« An Ultra-Compact Lens? Nikon SE vs. Fuji 27mm | Main | Did the Pandemic Affect Your Photography? »

Wednesday, 07 July 2021


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

I have a "one watch collection." It's a Zodiac Sea Wolf given to me in 1972 as a graduation gift. I had it repaired a few years ago and it works just fine. It's a beautiful watch but I only wear it a few times a year.

When it was new it was my daily watch which included a lot of time in the ocean. Waterproof, after all.

I've got three mechanical watches sitting in my bedside drawer, none of which work. They're pretty to look at, but serve no purpose. They weren't cheap, say around the neighborhood of $500 each, inflation adjusted. Oh well...

Around Y2K, I bought a used Accutron Spaceview ca. 1963 on eBay. I'd always wanted a see through tuning fork watch. Well, it hummed along nicely for about a week or two. Then it started humming off key like a mosquito in distress. Shortly thereafter, it died.

The last watch I purchased, a Casio atomic model for less than $50, worked great until the permanently attached band broke in half.

Then I got an Android phone, then an iPhone, then another iPhone. The phone keeps perfect time, except it's always bugging me to check for texts, calls and updates.

A few months ago, I found the ca. 1959 Baume and Mercier watch that my dad gave my mom for an anniversary present. The dial is less than half the size of a dime. My mom's eyes couldn't focus on the tiny hands, so she'd sometimes ask me to read the time for her. Once I purposely told her it was 4:30 instead of 3:30. I was bored with having to be on another seemingly endless shopping trip, and I was eager to get home to watch another rerun of Stingray on TV. My ploy worked.

The old Baume and Mercier still ticks. I could take it in and have it cleaned, or I could put it on eBay... Time will tell.

If you ever go to London be sure to see Harrisons clocks H1 to H4 at the Royal Observatory, Greenwich. Oh boy, I could have watched H1 all day.


Your discourse on interest in collecting watches resonated with me. I occasionally buy a fully manual winding watch if I happen to walk by a flea mart and find a cheap one. Yes, no impulse purchase. But if it's cheap, one cannot help it.

Why fully manual? Because I don't like to spend money on batteries. And some batteries go out of fashion.

The Seiko on your hairy wrist doesn't look like a quartz watch. It's manual, no?

Dan K.

[Classic utilitarian Seiko quartz, from the "Essentials" collection. Battery powered, no monkey business (i.e., solar, kinetic, etc.). --Mike]

Mike- Don't let the Seiko name fool you into thinking it only produces "affordable" timepieces. Their Grand Seiko line is highly sought after by collectors and the prices reflect and compare to those Swiss made brands. Visit Hodinkee's website and see for yourself.

Why don't you write the blog posts as documents in the file system of your computer?
That way you can save as you go and don't risk losing the whole thing to the whims of the blog editor/website as you've stated has happened multiple times.
When you're ready to put a post on the blog, just copy and paste the pre-written text from the document to the blog editor and submit it.
Thiswould also give you an offline archive of your blog posts.

Mike, losing written articles is not normal. Consider using iCloud on some of your main folders ( I have it activated on the desktop and the documents folder) or maybe using google docs, when you create a document, it instantly is being saved, and you can retrieve deleted documents. Talking about watches I have a thing for titanium, I already have two, but I want a Seiko or a Citizen, and now also am leaning towards a Russian dive watch.

TOP pool aficionados are like: "What? Another post about watches?"

Mike Chisholm is not joking:


My ex bought me a Breitling watch early in our 25 year marriage. It’s been almost 15 years since our departure and that watch is still beautiful even if I can’t read the tiny dial without glasses now. I stopped wearing a watch when a smart phone entered my life. Have fun with your collecting endeavor!

Thought I'd have no problem resisting this, but down the rabbit hole I did go. I love small vintage watches and absolutely loathe the big, clumsy, oversized watches of today. Of course, price keeps me from having anywhere near a collection of the former. I did settle on a new 36mm beauty- a quartz microbrand field watch for $160. Love the utilitarian, compact styling of WWll field watches!

Previously, I would only gander over the overall gestalt, not having any clue as to what I was actually looking at- this time I actually waded into what actually makes watches... tick. Quartz, mechanical, automatic- and what you are actually paying for in luxury (mechanical) watches. Was also intrigued by the counterintuitiveness of quartz vs. mechanical- the movement of the second hand sweep of a mechanical watch is velvety smooth and just oozes precise perfection- yet, a clunky, robotic, second hand sweep is an instant give away of a cheaper, but more accurate quartz movement. As Spock would say- "Fascinating."

