Updated: Nov 29, 2021
Look at any gentleman's lifestyle magazine or social media page and you can't fail to notice that watches and cars seem to make excellent bedfellows. But why is this? Are they just style choices, or does it go much deeper than that? Certainly we here at Talk Wrench furnish ourselves with both cars and watches. Pictured above is Will's exquisite JW Benson silver "half hunter". Believed to have been made in 1879, this watch will never keep time anywhere near as well as the £20 Casio you can pick up in the supermarket.
Nor is it practical, as it is worn with a chain, preferably in the pocket of a waistcoat. It can't monitor your heart rate, wake you up in the morning, or send emails. In short, the thing is completely obsolete by today's standards. However, I think it perfectly incapsulates what makes classic car enthusiasts anything but normal people.
Writing about the Jensen Interceptor the other day, I essentially debunked any notion that it was a good car in any way whatsoever. Yet I'm forced to admit that I'd still give my right arm for one. Owning something old and obsolete takes a special kind of person. It takes patience and in return gives one an appreciation of how good modern things are. Above all though, keeping old stuff in use gives you the sense that you're doing the right thing. You're keeping a small piece of history alive, and through Talk Wrench, we hope we are putting that history in the public domain. We're lead by our hearts rather than our heads.
Unlike the world of carmakers, watchmakers have got wise to the mentality of classic car enthusiasts and are making a fortune out of it.
(Pictured left), Patek Philippe's 2016 ad campaign proved divisive with its perhaps pretentious message, but actually the sentiment is in my humble opinion, bang on. Popular predominantly amongst the wealthy older gentleman, Patek Philippe's can set you back hundreds of thousands but their argument about longevity is actually less old and stuffy than it might first appear.
In the "throwaway culture" which we're told we live in today, the idea of something lasting or being kept going makes a lot of sense.
Take my old Oris for example.
It's battered, you have to wind it up before you go to bed and in the world of vintage watches it's worth bugger all. Recently brought out of retirement, I put on the Oris when my modern quartz operated watch had inevitably run out of battery and with the current restrictions I couldn't go anywhere to get a new one put in.
This is not to say that there isn't a place in this world for new things, but taking this old Oris out of a drawer and putting it back into service has reminded me how much we rely on the conveniences of modern life. Since then, I have replaced the battery of my modern watch, but I notice that I'm still wearing the Oris.
Driving my Land Rover last year, I suffered a total electrical failure as the result of a faulty fusebox but still managed to drive the ten or so miles home without so much as a hitch, (although hand signals did become rather necessary). Being an old diesel, once they're running, they won't stop. People I've let drive it have got out, handed me the key and told me it won't turn off! The only way to shut it off is via a fuel cut off lever ( which I neglect to tell them on account of it being quite funny)...
"Unlike the world of carmakers, watchmakers have got wise to the mentality of classic car enthusiasts and are making a fortune out of it."
So back to my original question.
Why do classic car enthusiasts like old watches?
On the one hand, I think the aesthetic definitely comes into it. Classic car owners often have a secret (and sometimes not so secret) yearning for the past. An old watch is simply part of the costume. Watches have been associated with and endorsed by racing drivers since the birth of motor racing. The concept of "time" itself is ingrained upon the mind of a racing driver, trying to shave tenths of seconds off a lap time. But I'll also stress that the mechanical nature of an old watch is also an alluring proposition. Classic car enthusiasts revel in the mechanical nature of their hobby and the more you grow to understand about the internal combustion engine, the more you are in awe of it. An old car is a living and breathing thing and so is an old watch. With both it doesn't matter if they are expensive, rare or desirable. The passion remains the same.