Watch shows can feel a bit like a meat market. Everything you are told is rare, precious, etc. somehow appears under one roof. Watches are traded, bought, and sold for business. There is no marketing or sentimentality. For many the experience can be intimidating and disenchanting. Admittedly, even after attending several of them, I am still the former. What I love about the shows is the ability to experience so many different watches without all the pretention, a pushy salesperson, or a PR guy with white gloves telling you what’s so special about a particular watch.
Usually I spend the first hour or so meandering around trying to find some pieces to work on and write about. After that I park my self behind the booth of one of the most trusted and prominent dealers in the vintage world where I know I will get to see some of the most interesting pieces coming and going. Matthew Bain has spent decades building one of the most solid reputations in the business. He is unquestionably one of the most knowledgeable individuals on vintage pieces, but most importantly (for me at least) he has a true passion for what he does from six and seven figure Pateks to the four figure wacky pieces from the 70s. He can appreciate a watch regardless of the price. The best metaphor I can think of is he is like an exotic car dealer who is also smitten by a Wood-Paneled Wagoneer. More important than any of that is that he is a nice guy who is willing to share his knowledge. A very close childhood friend of mine is his right-hand man Morgan (which probably has a lot to do with why Matt puts up my loitering and endless questions), which is how I got introduced to Matt’s operation and the watch shows.
Now that I have set the scene at some length, its time to get to the watch I fell in love with. While talking to my friend another dealer handed him a non-descript clear plastic envelope. Inside it there were two watches. One instantly caught my eye so I asked if I could pull it out and take a closer look. It turned out to be a classic A. Lange & Sohne 1815 with an up/down wind indicator. It is such a clean simple and perfectly executed watch. The dial side contains two sub-dials; one for the seconds at 4 and one for the power reserve at 8. As a big fan of tasteful standard bucking, I love the placement of the sub-second dial. The two-tiered dial is beautiful and reminiscent of old top grade pocket watches. The hands for me are perfection. They are so dead simple and classic. Their incredibly narrow sharp points give an ever so subtle air of precision. The different hands on the sub-dials are also a great touch.
On the movement side, I think it is fair to say there are few watches that can show so little and be so strikingly beautiful. Their movements are made from untreated German silver that takes on an amazing patina over time. The finishing is impeccable (as one would expect.) When it comes to exhibition backs, one can clearly see the divide between the Swiss and the Germans. The Germans reveal relatively little about the movement, but what they do show is an attention to aesthetic and detail that lets you know that what you don’t see is just fine away from your prying eyes. The hand engraved balance cock combined with the silver plate does well to indicate that what lies beneath is what one would expect from German attention to detail and precision. The more recent versions of the 1815 reveal a bit more, but I personally prefer this movement. This one remains ever so slightly truer to the German style. For a comparison see the link: http://www.hodinkee.com/blog/hands-on-with-the-a-lange-shne-1815-updown-full-specs-live-pics-official-pricing
Finally and most importantly is how the watch fits. Like everything else on the watch it just seems to fit perfectly. I was really sad to have to take it off and hand it back. It sits on the wrist like it belongs. At 36mm it is small by most standards, but its just right on the wrist. The Platinum gives it just enough heft to let you know something special is there, but it’s for you to know and appreciate, not for everyone else. After my experience with this watch I can definitely say one will be in my collection one day. In the meantime, I will return to the pictures on this post, and remember the time I became enamored with the 1815. I can only hope that this piece goes to an owner who will appreciate its beauty the way I did when I had the opportunity to handle it.
This piece is currently for sale by Matthew Bain and can be found at: