Brendan Cunningham

Posts by Brendan:

10.12.2020

Steve McQueen’s Monaco, Paul Newman’s (other) Daytona – will this auction deliver the next record watch sale?

Have you ever wondered what racing cars and auction rooms have in common? In a 2006 publication, neurosurgeon Dr Eric Watkins published evidence that a Formula 1 driver can experience a pulse in the neighbourhood of 200 beats per minute during a race. According to the US Centre for Disease Control, this heart rate approaches, if not exceeds, the maximum heart rate for the typically aged Formula 1 driver. In this way, both race cars and auction rooms have a similar effect on those inside them, with hearts racing if you’re gripping a steering wheel or a paddle, a fact…

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22.10.2020

Are high-value vintage watches pandemic-proof? The auction market results from 2020 say yes…

This year has been remarkable in many ways. I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve said to myself, “Well, I never thought I’d see that happen in my lifetime.” Despite these surprises, the watch industry has demonstrated a remarkable stability. Sure, we lost a few trade shows. But there was also a regular flow of new releases from a wide range of brands, despite some early signs to the contrary. Equally impressive was the resilience of the auction industry. In this article, we investigate why high-value vintage watches have appeared to be pandemic-proof at a time when most segments…

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27.04.2020

Watchmakers answer 7 tough questions about watch servicing, and dispel some common myths in the process

In a recent opinion piece, I extolled one of the central virtues of a modern luxury watch as being its viability for multi-generational use. But that is to presume the owner is going to be diligent with maintaining it. So, what’s the worst thing that can happen if you don’t service your watch?  I asked some top-tier watchmakers that question and more around the subject of servicing. Colin de Tonnac is a French watchmaker who previously worked for Patek Philippe. He launched his own brand, Semper & Adhuc, in 2016. Eric Greenberg is a US-based watchmaker. He has extended his…

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watch repair and restoration 20.04.2020

OPINION: 3 reasons why collecting watches is meaningful, even in a crisis

Is collecting mechanical watches meaningful? I’ve thought about this existential question quite a bit. Recently I was fortunate to spend some time chatting with Leonid Khankin, President and Creative Director for the brand Ernst Benz. Leonid has a deep understanding of the watch industry. Our discussion is worthy of a separate article. But at one point he made a statement that, coincidentally, resonated with some of my recent thinking. Leonid said that the pursuits of the watch community are honourable. This was the first time I’d heard this word applied to horology.  We’ve all had the question enter our minds…

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rappers watches 01.03.2020

Are rappers the real horological tastemakers of the world?

The email from Nick Kenyon arrived in response to one of my article submissions. I’ll paraphrase here: “We were talking about whether mentions of watches in popular music has an impact on demand … do you think there is some data somewhere you could use to look at that question?” My immediate reaction had two parts. First, just happiness at what a fascinating topic this is. And second: unending gratitude for the generosity of the “home office” in sharing this story idea with me. I’d wager there are very few watch enthusiasts whose Instagram streams did not contain a reference…

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09.02.2020

Is this evidence of the next Quartz Crisis?

Watch enthusiasts face a somewhat unique challenge. When asked, “What are your hobbies?”, if you answer “rugby” or “dining out”, your response is almost immediately understood. In my own experience, when I say “watches”, the response is, more often than not, another question. “Watches?” My answer only seems to create echoing confusion. There are a lot of beliefs about the watch industry that aren’t necessarily correct, but they aren’t wrong either. They’re just not as nuanced as they could be. The zeitgeist seems to be that watches are an outmoded technology, like the riding crop. When horses were the main…

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first watch movement on the moon 19.01.2020

Space odyssey: How the Omega Calibre 321 became the first watch movement on the moon

In many ways, outer space and space exploration have become a routine part of life. We all carry a device that listens to signals from space in the form of our mobile phone. Most can receive messages from GPS satellites in medium earth orbit more than 20,000km away. Just as space is now entwined with our lives, so is timekeeping inseparable from space. GPS relies upon clocks. A satellite sends a signal that says “I sent this at time X.” Your phone provides the time, Y, when the signal was received. The elapsed time between sending and receiving (Y minus…

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Vintage Rolex GMT Master 22.12.2019

What builds vintage watch value? Here’s how to avoid totally destroying your watch’s worth

Everyone’s familiar with Antiques Roadshow, the TV program where members of the public have their dusty collectables examined and valued by experts. This often results in a pleasant surprise, as you can see from Time+Tide’s own coverage of some of the momentous watch discoveries on the show. But not all of the “reveals” are pleasant. A recurring disappointment involves furniture. For example, in 2018 an Irish silver table from 1740 was brought to appraisers in Belfast. It was beautifully designed and the grain of the wood was clear (video here, article here). The table looked brand new. The appraiser mentioned…

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Phillips Game Changers Auction 17.12.2019

In the room for the Phillips Game Changers Auction

A premier watch auction is an inspiring event. Last week, I joined the bidders at Phillips auction house on Park Avenue in New York. As we progressed through the 74 lots on offer, I was struck by the truly global nature of the vintage watch market. The auctioneer and impresario Aurel Bacs flawlessly switched between English, Italian and French while at one point saying to the phone bank, “I wish I could understand what you’re saying!”, as bidders from around the globe gabbled with house specialists. Earlier, Mr Bacs noted that the highest online bid in any watch auction had…

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