The Watch Editor’s Pick – Elizabeth Doerr

Chronos24.pl and Fratellowatches.com are proud to present you this new, special, bi-weekly section dedicated to our fellow watch journalists and bloggers. Ever wondered what they really like? – read on.

Without going into the long-lasting dispute about who is a journalist, who is a blogger, and which of this two is better (like it matters) we tried to find out about a  more interesting topic: what are the personal favorite watches of watch editors and which timepieces would they purchase when having unlimited resources. In the next coming weeks (every other Monday) we will bring you some of the biggest names from the world of watch editors, both acclaimed authors with an impressive track-record and new-age digital-world bloggers, who re-shape(d) journalism as we know it today.

So without further ado, here is the second “Watch Editor’s Picks”, featuring watch journalist Elizabeth Doerr.

The Watch Editors Pick   Elizabeth DoerrWho are you?

My name is Elizabeth Doerr. I am most recently the co-founder and editor-in-chief of Quill & Pad, but I have spent more than two decades as a print media journalist and editor, which began when I started working at Germany’s Heel Verlag (we began publishing ArmbandUhren and the ArmbandUhrenKatalog/Wristwatch Annual), which saw me heading to my first Basel Fair in 1991. I have since traveled the Swiss and German watchmaking landscapes extensively and have probably visited every watch factory worth visiting. My specialties lie in the luxury watch market as this is where the most cutting-edge, interesting developments in watchmaking are happening.

The Watch Editors Pick   Elizabeth DoerrHave a peek at what we are doing on Quill & Pad.

What does your ordinary writer’s day look like?

I don’t feel there is an “ordinary” writer’s day – this is the beauty of my job! Every single day is different, and that is the coolest thing of all.

My day basically can take two general paths: half of the time I am in my office writing, answering (far too many!) e-mails, filing photography and press kits, planning editorial schedules, and taking telephone interviews. The other half of the time I am out “in the field” visiting workshops, watchmakers, factories, events and fairs. This past fall, it was more like three-quarters of my time, but that was probably an exception…but an exception that makes it hard to get it all done! Unlike most jobs, when I travel somewhere, that is not the end of it. I need to experience and to write about it after. It is, however, an indispensible element of my job as our field is a living entity; to keep up with the changes, new models, and latest developments, you have to be in the thick of them.

An “ordinary” office day may have more of a rhythm. After getting the kids off to school, I head to the office, where I start with communication: answering urgent e-mail, social media contacts, and telephone calls. Then I usually update my “Elizabeth Doerr” Facebook page with a link to a story I wrote or a piece of news I found interesting. And now I make sure along with my business partner Ian Skellern that that Quill & Pad’s social media is also active.

Then I work on whatever story is due next in terms of deadline. Up to January 1, this would certainly have referred to one of my close to 20 print partners (and certainly soon, this will also include the Baselworld Daily News; FYI, the Basel Brand Book was just completed). Because of the amount of time that Quill & Pad needs, I now only have a handful of print partners such as Elite Traveler, Plaza Watch and iW in order to leave more time for it, though I still regularly post on Forbes.com.

Here is a Forbes story that I posted last week explaining 20 watches that particularly caught my eye in 2013.

Unless the day is über-hectic (which many of them turn out to be if unexpected things pop up, which they often do), I try to take a walk or bike ride, visit the gym, or relax over lunch around noon to re-energize – which is already close to 5 hours into my work day.

What’s your favorite watch to wear (and why)?

I’m not sure I have a favorite “daily wearer.” I wardrobe my watches according to function, outfit and weather conditions (I try, for example, not to wear a silk or light-colored leather strap if it’s really hot). I guess if I had to choose one daily wearer, it would be my Nomos Tetra (a limited “Expo” edition from 2000 in the larger size and with transparent case back). The Shell Cordovan strap is ideal for all weather conditions; the light and slim watch case is robust and comfortable to wear with any outfit; the Bauhaus design is clear, clean, classic and expresses “me” in any situation personal, private, or fancy. Also, it flies under the radar, so it won’t attract undue attention if traveling or in personal circles.

