A Question of Time: 10 questions with the Time+Tide team – D.C. HannayD.C. Hannay
Editor’s Note: What makes the Time+Tide team tick? That’s what we want to try and uncover in this new series that will turn the spotlight on the horological preference, quirks and prejudices of our teams of contributors and editors. This week, American contributor D.C. takes the hot-seat.
When did you first become interested in watches?
There’s that iconic opening line in Goodfellas, “As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be a gangster”. Well, I feel the same way about watches. Everyone wore one when I was a kid, and I had no idea what a great watch was versus a cheap one, I just knew they looked cool, did stuff, and were a very grown-up thing to own.
What was your first watch? (First watch and first “serious” watch)
The first watch I can remember was a small wind-up Timex with a blue dial and an expansion bracelet, probably 34mm or so. It might have been a Mercury, but I’ll leave that for the Timex collectors to tell me. It came from the corner store in our town, where they had one of those rotating displays, and it was probably less than $10 bucks. It met its end after one too many gravel-pit jumps on a banana-seat bike. After that one broke, I graduated to a Texas Instruments digital LED watch with a race car decal on the front. My first “real” watch, the one I call my gateway drug, was a 1979 vintage Seiko 6309-7049 “Turtle” diver, which my wife got me when she traded in a gold bracelet at a local mom & pop jewellery store about 20 years ago. That’s the one that really set me on the path. Almost everything up until then was a G-Shock or mall quartz watch.
What is your collecting style? Does it have a particular focus?
My style is pretty eclectic. It would probably be easier to say that I only tend to avoid hype pieces and haute horology, not because they’re terrible, but for practical and fiscal reasons. I can’t afford a watch that costs as much as a house, and if I had one, I’d never wear it for fear of a fatal encounter with a steel door jamb. None of my watches live in a safe, they all get worn, and they all have scratches and dings. Otherwise, what’s the point? If I had to pin my style down, I necessarily gravitate toward tool watches, because they look cooler when they’re a little beat up. If they’re vintage, or have a retro look, so much the better, because the tool watches from the ‘60s and ‘70s are some of the most beautiful to me. However, I will say I have a strange obsession with ‘80s-’90s TAG Heuer, probably due to my early imprinting. I’ve also become fascinated with tool watches from haute couture brands like Chanel and Christian Dior, because the notions of high fashion and bashing around like an action hero are so diametrically opposed. And I’m always a sucker for all things Casio.
Which watch do you wear the most?
I have a few, but if I had to pin it down, probably a recent Asian-market Seiko “Batman” Turtle and an Omega Speedmaster Reduced from the mid-‘90s. I love the way that thing fits me, it’s literally perfect.
Your house is on fire and you can only save one watch. Which watch would you save?
My dad’s Breitling Navitimer 806 “Big Eye”, no question. It was the first watch that really captivated me, and there’s an obvious emotional attachment as well. So many great memories connect to that watch.
What’s your favourite watch brand and favourite complication?
That’s really tough, because I’m such a fan of watches in general. I think the brands that really do it for me with their current lineups would have to be Tudor and Zodiac, but overall, I’m such a Breitling fanboy, so that’s what my heart says. Despite their detours into the land of Big & Bling, their back catalogue is so overstuffed with amazing references, it’s impossible for me to deny. It’s great to see the company acknowledging their history and delivering some fantastic re-editions. The collector community has always been so welcoming, especially from experienced collectors like Fred Mandelbaum and others. And given my personal connection to the brand, of course the acorn doesn’t fall far from the tree. As far as a favourite complication, I think my current favourite would be a GMT, mainly because I don’t have one!
It would be tough to pick just one, but one that’s a grail to me that isn’t crazy money would be the Chanel Superleggera chronograph, the discontinued two-tone one in black ceramic and aluminium with the silver dial. It’s so unique, and very sophisticated, but with a roguish charm. I never see Chanel at watch meetups, but the J12 series is absolutely worthy of a second look from collectors. Free your mind.
What “tweaks your tourb” the most?
I’m pretty easygoing, but an otherwise fine timepiece can be totally ruined for me by a poorly executed date window, or a dial font faux pas. Either one can make my eye twitch like the chief inspector’s from the Pink Panther films.
What is one piece of advice you would give to someone just entering the world of watch enthusiasm?
Relax, don’t succumb to peer pressure, buy what you love, and don’t let anyone tell you your watch isn’t worthy, because if you dig it, it absolutely is. I have several Casios that retail for less than $50 bucks that I think are fantastic, and anyone who would look down on them can jump in a lake.
If I didn’t work with watches, I would want to work with…
Animals and children. Simultaneously. Seriously, my dream would be to play drums with a psychedelic-influenced hard rock band that’s successful enough to record and tour at our leisure, spending summers at the English country manor, and winters at the Caribbean estate. More practically, I’d write about something else I have a passion for, but really, watches are a pretty fantastic subject.