Friday, July 12, 2019

The A to Z Watch Collection

Guest column by Robert Blockoff

This is Robert Blockoff’s story.   Some collectors specialize in a particular brand, such as Rolex, Grand Seiko, or H. Moser & Cie. Others have a fondness for dive watches, pilot’s watches, mechanical alarm watches, perpetual calendars, moonphases, or some other complication. Still other collectors go after every watch they can find from a particular country.

Robert’s collection includes a watch from every letter beginning with A and ending with Z. He just recently completed the alphabet. 

Robert is an American watch collector who also collects other objects including fishing rods, reels, creels, old wooden fishing lures and books about fishing that date as far back as the 1600s to the present. He also collects guns, knives, and baseball cards from the 1950s to the late 1970s.

A version of this article first appeared on the forum, WatchUSeek. [insert URL]

It was three or four years ago that I started to catalog all my watches. First it started out as just a random list, but then I decided I needed to start alphabetizing my watches. Alphabetizing my collection meant it was easier to identify and locate certain brands and watches.

As I was alphabetizing, I realized I didn't own watch brands that started with the letters, "Y" or "Z"! Can you imagine? Now, I know there are watch collectors who say this is a ridiculous collection, a silly goal! Some will say, "I'm a one watch guy.” Others can’t imagine owning more than five or, at most, a dozen watches.

Part of Robert Blockoff's A to Z Watch Collectioin

I didn't start out with having one watch from A to Z as my goal when I began collecting watches some forty-five years earlier. In the 1970s you could pick up some nice watches for one hundred to a couple of hundred bucks, and I did! I had the watch collecting bug and I had it bad.

When that weird and wonderful thing called the internet came about, the whole collecting scene changed for me, as it did for other collectors, too.  No more writing letters and putting stamps on envelopes, no more getting on mailing lists and spending hours scouring catalogs. In the old days, you often had to wait days, weeks, or even months to receive a reply from a seller, especially internationally. Add it to that haggling back and forth, and it took forever to get your watch in the mail. But everyone trusted each other. Once a price was agreed upon, I would write a check and the check and the watch would often cross in the mail, simultaneously! No waiting for the check to clear, first. It was all on the honor system!  After your check cleared, the watch was on its way to you. The slow, yet reliable way of paying for a watch, with a check, predated shysters and online scammers, too. Your word, a personal check and a handshake were sufficient to get you that watch at a watch show. When eBay came along too, about a third to a half of the collection came from there in those early days!

I am almost embarrassed to admit that my collection now numbers over two hundred fifty watches. I have only sold two and I have regretted both of those sales.

Where was I? Oh yeah, so I just filled in the remaining two blank letters in less than a month! The "Z" is my new Zodiac Aerosapce GMT in the Gulf colors. Now, I just need to pick up a long admired Zenith, with the emphasis on need. I’m allowed to have more than two of each letter.

Finally, when the  new Yema Superman Heritage Bronze, I pulled the trigger to complete my A to Z collection.

Here are a few statistics about my collection:

The most watches for a particular letter I have is H, twenty-three, from Hamilton to HMT.

I've collected twenty-three W's (a tie with H), from Waltham to Wyler. The most I have of any single brand is Wittnauer, about a dozen. I'm a huge fan.

More S's, including a zillion Swatches, have been given to me as gifts. I do like some Swatches, as well as the franchise.

I have one Q, a Quartus LED from the 1970s with box and papers.

My single X is, of course, a Xeric, the watch that inspired collecting the alphabet.

My Yema and Zodiac, as I mentioned, recently completed my alphabetical collection

The watch I’ve had the longest amount of time: ESEF Watch Co. From 1922  from my Grandfather.

The watch I’ve had the least amount of time: The Yema (which is still on preorder) and the Zodiac, which I’ve had on my wrist for about a month.

My largest watches: A Benarus Meg, a Helberg CH1, and a Vostock.

My smallest watch: A birth year Elgin, which is about 23 mm. Yes, it's a man's watch.

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