Monday, 8 October 2018

Books: Chasing Time: Vintage Wristwatches by Alistair Gibbons

Alistair Gibbons is a longterm wristwatch collector. I recall coming across him some years ago when he curated a watch forum online and sold some mouthwatering timepieces. He's used his wide experience to place on record in this book, Chasing Time, some of the many watches he collected in the early 2000s. This was a time when watch collecting took off in a big way and there were some truly magnificent watches to be found. 


I recently had the chance to ask him about the book and his watch collecting career:

GF: Alistair you've recently published Chasing Time which contains images and descriptions of some mouthwatering vintage watches. How did you come to write this?

AG: Well I have always collected watches - always liked them. I was a visual effects editor working in London when the internet came online for businesses like mine who had early broadband. I became a member of several forums; On The Dash as a Heuer collector and Equation of Time Dive Forum. At the time these were the most comfortable places for me - great people sharing historic information about these old watches and having a lot of fun at the same time. 

I decided to set up a small website to sell watches I bought to fund a collection of watches I was interested in (this is maybe 2001) it became well known. I had good watchmakers making sure all of my watches were sold and guaranteed. Within a short time I could not load my watches fast enough. I developed racing straps for the Heuers which at the time were not available and military style straps for the more robust dive watches. 


The book is made from each file of each watch I serviced, researched, photographed and loaded for sale on my site. The book is basically a history of interesting chronographs, dive watches and military watches with good historical information, technical information and photographs that can be used as a guide for watch enthusiasts. In fact I am already being told the book is being used by dealers to compare to watches for sale as all of the watches are correct and have not been messed around with.

GF: I wanted to ask which are you favourite three watches - are they in the book?

AG: Yes they are although only 3 is tough can I make it 4 ? The Rolex Submariner 5508, the black IDF (Israeli Defence Force) Heuer Autavia, The Rolex GMT Master 1675 and the Wakmann Triple date. I know there are lots of very famous watches in there but remember when these watches were bought by me to restore they were not famous or well known. I like watches for the movements, their look and their history, not because they are an investment. I know I have included two obvious Rolexes, but those two in particular meant a lot to me.


GF: When we spoke recently we talked about why we like vintage watches. I see them as stylish and often beautiful objects which add to a person's style and personality. How do you see watches?

AG: Pretty much the same. I am not ‘an obsessive’ about watches. I have loved a watch even if it has had its hands changed in service or not on the correct bracelet etc Vintage watches are at a price level that the ordinary models of yesteryear are becoming beyond the wallet of your standard collector and I suppose I am partly to blame for that, so that is why I produced the book. 

It is more of a sales catalogue really, as all of the watch profiles are informative and full of points I think are relevant - as was my style when selling them online. It is probably fairly unique in that way. Like ’The Diary of a Watch Dealer’ kind of thing. I didn’t sell just the most expensive to get the best return, but the watches that made me happy and hopefully my customers too. 

Brands like Wakmann, LeJour, Yema, were hardly known and now are as collectable as old Breitlings, Heuers or Rolexes: all of these brands are in the book and include early divers worn by Jacque Cousteau's Dive team from Aquastar and Jenny.

Q4: How can Grey Fox Blog readers buy your book?

AG: The book is available on Amazon both in Europe and the US. Very reasonably priced between $25-$35. It contains 120 Cclassic watches, 30,000 words 500+ photographs. Here are links to some sale sites:
In Australia at Angus & Robertson

This is an unsponsored post.

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