TIME CAP­SULE

A new show­room at an Ex­eter jew­ellery shop is putting clas­sic vin­tage watches in the spot­light

Devon Life - - Promotion - PHO­TOS: Matt Austin

They are el­e­gant, pre­cisely engi­neered, and if you buy one it will prob­a­bly in­crease in value – is it any won­der that qual­ity vin­tage watches have such pres­tige?

Roo Doble is cer­tainly an ad­mirer and that’s why he’s just opened a ded­i­cated watch room above the jew­ellery shop his grand­fa­ther Ivor Doble opened in Sid­well Street, Ex­eter, half a cen­tury ago.

The room is part of a ma­jor re­fur­bish­ment scheme that has trans­formed the up­per floor of this well-known jew­eller’s.

It’s a calm, peace­ful space, the dark ma­roon walls and pol­ished dis­play cab­i­nets a world away from the fre­netic dig­i­tal world out­side.

There are mod­els of old rac­ing cars and fighter planes for sale, plus signet rings and tie pins.

But it’s the dis­play of vin­tage watches that lures most peo­ple to this room. The fa­mous names are here: Omega, Rolex, TAG and Bre­itling to name a few. Some date back to the 1940s or 50s, while oth­ers are more re­cent. Roo picks one from the dis­play, ex­plain­ing why it car­ries a price tag of more than £5,000. “This is an Omega Speed­mas­ter, the same type of watch the Apollo as­tro­nauts wore in the 1960s. This one is spe­cial – it dates from 1969, the year of the moon land­ings.” Speed­mas­ters made up to 1969 are known as pre-moons, he says. The ones made after 1969 car­ried the in­scrip­tion: “The First Watch Worn on the Moon.”

For some­one cel­e­brat­ing a 50th birth­day next year, this watch would make a mag­nif­i­cent present.

Cus­tomers in the watch room are of­ten look­ing for some­thing unique to mark a spe­cial birth­day or sig­nif­i­cant an­niver­sary. A clas­sic watch with a bit of his­tory is hard to beat.

So what sort of watch does Roo wear?

He smiles and pulls back his shirt cuff to show the face of an Omega gold wrist­watch dat­ing from the late 1940s, fea­tur­ing slim gold hands and ‘train track’ edg­ing around the cir­cum­fer­ence.

It’s an el­e­gant time­piece from the Swiss maker but Roo ad­mits one of rea­sons he loves it is the en­grav­ing on the back: “Arthur R Potts, for faith­ful ser­vice 19281948, from HJ Heinz Com­pany.”

We don’t know what work Mr Potts did for the fa­mous baked bean pro­ducer but – like many of his cus­tomers – Roo loves the fact that th­ese vin­tage watches have a unique his­tory and each has its own story. doble­jew­ellers.com

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