One of the most enjoyable things about being a mechanical watch enthusiast is that it gives you so many opportunities to deplore things. You can deplore the date window; you can deplore the quartz watch; you can for damned sure deplore the smartwatch. You can deplore obsession with in-house movements; you can deplore acceptance of in-house movements; and you can deplore, every year, the deepening slough of mediocrity into which the entire watch industry is sinking (whether that’s actually true or not).
However, the sweetest savor when it comes to deploring things is probably to be found in deploring the tastes and behaviors of other watch enthusiasts, and if you’re looking for a chance to cast aspersions afresh in the realm of horology, I can think of no better incitement to do so than a story published last week in theWall Street Journal, in which the author notes the increasing tendency (I don’t think we can properly call it a trend yet) of vintage watch collectors to wear watches purely as a visual accessories. In the story, Analog/Shift’s James Lamdin remarks, “It tends to be some of the super-fashiony maven people who are all about style,” and notes that it’s not unheard of for a collector to buy a watch that doesn’t work, and wear it as a “statement piece.” In other words, you buy a vintage watch, and you don’t care if it actually works as intended or indeed, if it will ever work at all – you just wear it for how it looks. You have an inert object you’re wearing purely for its cosmetics.
This is not entirely fresh news, of course. The poster child for wearing a watch that doesn’t tell the time is Andy Warhol, who famously wore a Cartier Tank which he declined to keep wound, saying, “I wear a Tank because it’s the watch to wear.” The article goes on to note, natch, that the Apple Watch in particular and smartphones in general are partly/mostly to blame.
If you are a WSJ subscriber you can check out the whole story at wsj.com … but you get the idea.