The 2017 Basel Fair, an annual horological pilgrimage, wraps up in a few days. So far it is a LOT of fluff, but for the watch junkie, it is also a lot of eye candy. Take, for instance, the new Rolex Yachtmaster (seen here via Hodinkee). In my humble opinion... what were they thinking? I’ve read some of this model’s reviews, within 48 hours of its debut, accentuated with words like chiclets, unicorn vomit, Easter and even, “I like it.” Sorry, not sure for what event, or even on what planet, this would be an accessory worn by any self-proclaimed “made-it” kind of Rolex personality. Be that as it may, we’re all entitled to our own opinions. This one I fear is destined for only those willing to take a super huge bet of the leveraged hedge fund variety, and only were it on Oct. 31st just to say “I’m that outrageous”.
I’ve attended the Basel Fair in 2009 and it was awesome. I met some wonderful people, saw some fantastic and innovative watches, tools and everything in between. It was an exploratory endeavour and it fed my horological belly with lots of vitamins and fervor.
These days though, I’m happy to offer my smaller non-corporate brands - Oris, Momentum, Boccia, Marathon - and a plethora of vintage pieces from notable American, Swiss and other countries. The business model I’ve chosen, albeit not written in stone, urges me to provide my customers with family brands, ones that an individual in the market for a new watch would not find at Costco or on some grey market website with lackluster customer service. Let’s be real, with a cell phone in the pocket, who needs a mechanical watch? Well, I’ll be the first to extol the virtues of something that ticks, something that can be maintained for decades by a competent watchmaker. Many of the watches that come to my bench for repair or restoration are family heirlooms. Are they worthy of such maintenance? In most cases, absolutely. This week, two Hamilton 992B railroad watches were received and offered service. One needed a full service and a balance staff replaced. The other, having been serviced by me only a few years ago (and since dropped by the owner’s grandchild) needed a balance staff, but retained a regulation that was impecable. Seconds a day error in all positions.
As much as I love seeing new innovations and cutting edge technology (see a future post of a wristwatch case using 3D printing), there are some things that tradition and old-school watchmaking can not diminish. And I am pleased to be a part of the maintenance of such well-made pieces of horology.
The Basel Fair does showcase some wonderful new models, and I’ll admit, I fell for one today (to be delivered in September), an Oris 1917 seen here. Some things never change.