A new society in Aspen brings together people who are passionate about the art of making timepieces.
In the world of fine timepieces, a skilled watchmaker can take more than a year to finish a single wristwatch. Despite the prevalence of cell phones as a simple means to tell time, interest in mechanical watches is as strong as ever. The brainchild of the timepiece experts at Meridian Jewelers, the Horological Society of Aspen (horologicalsocietyaspen.com) was launched to create a space for watch collectors and enthusiasts to come together. The group had its kickoff gathering in Aspen at the home of a local collector last March.
“Aspen is a town that has a lot of watch lovers, people who appreciate the aesthetics of fine watches and high horology,” says Kenny Smith, who owns Meridian Jewelers with his wife, Robin. Fine timepieces are authentic working machines crafted and decorated by hand. “There’s still such an appreciation of the mechanics of a watch movement as opposed to something electronic or computerized,” Smith says. Seiko’s introduction of its Quartz Astron in 1969 upended the watchmaking industry. Still, Smith says the appreciation for mechanical watches never waned and is stronger than ever. “No one is going to marvel at the craftsmanship that went into connecting a bunch of diodes,” Smith says. “It’s about so much more than just telling time.”
At the society’s twice-yearly meetups, members talk about watches and watchmaking techniques. “It’s a social environment where people who love timepieces can share their love of a particular watch or learn about high complications from other collectors,” Smith says. At the first meeting, a video of a functioning watch movement was projected onto a large screen from a high-zoom camera. “We were able to magnify these really rare watches 800 times their normal size to see the high level of decoration and functionality of the watch movements,” he says. “It was mesmerizing.” A watchmaker from A. Lange & Söhne was on hand to share technical aspects of the brand’s luxury timepieces.
Anyone can join the Horological Society, and there’s no membership fee. “You just have to bring a passion for fine watchmaking,” Smith says.