Happy Holidays from WatchNews
Keith Lehman 12/15/16
It’s that time of the year again to give thanks to those who have helped us make our lives better. So thank you to our regular readers and contributors. Without you, the NAWCC would not have an active website devoted solely to wristwatches.
WatchNews will be on holiday break until January 3, 2017. Until then have a safe and happy holiday. Not to leave you hanging completely, I’ve gathered a handful of vintage wristwatch ads for your merriment. I pulled these ads from the archives of our Library & Research Center at the NAWCC headquarters in Columbia, PA. As a graphic designer by profession advertising is my thing so for me these ads hold an endless fascination.
One thing that struck me when looking through these ads is, up until the 1970s, the almost exclusive use of illustration. Why would advertising agencies rely so heavily on illustrators when camera photography was being regularly used by the late 1800s? There are two factors that influenced this: color and money.
Even into the 1970s professional photography was a hugely expensive ordeal and those who understood and could afford the technology were handsomely compensated. Paying a photographer took a huge bite from a client’s budget, so they used illustrators who were more affordable and more creatively flexible.
Color was being added to photography since its inception, but it took a long time to compete aesthetically and affordably with the talent of a commercial illustrator. There could have been a cultural factor as well to advertising’s slow adaptation of photography. Perhaps, the consumers needed time to warm up to the “new look” of photographed ads.
It’s important to note that the Christmas element is heavily downplayed in the war-time ads. The Ingersoll ad is especially shocking, showing a detonator sitting underneath a Christmas tree. The Hamilton ad only a hints of a wreath in the background of the two couples kissing. Instead, Christmas is referred to more in the ad copy. The overuse of holiday elements might have been considered insensitive during this difficult time in US history.
Bulova 1943 16 jewel Air Force hack watch. KEITH LEHMAN.
Yesterday I was listening to the second episode of the podcast The Grey Nato. The hosts, James Stacey and Jason Heaton, who are modern watch collectors, discussed their thoughts about vintage timepieces. Basically, their sentiment is that while owning a vintage watch is interesting because of its history, owners can have adventures and make stories with new watches that are exclusively their own. They note that many times owners of vintage pieces don’t even know the original owner of their watch or its particular history or personal story.
Admittedly, I am guilty of filling in the historical gaps when wearing a vintage timepiece. This week I wore an original 1943 Bulova A-11 military hack watch. The watch, loaned to me by the National Watch and Clock Museum in Columbia, PA, is part of my review of Bulova’s re-issue of this historically significant timepiece. I couldn’t help but wonder about all of the adventures it might have had and places it had actually been. Who was the owner? Did the watch ever have an owner?
Although I can see Stacey’s and Heaton’s points, I think you can make your own memories with a watch regardless of whether it is new or vintage. I find inspiration and even courage in a vintage watch. This year I attended a Vietnamese wedding where the reception was held across the street from the original Hamilton Watch Co. building in Lancaster, PA. I wore a 1928 Hamilton Tonneau model and a Hamilton pocket watch. It was exhilarating to sport original pieces made so close to their birthplace. Now these watches serve not only as interesting relics of a time gone by but also as friends who share cherished moments—together.
What Makes a Fine Pen Fine?
Tyler Wolfe Co. 12/13/16
Chicago World Champions Commemorative Set. View of dial of Elgin pocket watch made in the years of the last Cubs World Series wins (1907 or 1908) with fountain pen.
Editor’s note: Vortic Co. is a sponsor of WatchNews and posts content on its website at vorticwatches.com. This following article is one of them. As you know, many watch companies have evolved pens to levels of sophistication and ingenuity comparable to their exquisite timepieces. Vortic Co. is among them. I am sharing a shorter version of the Vortic Co.’s post on its collaboration with Hooligan Pens that can be found at https://vorticwatches.com/blogs/the-vortic-blog.
To be honest, I was not very familiar with the world of pens until the early phases of our new historic woods collaboration with expert pen maker Tim Cullen. The most I knew was that fine pens intersect with the world of watches, often due to their shared commitment to extraordinary craftsmanship.
To put it briefly, fine writing instruments offer a very pleasant, smooth writing experience that has a character and romance unachievable by disposable ballpoint pens. As a recent pen convert, I can attest that the experience of writing with a fine pen is such that it is hard to describe without feeling emotion. A fountain pen adds a certain personality and feeling to your writing that is unbeknownst to the average consumer. It brings a sense of joy and connectivity to your task, and it requires mindfulness and presence that is, in turn, reflected in your work.
For watch collectors, I would compare the experience of writing with a cheap ballpoint pen vs writing with a fine fountain pen to wearing a quartz Timex vs. wearing a fine mechanical watch.
The most important aspect of a fine pen is craftsmanship. Quality materials are also necessary, but personal preference is more important in this situation. If the pens that you write best with are made from acrylic, there are limitless choices. What separates the best pens in that category is craftsmanship. If an expensive pen that you plan to use regularly does not fit your writing style, then all other qualifiers are negated.
Chicago World Champions Commemorative Set. View of movement of Elgin pocket watch made in the years of the last Cubs World Series wins (1907 or 1908) with fountain pen.
However, there are a few features to look at when examining a piece of fine pen craftsmanship. The first is balance. There should not be an excessive amount of weight towards the nib or vice versa because this will result in a poor writing experience. Second is fit. The cap should thread or snap snugly to the barrel, the reservoir should be secure in the barrel, the actuation of the fill mechanism should be smooth, etc. A poor fitting pen will result in long-term usage woes and decreased value over time. Last are materials. Given that you are looking at pieces with a similar level of craftsmanship, you should select a material that will please you most or evoke the highest level of pride and appreciation when gripping the pen. Additionally, the clip should be attractive and robust. There’s nothing worse than the clip of what you consider to be a fine pen snapping off.
The collaboration between Hooligan Pens and Vortic is what inspired this blog, and it has been a pleasure to bring the Historic Collaboration Pen Collection to life. Cullen’s pen-making expertise paired with Vortic’s historic and modern inspiration has created a very special final product.
The first pen products are inspired by the Chicago Cubs’s recent World Series win, and Vortic is commemorating the occasion with a pen made with wood from 1930s Wrigley Field seats paired with a special edition watch powered by a movement dating the Cubs’s last win 108 years ago. We call it the American Artisan Series World Champions Edition and it is now available for sale.
Tyler Wolfe is co-Founder and COO of Vortic Watch Co. He lives in Fort Collins, Colorado with his dog Buddy where he enjoys hiking, skiing, and playing golf. Tyler's main focuses are the design and prototyping of new watches and the coordination of the functionality and branding of Vortic's website.