Vintage watches and the roots of mechanical timekeeping-- accuracy, reliability, and functioning matter

While today mechanical timekeeping is a hobby, interest, or fashion item for many, its roots are in delivering the mission-critical function of timekeeping. The accuracy, reliability, and correct functioning of a watch such as a mechanical chronograph could, back in the day, make the difference between life or death. Inside, the movements represent hundreds of years of refinement by horologists and manufactures collectively driven to excellence. When I put this video together, my goal was to articulate what’s inside, provide imagery of the work and measurements involved in bringing timekeeping back, and the importance of timekeeping. Accuracy, reliability, and proper functioning is something a vintage collector should expect.  Not quartz of course, but we should be talking seconds of accuracy per day, not minutes. Sellers or watchmakers who shame a buyer when they ask how well a watch is keeping time, as-if they should know better than to ask how a vintage watch runs, completely miss the point and, in my mind, have helped deliver frustration to many and driven-down the standard of quality for vintage timekeeping. Collectors who don’t ask the question artificially drive-up the value of aesthetics and drive-down the importance of what’s inside. I drive for performance, test extensively, and assume mechanical watches provide mission-critical timekeeping. Every watch I service for a ClockSavant customer includes before-and-after performance measurements in six different positions (think of positions as the different orientations of your wrist.) All watches I restore and sell include these measurements. Chronographs are extensively tested while running across all positions. Serviced watches go through very intensive regimen. It takes a good deal of time, cost, and infrastructure. I am today, and have always been, unimpressed and unsatisfied. with a watch that looks good but runs poorly.

I produced a video along with this post, to see it visit the ClockSavant instagram page.

Mission critical timekeeping and vintage watches