The Passion of the Horologist
LONDON, UK - Angus Davies, a self-confessed watch fanatic explains what made him form Escapement (www.escapement.uk.com) a free-to-view website aimed at individuals with a passion for watch collecting, who appreciate "the finer things in life".
1. Where did your passion for watches begin?
Early in my professional career my financial resources were limited and I remember walking past Mappin & Webb’s boutique in Manchester and staring longingly at a Rolex Submariner and thinking "one day...".
2. How did your appetite for haute horology grow?
In 1998, I amassed the necessary funds and purchased my first "proper" watch, my long time goal, A Rolex Submariner Date (reference 116610) in stainless steel with a black dial and corresponding black bezel. The watch was purchased from the aforementioned branch of Mappin & Webb for £2120.
Like many individuals, at the time, I perceived that Rolex must be the best as this appeared to be the most famous luxury watch brand. However, whilst I admire several Rolex models, my assumption was based on brand awareness rather than a deep understanding of horology.
As my career developed and I became increasingly affluent, my interest in wristwatches grew. I would spend many Saturday afternoons, quizzing retailers, reading magazines, trying to fill in the gaps in my knowledge.
My thirst for knowledge led to a growing interest in haute horology. Blued screws, Guilloché, perlage and Côtes de Genève were just some of the terms I retained to memory in my early years of collecting. My first timepiece to feature these details was a Jaeger- LeCoultre Reverso Grand Date (ref 3008420).
The history of the Reverso, its art deco styling and a sapphire back enticed me and I was fascinated by the delightful visible components within the case. I was soon seduced and Mappin & Webb, this time in Edinburgh, secured another sale.
After this several watches were purchased, sometimes in quick succession. On occasion I must confess I used a technique often attributed to wives and girlfriends, but in my house frequently practised by this "high maintenance" male. I would return home from a shopping spree and bring my purchases into the house when my wife wasn’t there or sometimes furtively hide them under my coat as I sneaked into the house, skipping up the staircase and squirreling them into the back of a wardrobe.
The technique was well rehearsed, bring the secret purchase out from the cold, when my wife was less focussed and if challenged retort, "I’ve had it for ages!" The strategy worked for a while but came unstuck when it came to car purchases. Heidi, my long-suffering partner, is wise to my shopping scams and now has highly tuned antennae and X-ray equipment at the threshold of our front door, so purchases are invariably a process of counter-trade. I get my watch, she can book another cruise.
3. How did Escapement begin?
I often would be approached by friends, or friends of friends, and asked for advice on purchasing the best wristwatch based on various criteria. If I found myself in a social setting, invariably my watch would cause discussion to ensue and my opinion would be canvassed.
I decided that with a successful history in business, a MA in Marketing Management which I received in 1994, and a wide circle of contacts in the watch retailing industry whom I had met on my travels, there was an opportunity to write about haute horology.
I appreciate craftsmanship, tradition, the skill of the artisan and decided that I would make it my mission to champion this, convey the intricacies of haute horology and clarify that premium prices are based on complexity of manufacture and not merely the cliché "paying for the name".
I admire the same values demonstrated in wristwatches with other luxury goods and services, hence I decided to write about "The finer things in life" and convey this on my website too.
4. The underlying values of Escapement.
I am always keen to champion the artisan, traditional craftsmanship and "the best of the best" whether it is a watch, prestigious car, bespoke suit or other luxury item. I write about well known brands but also the small, individual craftsman who offer little prospect of spending vast amounts on advertising with Escapement. Editorial is not provided based on potential expenditure on advertising but on whether a product or service has merit.
Haute horology has historically been a home for Artisans. Wonderful craftsmanship has been exemplified by enameling, guilloché, gem setting but none more so, than the watchmaker who can design, assemble, service or repair wonderful timepieces which will outlive their creator.
A fine timepiece is an instrument to behold and cherish.
I tire of perfunctorily manufactured items which are "lifed" to fail a few weeks after a warranty expires, intended for future disposal and made wherever the cost of labour is cheapest at that moment in time.
The "bean counters" will often calculate pay-back and evaluate whether a machine should produce an item in preference to a human based purely on financial drivers. Haute Horology is refreshingly different. Artisans nestle in wonderful towns and villages in picturesque Swiss Cantons and Saxony, where history is celebrated and the pursuit of perfection is at the epicentre of the each brand’s paradigm.
Escapement is about promoting craftsmanship, encouraging future generations to become the artisans and to educate the reader in understanding the reasons behind the premium pricing of the luxury goods featured.
We promote the "authorised retailer", turning away advertising revenue from the grey market or non-authorised online sellers as they do little to invest in the future of the watchmaking industry and in some cases the provenance can be in question.
We always endeavour to be informative providing accurate information with good attention to detail and high quality imagery. There is a strong emphasis on original content, often praising the item featured. This is not because our editorial is sycophantic but because we write as fanatics of the items featured and if we don’t like a product or service we do not comment on it. If you read about a watch or a car on Escapement, we love it and that is our stance whenever we write.
I personally despise quartz watches as they have no passion, no soul, hence you will never read about them on Escapement.
Finally, we want to put something back and will do whatever we can in our humble way to promote the authorised retailer, craftsmanship and watchmaking profession in these challenging economic times as we wish to see them continue for future generations.