Watch My Wrist!

The other week I suddenly decided that I needed/wanted a new watch. For years, I have worn a couple of ugly digital Casios almost everywhere, and the prize in my collection (not that I thought of it as a collection) was a Citizen titanium/gold watch that my husband bought me in Helsinki sometime in the 90´s, and it is very nice, but over the years I have started using more silver jewellery and, well, it just doesn´t look right anymore.

I started looking through the shops, but - I don´t know - why is everything so ugly? I decided there had to be a book at the local library that could enlighten me, since most style gurus say very little about watches, and I found these two, by Martin Häussermann and Michael Balfour. It´s "1001 Wristwatches: From 1925 to the Present" and "Cult Watches: The World's Enduring Classics". Or at least I think it´s those same books. They seem to have been published in slightly different versions over the years. 

Whatever. Pretty picture-books about expensive watches that I never could or would buy, but an informative overview of what the styles have been over the years. Very little on how a mechanical watch works, though. And I found myself becoming rather interested in that.

My next step was to buy a pretty watch suited for an evening gown. (Last year I wore a chunky black Vibralite to a ball, if you can believe it.) I found what I was looking for on ebay, a very pretty American Elgin cocktail watch, which set me back about 50 euros.

The Alfa.
While I was waiting for the Elgin to arrive, I found an old (70´s?) Alfa ladies watch in my local Red Cross thrift store. "Have you tried the watches?" I asked the girl behind the counter. "Do they all work?" She said they all stood still, all needed batteries. "What are you talking about? This is a mechanical watch. It needs to be wound." She looked at me like I was a total alien. I felt very old at that moment. But the watch works perfectly, cost me 4 euros and sits happily on my arm.

The Elgin.
Not as pretty as the Elgin, though. This is a really, really pretty watch. A total gem. Has two rhinestones on it, too. The watchmaker who helped me shorten the band (I have tiiiny wrists) says it´s likely to be from the 60´s. He also said he thinks mechanical watches are the Dog´s bollocks. (No, he didn´t literally say that, but it´s what he meant. I just wanted to write that.) Environmentally sound, he said, no batteries needed. And beautiful. I imagine he thought more about the movements than the handsome cases.

And by now I had cut my teeth on watch collecting. Turns out, you can get a very good ladies watch for very little money, since very few ladies collect. Well, unless you´re looking for gold and diamonds, but then you are moving into the territory of jewellery rather than watches, I think. And a man´s watch is not a bad thing either. Look at this:

Yeah! It´s a Soviet watch! Says "Leningrad" on the stainless steel band, all the rest is in Cyrillics. Cost me 18 euros, including postage. I have had to learn how to clean them, some of these old watches (that have basically no collector´s value) look like they have been dug up from one of Phil Harding´s trenches. "That´s skin residue", my husband said. I didn´t particularly want to know.

I have also become very good at shortening watchbands, with the help of a screwdriver, pliers and a hammer. And you know, they almost all work perfectly well. I suppose everyone did what I did, got a digital watch in the late 70´s, moved on to quartz watches and just forgot about those old mechanical ones. My first watch was a red one, and now I think it would be lovely to have it still, but I have no idea where it went. 

The Record Geneve de Luxe.
Well, I now have eleven new old watches, which is officially a collection. I´m considering learning how to gut and clean one eventually, and I do feel this could become a bit of a hobby for me.

This last one I want to show you is a Record Geneve de Luxe, I think it´s brass, it´s sooo charming, and I bought it in a package with two others for 9 euro, including postage. The others are a very ugly German 70´s Eppo Komtur that I still kind of like (the way you like an ugly puppy), and a Tevo that races 15 minutes in 12 hours, so that´s not so useful. That one is first in line for a cleaning, when I work up the guts to do it.

I feel like I have saved a bunch of orphans. There´s a Pygmalion element to finding, polishing and wearing what someone else has discarded. I love it.


  1. This is a nice blog, you have nice reads!
    I personally love watches and used to change them up all the time, but I came into a rather sentimental one about 5 years ago and haven't worn another one since.

  2. Fun to see you here, Simbarashe! I´m slightly starstruck...