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Hi!

I came a across this link and thought that it summed up my interest in vintage watches very well. One of the things that flummoxes me is when people post a pic of a perfectly fine vintage piece, with honourable wear and tear for its age and start talking about getting it redialed :roll: because its not perfect. Perhaps they should get a new watch:think:.

I think that a watch that shows us the impermanence of life through its own slow decay as it measures time, is a thing of art, truth, beauty and philosophy. This article sums up how I feel about the vintageness of vintage watches........

What Is Wabi-Sabi?

regards

tim
 

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my other hobby is bonsai. i've thought about wabi and sabi perhaps more than i should. for a time, i was convinced that my fellow americans wouldn't be very interested in the ideas. there isn't really a strong sense of the beauty of age here. i would see the words used in conjunction with an interior decorating scheme called 'shabby chic'. someone would take new furniture and beat the crap out it to make it look old. an unfortunate comment on the way this culture views the passage of time.

but then i took up vintage watches. i was smitten by the well seasoned patina on a 70 year-old dial. and i found others who felt the same. always on the vintage watch forums. there aren't a ton of us compared to the new, shiny watch forums, but enough.
 

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In regard to my post about doubts on finish on dial some where nearby -reading this article turned me around 360 degrees. The watch shows its age. I love aging finishes in other things, why not a vintage watch? Thanks for helping me put things in perspective. Now I have to win the auction! P&P
 

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One of the things that flummoxes me is when people post a pic of a perfectly fine vintage piece, with honourable wear and tear for its age and start talking about getting it redialed :roll: because its not perfect. Perhaps they should get a new watch:think:.
On the other hand i can understand the desire to restore an item to the condition and appearance that's it's maker intended it to have. It can represent a road mark on the journey through the passage of time, refreshing the relationship between item and owner. And even better if it extends the length of the journey. I'm sure it's a dilemma often faced by antique collectors - to restore, or not to restore, and to what extent.
 

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Hi ladies,

you'll never find an end of this discussion. The border between charming patina
and serious deterioration (by misuse) is as individual as old watches are.

Regards, Roland Ranfft
 

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I'll play devils advocate here. To me the wear and tear looses it's charm when it is from someone else wearing it. If it were a watch I,someone I cared about, or even someone famous had worn for years it would have some meaning to it.

However I find it hard to fall in love with patina that joe schmoe put on it because he wore it to the office every day for 40 years and sometimes knocked it on stuff.

I'm certainly not against buying vintage watches that aren't perfect but if some how it were possible or cost effective to buy a perfect example or have it restored to original condition I would do so.

Everyone hates the car analogy but it is very similar to the increasingly popular conflict between un-restored and ultra-restored concourse show cars.
 

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On the other hand i can understand the desire to restore an item to the condition and appearance that's it's maker intended it to have. It can represent a road mark on the journey through the passage of time, refreshing the relationship between item and owner. And even better if it extends the length of the journey. I'm sure it's a dilemma often faced by antique collectors - to restore, or not to restore, and to what extent.
Good points, but I prefer an 'honest' watch in good original condition...
the restored watch is usually the watch which has had a hard life.
 

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As Roland said, there is no agreement possible as there is no right answer. That is why I love questions like this...

Personally I agree with all of you in part, as for me it depends on the watch in question. Some patina is simply beautiful in itself, some is simply damage and of no historical value.

My first watch I bought as a boy is getting a redial, even though it was me who 'applied' the patina. Of course, I remember best the watch as I bought it in 1977 (i.e. new) and not surprisingly that I want it to look like that again. Some would argue that THIS patina is the stuff that should be saved. I say I ruined it (as boys do).

Military watches are a special case, I think in this case unless the watch is unusable, then the patina has been hard won and is a significant part of the watch.

I think most watches I have I would prefer to find (in an ideal world) a NOS one (except military ones). Given that in most cases I can't, I prefer an original lightly patinated dial. If the only one I can find or afford comes with a ruined dial, then I feel I should save the watch by repairing it - that is the lesser harm, at least with a new dial it can serve its original function.

The line between character and flaw is a personal assessment by the present owner. It is all degrees of grey.

K.
 

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...
Everyone hates the car analogy but it is very similar to the increasingly popular conflict between un-restored and ultra-restored concourse show cars.
Personally, as a modest car collector in the past, I love the analogy because it is often so apt.

Un-restored cares are welcome on the concourse only if they don't need restoration (with a few rare examples to the contrary). Generally cars should be in a good state of repair. Even 'unrestored' cars have new batteries. Some have new pistons! All have rebuilt brake systems. And dents are not considered patina <|

In cars the differentiation is more between original and accurate and fo-fo cars (custom jobbies - not considered real cars by many :-d).

A respray if done in original colors is accurate. But it is not original. However, try and find a show car that has not been resprayed at some time. Paint was not meant to last 40 years!

