Monday, September 24, 2012

So a Watchmaker Walked into a Gastro Pub...

So as regular readers might remember, I grew up a Northern Youth on what at least the local media referred to as the North Coast of America - just south of Cleveland, Ohio.  And I mean no offense to what the nice folks at Ball Watch would have you believe - but the Ball watches of today have about as much to do with my backyard (Oberlin, the Kipton train disaster and Cleveland) as Paula Deen has to do with healthy dining.  It is a gimmick - tied to a disaster - in my backyard.  So no, I will probably not be purchasing a Ball watch in the foreseeable future.

Do not fear loyal readers, I do not think that my gas tank will be filled with sugar  - as near as I can tell, the nice folks at Ball have no idea I even exist - but maybe now we'll be able to tell  ; )
So let's talk about what is real.  What is honest, what is original.  For me, there are a few new, original movements in watchmaking - and no that is not a pun!  We have watches that are made from the "remains" of historic disasters, we have watches that are "powered" by alternative methods.  But when we really boil it down, when we really get down to brass tacks - there are a handful people IN THE WORLD who are trying to do something unique - who perhaps like Frank Lloyd Wright or Courbusier  have a very specific vision of how they see things.   And after many years of reading about it, several years of working in the industry, and finally nearly 3 years of reporting on the industry I can say that there are a few people flying the flag of originality.  I want to be clear that originality is not about being "independent" or making everything "in house".  No - it is about a clear vision, and not being afraid to follow the vision - to see it through - damn the outcome!

So Ochs und Junior - not surprising for many who read this regularly - they are the first entry.  They are flying the flag for change.   And I want to say something loud and clear - there is nothing wrong with the establishment.  They have been doing things the RIGHT way for a LOT of years - that is why they are the establishment.  They have indeed earned the right.  AP with a Crazy Expensive steel sport watch - the Royal Oak, this was thought to be the idea of a truly crazy person when it debuted.  Patek with the Nautilus, Breguet with, well - almost anything they came up with back in the day - these were ICONOCLASTS!  So in many ways, there is a proud tradition. But the challenge was, and is still - don't just make noise - make something of value.  While the temporary, the vulgar - the "of the moment" will not endure, there is something to be said for taking all of what has come before  - respecting it - and still offering something that pays due respect to tradition, but does so while following its own path and offers something different.  And that is what Beat Weinmann and Ludwig Oechslin are doing.  They are taking complications and distilling them down.  To quote Mr. Wonka - they are the music makers, and the dreamers of dreams.

So if you haven't done so already - check them out!

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