Quill & Pad: Our First Year
One year ago today, on a crisp and sunny New Year’s Day in Central Europe, Quill & Pad quietly went online. Looking back, I’m relatively sure that Ian and I had little idea what we were really getting ourselves into, but I do know that we were extremely enthusiastic.
However, one thing was crystal clear both then and now: we both loved watches and we were both really excited by the idea of sharing our passion and knowledge for the subject.
Since then, we have added four knowledgeable contributors with distinct areas of expertise to our little band of merry men and women − Joshua Munchow (technical nerd), GaryG (collector), Nancy Olson (pens), Boris Pjanic (vintage) − and together we have posted approximately 300 original stories.
We have traveled to every habitable continent (Americas, Europe, Asia, Africa, and Australia) in search of the most interesting stories.
We have taken part in automobile races and exhibitions.
We have interviewed celebrities and collectors on their love of watches.
We have learned how to paint and fire enamel dials.
We have watched as the world’s most famous watchmakers assemble their timepieces.
And Joshua Munchow even made his own wristwatch and told you all about it in Making My First Watch: Adventures Of A Beginner.
We have discussed industry events and fairs in numerous round tables and taken part in the prestigious Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève, spending weeks publicly debating the selected watches in each category along with invited guest writers.
And we have spent in excess of three full weeks at various trade fairs like the SIHH, Baselworld and SalonQP to learn about the latest timepieces and stay connected.
We have reported on individual watchmakers and their oeuvres; we have reported on the doings of big groups; and we have reported on horological topics surrounding major events such as the FIFA World Cup and the Olympics.
We have given away amazing, unique prizes like the Greubel Forsey Meccano model and a one-of-a-kind fountain pen embellished with urushi lacquer.
We have visited factories, suppliers, workshops, boutiques and auctions.
In additional to watches, we have reviewed books, pens, and stationery. And we have worn test watches so as to provide you with live, on-the-wrist reviews; these have so far included Habring2 Felix, Rolex Sky-Dweller, Maurice Lacroix Square Wheel Cube and Masterpiece Mystery, Jaeger-LeCoultre Geophysic, and Stepan Sarpaneva’s Korona Doublemoon.
But we have also visited an English automobile factory (Jaguar), a German camera factory (Leica), an art show (Art Basel Miami), a premier antiques fair (TEFAF), famous Mexican pyramids (Chichen Itza), a French crystal factory (Cristalleries de Saint-Louis), an iconic pen factory (Montblanc), a Formula 1 race (Hockenheim), a unique ballet performance (Béjart and Tokyo Ballet), a professional golf tournament (Lacoste Ladies Open), a polo master class (Saint-Tropez), and even the summer home of the Swatch Group’s Hayek family.
We have commemorated anniversaries such as 25 years of the fall of the Berlin Wall, 20 years of the Lange 1, 10 years of Greubel Forsey, 10 years of Hautlence, 100 years of Caran d’Ache, and 175 years of Patek Philippe.
And we have brought you stories out of the long history book of watchmaking, both somewhat more recent (like François-Paul Journe’s involvement with Piaget) and somewhat more ancient history (like the first ladies’ watches recorded).
We have offered controversial topics for discussion (like the Peter Henlein Pomander Watch from 1505, which we will soon bring you more news of) and provided you with honest opinions (such as those regarding the Grieb & Benzinger Blue Merit).
We have shown you some of our own very favorite personal timepieces (like Ian’s JDN and my Martin Braun Eos Boreas as well as almost the entirety of GaryG’s extensive treasure chest).
And we have brought you technical topics that dig deep into the art of watchmaking on subjects like fine finishing, dial making, jump hour complications, 3D printing, tri-axial tourbillons, enamel and the origin of gold.
Here at Quill & Pad, the majority of stories are created by a writer’s interest in the topic. This means that in just about every case, there is a story behind the story. Thus, we have learned a lot about our colleagues.
Joshua has proven to be quite a poet, for example, as his odes to the three-quarter plate and the muses he imagines behind the beauty of De Bethune’s oeuvres clearly show.
GaryG has astounded us time and again with his breathtaking photography and passionate love of timepieces. His stories have been a true joy to read.
We have known Nancy already for a very long time and have had the pleasure of working with her at iW for years. Her expertise in pens was always clear to us; it’s nice to see what her particular personal favorites are, though.
It is the personal stories showing me so much about the person behind the photo that I have personally loved best. Ian’s heartfelt story of the acquisition of his JDN in The Watch That Changed My Life: The Jean Daniel Nicolas Two-Minute Tourbillon By Daniel Roth, which is the timepiece that brought him into the world of watches, was an amazing read and allowed me to get to know him even better.
I also sniffed a few genuine tears away when I read GaryG’s Love, Loss, And Watches: Jaeger-LeCoultre’s Tribute for the first time, which wasn’t actually cool, because I had just sat down for a break during an exceedingly hot day while visiting the Leica factory.
Maybe, too, it was the fact that Jaeger-LeCoultre was involved; from the first day of my own involvement in the horological world, this has been hands-down one of my own favorite brands, and I associate quite a bit of my own personal state of being with it.
I always knew that Joshua loved watches more than just about anything, but the story of making his own watch really moved me. I could literally picture the scene and feel the frustration as he attempted, failed and succeeded. If you’ve ever tried to teach yourself something big, do read Making My First Watch: Adventures Of A Beginner.
And, without the restriction of word count and editor demands, I have discovered the joy of allowing a bit of what of what I feel to flow into my texts rather than just telling the neutral story. It’s been quite a personal revelation.
And, whew, it’s been quite a year.
The reality is, however, that none of this exhausting fun would have been possible without you reading and sharing and without our partners understanding, supporting, propagating and taking part in something that is not only our passion and hobby, but also our vocation.
We hope that together we can make 2015 even better. Though, admittedly, that will be a little hard as thanks to your support, 2014 far exceeded our expectations . . . and then some!
And we’ve only just begun, watch this space as we continue to keep a watch on time.
We wish you all the best for a fantastic 2015!
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What a lovely look back at the first year of Quill & Pad, Elizabeth.
It has been a treat for me to have the privilege of contributing here, and I’ve loved reading the diverse contributions of the other members of our little family. Thanks for having me along for the journey.
My New Year’s resolution, which I think you will appreciate: learn to write shorter sentences and paragraphs!
Thank you for being such an integral part of what we’re doing here, Gary! Your contributions have been just so lovely!
And, just so you know, the length of your sentences and paragraphs are absolutely not a problem! 🙂
Congratulations, Elizabeth and Ian! What a year it’s been! I have thoroughly enjoyed the variety of stories on Quill & Pad. I am a regular visitor to your site. I try to comment on stories when I can; but, I don’t always have the time. This should be my resolution as I know you like comments on the articles that you post. Thanks again and I look forward to what’s in store for 2015!
P.S. Love the sneakers that you wore at Baselworld!
Thanks, John, and, yes, we do love conversation of any kind here at Quill & Pad!
And thanks so much for liking our sneakers — treading down new paths was our motto, and I couldn’t envision a better way to illustrate that.
Congratulations and many thanks for those pleasant, rewarding readings and those many beautiful pictures.
My best wishes for 2015 and beyond!
Thank you, Paul, for your kind comments and for being part of the community! Happy new year to you, too!
Beth and Q&P Team,
Congratulations…it’s been an enjoyable year thanks to Q&P. Wishing you the best in 2015.
Excellent to have you here, Clint! We hope to continue entertaining you!