GaryG’s Year in Review 2014
It seems like only yesterday, but it was all the way back in January of 2014 that I had the opportunity to sit down for the first time with Elizabeth and Ian and hear their plans for Quill & Pad.
Between my “day job” and horological events throughout the year, time has just flown by. Before the year completely gets away, here are a few of my observations and reflections on the industry, my first year at Quill & Pad, and my year in watches.
And as we go, I’ll intersperse photos of the pieces that I was fortunate enough to add to my collection this year, in the order of their delivery.
The watch business in 2014
I don’t consider myself an expert in the “business” part of the watch business, but from my conversations with others and the writings of my Quill & Pad colleagues, a few things have struck me:
· It’s still a business: all that glamor aside, money must be made and careers are made and broken in the quest to do so. The recent leadership change and re-focused strategy at TAG Heuer (see Jean-Claude Biver Restructures LVMH Watch Brands; TAG Heuer CEO Stéphane Linder Resigns. Coincidence?) was perhaps the most visible example, but it seems to me that there has been an unusual number of management comings and goings during 2014 as brands react to market pressures.
· Within the business, people still make the difference: a year ago, who would have imagined the exact “affordable complications” trajectory taken by Jérôme Lambert at Montblanc following his move there from Jaeger-LeCoultre? Vision and leadership are still critical to success in any luxury business. And, of course, the great work of designers, engineers, and watchmakers is the only way that brand personalities translate into real watches.
· It’s good to be an American: with Asian markets in the doldrums and the Russian economy dealing with $60 oil, the entire industry is remembering what the smart players never forgot: America is populated with enthusiasts who both love and buy watches.
· Blogs have come of age: no, not because I’m contributing to one! It does seem to me, however, that we may have reached a tipping point at which select blogs are attaining the readership and credibility previously reserved exclusively for enthusiast forums such as PuristS and TimeZone. There are two big drivers, in my view: the addition of a range of contributors, including collectors, and an evident uptick in the amount of background research being done by writers.
My year with Quill & Pad
Time for a recurring theme: it’s all about the people! That starts with Elizabeth and Ian, who have been a delight to work with, and extends to the growing family of contributors here, whose work I love to read. We are planning a team get-together in Geneva during the SIHH week, and I can’t wait.
Over the course of the year, I’ve had the opportunity to write “Why I Bought It” articles that focus on my rationales for new acquisitions as well as “Behind the Lens” features that spotlight great watches on loan from my friends while allowing me to practice my photographic techniques.
My favorites, though, were those that were centered on the human side of our hobby. Very high on that list was the article that focused on legendary watchmaker Philippe Dufour (see Why Philippe Dufour Matters. And It’s Not A Secret).
Even closer to my heart were two articles that talked about Jaeger-LeCoultre’s generous support of the fight against ovarian cancer (Love, Loss, And Watches: Jaeger-LeCoultre’s Tribute) and the brand’s involvement with my friend Howard Parr’s wonderful photography project featuring images of ovarian cancer survivors (Jaeger-LeCoultre Fights Ovarian Cancer With Collector Events).
Finally, there were the great dialogues with my colleagues and invited guests on the finalists for various categories at the 2014 Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève and the whimsically-named Watch Passion Smackdown! Enthusiast Collectors Meet Journalists, in which a bunch of my watch-crazy friends were kind enough to talk about the different perspectives that collectors and journalists bring to our shared passion.
My year in watches
When I looked back at 2014, I surprised myself a bit with the volume of comings and goings in my collection. As a rule, I tend to hold the watches I buy for quite a while; at the same time, like many collectors, I go through periodic cycles of consolidation in order to afford a smaller number of “bigger” pieces.
This was one of those cycles! You’ve seen most of the additions throughout this article; here a few words about each:
· The early F.P. Journe Tourbillon Souverain was bought from a friend who was selling it because he had just purchased an even earlier watch in the same series, his with the coveted yellow gold dial. Happily, I prefer the “champagne” color of the white gold dial, so it was a great find for me, as well as being my first Journe and first-ever tourbillon. See Behind The Lens: The F.P. Journe Tourbillon Souverain for the full story.
· I’m a long-time supporter of Vianney Halter’s work, and it was natural for me to join in as one of the pre-production subscribers for his striking Deep Space Tourbillon. From no tourbillons to two in a seeming flash! See Why I Bought It: Vianney Halter Deep Space Tourbillon for more.
· Back to Journe: only 99 examples of his T30 Anniversary Tourbillon were made, and I was fortunate enough to buy one unused from another collector. A really pretty piece and unusual with its two-tone case in rose gold and silver to match the materials of Mr. Journe’s original pocket watch.
· The Omega Bullhead? Definitely a “fun” watch for me: great to look at, enjoyable to wear, and my first watch with the Daniels-developed co-axial escapement. Not all horological goals require extreme investment; owning a co-axial has been a long-time desire of mine.
· For those of you kind enough to follow my scribbling here, you will have seen my recent “Why I Bought It” article on the Breguet Reference 7727 10Hz: Why I Bought It: Breguet Classique Chronométrie Reference 7727. In a year of firsts, this was my first Breguet, and the purchase also contained direct links to two of my best friends, who are also Reference 7727 owners.
Last, and most certainly not least, I experienced the somewhat unexpected scratching of a long-standing itch with the acquisition of the Greubel Forsey Invention Piece 1.
Earlier this year, I published an article, Objects of Desire: Greubel Forsey, describing my admiration for the work of Robert Greubel and Stephen Forsey along with a bit of a lament that I would not be able to afford one of their pieces any time soon.
Well, sometimes sacrifices must be made! A bit of that nasty “consolidation” I mentioned earlier raised just enough funds to allow me to buy a pre-owned example of Stephen Forsey’s favorite watch. And I couldn’t be happier.
Thanks to you
It’s been a blast writing here throughout 2014 and a big part of the fun has been the reaction from our readers: in comments here on Quill & Pad; in “likes,” comments, and shares on our Facebook postings and tweets about the articles; and in personal e-mails and conversations with my friends.
I hope you’ve enjoyed what I’ve been able to share in 2014, and I can’t wait for the watch year 2015 to get started!