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Some Musings on the Future Desirability of Mechanical Timepieces

NickO
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My dad collected grandfather clocks. He moved to England in the early 1960s and over the next fifteen years or so amassed a collection of forty-something fully operational and striking grandfather clocks. Had he sold them when he retired to The States in the early 1990s, he would have turned a nice profit on his investment. Alas, he did not, and when he died last year and my mother downsized to a condo, we ended up sending thirty of them to auction. They yielded pennies on my dad’s estimates and I’m glad he was not there to see it. The reason is simple, the generation who love grandfather clocks is my dad’s and their numbers fall by the day. As demand decreases so does price and today many view grandfather clocks as just another form of unwanted brown furniture.

And so this brings me to mechanical timepieces. I’m guessing here, but I would wager that most folks who post on this site belong to the Baby Boomer or Gen X generations. In other words, most of us here were born before 1979. We are unique in that we are the last generations of Digital Immigrants. That is, we remember a time before email, text, the internet, social media, iPhones, 24/7 connectivity and technological advances such as electric cars. We will always have a special place in our hearts for analog and mechanical devices as they harken to our youth. But what of the generations who follow us? The Millennials (Gen Y) and Gen Z are Digital Natives and have never known a world without the advanced technology of the past few decades. Will someone who is born today and grows up entirely in a family with electric and/or self-driving cars ever appreciate or want to own a vehicle with a V12 combustion engine? Maybe I’m wrong and maybe today’s boys will grow up to be adult men who love their mechanical baubles every bit as much as we do. But I’m cautious as I believe every technology has its time. And so it makes me wonder what the world’s general interest in mechanical timepieces will be thirty years from now? Will it still be a passion shared by many or are mechanical timepieces destined to go the way of grandfather clocks and die a slow and silent death as those who truly love them pass on and are not replaced by those who follow? Only time will tell.

NickO



This message has been edited by ChristianDK on 2019-11-15 00:24:58

Comments:
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Euroasianstar November 12th, 2019-19:11
Very interesting observation. Have also been thinking about this over the past few weeks.  Whilst the wristwatch seems to have transcended generations and multiple technological disruptions, I can surely see the likelihood of the scenario you paint. Mentally my answer has been to maybe limit the number of pieces I leave behind, to go for qualit... 
nwk00 November 12th, 2019-19:31
I think a lot of us are innately interested in mechanical things to see them in operation is very satisfying. I suspect this has to do with the fact we are also analog creatures. I don't believe this will disappear. Clocks are on the decline because it's really difficult to service them, whether in terms of finding qua... 
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Echi November 12th, 2019-20:14
I have been thinking about this a lot the past couple of years.. I was doing a mental timeline on how long these watches will stay on people's wrists. My daughter isn't into watches. She likes the Reverso but told me that she's not really into it like how I was. The way she said it kind of summed up everything that I w... 
CR November 12th, 2019-20:55
Your wonderful, articulate post resonates strongly with me, Echi. Thanks for it!  
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amanico November 12th, 2019-22:24
Perfectly put, my friend.  
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VMM November 13th, 2019-00:36
Amen.  
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agyzace November 13th, 2019-03:10
Could not be put better. Thanks Echi!  
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I_am_Clueless November 12th, 2019-21:56
As long as auction houses keep showing cars and watches are a new asset class... And great “investment” potential, the mechanical engines and watches should still exist but not for its original purpose of telling time. Now, watches are an accessory, also for some is a way of showing “how successful I am”, just like many posts saying w... 
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pplater November 12th, 2019-21:58
Just one metric... Hey Nick! Respectfully, your analysis is spot on - but as far as it goes. Here’s an alternate perspective. If there were only one dichotomy at play then the future for mechanical timepieces - as with clocks - might indeed be grim. But is it as simple as ‘... 
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Mr.Gatsby November 13th, 2019-08:16
Again another great read !  I’m reading this post backwards 😂
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foversta
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Hands on review of the David Rutten DR-01 Streamline

foversta
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Foreword: The pictured watch is a prototype and some details will be improved. In particular, a plate is missing on the caseback and the contrast between the numerals and the discs will be increased. David Rutten claims that he was born in Belgium but I do not think so. He comes from a very distant planet.


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