Watches are a curious thing. On one level, they can be simple tools for telling the time, on another they can be exquisite items of jewelery costing more than some houses. However; there is one feature that unites the lowliest quartz to the most complex tourbillion, they are all amazing feats of minature engineering. The tiny pinions, gears and springs are a marvel to behold, and combine in perfect harmony to keep time.
Personally, my fascination lies with mechanical watches, though some of the early or more interesting quartz movements can also pique my interest. I fell into watch collecting almost by accident, I had always admired quality watches, but never taken it any further. Slowly my interest grew until one day I spotted a vintage Seiko diver in a charity shop. Before I knew it, I had bought it and the slippery descent into watch collecting had begun. 6 months later and I had several dozen vintage mechanical watches. Some years down the line and I have lost count of the number of watches that have passed through my hands.
My other job is writing about motorsport technology (as Editor of Race Engine Technology's reports) and since I was young, I have taken things apart to see how they work. Watches are no different and once I got my head around how tiny they were, I realised that they are just mechanical devices like any other. So began another branch of the obsession, watch repair and refurbishment. It is a constant learning process, but one that I find immensly satisfying. I would class myself as a collector, but according to one watch industry professional I spoke to, I am a 'Gentleman Dealer'. Either way, I am in this game because of a love of watches.
Lawrence Butcher, owner, Retro Wrist Wear