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You don’t have to be mad to love watches, but it helps –...
Connoisseur of watches

You don’t have to be mad to love watches, but it helps – Part 2

Friday, 10 January 2020
By Laurent Picciotto / Chronopassion
Laurent Picciotto / Chronopassion

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5 min read

In a series of five portraits, Chronopassion gets to grips with our passion for watches, from how it begins to how it develops, its symptoms, those most at risk, and the (rare) instances of recovery. Part two.

Are all watch enthusiasts more cuckoo than a clock? Not all of them, no, at least not to the same degree. Sufferers of this condition will show subtle variations in their symptoms. In the more benign cases, the patient will systematically stop up short whenever a timepiece comes into view; the most pronounced examples entail the relentless pursuit of the ultimate watch that is always, of course, the next in line. After an often intimate, always emotional 25 years in the company of watches and watch enthusiasts, Chronopassion can venture a reasonably accurate definition of five different sociotypes of customers affected by a severe bout of horolosis.

Episode 4: "And if the sufferer loves the malady, There’s scarcely call for any remedy!" - Corneille

Or how to detect populations at greatest risk of contracting an immoderate passion for watches

Family history is certainly a decisive factor, as is intellectual curiosity. In both cases, subjects are predisposed to venturing further and further into watchmaking terrain. They are, however, not the only conditions. Other factors alert us to individuals who are particularly at risk. “First off, there is the simple fact of having access to timepieces and the financial means to one’s ends,” notes Laurent Picciotto. “Then there is the ability to appreciate beauty. Some people are more sensitive to beautiful objects than others. Only the former are at risk. A person doesn’t buy a watch because it’s there; they buy it because they feel drawn to it. In fact this is the main, or more to the point only motivation behind the watches I propose. Certain watches have the potential to become best-sellers but unless they appeal to me emotionally, you won’t see them at Chronopassion. I’m with my customers in that respect.”

"It's not just me, so I can't be mad."

Another factor that comes into play is a sort of self-vindication. “In the eyes of the world, these purchases have neither rhyme nor reason, yet the subject feels little remorse simply because others are doing exactly the same. It’s a kind of ‘it’s-not-just-me-so-I-can’t-be-mad’ logic. Then there is the pride to be had from owning a timepiece. It’s the same pride a child gets from having a fantastic toy that none of his friends have, although not so brazen. We can also note shifts in behaviour; these people can be perfectly rational one minute, with both feet on the ground and a clear sense of reality, and irrational the next, disconnecting from reality and giving in to compulsive instincts in complete contradiction with how they normally behave.”

Episode 5: "Wisdom is a way of life" - Cicero

Or how (sometimes) wisdom prevails

“Timepiece” – the image says it all. A man who owns a “timepiece” makes clear his desire to have a “piece of time” (for himself) and, ultimately, a piece of eternity.

This dream of immortality is not the sole preserve of watch enthusiasts; the desire to vanquish time has existed for as long as humanity. Still, one of the most poetic visions of this quest comes from the individuals who see the beauty of a meticulously crafted, superbly decorated and precious watch.

Alas, time marches on and this desire for immortality fades as we grow older. The impression that we have our whole life ahead of us gradually recedes while the years bring wisdom and reason. For the enthusiast, this obsession with watches, this need to keep hold of time, is no longer as compelling. He may even sell his collection, as though this new-found sagacity had freed him from what had been a lifelong pursuit.

Few have the courage to part with a collection that took a lifetime to assemble.

Some of the most acute cases of collectionitis have succeeded in going cold turkey, though few have the courage to part with a collection that took a lifetime to assemble. When they do – and there is no turning back – don’t be surprised to see salerooms packed with other collectors…

Certain subjects may find themselves in the grip of another equally compulsive, equally exclusive infatuation. It might be of an entirely different nature altogether, but can be a variation on their original, all-consuming passion. This is the case of collectors of ultra-exclusive timepieces who, from one day to the next, leave six-figure price tags behind to instead devote themselves to watches that, as well as being considerably more affordable, will bring them previously unknown sensations.

Is this a pathology that only affects men? “Some women can be just as obsessed with watches, but with an entirely different outcome. For many women, the desire for posterity is fulfilled by having children, in which case nothing else matters any more,” concludes Laurent Picciotto.

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