Sharing the Passion

What do you do when your collection begins to grow exponentially? For me, step into a new realm and sell some of them. November 24 and 25 In a Time Watches will be at the Olde Farmhouse Vintage Market with dozens of amazing vintage watches for sale.

This has been an interesting undertaking. I'm not quitting my day job, simply sharing my passion with others by providing an eclectic curated collection of accessible (not over the top expensive), working-person vintage mechanical watches. The collection generally consists of watches designed for the working class, suited for both men and women, and feature North American makers or watches that had Swiss made movements but were cased and marketed in North America. Watches from Hamilton, Elgin, Illinois, Bulova and Gruen from the 1920s through the 1960s are among those that will be for sale. 

For a preview of what will be available at the market, you can check out our Instagram or Facebook pages.

My wife and I at our vendors booth this past September
We've been to a couple of shows now. We're fine-tuning what we sell, getting a better understanding of peoples tastes, learning to merchandise and essentially growing our brand.  At our first shows we had success selling watches, met interesting people and talked to lots of people about watches and heard incredible stories about someones grandfather's or grandmother's vintage watch. 

Some of the watches being prepped for the market.

We hope you can join us in Abbotsford at the Tradex November 24 and 25. And the bonus, there's lots of other great vintage, up-cycled and repurposed items from over 100 vendors at the market.

Like what you're reading, leave a comment or drop us a line, we'd love to hear from you.

Six Degrees of Separation

A recent article about the new movie release "First Man" mentions movie production details like the use of Omega Speedmaster watches worn by the actors. The "Speedy", as it is affectionately referred to, was the same model used during the first moon missions of the 1960s. This got me thinking about my connection with Canadian astronauts and my six degrees of separation from space flight. The Hodinkee article referenced Canadian Astronaut Chris Hadfield (I myself am Canadian, eh) and I got to think about my encounter with him and another Canadian astronaut.

Screen shot of Ryan Gosling's Omega Speedmaster from the movie First Man

The Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch

The short Hodinkee article was primarily about the Omega Speedmasters used by astronauts through the 1960s but also referenced the continuing use of Omega watches today (in the case of Chris Hadfield, an Omega X-33).

Colonel Hadfield and his Omega X-33

Omega X-33
Having recently read the article, I recalled the encounter I had with astronaut Chris Hadfield a few years ago. Following a presentation from Colonel Hadfield about his time on the International Space Station, I had the privilege to chat with him.

In addition to wearing a cool Omega watch in space, the Hodinkee article references Colonel Hadfield's rendition of David Bowie's Space Oddity, recorded on the International Space Station. It is an interesting feat recording a music video in space!

Chatting with Colonel Hadfield about space flight

Interestingly, my connection to space was even earlier when I met another Canadian astronaut, Colonel Jeremy Hansen. I spent some time with Colonel Hansen when he flew a CF-18 Royal Canadian Air Force fighter jet during a demonstration at an airshow I was producing at the time; this was just before he became an astronaut. As for watches Colonel Hansen wears? Much of the time an Apple Watch is seen on his wrist but an X-33 appears to been seen on his wrist too.

Colonel Hansen
Colonel Hansen and his "ground crew"

Like what you're reading? Please leave us a comment, we'd love to hear from you.

Here He Comes

As I've experienced over the years watch collecting can take you down so many different paths. One such path includes collecting watches associated with iconic characters (like Mickey Mouse below). 

1930s Mickey Mouse watch by Ingersoll

These characters were merchandised in many ways and often found their likeness on watches. I occasionally look for a first version Mickey Mouse wristwatch like the one above but I have not had luck with an example that is in fine condition.  I have not obsessed over these watches as I have over others so they didn't exist in my collection, until recently. Here he comes.

On a trip to Seattle this past summer to attend a concert, my wife and I stopped in the quaint seaside community of Port Townsend. Among other activities, we enjoyed a day of treasure hunting among the many shops of the community's historic district. 

