Colin Alexander Smith’s journey into what some call “watch fettling” began with a case of cat-killing curiosity: one of the subdial hands on a cheap watch had come loose, bringing it to a halt. That led him down a horological rabbit hole. Here he explains why you might want to consider a similar path.
About Colin Alexander Smith
Colin, aka “The Bumbling Watchmaker,” is a freelance translator and digital nomad currently based in southwest France. When not haggling over and rather hamfistedly restoring vintage watches, or sampling Bordeaux wines and magret de canard, he is a keen 35mm film photographer and jazz/rock guitarist. Follow him on Instagram at @calexandersmith.
Entries by Colin Alexander Smith
Project 248 is the working title for Struthers Watchmakers’ first in-house, handcrafted movement. It features a new improved English lever escapement, picking up where the British industry left off in the late nineteenth century. Colin Alexander Smith reports extensively on the project whose first run of five watches has already sold out.
Last year, Colin Alexander Smith’s mother showed him a silver pocket watch. All she could tell him about it was that it had belonged to his grandfather. The watch appeared to be older than his grandfather, though, and he embarked upon a quest to identify it and discover the original owner. The story took a few interesting turns as he reveals here in a truly interesting trace of the origins.
Colin Alexander Smith is reunited with his first watch and discovers an intriguing watch manufacturer that has been producing mechanical watches in Switzerland continuously since 1886.
Colin Alexander Smith highlights the fact that both electric guitars and watches share the timeless debate over whether to restore an item showing its age or to preserve it “as is.” And John Mayer is mixed up in both; but how?
As a fan of the classic 1950s and 1960s Omega Constellations, Colin Smith had always dismissed Omega’s 1982 reworking of its flagship model, known as the Constellation Manhattan, as something of an aberration from the “true” Constellation concept. His “road to Damascus” moment occurred recently when he saw a 36 mm black-dial co-axial chronometer on display at an Omega dealer in Bordeaux.
If you were to ask people about the first watch they received as a child, the majority would probably say it was a Timex. And although LIP was at one point the world’s seventh largest watch manufacturer, it’s now little known outside France. Both companies share an extremely turbulent past one aspect of which Colin Smith shares with us here.
Colin was wearing a steel watch with blue dial when the receptionist at the trading company he was working for, a chirpy lass straight out of the BBC’s ‘Eastenders’ soap opera, looked down disdainfully and said, “I hate watches with blue dials. They remind me of old men in pubs.” What happened after that can only be described as a case of gerontohorologyphobia: fear of inadvertently wearing an old man’s watch.
Increasing demand for timepieces, especially Rolexes, with the Omani emblem is understandable given the high quality, good condition, demonstrable provenance, and rarity of most of these watches, combined with the fact that they had often been presented to their first owners in the 1970s by Sultan Qaboos in person as a token of gratitude for services rendered. Colin Alexander Smith takes a very close look at the meaning behind these rare timepieces.