With a myriad of ways to kick off the new website including thanking web designer Danny for being so persistent, I thought I'd create the first journal entry by offering somewhat of an introduction to not only a favorite book, but also a very dear associate. Watchmaker Barry Marcus and I have not met, nor had we even spoken on the phone until just a few weeks ago. He called with great concern, offering a sincere warning about expired watch batteries, both lithium and silver oxide. Under certain circumstances, these batteries can heat up or even explode, with the potential for a fire. That's just the kind of guy Barry is. I get a thrill with every email. I also get a jolt of reinforcement in the path that I've taken. And all too often, I come away with some tidbit of wisdom from a watchmaker who has been at the bench since he was 11. He's now in his early 80's.
The book, co-authored with his daughter Julie Campisi, Watches I Have Known, is a sociological collage of the people (family and customers mostly) who have engaged Barry Marcus throughout his long career. The stories weave one through the emotional spectrum because it is not about the watches, it is about the people; their stories and how their lives were changed, made important or otherwise effected by the kind spirit of a watchmaker. The watches are the thread that hold the cloth of this endearing book together. The fabric is Barry and the people he writes about. The short vignettes offer the reader a chance to peer inside the world of the watchmaker from a mostly non-technical vantage. Stories run the gamut from military veteran watches being passed down and finding their way into combat again (after the caring repairs of Barry) to watches with inscriptions of past loved ones, important occasions and the like.
Watches I Have Known is a must read for anyone with a love of humanity. An appreciation for watches certainly helps. The symbolism and emotional connection watches hold shines throughout the book. Barry's passion for his craft is clearly evident, as is his understanding and appreciation for a treasured timepiece. That heirloom that might be worth very little monetarily, but everything to the owner.... and Barry Marcus knows it.