Learning about watches: The Tailored Watch at Laneway Learning in Melbourne
Tuesday, 19 June 2012 04:59

Usually my horological trade is a quite and lonely one. Late nights, the soft glow of a laptop, emails and eBay are the name of the game.


But recently an opportunity came up to extend myself, and try something new in my home town of Melbourne. For those of you who haven't seen the advertising campaign, Melbourne is famous for it's 'Laneway Culture' - graffiti, cafes, hipsters and whatnot.


The clever people behind Laneway Learning have taken this love of lanes to a whole other level; running short, once off classes on anything you could think of out of a cafe in the CBD.


I heard about this and thought that it'd be a great opportunity to get out from behind the laptop and interact with some real people (might have to shave though). Plus it makes sense for me on another level; a lot of what I do with clients is education. Education around what mechanical watches are, why they're important, and what makes them cost what they do.


So I'm running a class: 'Watches: Tiny Wrist Machines' on Tuesday July 17. It'll be an introductory class on the wonders of mechanical watches, and hopefully people who attend will get some useful tips around finding and buying watches. So, if you're in Melbourne - come along, and feel free to get in touch with me if you've got any questions.

Watches for the future: Buying an Heirloom Watch.
Wednesday, 13 June 2012 04:22


I had a chat with a gentleman a while ago who was considering buying a watch. On it's own this is a conversation I tend to have pretty regularly, but this conversation was a little different, in that this guy was specifically after a watch he could hand down to his kids.


Watches are perhaps the most emotive physical representations of family, and family history around. Culture is full of the watches of fathers and grandfathers - who can forget Christoper Walken in Pulp Fiction!


That watches play this heirloom role makes a lot of sense, they are small, valuable objects that are worn or carried by their owners, meaning that they're less likely to be lost or damaged over time - it's small size and (forgive the pun) timeless function means a watch is also less likely to be prey to the vicissitudes of fashion than say, furniture or other larger heirlooms.


This is not watch as accessory, or watch as tool - this is watch as heirloom, and accordingly there are some different priorities at play. If you're looking for a watch as an heirloom - you're not buying a watch based on the latest trends or fashions, and you want something built to last - you've got to try and futureproof your watch.


By the way, watch companies are aware of the power of this urge in the watch purchasing process - and are very good at marketing to the 'legacy' heartstrings - see the above Patek ad.


Here are my top tips to consider when buying a watch you'd like to give to your kids one day.



1. Buy a known brand.

Normally I'm not a huge brand fanboy - I usually say that as long as a watch is good quality, you shouldn't be overly concerned about the name on the dial. HOWEVER, if you're buying a watch for the next 50+ years the longevity of the brand is important - in terms of reliable servicing and in terms of holding value. I'd say that if a brand has been around for the last 100 or so years, and is still operating today - chances are pretty decent that they'll be around in another 100 years. Brands like Rolex, Patek Phillipe, Audemars Piguet and Omega spring to mind.


Servicing is an important consideration - if you buy a watch from a new brand, with an unusual in-house movement - there's no guarantee that the brand will be around in the next 50 years, or that anyone will have a decent idea on how to service it, or have the special parts made only for this watch.



2. Keep the style classic and conservative.

Don't buy the hippest, trendiest watch around. It will date. Plain metals; gold, steel (or platinum!) are your best bets, classic shapes, nothing too kooky. A Rolex from 2012 still looks largely like a Rolex from 1950. There's a reason it's the most well known brand in the world. Timeless, elegant designs will win over avante garde or trendy every time. That's not to say you can't buy something modern and contemporary - but try for classically modern and contemporary.



3. Buy the best you can afford.

So the above two points are kind of aesthetic and style factors, here I'm talking about quality. Quality in all aspects of a watch. And I'm not saying that only uber-expensive Swiss watches are the only watches suitable for passing onto the next generations, but buy the best 'you' can afford, and if that means waiting for a year or so and putting a little away to get something just right - so be it. This is an investment in the future we're talking about here. Quality is important for a few reasons. It means that the longterm reliability of your watch, in terms of telling the time and construction, is likely to be good. It also demonstrates the value you have placed in this watch. It isn't something you picked up on a whim; thought went into it and if you value it, the next generation is more likely to value it as well.



4. Don't buy quartz.

Just don't.



5. Don't expect your watch to significantly appreciate in value over time.

Unless you buy a super desirable/rare watch and keep it in a safe for the rest of your life it's unlikely to significantly increase in $$$ value (and even then it's not given). The best you can hope for, is for the value of your watch to remain stable over time. But really, an heirloom watch isn't about $$$ value. It's abut <3<3<3 value (that's hearts = love and family sentiment by the way). So don't even go down that route. If you want to look out for the financial wellbeing of your kids, start a trust fund. Don't buy watches.



So that's a few ideas about what to consider when buying a watch with 'heirloom' status in mind. But, in the end anything will do, and serve as a testament and memory to family. And by the same token you can't totally predict the values of the next generations. Watches might be a redundant thing of the past. There's nothing you can do about that. But if you think about your watch, and do your best to futureproof it, you've made it a little more likely your watch will be worn on someone in your families wrist in the next 50-100 years.


The Watch Snob: for when you want some attitude with your watch advice.
Sunday, 29 April 2012 09:18

As an avid reader of all sorts of watch journalism I've been aware of 'The Watch Snob' for a few years now, and part of me can see the appeal of that style of column. For those of you who aren't familiar with it, it's a column in Ask Men written from the perspective of someone for whom an expensive Swiss watch is the only watch to consider, perhaps German at a pinch. The column will patronise you for liking Tag Heuer, ridicule your new Rolex and consider $5000 the absolute minimum to spend on a 'good' watch.


Besides the attitude, the Watch Snob is astute and gives sound advice. However I think the accompanying dose of vitriol doesn't do watch fans any favours, and alienates people who might otherwise be into the joys of mechanical watches. Snobbishness is, I reckon, always counterproductive and it's a person of little character that turns their nose up at the wrists of others simply because they do not share the same budget, style or interest.


A lot of the questions the Watch Snob get asked are similar to the ones I get asked; "Is this a good brand?" "Should I buy X or Y?" "What's the best watch you can get for $$$?" And where the Watch Snob will cut the person asking the question down, but eventually give some sensible advice, I'd rather talk honestly and openly about the merits of a particular watch, or what you can realistically get for an amount of money.


So, if you'd like to know anything about watches, or ask my opinion shoot me an email and I'll answer you as best I can, without the snobbery.


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