Why We Will Keep Writing About Watches You Can’t Afford, And Why You (Hopefully) Will Continue To Read This Under The COVID-19 Cloud
by Ian Skellern
Most of us are now on a COVID-19 rollercoaster ride and we don’t know if we are going up or down. And, unfortunately, unless you are in Asia, you are still on your way up and it’s a big drop down.
I’m writing this from my home in rural France where my wife Brigitte and I recently – and fortuitously as it turns out – moved from Switzerland. While France is now suffering badly, our local supermarkets and bakeries (and tobacconists and wine shops – this is France after all) have remained fully stocked throughout. There is no problem shopping (alone) twice per week (per person), and we have noticed no signs of anxiety or panic in the local largely farming/forestry community.
For that (and much else) I am very grateful.
And yet. Here I am still devoting inordinate amounts of my time on proofing, reading, and sometimes even writing (hopefully) enjoyable, understandable, and informative articles on (mainly) wristwatches that, let’s face it, even at the best of times, neither you, nor I, nor other watch journalists, and not even most independent watchmakers themselves, can afford. Have you seen the prices? Crazy!
And I don’t mean that most of us can’t afford the watches we desire; none of us can.
I know a good number of seriously wealthy people and count many as friends, and do you know what? They are searching for what’s just out of reach the same as somebody with a $50 watch is dreaming of a $300 watch. Whatever your income level, you (like me) still have that feeling of wanting what you don’t have. It’s what drives us forward as human beings. It’s deep.
It’s why Red Bar works.
It’s why Rolex can make hundreds of thousands of nearly identical watches and yet everyone cries shortage because they all want the same model, the one they can’t get.
While well-heeled watch collectors might get a brief dopamine hit out of each new purchase, even they, like the rest of us, spend most of our time on one, a few, or all of the below:
– reading about watches we can’t afford because we can’t afford them.
– reading about watches we can afford to make us feel better about our purchase.
– reading about watches because we like watches.
– reading about watches because we like reading about any interesting things.
I’m not a collector. That’s a gene or trait some have that I don’t. I am fortunate to have the opportunity to handle many, if not most of, the finest and the most interesting (not always the same thing) mechanical watches on the planet. And the last thing I (and most of my colleagues) ask is the price because it doesn’t matter to me (though it might to some of you): it’s just a number.
I’m more than happy with the watches I have, I’m not looking to buy (or sell), so the price, while of academic interest, isn’t my focus. I do not spend my (to me) precious time writing and publishing articles because it’s work. It’s because – perhaps like you – I like learning new things. I happened to discover the world of mechanical watches many years ago and ever since, the more I learn about fine watchmaking and great watchmakers the more I appreciate them and the more I want to read and learn.
While watch brands and watch retailers shutting down is an economic tragedy, like you, not being able to spend money now on a watch I neither want to buy nor could afford to buy, is way down on my list of what shutdown is and what it is not.
Most of us can enjoy can enjoy and appreciate art without owning it, and it’s no different with watches.
So if all of us are finding pleasure, and perhaps even more importantly in these socially distancing times, connected pleasure, in learning more about fine watchmaking and in sharing that knowledge, then we’ll keep writing.
And in continuing to publish, there’s the bonus that those collectors out there, who through good luck or good judgement (or both) are still in a financially comfortable position, might see something they like and buy it. In the next 12 months it will be this group that keeps the whole watch industry going. Including some of the team at Quill & Pad. We sincerely thank them.
So despite the gloomy coronavirus cloud above, we will continue highlighting and “taunting” you with laugh-so-loud-that-you-want-to-cry expensive watches. And we hope you enjoy them.
Stay healthy and stay sane!