In our ongoing series, My Favorite Watch, WatchTime speaks to interesting personalities in the watch industry. The interviews revolve around the subject’s favorite watch model, their experience in the industry, and other topics. This week, we talk to James Buttery, Print Editor at Britain’s QP Magazine.
What’s your favorite watch?
Sorry, but that’s impossible for me to answer. I’m old enough to realize that my favorites change on a near weekly basis and my answer would differ depending on mood, weather, location, et cetera. We’ve all gone through phases of craving a Nautilus or realizing we must own a Speedmaster at some stage. At my Vacheron Constantin appointment at SIHH this January I scribbled down in my notes that I’d like a 222 from my birth year, 1978, and circled it for emphasis, so that’s the latest in a long list.
Why that one?
I love the bold, straight-line geometry of early- to mid-70s watches. I own an Omega ‘Mariner’ from 1975 (with Omega’s first in-house quartz movement) and the case is completely nuts.
What’s important to you about watches in general?
Watches of all kinds are a tribute to human ingenuity that you can carry with you anywhere you go, but mechanical watches particularly fascinate me because they were first conceived of at a time when science and engineering was still rudimentary. Imagine attempting to build something that had never been built before, but first having to design and build the tools to do so and doing all that using sketches on paper, candlelight, and trial and error. It’s incredible.
Has working in watch journalism changed how you think about watches? Has your passion been reinforced, and did your point of view change?
Realizing that the automatic watch movement was powered solely through the movement of one’s wrist was a real epiphany for me in my teens, I still remember that moment very clearly and it’s what encouraged me to specialize in watches many years later after a career in news reporting. Delving into the history of the industry, and learning more about the likes of Harrison, Daniel Jeanrichard, Graham, Tompion, and even the earliest astronomers centuries before them has reinforced my belief in human ingenuity.
As watch editor, first at WatchPro, then at QP Magazine since 2017, what do you think: Have watch lovers changed in the last few years? From your point of view, what is important to watch lovers today?
I think the fundamentals remain constant; only the style and aesthetics change. When I first started writing about watches everyone seemed to be wearing giant watches, 45 mm and beyond. Now, because of the popularity of vintage and pre-owned, tastes have changed once again and lean more in favor of smaller, neater proportions. But social media has changed everything for watch collectors, connecting them and bringing them together.
What trends do you see in watchmaking for 2018?
After a seriously rocky patch for the industry we’re seeing far fewer high complications and many more steel watches and chronographs, pieces priced to sell and to restart the retail sector. But brands are also having to innovate to give themselves a point of difference, Piaget has shown a 2-mm-thick mechanical watch and Zenith has created the world’s most precise mechanical watch all in the space of a few months. New retail initiatives will be big this year as brands chase the Millennials who, if you believe half of the tosh that has been written about them, crave experiences over physical objects. We’ll see more watches sold directly and attached to an event or an experience.
Working as an editor at a watch magazine seems like a dream come true for most watch lovers. How do you like it?
I’ve just returned from SIHH so I’m quite tired, but I’m also aware that flying around the world to look at watches is not the same as working down in a mine. So I like it a great deal.
A day without a watch — is that possible?
Anything’s possible, but I feel naked without a watch on my wrist. However if I do leave the house without a watch there are usually a few around the office to get me through the day.
Photo Credit: kalory.co.uk