Saturday, November 14, 2020

The WBU Girard Perregaux. Watch #3

In my reading about watches I learned that the wrist watch was the product of war.  Pocket watches were worn in elaborate straps to hold them on the wrist.  Timing was critical and who had radios...let alone a mobile phone!  One thing lead to another.  It became customary to engrave the back of the watch one's name and service.  A form of current day dog tags which were not mandated until 1916 by the US Army.  The tradition continued, even after dog tags were introduced, to engrave the back of a watch with the details of the owner.  All of this investigation and the discovery of my Grandfather's "very" engraved watch connected a few dots.  When my mother gave me my "lifetime watch", she lamented the store would not engrave my watch.  Makes me wonder how Joanne Woodward had "Drive Carefully - Me" on the back of her betrothed's watch?

Deep runs the tradition of engraving an inscription of the back of a watch.  Which to me, makes the WBU watch all that much more interesting.  Perhaps more entertaining than interesting to some.  It clearly  highlights the the practice which seems to have diminished today.  I wonder if the watch was chosen more because it was the most suitable to engrave over other watches in the case?  It seems like an unlikely brand to be in a jewelry store in Westerly, RI.

The watch belonged to my Grandfather.  My daughter now occasionally dawns this watch with a tired alligator band for nice occasions.  I recall with some humor and dismay that she announced the watch was "broken" because it would not run.  That was rectified once I explained to her how to wind a watch.  Imagine!  

As for the watch itself, not much is known.  Google searches have not yielded any specific details for this novice watch collector.  Girard Perregaux was a quality Swiss watch maker unlike Rolex which contracted others to make their watches of the same era.  

Should anyone have more information or can point me to where I can learn more about the watch I would appreciate adding a comment.  The case design is called a "cushion case".  I have not opened it because I am not an expert.  My unprofessional opinion is the crown was changed to make it easier to wind.  It does run when wound.  Dimensions to follow when I get organized. 

A new alligator band would freshen up this watch.  It is too small for a man to wear today and looks best on a woman.  Tastes have changed.  Perhaps someday it will be worn with family pride.

Better photos to come, but for now, this is a start. 

Saturday, October 17, 2020

The MIA Swatch GB704. Watch #2

The watch curiosity continues. Where did this watch go to and why do I still have a Timex and not a more interesting and collectable Swatch?  It was my first replacement or should I say competitor to the trusty Timex M Cell.  The Swatch Watch hit the USA market in the early 80's.  Created in an effort to salvage the struggling Swiss watch industry which was quickly going under with the advent of the Japanese quartz watch.  I do not recall all the specifics of finding this watch.  I think a fun trip to Chicago resulted in this 2nd personal purchase of a watch in its sleek long plastic case.  It met two criteria.  One, looked clean and cool and, only the uncool watch nerd was not experimenting with a Swatch watch.  By Swatch standards this was an ultra conservative style.  I like it today.  I guess I could waste $40 on eBay to replace it but somehow that would be cheating.  

So, where is it?  I went looking for my old Swatch watches.  I think four of them passed through my hands of which only one can be found.  The others are location unknown only in my memory.  This watch saw a lot of action.  I even found a photo of myself wearing it in a  circa 1987 photo post college.  Oddly it is MIA.  It may surface someday.  Or, 8 states, 10 residences later, it simply got away.   For fun and verification a photo below confirms I was still wearing it post college.  A birthday party at my wife's apartment pre engagement in Marblehead, MA.

Thursday, October 15, 2020

The Ephemeral Timex. Watch #1

Six years later a post to my Absolute Analog Blog.  Hard to believe so much time has passed since my life went in a different direction.  At one moment, a nice mix of work and play and then, suddenly, 100% work.  As those years have passed, I reflect on how therapeutic it was for me to explore the basic and traditional everyday items of yesteryear.  I still find it curious to look back at my early days and recall the simple items that now are out of sight and out of mind.  For some unknown reason, I feel the need to catalog some of these fleeting items.  Some day someone might be curious.  Maybe someday...