It was also a kick to compare and contrast the parallel world of the numerous watch videos and their own unique terminology, culture and aficionados. Last and not least, are the one of a kind luxury watches-ones in which different colored liquids are employed, or a 3D solar system timepiece encased in an actual wrist worn globe- all of which are from moderately to intensely hideous and expensive! "The Freak" featured below however, I found both uniquely innovative and beautiful...


Episode 37 of the Time Sensitive podcast (https://www.alange-soehne.com/en/timepieces/lange1-timezone) has a rich verbal advertisement for the A. Lange & Shone Lange 1 Time Zone watch (T-mark 2:30): "...its Lange 1 family of watches, which have an asymmetrical dial face, that follows the Golden Ratio principal." (https://www.amazon.com/Lange-Sohne-Mechanical-Worldtimer-116-032/dp/B002FK70MO)

This sounds expensive.

You’re interested in precision?
Quartz doesn’t cut it, go directly for the atomic clock. A radio-controlled watch will regularly synchronize with the nearest atomic clock signal.
A model like this one, https://www.junghans.de/en/collection/watches/junghans-max-bill-mega/max-bill-mega-solar/59202248?c=29, doesn’t even need a battery, the dial is solar panel.
Available in classic or contemporary styles…

[I can't use radio-controlled watches because I'm too far from Fort Collins and I live just East of a 600-foot bluff. The signals don't come in. At least not when I tried it. But I have a Casio that syncs to Internet time four times a day using bluetooth, so theoretically it should always be accurate to about 1/8th of a second, worst case. It's dead bang on with the atomic clock app. --Mike]

On accuracy, I bought a couple of mechanical ('automatic') watches some years ago from an English company, Christopher Ward - Swiss watches/movements, English specification & supply. I was quite surprised to find that, as you say, they weren't actually accurate - one of them would gain about 5 seconds a day. On-line forums for the brand told me that this was within tolerances.

My Apple Watch, on the other hand, is absolutely accurate, as far as I'm aware. That's because in addition to the basic accuracy of electronics, it synchronises with my iPhone, on which the time is ultimately controlled by the Master Timekeeper at One Infinity Loop (or somewhere of that ilk). If it's accuracy you're after, then the Apple Watch is it.

And I would echo the comment about seeing the Harrison Chronometers at Greenwich. I'd read about them, and the years of work and experience that went into making them - and then to see the actual objects in that room, ticking away.....

I know I have no right to feel this way: but having read your blog for years and years, I feel I know you, and I feel a bit disappointed. This watch kick just seems like a mindless slide into consumerism for consumerism’s sake.

That probably says more about me though: I am definitely not a collector!

[I'm a pretty sad guy right now, if I'm honest. I just lost my kid brother who was one of the people closest to me and dearest to me in the whole world. I need a distraction. It might pass; in fact I kinda hope it does, eventually. --Mike]

Yes, but it's all things. It's so sad we get so hung up on things, items. My watch is a forty years old Casio Data Bank DB-510 - it recently ran out of calendar, nobody expected anyone to wear it for so long you see, and it happily wrapped back to 1981, which is something I would like to do too, and no mistake. Anyway, it still works, and looks kinda cool if you're into retro tech vibe. Won't be replacing it anytime soon.
Funny thing is, you can still get one new, or the near identical DB-520, for a measle $45.99. I wonder what do they say to the customers when they ask how to set the calendar to anything past 2020.

The top left link on your site "http://michaeltapesdesign.com/fusion_b_land.html"is broken. Or has been down for ages?

People start collecting things for personal and often unique reasons and I think it usually happens without them making plans to do it in advance. Your approach seems strange. It’s as if you were given a school assignment of starting a “serious” collection of something, anything, and you quickly decided that something will be watches.

It’s difficult for me to imagine this becoming a lasting endeavor with your current criteria, especially if you acquire each piece simply by purchasing it new from an online store.

+2 -3 seconds a day is stupidly bad for a good mechanical clock. If the watch you mention really is that bad it is a toy.

In 1761, John Harrison's H4 (a watch, although quite a large one) went from Portsmouth (the one in England) to Kingston Jamaica. The voyage took 81 days, and during that 81 days H4 lost 5 seconds. This was longitude error of a little over 2km at latitude of Kingston. That was quite good ... for 1761. The watch you mention would mean you lost track of where you are by about 2km each day (at latitude of Kingston: about 1.4km/day at latitude of London). Marine chronometers following H4 were probably at least as good and were usually the size of large watches (being small is an advantage for a timekeeper which is going to be thrown about in a ship or spaceship). They were not so good as really good larger mechanical clock, which in turn was less good than quartz (than ovened quartz anyway) which in turn is far less good than atomic clock.

