7. How did you select the watches included in the Chasing Time book? Do these represent the most important vintage watches for you as a collector? Or is this just a sample of a larger world that includes a lot of other compelling products not all possible to fit into one publication?

“Essentially the book is a product of the ATG retail site and forum I started in 2001 in the UK. The book is taken from the archive of thousands of watches I have owned and restored. The watches are the accessible ones… there isn’t a Rolex Paul Newman Daytona or a Patek Philippe Calatrava if you mean important watches. Say for military watches they were good quality but without frills; so a Royal air force issued Hamilton 6b or a CWC issued pilot chronograph used a Valjoux 7733 movement the same as a better known Breitling Datora. The military did not pay extra for flash dials or bezels but they did go with the quality movements. A Heuer Bundeswehr German air force issued chronograph used a Valjoux 230 flyback movement and was cheap to produce at the time of which the base calibre Valjoux 23 was used in Rolex chronographs for years.

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The book contains watches by Rolex, Omega, Breitling, Zenith, Heuer, Gallet, Hamilton, and Hanhart, but other smaller brands who were the same quality that have been forgotten. The chronographs and the tool watches you mentioned were the best serially produced watches the various marques made, so knowing them allows you to understand the lesser models in a better light for both quality and pricing. To be honest if you are interested in vintage watches or anything mechanical, this book is a must-have to give you the length and breadth of the subject. Most of the books I already owned on the subject were not comprehensive enough or a little dry. So I decided I would write my own using my pictures and descriptions that sold these watches to begin with.”

8. A lot of new watches out today have designs which are inspired by vintage timepieces. A lot of them are direct copies. How do you recommend consumers view such products? Are these viable continuations of successful design themes or in your opinion should someone looking at new watches focus more on truly contemporary designs? Help readers understand how to separate their focus from real vintage watches to modern recreations of them.

“Good question! For watches there are two tiers I think; modern and vintage. Let’s take modern. Well, the big brands are expensive. I think an Omega Planet Ocean (which is a vintage ’60s inspired Seamaster 300) has almost doubled in price in the last 6 years. Rolex the same… Zenith also… even the old standby Sinn have gone up. But what that means is there is room for smaller brands to grow like boutique vintage inspired companies such as Baltic who make some cool watches, as well as a few others but I really like Bill Yao’s work at MKII. Yes some of his watches are directly inspired but the quality is very high and it is a proper company. With the Paradive, for example, MKII will be around in 5 years time when you need a service from them, so watch out for some of the little watch companies popping up on social media. Yes they make some nice stuff but once you go to a price that is a big loss (say over $300) you need to make sure that the watch can be maintained in the future.

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Bremont is another good modern vintage inspired brand who have given Breitling a run for their money. I was involved with Linde Werdelin at one stage and their watches are pretty modern and cool. I think you have more scope with vintage to own a group of watches because for $1k you can buy something great but all this speculating I am sure has made as many losses as gains. You need to know what you are doing with vintage. When I started my original business I wanted to get out of TV editing so I took it seriously and bought a lot of books and read everything that could inform me… hence the Chasing Time Book. If you want to know about vintage, I am proud to say without ego that it is a great place to start for the money and the pictures are very cool.”

9. Finally, what types of vintage watches can make for suitable daily wears when it comes to reliability and durability. Not all vintage timepieces will be wise to wear on a daily basis, but which ones perhaps are?

“Well your standard Rolex Datejust from the mid ’60s is fine; or a President, Precision, Thunderbird, or Airman (if serviced correctly). The only issue is that the crowns are quite small and you can break them. An Omega Speedmaster moon watch is a practical vintage watch. Most of the vintage Heuers are good as daily wearers. I am talking chronographs here after the Rolex choices. The only annoying thing is that these watches are no longer reasonably priced. I don’t know why there are literally millions of models in circulation and they are not rare at all. I think that answers what you asked earlier about why vintage has become so popular. But again, they all need to be serviced properly. You just can’t be cheap about this. If you are going to invest in a vintage collection, you must find a good watchmaker and get to know good dealers. They will always save you in the long run.”

Chasing Timer: Vintage Wristwatches for the Discerning Collector Book @ Schiffer Books


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