BY ADAM KENT-ISAAC
“What time do you have?” For many, the response to that question is to check their mobile phones. But traditional wristwatches still have their devotees, according to those who sell and service classic timepieces.
Longtime jeweler Mark Thoma, whose store, Williams Jewelry, was a downtown fixture for decades, observes that more people are buying watches for themselves, rather than as gifts, than ever before. “So many people are wearing them as fashion statements,” says Thoma—including young women, who he claims are increasingly wearing large watches designed for men.
Williams closes its doors with Thoma’s retirement in December, but those looking to buy a watch locally have other stores at which to shop. Victor Settle Jewelry is one; it has a large selection of Bulova, Reactor, and Freestyle watches, in addition to a line of house-branded watches, assembled from Swiss components.
Settle watch technician Rob Hayes says interest in watches is thriving—including traditional mechanical watches, which run on springs and gears, as opposed to battery-powered quartz watches. “Many young people are quite knowledgeable about the different movements that go into mechanical watches because there’s a lot of information on the Internet.”
Argentum Jewelry on the downtown Square has a modest selection of watches, including the Danish brand Skagen, which has won awards for its minimalist design, and several varieties of Citizen Eco-Drive watches, which are powered by light and require no battery. In the higher price range, Gold Casters carries a full line of Rolex watches, for both men and women, and for smaller budgets, Tissot, also a Swiss brand of mechanical watches.
For people seeking vintage watches, Reliable Vintage in Nashville carries many timepieces sought by collectors, including Patek Philippe, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Omega, and Rolex. “People who invest in a good watch are people who want to have something that will last forever and hold its value,” says owner Eugene Spiegel.
Now that so-called smartwatches like the Pebble and Galaxy Gear have appeared on the market, with the ability to receive text messages and news updates, and, in some cases, function as phones, the idea of a traditional wristwatch might seem hopelessly old-fashioned. But with the advantages of simplicity, ruggedness, and affordability (or luxury, as the case may be), the—dare we say timeless—watch could still hang on for some time.