But if the mechanical watch you mention is +2 -3 secs/day is is cheap rubbish (well: expensive rubbish): Harrison could do much better than that quarter of a millennium ago.

Note: there is a complication with timekeeping for clocks especially mechanical ones. It is generally very bad indeed to muck around inside a clock as they take a long time to settle down again after being perturbed like that. So what to do is to set the clock going and to measure how much time it gains or loses over time (based either on better clock or astronomical observations if it is the best clock you have). This tells you the 'rate' of the clock, which is how many seconds/second it is out (usually measured as seconds/day). Apparently rate of H4 for the first trial was -24/9 seconds/day. Once you know the rate then you can use this to compute the real time from the indicated time. This is small matter to horologists who do not expect to be able to read the time from their clocks but rather read the indicated time and then do a small calculation to compute the actual time. Not so small to people who want to actually use their watch without aid of pen and paper perhaps, but who does that? It is the unknown variation in the rate which is what matters (to horologist or scientist) for accuracy, not the rate itself.

(For pendulum clocks a nice trick is to be able to add and remove small weights from a little platform on the pendulum. This changes effective length of pendulum (adding weights makes it shorter) and you can do it without ever stopping the clock and almost without perturbing it if you do it with tweezers. So quite often for pendulum clock you can adjust the rate like this. Of course if it is serious pendulum clock you will need a spacesuit to do this. And also, since vacuum chambers for these are usually quite small, you will need to train a cat or mouse to do it: these are small problems for clock people who all have army of trained animals in various sizes of course.)


I’ve got to say, in terms of effectively achieving what is (for me at least) a watch’s primary function, that is to say, telling me the correct time, this ones a winner. Solar powered, sets itself every night to one of several atomic clocks depending on where in the world one is, and doesn’t even look half bad. No tech heavy smart watch distractions, just the time (and date)

I’ve owned one for several years, and it just works….

A great watch…


On the Saddam watches, Parr actually put out a book: https://www.setantabooks.com/product/saddam-hussein-watches/

Not one that has made it into my collection, but yes: they're real.

Mike --

i have two comments concerning analog dial watches, which are items surely in the idiosyncratic category now (but i have five). Firstly and most importantly: when your quartz watch needs a new battery do NOT replace it for $15 at a mall kiosk or other quickee source. Bundle it up and send it to Seiko or Citizen or whomever for a new battery and . . . replacement factory seals. Those gaskets dry out and lose sealing after four or five years and need to be correctly replaced with exact parts. It may cost $35 or so; so what? $20 extra to avoid a fogged dial and ruined movement seems cheap to me.

"Gray market" watches in particular need their seals replaced early since many of them are "new-old stock" and may be five or six years old when bought from, say, Jay-shop (ask me how i know).

Secondly, you have discussed collecting strategies. For professional reasons dial watches are appropriate for me so i need at least both gold and silver dress models to match various suits. Everyone needs an indestructible diver for outdoor work. I find those a bit heavy for constant casual wear so a pilot watch is a more comfortable off-hour alternative. For reasons having purely to do with fascinating fun a mechanical chronograph with an open back is a joy as a conversation starter on occasion.

See! it is easy to get to five watches . . .

-- gary

I find it borderline hysterical that in the space of a few weeks you've gone from a post about the inherent pointlessness of watches in the modern world, to becoming a collector with a 5-10 year plan.

Not quite as hysterical as the Saddam Hussein watches though...

So what is the exit strategy, Mike. When is the collection complete? Do you plan to accumulate a large number of cheap quartz dress watches? If so I would think twice. If the plan is to resell them I think you’ll find they’ll be pretty much worthless on the second hand market as they are usually not particularly collectible

The first watches you buy will rarely be long time keepers and it may be difficult to keep up the interest if you only collect inexpensive watches. They can offer great variety, but tend to be unremarkable.

You will probably find that your taste in watches will develop. For outsiders a watch is a watch, much as a camera is a camera for the average person, but when you get into the hobby there are all kinds of distinctions to explore. A lot of the watches that I thought I should own when I started out I don’t even like anymore. I thought for instance that I should have a chronograph, but now I find that I have no interest in them, they tend to be too thick, I don’t like the aesthetics and have no use for the functionality. I thought I should own a flieger since they were cool and historically significant, but now I find them monochrome and austere and anachronistic. I don’t “get” the Patek Calatrava either by the way.

