The Watch Editor’s Pick – Angus Davies
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 Angus Davies.
Who are you?
My name is Angus Davies and I live in northern England and my journey into the world of watch journalism was very unusual.
I was previously a major shareholder and director of a chemical company. Chemicals provided the means to fund an addiction to haute horlogerie, but I can’t pretend it was fun.
My watch collecting “habit”, took the form of purchasing watches and then hiding them from my wife. Often on seeing a new watch on my wrist, she would enquire, “how long have you had that watch?” My reply was always the same, “I’ve had it for ages!”
Aged 43, I was in the midst of a mid-life crisis. I had a comfortable lifestyle with frequent holidays, designer clothes, luxury cars and, of course, watches. However, the material trappings did not seem to fulfill me. I recall pondering whether there was anything more to life.
I did not go to sleep dreaming of chemicals, my nocturnal thoughts were populated with images of chronographs, diver’s watches and complicated timepieces. I decided I wanted to embark on a new career and do something that allowed me to embrace my passion full-time.
I established ESCAPEMENT in September 2011 in partnership with my wife. My original idea was to write about watches that I found interesting and ultimately derive income from selling banners on my site. My educational background was not in journalism, I hold a Master’s degree in Marketing Management, hence I did wonder whether my skills as a wordsmith would cut the mustard.
Shortly after launching my website, I began to be approached by other websites, magazines and even watch brands wanting me to write for them. Soon writing would occupy an increasing proportion of my time.
In 2012, I sold my interests in the aforementioned chemical company and devoted my working life solely to ESCAPEMENT. Today, I often work seven days per week.
I now derive income from various sources selling banners, writing, marketing consultancy to watch companies and talking about watches at events.
What does your ordinary writer’s day look like?
An ordinary writer’s day is a contradiction in terms; a writer’s day is seldom ordinary.
However, my day always starts with an espresso to stimulate my brain cells and provide refreshment as I look through my emails. Such emails include commissions for writing work, advertising enquiries and press releases about new products.
A major priority for me is to decide which watches proffer some interest and virtue. Seldom is a watch perfect, but if I don’t like it, I leave it alone and focus upon a timepiece that does interest me. I then need to get hold of samples of watches or arrange to view them. There is no substitute for handling a product and getting “hands-on”.
I typically write two articles each day, usually about 1000 – 1200 words. On some occasions, I can be more productive and conversely sometimes lethargy will rear its head.
Critiquing a watch often involves using a loupe to appraise the dial, case and movement. I also place much emphasis on touch. When selecting a watch, much can be discerned by pressing push-pieces, feeling the edges of cases and inspecting bracelets closely.
I scribble my notes to paper first and then commence my review. Often, I will leave the watch in front of me and keep touching elements of its form to validate my ideas and elicit more comments.
A watch with a sapphire case back always appeals to me more, I appreciate the sight of a movement and have a particular fetish for finishing. Anglage, perlage and Côtes de Genève are often the focus of my comment.
An aspect of my occupation is travel and I spend much time going to and from Switzerland. At one point, I did consider moving to this haven of horological excellence, but my family and friends are in England and the prospect of living anywhere else is too much of a sacrifice. This means that I often spend time in an airport lounge, on a plane or in a hotel room tapping away on a computer keyboard, using my notes and photographs to help the creative juices flow. The need to keep writing never stops and rarely permits a non-writing day.
Writing about watches continues to be a passion and I actually find myself yearning to write when on holiday. It is an obsession, a bit like watches, I can’t leave alone.
What’s your favourite watch to wear (and why)?
This question is very difficult to answer. I liken it to someone asking me which of my two children is my favourite. The answer changes depending on their behaviour! But, to be honest, I often love watches for different reasons and wear them depending on my mood and what I am doing.
Within my collection at present, there are probably three pieces that I like to wear the most.
My A. Lange & Söhne 1815 in yellow gold is wonderful to wear, because it is restrained in size, measuring 40 mm in diameter and imparts an effortless grace. I select watches because I like them, not to make a statement of my financial worth. Lange is a brand which fuses tasteful design language and exceptional finishing. Moreover, when I see a fellow wearer of Lange, I smile as it distinguishes them as discerning collector and a true purist.
My mother bought me an Audemars Piguet Edward Piguet Chronograph in rose gold a few years ago for an important birthday. I never cease to admire its curving sapphire crystal and rectangular shaped case. Whilst many associate the brand from Le Brassus with the Royal Oak, a watch I would dearly like to own, few have seen the Edward Piguet. Whenever I wear the watch, it is interesting to see the reaction it evokes in other collectors. It is handsome and most definitely for keeps.
The final watch is a Vacheron Constantin Historique American 1921. I inherited a small sum of money when my father died and selected a watch to remember him by. It was important to me that the timepiece would retain eye-appeal despite the onset of years and subsequent changes in fashion. I can safely say that this watch will always look applicable to its time and delivers a sentimental attachment I could never bear to break.
What’s your holy horological grail?
Again, this is incredibly difficult to answer. I could readily proffer several watches which are on my wish list. This perfectly illustrates an occupational hazard I face each day. Collecting fine watches is an addiction. Every time I venture near a watch exhibition or large retailer I struggle not to lose my heart, or rather my head, and squander the children’s inheritance on yet another watch. I’m getting better, but I still break out in cold sweats on a frequent basis.
Sometimes, that “must-have” watch has led to some bad decisions, for instance, to facilitate a purchase, I have parted with a timepiece I subsequently regretted selling.
I have a strong affection for Patek Philippe and would dearly love to own a 10 Day Tourbillon Ref. 5101G or the tonneau-shaped Red 5033P.
The A. Lange & Söhne Zeitwerk Striking Time is another watch that I would purchase if I suddenly discovered abundant oil reserves in my garden. The white gold version is beautiful, but the latest pink gold variant, launched a few weeks ago at SIHH 2014, would be my preference. It is achingly gorgeous and would attract words of undying love from my direction for years to come.
I remember visiting Vacheron Constantin a few years ago and, whilst in the Grand Complications Department, I handled a Patrimony Traditionnelle Calibre 2755. The model which features a tourbillon, minute repeater and perpetual calendar, had a profound effect on me. I was left speechless at its creation.
I cannot fail to mention the independents. Kari Voutilainen, Phillippe Dufour, Roger Smith, Peter Roberts, Andreas Strehler and FP Journe all make watches which could tempt me to sell vital organs to facilitate purchase. These gentleman are my heroes and, like a teenage fan of a pop band, I feel a little star-struck when I am in their company.
In the end, I want all of the watches I have just mentioned. Can you only have one holy horological grail? Am I being greedy?
What is your best advice for a beginner collector with a 1500 Euro budget?
Firstly, buy used watches with caution. There is a profusion of stolen and fake watches in circulation and I would only ever buy from a trusted source.
If you are buying used, in my opinion, box and papers are a pre-requisite. I would not entertain buying a watch without them. This is because if you want to trade-up your watch in the future, and you invariably will, the box and papers will make it easier to sell the watch on.
Try to select brands with a history and choose models which have not changed much in style for decades, they are less likely to become unloved despite changes in taste. Vintage IWC, Omega, Longines and Heuer will always look good, albeit you may find your restricted budget doesn’t go far enough.
When it comes to new, I think Maurice Lacroix, Muehle Glashütte and Oris deliver much value for money.
I am going to return to type and push that budget a little, it’s a trait familiar to all collectors. I recently tried on the Oris Aquis Small Second, Date “The Seas of Time”. It measures 46 mm, looks like it will survive an apocalypse, is comfortable to wear and has a maximum water resistance of 500 m. In my native England it retails for £1350, which is a little over the budget at €1634, but I would skip a few meals and give it a try.