23 July 2009

Wretched Excess Unit

Sometimes I see things that are just so completely insane, I have to make note of them. This is a perfect example.

I collect watches. I've talked about this before; I have a particular fondness for mechanical (winding) watches from the 1960s. At the beginning of that decade, that most likely meant a watch you wound by hand every day, but within a few years automatic models, which are wound by the motion of your arm, became popular. Unfortunately, within a few more years they would be rendered technologically, if not functionally, obsolete by quartz watches, which are far more accurate than mechanical watches.

If you're the sort of person who cares about this type of thing, chances are you have more than one automatic watch (I have a few myself), but I mean more along the lines of Rolex, TAG Heuer, Omega, Breitling, etc. Fancy stuff. Spendy. You get a few of those, you'll want to keep them wound, because if left unworn (and thus unwound) for long periods of time, the precision of the moving parts can suffer.

It's also a huge drag to contemplate your vast collection of luxury timepieces, trying to decide which one you feel like wearing on a given day, only to realize that the one you're in the mood for hasn't been worn recently and therefore has to be wound and set to the correct time and date. Sigh...

To alleviate such stress, someone invented this thing called a watch winder. It's typically a box made of wood or leather, with a little stand where you park your watch that's attached to a motor that simulates arm movement. These things typically run at least a hundred bucks apiece, but can cost a lot more. Of course, if you can afford a $4000 watch, you can afford the gizmo to keep it wound. (It's analagous to the idea that people who can afford $100,000 cars can also afford to insure and run them.)

Eventually the watch winder people figured out that people with collections of fancy watches might be interested in winders that could hold multiple watches, which led to things like this, and this, and ultimately this: a free-standing floor cabinet for winding up to 56 automatic watches.

And it's only $166,000.

I guess there really are some people who have so much money they don't know what to do with it. If you are in fact the sort of person who has a genuine need for an item such as this, you could pay someone $40K a year, not even one-fourth of what this costs, to keep your watches wound for you. I suspect that person would feel fortunate to have a job, and you'd be doing your bit to boost the economy.

By the way, I don't own any watch winders. Maybe I should, if only to take better care of my vintage pieces, but seeing things like this makes me kind of disgusted by the whole idea.

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