Hello from Port Townsend
One of dozens of beautiful historic buildings in Port Townsend

While strolling along Port Townsend's main street (Water Street) we came upon Magpie Alley Antiques and Oddities, a shop filled with an eclectic mix of antiques, memorabilia and oddities. In a display case in the middle of the store we found a 1950s child's themed wristwatch with the character immortalized by Clarence E. Mulford in his children novels and portrayed on TV and screen by William Boyd - Hopalong Cassidy.

The outer  box of the Hopalong Cassidy watch

As we talked to the shopkeeper we discovered the watch was the shop owners watch, something she received new in the 1950s as a child. We were told she wore it a lot yet painstakingly looked after it during her childhood and then put away for decades as an adult. 

The full Hopalong set

This is a survivor! A fully intact watch with original strap, buckle, inner box display, warranty/instruction card and an outer box in such fine condition after 60+ years. Quit frankly we loved the story, marveled at the condition of the watch, loved the store, so we bought it.

The watch dial is also in superb condition!

Original buckle and leather strap

Port Townsend, with a population of just under 10,000 is located about two hours north of Seattle, Washington on the northern tip of the Olympic Peninsula. The drive from Seattle to Port Townsend takes you along a scenic ocean-side (mostly) route via highway, bridge and a choice of one of several state ferry routes.

Traveling on a Washington State ferry

BTW, if you were at all curious, the concert we traveled to attend was Alison Krauss and Willie Nelson (it was fantastic!).

If you like what you read in this blog, leave us a comment or drop us an email - we'd love to hear from you.

How Obsessed Am I?

I suppose that if I blogged a lot about watches it might point to my obsession; as it turns out, I don't blog a lot. While I don't blog a lot about my obsession, I wanted to share a story that points a little to my obsession with watches.

I was recently at a world-class resort (you can check out some Instagram pics about it) where I had a wee bit of an accident. 

My 1929 Elgin Model 207 Mountainside

Having spent a good part of the day at the remote hospital clinic getting tested and checked over to make sure nothing 'serious' was wrong (BTW, I'm mostly fine), my injury was such that I would be unable to drive myself home. So, my wife flew up in a float plane to the resort to pick me up so she could drive me back home. 

We live on an island which requires us to take a ferry, adding to an interesting trip down from the mountainside, through the major traffic of Vancouver to get to the ferry terminal to get home.  Of course the ferry doesn't run 24 hours per day and we left the resort in the very late afternoon having spent several hours at the clinic.

B.C. Ferries

I am prepping for my second vintage show/sale and wanted to pick up another display case for the show. I had originally thought that on my return trip home I'd stop by a certain Swedish furnishings store and pick it up and carry on to the ferry. Well, with my wee accident my return plans changed. As it turns out, with my wife behind the wheel driving down from the mountain, she suggested we drive to the store and she could pop in while I waited in the car, pick up the display and still make the ferry we were scheduled on (which was the last of the day). 

Arrival at store 19:56, ferry departure 21:00. As I sat in the car I checked the ferry website for how full it was - 70%, then 75%, then 82%; yikes, would it be full by the time we got there? We left the store at 20:13 and thankfully Google Maps said it would take 20 minutes to get to the ferry. As my wife drove from the store to the terminal we passed under a big billboard a few kilometers from the terminal that displays how full the ferry is - 90%. Arrival at ferry terminal 20:34 (wow Google, that's impressive) and 96% full. We made it!

The Cabinet

As I couldn't help my wife put it together...
Hmm...there might be too many parts

My point? Despite my condition, a drive down a mountain highway, navigating through cross traffic in a major city, I still got my display case and we made the ferry. That is likely a bit of an obsession. And now, a bit of recovery.

How come the Swedish store gives you extra parts? And please, if you are in the area this weekend, check out Vintage Expo 2018 and stop by In a Time's booth.

An Intimate Accessory

I've pondered a lot over the years about what this obession is all about and recently I came across a quote that's been attributed to Seiko founder Kintaro Hattori.

