Tech­nol­ogy process, re­veal­ing is an ever-evolv­ing one marvel af­ter an­other. One such epochal mo­ment was the in­tro­duc­tion of quartz watches in the 1970s, which seemed to spell doom for the me­chan­i­cal watch in­dus­try. But the lux­ury watch seg­ment pre­vailed and con­tin­ues to do so even with the en­croach­ment of the smart watch and even smart phones. Smart watches and tra­di­tional watches may be­long to the same prod­uct cat­e­gory, share a sim­i­lar de­sign style and a place on the wrist, but their au­di­ences are

as dif­fer­ent as chalk and cheese.

The evo­lu­tion­ary jour­ney of the time-piece has too many ma­jor break­throughs to re­count here. That said, the pri­mor­dial ges­ture in the horol­ogy school of thought is the man­u­ally wound func­tion. The THE MAN­U­ALLY WIND­ING WRISTWATCH INSTIGATES A WIDE AR­RAY OF FUNC­TIONS—AND EMO­TIONS. IT BEST REP­RE­SENTS THIS ON­GO­ING JOUR­NEY OF OUR LIVES

pocket watch, the ta­ble clock, the enam­elled car­riage clock and the af­fa­ble wristwatch, they all had to be man­u­ally wound to func­tion. And though it in­volved a com­pli­cated process, when wound, the pre­ci­sion was im­pec­ca­ble. The thought and ac­tu­al­i­sa­tion of the mech­a­nism val­i­dated man’s ca­pa­bil­ity to build and con­struct on an al­most cel­lu­lar atomic level. The con­cise di­men­sions of the wristwatch made it chal­leng­ing, yet the feat was ac­com­plished. There­after, in­ven­tions such as quartz and au­to­matic move­ments ac­cen­tu­ated the me­chan­i­cal as­pect of mea­sur­ing time. Quartz cru­saded for a bat­tery op­er­a­tion that re­sulted with time­pieces be­com­ing more of a mass prod­uct, while the au­to­matic move­ment re­lied on the wearer’s hand move­ment and utilised the gen­er­ated ki­netic en­ergy to trig­ger the wristwatch’s func­tion­al­ity. Cur­rently, with the dig­i­tal revo­lu­tion at its zenith, the wristwatch has shapeshift­ed into var­i­ous en­ti­ties, from trac­ing the num­ber of calo­ries burnt to an­swer­ing a phone call, it can now all be done through a wristwatch.

None­the­less, the most dis­cern­ing watch col­lec­tors and ex­perts deem that the most de­sir­able of the lot is the man­u­ally wound wristwatch. This was also the cul­mi­na­tion of var­i­ous re­search ac­tiv­i­ties that As­taGuru un­der­took prior to con­duct­ing our de­but stand­alone ‘Ex­cep­tional Time­pieces’ auc­tion in 2018. An auc­tion statis­tic backs the thought—the world record for the most ex­pen­sive wristwatch sold so far in an auc­tion was a man­ual move­ment Rolex Day­tona that orig­i­nally be­longed to Hol­ly­wood icon Paul New­man. This wristwatch, dated 1968, was gifted to the ac­tor by his wife Joanne Wood­ward. It was put up for auc­tion in 2017 in New York and fetched a sell­ing price of $17.8 mil­lion (the fig­ure in­cludes the auc­tion house’s mar­gin/ buyer’s premium). Per­son­ally, I agree with the preva­lent sen­ti­ment that man­ual move­ment su­per­sedes auto-pow­ered move­ment; the rea­sons be­ing that the former sig­ni­fies a height­ened de­gree of hu­man crafts­man­ship. Man­u­ally wind­ing the wristwatch instigates a wide ar­ray of func­tions that are en­thralling; it is also a more im­mer­sive process as well. Fur­ther­more, in to­day’s fast-paced life, the ex­er­cise of man­u­ally wind­ing one’s watch can be al­most med­i­ta­tive. An­other im­per­a­tive is that they are not mass pro­duced and are there­fore ex­tremely scarce and sought af­ter. Even vis­ually, man­ual wind­ing wrist­watches are more ap­peal­ing since they are slen­der, as op­posed to most au­to­matic watches which tend to be heftier on the wrist. Apart from the ex­clu­siv­ity as­pect, the no­tion of the phys­i­cal process makes the man­u­ally wound wristwatch more hu­mane in com­par­i­son with its suc­ces­sors. Fi­nally, the man­ual watch sur­passes the au­to­matic ver­sion be­cause it re­tains within its core a gi­ant leap, the very leap that cat­a­pulted our race to a higher di­men­sion, where­with we were bound in time and space, syn­chro­nised and in uni­son. This as­pect of time is of ut­most rel­e­vance; one of the most val­i­dat­ing fac­tors to this is the ‘10,000-year clock’ that Ama­zon’s Jeff Be­zos has com­mis­sioned. The clock, be­ing con­structed so as to work for 10 mil­len­nia, is in­tended as an ed­i­fice to the le­gacy of our race. The crux of the mat­ter is this—re­al­ity, as we can hold on to, dic­tates that time will nar­rate our tale. In that sense, the man­ual wristwatch per­haps best rep­re­sents our on­go­ing jour­ney. ■

In to­day’s fast-paced life, the ex­er­cise of man­u­ally wind­ing one’s watch can be al­most med­i­ta­tive

TIMELESS A lat­ter-day Rolex Day­tona; Hol­ly­wood icon Paul New­man’s 1968 model had gone un­der the ham­mer for $17.8 mil­lion

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