New Criticals

One can imagine Abraham-Louis Breguet, tweezers in hand, assembling the first tourbillon, or the watch ordered by Marie Antoinette the Terror prevented from being delivered.  Breguet was a true artisan, but also an archetype for technological innovation and salesmanship—the comparison to Jobs has been made before. He, and the company he founded, made watches that became not just tools for business and trade but artifacts that imparted to the wearer the cache of a brand name and great expense. To wear a Breguet was about more that just the accuracy of the movement.

Watches are devices to measure time at the hour scale, though some encompass days, months, lunar phases, and years. With care and maintenance they outlast the lifespan of their first owners, become heirlooms, which tick away for grandsons the same seconds their grandfather watched in idle moments, some stuffy summer afternoon so long ago the world then would be nigh-unrecognizable to us now. They are prized possessions, not just because they ground the human experience in the passage of time, but because of their collectability, the changing designs and improvements marking time in a different way, by eras, by trends in affluence.