I call it "Memorializing Provenance".  Sounds exotic using such a high brow word. You never think provenance is important until you don't have it.  I have inherited a number of daily items which are a curiosity.  For example, I wish I knew the provenance of my Father's simple hand wind Rolex Bubbleback.  It's not a perpetual Oyster or anything fancy.  Just an early watch brand before it became what is is today.  Had I known to ask, I am sure he would have shared the story of its acquisition.  Sadly I never asked.  Instead, I enjoy the tactile discovery process and I ask myself why?  Why, an item of low value both financially and intrinsically, did it survive so many years?  In a box, in a drawer.  Am I that person that will break the chain?  I believe there are four prevailing reasons these items exist today which I categorize as follows:  Sentimentality, utility, hording and lastly, hope.  The small hope of passing down a memento of personal history.  I fear I suffer chronically from all four!  Thankfully watches are small.  Typewriters are not.

Watch #1.  This watch is a personal watch I purchased new circa 1982.  I wore it through most of my college days.  I had a Timex wind up watch without a date before this.  That High School watch is long gone.  I do recall I had a thing for the preppy nylon watch straps of the early 80's.  A simple Timex was all you needed to adorn a bright striped band from John Douglas.  They were all the rage.  An adult watch with a youthful interpretation.  When I went to college I wanted to upgrade.  I recall searching for a basic, clean, simple watch every time I went into Mount Vernon.  Back then, pre Wal-Mart, pre internet, the best cheap watch hunting was at the local drug stores.  $20 was a lot of money in the college days.  On one such trip into town I found what I was looking for and I had the cash. A "Q" Timex came home with me in a cheap plastic box adorned with a pedestrian black leather band that reminded me of some "old" adult.  Off came the band and on went a cool nylon preppy strap.  Joy!  I proudly wore my accurate Quartz M Cell Timex watch with the added complication of day and date daily.  To me at the time, this was a 'real watch' with both form and function.  I wore the watch for three years non stop.  Amazingly, 37 years later, I still have the watch in my possession.  

It has not been worn by anyone for many years.  Who would want to especially today?  So why now I ask myself?  I waited patiently for weeks for the family to send me the watch.  To see if my memory was anywhere near accurate.  It was not ugly.  Still today I admire its clean lines.  The band is tired and disintegrated the first time I wore it in 2020.  I put in a new Energizer 389 battery and it sputtered.  The second hand moved sporadically and would even stop for a period of time.  I was resigning myself that I may just need to give up on my college era watch and admit time may have the upper hand.  Like so many other Timex watches of that era, it was destined for the land fill.  I figured it was a "non runner" and maybe an opportunity for my first and likely last exploration into watch repair before it went into the bin.  But after a about 5 minutes it seemed to come back to life.  Amazingly it now keeps perfect time, or as perfect as a $20 watch keeps.  I look forward to finding a period preppy nylon strap and wear it again 37 years later.  

But why go to all this effort?  I believe at my age the mortality of things begin to resonate more loudly than years before.  I reflect on all my sentimental possessions and what will be their final disposition?  Or, what is to become of all my family possession for which only I may may hold some sentimental value?   The items with zero value are the hardest.  They will be tossed in the dust bin without a second thought.  I often cringe when I recall all the things that were thrown into multiple dumpster loads when cleaning out the house of my youth.  How many treasures are gone?  Did I save material items based on value or sentimentality?  Is sentimentality transferable?  Or, is only the burden of sentimentality transferred?

With those heavy and somewhat unanswerable questions, I will simply ensure there is a history for this and other watches in my life.  It may only entertain me.  If nothing else, it satisfies me that I have done my best to clearly define what an item means to me so I can move on to the next watch or simply move on all together.  Practice my writing and photography as a creative outlet.  Work on collecting aka locating, researching and documenting other watches of my past and reflect on why I find watches, if not horology in general, to be a quiet yet persistent passion of mine.   

Timex history video if you have 18 minutes.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Typeface tuning?

Ok, so nothing in my collection will look as good at the SG-1.  Of course all my other keepers have been Smith-Corona so perhaps I am missing out on something.  I continue to use and evaluate my Skyriter which is still a fun machine to type on.  But with my reconditioned ribbon, I am seeing some classic "portable typewriter" ink on paper quality issues.  Any good reads on the matter?  I have no intention of "munging" up my toy but I could always experiment on with my Super-Sterling.