The Watchmakers and a Love For Watches

I wasn’t always into watches.  My first impression of high end watches was that there was a brand name that was stamped on a watch and it automatically made it expensive due to marketing and brand history.  In fact, my first experience with high end watches was back in 2008 when I worked for Portero.com doing photography.  I repeatedly got watches that were scratched up, uninspiring, and in most cases were very outdated.  When I got hired at Betteridge jewelers in 2010 my whole perspective changed and my incessant love for watches was born.

On my interview, Win Betteridge, director of business development and son of Terry Betteridge, owner and CEO of Betteridge, told me he was aware of Portero and that Betteridge had ‘slightly more expensive’ watches.  I have to admit, I chuckled inside and gave a smirk, I was unaware of how wrong I was.  Having the pleasure of being the head of photography at Betteridge for almost 5 years now I’ve seen some of the worlds best watches.  One of the biggest things that sets Betteridge apart from other preowned watch retailers is the immaculate quality of the preowned watches they own.  More often than not, these watches are in like new condition making it a smart purchase for those who are looking for the best quality watches money can buy at a price that is more palatable.

Betteridge has some of the worlds best watchmakers who “overhaul” and refinish preowned watches.  Recently our Greenwich, CT location decided to move into the old Restoration Hardware building and I was commissioned to come up with imagery for the 800+ sq feet of window space while we are under construction.  For one of the front windows I decided to take photos of our watchmakers working as if I wasn’t there.  I chose black and white because it’s timeless and eliminates distractions.  Betteridge has been a family owned business growing ever since 1897.  Betteridge’s belief in quality and high standards for it’s products has remained the same throughout it’s history so I though it was an appropriate choice for the task of photographing our watchmakers at work.

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Norman Rockwell has a famous painting titled “The Watchmaker of Switzerland.”  In this painting you see a juxtaposition between the old watchmaker and curious boy.  The age shows on the watchmaker but it symbolically represents his wisdom and experience; each wrinkle perhaps a result of a tough overhaul!

Echoing Norman Rockwell’s famous painting, Betteridge jewelers has one of the most qualified veterans out there, “Tony.”  Not only does he know everything about watches and can fix pretty much everything, he’s also got a sense of humor!  Tony always has a joke and his accent makes the joke that much funnier.  It’s fascinating to think of all the amazing watches he’s worked on in his long career.

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If you ever have a doubt as to why Rolex’s are so prized you have to see an Overhaul.  The mentioned “overhaul” is a restoration of a watch, cleaning of all the parts and lubricating.  Joshua Bale joined the team about 2 years ago after coming out of the infamous Lititz Watch Technicum school of watch making and working in Hawaii as watch maker at another jeweler.  I observed Josh disassembling a Rolex Daytona.  It evokes an anxiety to see all these tiny pieces come out of the watch, you almost wonder how anyone could ever remember where they all go.  The unique thing about Rolex is that they make all their own components unlike other watch brands.

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After the watch is disassembled the parts go through a cleaning process and the watch is reassembled.  The watch makers are also able to get out surface scratches and refinish the exterior of the watches.  There are some watches that have hundreds of pieces to the movement.  Yesterday I watched a record breaking auction of the Henry Graves “Supercomplication” Live on Soethby’s go for $24.4 million.

Photo Credit (Sotheby's)

Photo Credit (Sotheby’s)

Handling these fine timepieces over the last few years you can feel the weight, you can see the fine detail, and detect subtle differences in quality that make you appreciate each watch.  I value watches so much more as i’ve begun my own collection.  Along with handling the watches, observing our watchmakers have taught me the differences in quality and the complexities that make high end watches more than a “nice watch” but rather a carefully engineered piece of art.  The value these watches hold make for an investment you can wear and appreciate as well as something to pass down to generations beyond.  The sentiment is something I too have bought into so to speak, I will get into that on another post.

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I hope you enjoy some of the photos I took for this assignment.  If you happen to walk down Greenwich Avenue in Greenwich, CT in a few weeks you will get to see some of these photos and more in our windows.  Each photo will be almost 4 feet wide!

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Copyright Betteridge + James Katt Photography

To see all the amazing jewelry and watches we carry check out http://www.betteridge.com

To see my website visit http://www.jameskatt.com

 

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