I should complement you on your Seiko, it is a nice design, Seiko has a way with dials. If it was my watch I would have a problem with the date window placement in no man’s land, and I bet the bracelet is pretty jangly (inexpensive Seikos generally have bad bracelets, and bracelet quality and comfort is something that greatly improves as you move up in price, with Rolex as the gold standard). And does it have Seiko’s trademark slow date change? Sorry for the drive-by critique, but these are just examples of the details that matter a lot to watch people while being completely off the radar of everyone else.

I say this as someone who has been through a short journey with inexpensive watches and I would definitely rather buy one $1000 watch than ten $100 watches. If you buy fewer and nicer watches they will also get more actual use. Only problem is that you probably need to make the journey to establish your taste.

But think about this: If you end up buying 20 cheap quartz watches the money would probably add up to this super nice Grand Seiko HAQ with a grammar of design case:

Back in the day, I worked in an office where people could buy luxuries like expensive mechanical watches, many of which I found quite attractive. So I bought some over some years - a Breitling, a Cartier, a Baume & Mercier, a Jaeger-LeCoutre. Interestingly, I liked the Breitling - all steel - better than the others, which were “dressier” and gold.

None of them ever kept time well enough to meet my needs; I detested having to set the time each morning to combat the inevitable drift. But they looked good on my cuff-linked wrist. And the thought of a cheap yet accurate quartz watch held negative appeal to me.

Then I stopped working and had less need to follow a schedule throughout the day.

Then I got an iPhone, which had an extremely accurate clock, and which would also conveniently remind me of the few appointments without my having to continually check my watch.

So the watches went into the drawer, where they sit today. Perhaps someday a grandchild will want to wear those old-fashioned devices.

Incidentally, I have thus far resisted getting an Apple Watch or similar device, although the attraction of health and fitness tracking in real time is calling to me.

Mike, I have a few watches, and no interest of collecting them. I tried that with typewriters but they take too much of my darkrooms space, so I have weeded them out to just 5...beautiful classic machines from 1924 to 1963. I wear a '62 Omega Constellation as my daily wear and it runs perfectly. But one watch I have is a real beauty. It is a 1948 Hamilton 992b...a railroad pocket watch that gets comments whenever I pull it out. The story of the railroad grade pocket watch is fascinating and I urge you to look it up.

Mike, Beware Segal’s Law you are in serious violation…..;-))

This may be dangerous for you, Mike.

Citizen's Calibre 0100

Austere, elegant, accurate to 1 second a year.

Physics and movement, it turns out, is very important to Quartz watches.

I'm safe, as I like watches that are accurate forever (or as much ever as I'll see) -- Casio solar quarz radio controlled.

I have also gone down the rabbit hole. I ordered two watches that are as opposite as can be (almost, they both have analog hands).
The first is a Vostok Amphibia. It is a Russian made mechanical diving watch, designed in 1967 and and relatively unchanged except for the addition of a self-winding mechanism in the '80's. It gains about a minute a day and drops a bout a minute overnight, so it keeps good time for a mechanical movement. It has been called a vintage watch that is still in production.
The second is a Casio Wave-Ceptor. Quartz analog movement with a digital chronograph in a window at the bottom of the face. Solar charging. Links to the Atomic Clock. It should always be within a second or less of the correct time. Stopwatch, 5 alarms, world time, will chime on the hour (or not)...

Regarding Kye Wood’s comment,. For me there are no links under “Patrons” (just a feint square) and only B&H under “Portals”. This, or similar, has been true for some time, the links vanish for some time and then reappear. I assumed it was my system since no one else had remarked on it.

(IPad Safari, latest iPadOS, but it’s the same on Firefox, Chrome etc.)

If you're looking for lumes in a watch, take a look at ones offering T100 tritium tubes, such a Ball or Deep Blue. Luminox has a large line, but I think they are of the slightly less bright T25 variety.

The tritium tubes on the face and hands glow without the need to expose them to light to "charge up" so to speak. When you look at the watch in the middle of the night, it will still be bright and visible.


Here's my first "collectible", bought back in '83 or so:


I just liked how it looked and worked. I wasn't aware it was the first analog quartz chronograph.

Maybe I was tired of seeing all the digital displays.


I'll send you a report of my weekend watch purchases during a "Christmas in July" sales event -- the best part of which doesn't have to do with watches. (you mac address)

The comments to this entry are closed.



Blog powered by Typepad
Member since 06/2007