“What is the one thing we all carry with us?”
What’s the first thing that comes to your mind?
If you’re following us, you might be thinking “a watch”, or perhaps another practical thing such as “keys”, or maybe a symbolic item such as “a wedding ring”.
It seems like an innocuous question, but no matter our differences in age, place, and background, there is one thing we all carry with us: stories.
Often the physical items we carry that don’t serve a practical purpose (such as a license, money, or keys) are carried with us for deeper, and much more personal reasons.
Which brings us to our question:
How do antique watches retain their meaning and significance despite the growing influence of smart watches. Surely, there are watches that can do more and serve a greater functional purpose than the watches of yesterday, so what keeps us coming back to the timepieces of the past?
They carry exclusivity:
We are drawn to the allure of singularity—the idea of being one among many and having something others do not. This is why you might know someone who will immediately spring for the chance for backstage passes to a show, or membership into a V.I.P club. The draw is not that it costs more or even necessarily the experience itself, but the feeling of significance in being a part of an elite group and tasting what most others cannot.
Vintage and antique watches, especially ones created by luxury brands such as Rolex, Patek Phillipe, or Breguet are sought after not only because of the precious materials they are made with, but because of their rarity and age. When you own one of these timepieces, you carry something with you that most never will, and that to many is something truly special.
They carry the physical past:
Often times, age itself is something that can set a timepiece apart in the mind. When you’re in possession of something that is older than, especially by a significant amount of time, it carries an inherent weight and perceived value.
This phenomenon holds true in many things of age. Thomas Mayes, an architect out of Charlotte, North Carolina, recounted that “old places give people a sense of being part of a continuum. An emotional bond develops with places, and a sense of stability forms against their ever-changing worlds.”
This eloquently reflects how places and items of age root us to the past and give us a sense of security in a changing world. In this way, the influx of smart watches, gives some people an even greater reason to hold onto pieces of the past, as they represent something that will never again be.
When you wear an antique watch, you carry the past with you, and this sense of preservation and protecting the past can create a deep, sentimental bond.
They carry our stories:
Perhaps the most prominent reason why we hold onto antique timepieces is because of the stories they carry with them. Beyond the age itself as mentioned above, it is the life of the piece before it came to you that gives it beauty to many.
In the art world, the term “provenance” refers to the documented history of a piece of art beyond its age and original creator. It often counts for the hands the art has passed through, what has happened to the piece throughout its lifetime, and the ways in which these events and stories contribute to the value of the art in the present moment. For example, a piece painting owned by royalty for 50 years before being passed on to you is much more valuable than the same piece if it was issued to you from the start.
For timepieces, the same idea holds true, but often on a much more personal scale.
Imagine for a moment that your great grandfather hands you his pocket watch as a token of his love to keep him with you on his deathbed. That pocket watch will hold much more significance than its physical form, or the value of the parts that make it up. When you hold that watch and listen to it gently “tick, tick, tick” you are reminded of your grandfather, and in its ticking, the aliveness of him with you in every moment.
In this way, antique timepieces become for us a vessel for memories and stories that we can pass onto future generations to keep the past alive.
This significance and meaning is a beautiful thing, which is why at At Watch Technicians, we don’t just repair antique & modern watches, jewelry, and clocks, but preserve the memories, stories, and legacies connected to each piece we restore, allowing new generations to celebrate the past by securing a future for prized possessions at the end of their lives.
Do you have an antique watch that could use some love and care?
Click Here To Schedule An Appointment with our team of expert certified watch technicians to help you bring new life to a treasured timepiece.
Before you go, we’d love to hear your stories!
Do you have a watch that has been passed down through your family? What does it mean to you?