The Watch Editors Pick   Elizabeth DoerrLately, I have worn my new Shinola Gomelsky a lot as well. I visited Shinola back in October, which was a real thrill since I was born in Detroit. They are doing great work there and really spearheading a new “made in America” movement. I was so enamored that I ended up spontaneously buying a rose gold-plated Gomelsky model right then and there. I realize that it is “only” quartz, but I am happy to support what they are doing. I feel they are doing it for the right reasons, and in the process they are helping lift a destitute city back up out of the ruins – if only with their enthusiasm. The approach is incredible.

What’s your holy horology grail?

Now that is really a very tricky question. I have so many “favorite” watches. But after pondering this question for several days and really digging deep down, I see there is only one possible answer for me if budget was not an issue and I was able to get my hands on one: Vianney Halter’s Antiqua.

The Watch Editors Pick   Elizabeth Doerr
This may seem like an unexpected answer. But if you know me, it probably isn’t. At heart, and for all I love modern horology (yes, Richard Mille and Urwerk number among some of my most recent favorites), I am usually very classic in my personal tastes. But the best classics always have a twist, an element that sets them apart from every other classic-looking watch out there. The visuals of the Antiqua stole my heart very early on; and after I met Vianney and had the unique opportunity to get to know him over the years, particularly in the course of my research while writing ’12 Faces of Time,’ my desire for this piece increased. Max Büsser once said to me, “When you buy an independent maker’s timepiece, you are not only buying the watch, but also a little piece of the artist as well.” This sentence has never left me; and, truly, every time I have bought a watch, everything that maker stands for has gone into the decision as much as the watch’s visuals or mechanics. (Hence the current fascination with the inexpensive Shinola pieces: I like what they stand for, though I do really like the pseudo-vintage visuals.)

The Watch Editors Pick   Elizabeth DoerrI have been very fortunate to be able to purchase my other grail watch a few years ago, which I keep in the deposit box and only pull out for special occasions: the Lange 1. As it is housed in gold (the only gold watch I own; I am a fan of stainless steel for reasons of purity), I also like to spare the case from undue scratching and, truly, I guess, I feel too much of a reverence for this watch and the rose gold case to wear it regularly. I real feel like it is a true honor for me to be able to own such a thing…somehow it feels just a little unreal.

You can see a sister timepiece to this one in a story I wrote for Quill & Pad right at the beginning of January as one of my first posts, a most impressive grand complication that came out last year.

What is your best advice for a beginner collector with a 1500 Euro budget?

The path I took, which was a very typical beginning collector’s path in the early 1990s (though I would never in my wildest dreams consider myself a collector; I am an enthusiast) was a good one for a beginning. My personal journey began with Movado, Oris and then Chronoswiss as I gained confidence and started to figure out where my own preferences lay.

As I learned more, I realized vintage was not really a frequent option for me, nor was I in a position to purchase “in-house” movements. Which was not a problem: going beyond an ETA caliber at that time was not something my “no mess, no fuss” ethic would allow me to stray to. Today, I own watches with various movements other than ETA in them, but I still do not take many chances. These movements are all very tried-and-tested or, in some cases, vintage (yes, I do meanwhile have a couple of vintage watches, even inherited from grandparents).

The Watch Editors Pick   Elizabeth DoerrToday, I would fully recommend any budding watch enthusiast to begin with Nomos. This brand’s price/performance ratio is absolutely not to be beat, and the manufacture caliber powering the time display is as reliable as they come. I realize that not everyone will enjoy the low-key Bauhaus look of Nomos, so for those sporting souls, Hamilton, Longines, Tissot, Mido, Seiko and, yes, Oris make great starting points with their ultra-reliable movements and the wide range of collection choices. Today it might be a little more difficult to find an Oris with a 1,500 euro budget, though versions of my Big Crown (which my daughter now wears) still exist within this financial framework.

Click here for the Polish version of this interview over at Chronos24.pl.

The Watch Editors Pick   Elizabeth Doerr
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Robert-Jan Broer

Founder & Editor at Fratello Watches
Robert-Jan Broer, born in 1977, watch collector and author on watches for over a decade. Founder of Fratello Watches in 2004.
The Watch Editors Pick   Elizabeth Doerr
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