches.