(Originally Reviewed back on January 6, 2011)
Are you a watch fanatic (or the term which many tend to use now these days – WIS – Watch Idiot Savant)? Are you into vintage wristwatches?
What best than to learn from Reyne Haines, an appraiser, dealer and watch collector who has been called upon to appraise collectibles ranging from antique watches to $20 million dollar paintings. Haines also spent years moderating for the watch discussion group TIAS (The Internet Antique Shop) and has appeared on television as a recurring special guest, has wrote and contributed to many books including “Antique Roadshow Collectibles” by Leslie Hindman.
Needless to say, Reyne Haines knows her wristwatches and it was a primary reason why I wanted to read this book.
As a watch collecting enthusiast, although I have spent a lot of my time looking towards the latest models of wristwatches, I have suddenly taken interest in vintage watches. I can easily remember the wristwatches my father would wear and in fact, during Thanksgiving 2010, he amazed me by showing me his wristwatch collection and then my mother showed me hers. It’s funny because inside, I knew they were watch collectors and for the life of me, if you told me ten years ago that I would be collecting or caring about wristwatches, I would probably raise my eyebrow because although I had interest, I felt that maybe I would be to young to care.
But of course, I’m wrong. As I participate in many watch forums, I’m meeting young men and women who are watch collectors and I think Al Bandiero said it right, when he wrote in the foreword for “Vintage Wristwatches”, “You can tell a man by his shoes and his watch”.
It’s hard to talk about this to non-collector’s or people who don’t need a watch and feel their cell phone is all they need in telling the time but really, when I wear wristwatch, it’s part of my lifestyle. It’s something that I feel needs to be coordinated with my dress attire and my mood. In many ways, I look at wristwatches like a piece of art. Each constructed differently and a history that goes behind these wristwatches.
And as a collector, sure…you may have heard of “Rolex”, “Omega”, “Seiko”, “Breitling” but the more you delve into watches, especially learning of where watches are built, what makes them so special and so historic, you start to care about their history.
Sure, you can easily look on Wikipedia for information about wristwatches but what I enjoy about “Vintage Wristwatches”, I can find it immediately and also get a good idea of various watches the company had made many years ago.
You can find information on older companies listed in alphabetical order. For example, you look for “Audemars Piguet” and you learn about the history including photos of both Jules Louis Audemars and Edward August Piguet and you also get photos of many wristwatches made by that company.
You get hi-res photos of the dial and occasionally the case-back, information (unfortunately many of them do not have a model # or year) for the watch and its value.
I own several wristwatch books but “Vintage Watches” is for those who want to know the history of the companies that have made wristwatches. You will find many of the companies that have created wristwatches since the 1800’s and while this book does cater to the collectors of the upper class bourgeoisie that tend to spend over several thousand dollars for a watch, you will not find companies that cater to the affordable watch collectors (under $500). But you will find some companies such as Jules Jurgensen who is one of the oldest watch making companies but since these companies like Jules Jurgensen are sold to another company (like a watch distributor) while their older productions are more expensive, their current line may be very cheap and affordable today. Interesting was that there is a page on Croton but a focus on more expensive watches from the company and how celebrities (like Miley Cyrus, Taylor Swift, Josh Groban, etc.) have sported Croton wristwatches.
And you will also find Seiko watches featured but unfortunately since Grand Seiko’s (the very expensive line for Seiko) were just made available for American consumers, you’re not going to find information on it in this book, nor are you going to see many Seiko watches being featured (in fact, only one page and one watch is designated for Seiko). But it would have been great since I do look for older Seiko wristwatches but I suppose Seiko is considered by many as very affordable.
While some companies get featured with more pages than others, there are some companies that are popular among current watch collectors such as Tag Heuer fans who may be disappointed to know that there is no Tag Heuer section, but their is a Heuer section.
But you can definitely expect multi-pages of information on Gruen, Omega, Rolex, Patek Philippe, IWC, Cartier, Longines, Jaeger-Lecoultre, Hamilton and Bulova. Other companies such as Mido, Chopard, Breitling, Blancpain and many others do get a page or two. But also watch companies that are not around anymore but their wristwatches are still highly collectible get a single page.
But still, “Vintage Wristwatches” may not be for the affordable but for those who are looking for highly collectible and expensive wristwatches from yesterday, this may not be the book that will feature the watch you are looking for, but it is good as a reference for older watch companies and their history.
Also, although this book has been released in 2010, you can find a hardcover for under $20 these day on Amazon. I have found it as an excellent resource and each time I feel like I will be putting it into my bookshelf, I end up removing it because I refer to it so many times.
A lot of good information for this book and for its price today, if you are a watch collector especially vintage watch collector interested in older and expensive wristwatches, “Vintage Wristwatches” by Reyne Haines is definitely worth checking out!