I’m not someone to shy away from telling others my story of getting into watches – making it no particular secret that it was a Patek Philippe timepiece that got the ball rolling. I think in some way, having the name of the most respected watch label on the planet in my narration elevates the whole romantic aspect quite a bit – perhaps even substantiating it.
The child fascinated by horology has now (just barely) become an adult. I’ve had a few years to play around in the industry since; in which my outlook has changed quite a bit. I want to say that I’ve matured, learning to see things for what they are beyond ‘face on’ value. My younger self loved the idea of simply learning something new – irrespective of relevance. My raw inquisitive nature became the fuel for everything I did. There would be a new project started one weekend, only for me to drop it the next because I had discovered something new.
In the context of horology; I loved scouring through eBay and flea markets and buying weird oddities: researching them, taking them apart and putting them together just so I could add to my mental encyclopaedia. I built up a mound of broken Seiko and Citizen timepieces, along with relics from defunct Swiss Microbrands. The collection of obscurities would by no means score points with the online ‘lifestyle’ crew that had been growing in prominence at the time. The honest truth was that I couldn’t care less about such a thing whatsoever.
As I went into my later adolescent years, I began focusing on the long term – obsessed with being at ‘the top’. The environments I found myself in encouraged me to specialise on specific subject matters and lose focus on things that seemed irrelevant. I interpreted this to mean finding the ‘correct’ way of doing things and that there was no room to be side tracked. My focus went towards associating myself with the most respected institutions, securing the best internships and getting the best grades in subjects I didn’t have particular interest in. Although I would be dropping things that I enjoyed, I wanted to keep horology in the picture. My way of justifying this was thinking that I should only be focused on the high end side of things, dismissing everything else that would be deemed below. I (thankfully) had a very, very short stint at this and needless to say, I hated the whole experience.
Once you look at things as some sort of structured business, in which you climb a ladder to reach the upper echelons; you end up being involved in a very inorganic and convoluted web in which anything outside that realm becomes alien. When it comes to the mainstream, it becomes a numbers game which accounts for validation of sorts. This tends to result in dubious practices and working with horrible people.
I would be at an event and come across people who thought they could step on me because they had a large number people kissing their asses. I found it to be suffocating and demeaning. The lack of integrity in particular is what drove me away – you’ll see certain brands and individuals preaching about intangible values, and you can’t help but see a bit of hypocrisy in the actual way they do things. In order to survive, there is a fine line between impromptu tactics and outright selling out. I try to highlight with any work I do involving watch labels. What I find hilarious is people bragging about being humble, not knowing the fallacy of their statement. I find that integrity becomes far more natural when you start dealing with passionate people and not corporations or those who demand that you know who they are.
My favourite people to be around are those who are passionate about certain things without feeling the need to prove themselves. The time4apint gatherings are an example of this. It’s a group of watch enthusiasts with a range of timepieces getting together to share their own stories and help each other out such as advice on getting hold on a certain timepiece or servicing. I also love the Instagram community that I’m part of. I have a small number of followers, but the interactions and feedback I have are far more valuable than a 6 figure following of people who really don’t care. Working with independent brands has been the main bread and butter of the Watchrant. Being given the opportunity to sit down with the lead watchmaker or founder of a brand helps spike my enthusiasm and desire to move forward.
I lost my passion in horology because I had forgotten the way I used to enjoy myself, which was to try and fail. I missed being able to laugh at the weird things I did and use them as lessons to move onto the next thing. I’ve come to appreciate being a lot more relaxed – making sure to have control over the work I do. There will be inevitable instances where things will be out of my hand and I’ll have to go into crunch time, but I reckon my experiences have better prepared me for such situations.
In a way I’m glad that I went through the whole experience since I’ve learnt of what NOT to do. I see those working in the mainstream as a necessary evil, so that independent creators have a platform to do their own thing as a contrast. The Watchrant exists to provide commentary and critique on areas in the industry, from my own personal perspective. I share these stories with my audience as it shows where I’m coming from and the journey I’ve made to get here. There are a whole load of projects in mind, with lack of experience and resources being the main thing inhibiting progress. Yet I look at this blog as a record of my growth and progress, and see that I’m growing closer to realising my next set of ideas. I’ll be attending Baselworld this year as a member of Press – something I never thought I’d be doing. I’ve been financing the plans through selling portraits of watches, made of various materials such as Carbon and Gold leaf. Through that, I’ve been able to ignite a whole new series of interests, evolving my passion of horology to new heights. That wouldn’t have been remotely possible had it not been for people believing in what I do.