"The wristwatch is an intimate accessory. The best watches live in harmony and interact with the wearer, and their functions offer a reassuring and emotionally satisfying bond." Official Seiko literature refers to this quote often and many watch enthusiasts are likely familiar with it and it seems to get quoted a lot. Not surprising as this comes from a gentleman that lived from the late 1880s to early 1930s; an interesting sentiment to express at that time.

Seiko's founder Kintaro Hattori

Hmmm, a watch is not merely a utilitarian object that simply tells the time but is something to be enjoyed and connected to; I like that. Mr. Hattori was so correct, even so far back then. It also speaks to the longevity of vintage watches that, with simple care, last generations.

I want to share this harmony and bond with others. I'm venturing out for the first time and selling some of my collection at an upcoming show. While this may seem like an unabashed plug for this new 'venture', I do genuinely want to share with others what I experience. If you're in the Greater Victoria area on Vancouver Island, come by and say 'hi'.

Several decades of Hamilton watches that will be at the sale

I continue to be connected to 'my' watches and I hope that a bit of that rubs off on others. If you like what I'm saying, make sure you leave a comment or send me an email. You can also see more of my collection on Instagram @retrowristwatch or on Facebook as inatimewatches.

The Advent of the Electric Watch

Aren't watches all made the same? Electric, mechanical what is it all about?

I have typically collected traditional mechanical watches (the ones you wind up) with the exception of some Bulova Accutron watches I recently purchased. I blogged about the Bulova Accutron's in "Another Diversion".  Now among my collection is yet another "type" of watch, the Hamilton Electric.

catalog picture courtesy of

Mechanical watches, their source of power coming from a spring that you wind up manually by turning on a crown (or an "automatic" where a pendulum swings with the movement of your arm to wind the spring) versus watches that use a battery as their source of power like the Bulova Accutrons I blogged about last or my latest, an electric - a 1964 Hamilton Gemini II. (An aside, quartz watches also use a battery for their source of power but I won't be referencing them). 

The advent of the electric watch was part innovation, part marketing and part desire to use the emerging battery technology to power a watch and eliminate the need to have to wind it. Seems hot on the heels of Hamilton introducing the electric watch (among other makers), Bulova soon introduced the Accutron tuning fork to the world of watch movements.
1964 Hamilton Gemini II

The Hamilton Gemini I just received is rather unique with its offset crown. Add the unique case shape and the electric movement, and this is a cool watch.

The offset crown with the Hamilton logo

The electric watches now in my collection use electrical contacts like the Hamilton or a transistor like the Bulova Accutron. What is common with a mechanical watch and a Hamilton Electric is that they both use a balance wheel to regulate the movement and the Bulova Accutron uses a tuning fork (well, sort of). You could perhaps say that the Hamilton Electric is a hybrid of the traditional mechanical movement. I've taken a few shots of the three movement variants below so you can start to see the differences (and similarities).

Hamilton Electric 505 Movement for the Gemini II
I'm hopeful the battery corrosion seen in the 505 above does not pose a major problem on refurbishing this watch movement. The previous owner not only had the incorrect battery type it it, but obviously had left it in the watch for a while. I guess understandably as you need to remove the movement from the watch case through the crystal opening; for the novice, not as easy as it sounds.

Bulova Accutron 2181 Movement

Bulova Mechanical Movement (I know, it needs a cleaning)

So, a start of a well-rounded assortment of movement types. The quartz movement is yet another beast and admittedly I own a few but they are not centre to my watch collection.

Another Diversion

I blogged about adding a new mechanical watch maker in my blog "Welcome to the Family" and blogged about being distracted by pocket watches in "Squirrel". Well, I've done it again as I've been distracted with Bulova's electronic watch the "Accutron".

An electronic watch? A new technology introduced by Bulova around 1960 that utilized a 360-herz tuning fork, powered by a one-transistor electronic oscillator, to drive the timekeeping functions rather than a traditional balance wheel. This watch doesn't tick, it hums!

This is the watch that went to the moon and even appeared on the television show Mad Men (season 7, episode 1). They even marketed this as "not" being a watch. This was a revolutionary watch that even predated quartz movements.

