The Streets Of London: Watch Hunting With A Watchmaker

The Streets Of London: Watch Hunting With A Watchmaker

The Streets Of London: Watch Hunting With A Watchmaker   feature articles

Please enjoy the following article contributed by legendary watchmaker Peter Roberts of England. Peter's new self-named brand is Peter Roberts and is about to release their first watch.

It is 1969 and the streets of London are still swinging. As a young horology student, at Hackney Technical College, I am wondering where I will be able to get my hands on some top quality watches for practice. Surprisingly, owners of fine watches are not willing to risk their precious timepieces to an impecunious, novice watchmaker like myself.

The Streets Of London: Watch Hunting With A Watchmaker   feature articles As soon as I was old enough to roam free, I discovered the wonderful delights of exploring London on foot, putting real life memories and images to those evocative, Monopoly Board Game street names.

Now of course, I found the Kings Road, Carnaby Street and Soho, enjoyed the Royal Parks, and in the summer months, the unfeasibly short mini-skirts. But I had, and still have, this obsession – watches – so these three expensive (on the Monopoly board) streets, Oxford St ( green £300) Regents St (Green £300) and Bond St (Green £320) drew me to much window shopping. But how could I get my hands on watches of this quality?

All big cities have them, they are not so well known, not so fashionable, the brown and the light blue streets on the Monopoly board, this is where you can find the real watch treasures.

The Streets Of London: Watch Hunting With A Watchmaker   feature articles

First – Leather Lane, a narrow street, at the side of Gamages (a large department store – long gone and much missed), filled with market stalls every lunchtime. Close to Clerkenwell, at that time, still the centre of London's watch industry, these stalls were full of quality movements, mainly pocket watch. These movements had been stripped out of gold cases so that the gold could be melted down for scrap value. This is a sad and barbaric practice that happens at times of high gold value ( like now) but it allowed me to obtain for shillings various beautiful movements. Very slim Hamilton “Minute Man” calibres, Elgins, and a Waltham Riverside Maximus – “Kew A”. This is one of the finest pocket watch movements I have ever handled and sparked my admiration for Americas watchmaking abilities (also, all parts of these movements are interchangeable – unmatched at that time)...

3 comments
village idiot
village idiot

Great article. Yes, there is no substitute for the thrill of the chase, stumbling across a treasure. Pleasure is tripled if no one else either interested or knows what the item actually is. Rare, but on occasion one can  luck in. Walking into a garage sale or a blink-and-you-will-miss-it store front and spotting a  gem feels so good.  Same at an auction. Even if the collectible is not a screaming bargain, still something to be said for a little back and forth haggling.  
Ebay has the variety, but the audience is world wide huge. I have made many great buys on Ebay, but generally folks that are into that particular collectible know what they too are bidding for.

rwag1
rwag1

Recently I found a delicious used books store that is practically camouflaged in my area.  Reading this reminds me of the hidden treasures in life.  Sometimes the most interesting finds, be it watches, books or otherwise, are exactly what we cannot just buy.  I think the interactions with owners, other patrons can also teach you alot about yourself. 

jhanlon475
jhanlon475

Makes me want to go take a walk through those same streets. Terrific article.