But this is just the top end of the market. I was more of a bottom feeder. At that end of the market you see frankens and butcher jobs all the time :roll:
 

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I'll play devils advocate here. To me the wear and tear looses it's charm when it is from someone else wearing it. If it were a watch I,someone I cared about, or even someone famous had worn for years it would have some meaning to it.

However I find it hard to fall in love with patina that joe schmoe put on it because he wore it to the office every day for 40 years and sometimes knocked it on stuff.
I agree with this. The idea of 'honourable wear' is fine, but simply buying somebody else's old stuff is not wabi-sabi at all. When I was a young, callow lad, I did a bunch of martial arts and remember being really impressed by this old guy with a black belt that had gone almost white from years of use. The idea of someone else just taking and wearing it was inconceivable - or deliberately 'aging' their own belt would be just as bad.

It's the same for me with modern guitars that have been 'vintaged'. What a stupid idea!

That being said, a genuine old guitar that has been played a lot and looks knocked around can be a very special thing. Guitars are, however, more likely to be passed from person to person over the years. The same is true of things like goban - perhaps much more so, in fact. I have a lovely antique kaya goban with Hyuga-hamaguri goishi. When using it, I like to imagine the spirit of those who have used it before me and, sometimes, run my fingers over the top, feeling the minute indentations caused by years of playing.

Anyway, I think a watch can have wabi-sabi, but that it is contextual. Buying an old, beaten up watch off eBay just isn't enough to do it, kids. In that case, from a wabi-sabi perspective (and I'm not talking about in general), it is better and more honest to have it restored and put your own years of wear on the dial.
 

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Un-restored cares are welcome on the concourse only if they don't need restoration (with a few rare examples to the contrary). Generally cars should be in a good state of repair. Even 'unrestored' cars have new batteries. Some have new pistons! All have rebuilt brake systems. And dents are not considered patina <|
I go the pebble beach show every year (the most stringent of all car shows) and the last couple of years there have been a greater number of cars that were literally never restored other than for mechanical function. So the exterior paint was oxidized or missing, chrome was corroded interior torn and somewhat missing. The engine while function was certainly no longer pretty but certainly original. These are magnificent cars from the pre war era and earlier and they as original as is possible from marques that no longer exist but they certainly look dilapidated. Other conours cars have paint and chrome that was better than the factory ever made.

Now in the case of cars you loose some of the original hand craftsman ship evidence of tooling etc when restored. Which is why there is now a greater call for originality over beauty and shiny paint. I'm not sure if this is quite the same with most watches. I'm still not sure where I stand with cars either. :-d
 

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Pebble beach does attract those cars which, due to rarity, would be the exceptions. But for the bulk of the car shows in America such exceptions are not regular attendees.
 

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Good points, but I prefer an 'honest' watch in good original condition...
the restored watch is usually the watch which has had a hard life.
Yes and i agree, that would be my preference too. Unless it is your own (or a family member's) hard life that has taken its toll. In this case i think the watch deserves your watchmaker's attention.
 

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There was a time when I was uncomfortable with even the term wabi-sabi being thrown around our WIS circles to vaguely describe the definition of this sought-after noble condition we seek in vintage watches, as the Asian definitions of the term do not translate easily to convenient Western ideals. For example - we speak about the visual preferences of something with 'wabi' versus something restored (wabi-fied) or new (no-wabi-ness) or NOS (wabi-ful) when in the orientalist mind-think one could merge that element with an aesthetic formed on the basis of historical context (in touch with the past) and cultural meaning (local taste) to spit out an interpretation more complex and simplistic at once.

Think what adjectives we could throw out to try and describe 'wabi' in the English vernacular and we get anything from 'gunk' to 'patina' to 'acceptable wear' to 'shabby-chic' as sherwoodschwartz puts it - yet few of these terms come close to aggregating the sense of what 'wabi' would seek to convey. This 'wabi' is not clearly defined by a linear black-white / good-bad objectivism. It's conferring an emotion that goes beyond the visual appeal, but that's all WIS seem to care about here when using the term when it's not just what you see - ergo my personal dislike for using this term. This 'wabi' could also signify a 'surprising resiliency' and 'rugged peace' and 'sadness in use' and 'passionate determination' and 'justification for being,' all equally important in determining that elusive quality which would separate something from being admirable to being admired.

Take a beaten up watch, one that's been worn to within an inch of its life with little care from its owner. It could be a pre-moon Speedy or a 5513 Submariner. A beautiful timeless icon - unmercifully thrashed for decades. The watch has inherent value being what it is but do the denigrating dings and careless scratches skipped servicing causing bad timekeeping add or subtract to its appeal when it's obvious the watch was unloved? Would you not want to restore this?

Take the same example to any old 6217 & 6105 Seiko diver, which would be less valuable but having been owned roughly about the same amount of time, but had received a good amount of care along with the wear - its profile slowly smoothing over time without tell-tale signs of accidents or careless dings, the dial fading nicely congruent to its time on earth, the caseback polished to an organic sheen thru usage. Would you restore this watch knowing this were true?

"Death is beautiful. Dying is not."
 
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