So, back to why this is a diversion, well, I purchased my first Accutron and loved the look, the movement, how the second hand advances so I bought another and another. Not quite a collection, but a diversion from my focus of mechanical watches.

Two of my "new" Bulova Accutrons

You can see in the picture of my two Accutrons above that the tuning fork symbol appears on both dials and the seconds hand on the watch to the right. This symbol became a major part of Bulova's marketing. Interestingly, the tuning fork appears on some 60s mechanical watches and it survives today with Bulova's modern watches. Perhaps its use today is an ode to the 1960s and Bulova's history. Or, maybe it's just a cool symbol.

Tuning fork symbol on the watch crowns
The electronics are very different from the mechanical watches I collect and require a different set of spare parts (not to mention batteries). These watches I suspect will go to someone else to service as I am not prepared (yet) to add more parts and donor movements to my collection at this time. As for being battery operated, I no longer have to wind my watch.

Accutron 2181 Movement

Apologies that the tuning fork is not visible in the photo above. It is hidden below the gold plate you see. While I could have taken the plate off, I'm not about to tinker with these watches right now especially without any spare parts should I inadvertently go oops. The diagram below from the service manual shows the tuning fork though.

Not a bad diversion from my focus of collecting and I will likely find another Accutron in my collection one day. Perhaps a 1960s "Spaceview" or a re-issue Spaceview like the one Bulova released in 2010 on the 50th anniversary of the original.

The "Art" of Collecting

When my first retro/vintage watch arrived (a Hamilton Putnam, a gift from my wife) it opened up a new adventure of discovery, admiration, dreaming, tinkering and collecting. My first few years of watch discovery had no rhyme or reason. As a matter of fact, after that first watch it became an insatiable pursuit to find new watches of all shapes and sizes.

My 1933 Hamilton "Putnam"

Seems I found and bought just about anything those first few years. Different vintages, styles, price points; they were all of course, mechanical watches. I suppose in the early years most of my collecting was playing to an emotional satisfaction. Does that mean my watch collecting satisfies some other reasons now? Aesthetic? Intellectual? Preservation? Social? Not sure what my physiological motivation is but likely many.

A box of just about everything

Jump forward a couple years, my experience with a watchmaker friend and honing my "tinkering" skills to today, my obsession for retro/vintage watches has not subsided but what I search for has. I think its only natural progress over time to fine-tune what it is in these watches I see and am looking for. I've read a lot, participated in various online forums, and am paying attention to the experts.

A certain era, a certain style, a certain case type, and a certain maker.  You can find a whole lot of combinations of those. That being said, my current interest includes the 1920s and 30s, deco, two-tone cases and Illinois watches.

1929 Illinois "Townsman" in two-tone

The Illinois watch above, the Townsman, hits both my refined criteria - the era and great deco engraved (or "chased") styling of the case.

As I started looking at my growing collection of watches for a subject to blog about, I noticed an increasing number of 1920s and 1930s watches and a many with two-toned cases. Take for instance the Townsman above, it has a white gold bezel and back and sandwiched between is a yellow gold centre. The examples below also incorporate two tones of gold in their cases. The Apollo, Gladiator and Sky King below all have a white gold case with a yellow gold strip on the front bezel.  Like the Townsman, the Elgin Model E-12 below has a yellow gold centre sandwiched between a white gold back and a white gold bezel.

1929 Bulova "Apollo" in two-tone
1930 Bulova "Gladiator" in two-tone

While there are a number of materials watch cases are made of (solid gold, gold fill, stainless, base metals of all types, etc.) most of my collection consists of gold filled. Given my preferred era of collecting (and although stainless steel cases were around in the 1930s but did not become common place for many years after) its no wonder I have more gold filled watches than any other metal.

1930 Elgin Model E-12 in two-tone
1931 Bulova "Sky King" in two-tone

While my tastes have been refined over the last few years, one thing remains the same - I'm still obsessed with mechanical watches.

BTW, if you like what you read or see in my photography, post a comment. Is there something you'd like to see in my blog, let me know as well.