I don't know about you, but I often find one of the most sublime things I can do is merely observe and enjoy the viewing of fine timepieces. While ownership of a fine watch is a pleasure to be sure, I take great pleasure in viewing a fine watch, whether wreathed in the right blend of light and shadow at the hands of a creative photographer producing a masterfully composed photograph or whether viewed "in the wild" on the wrist of a subtly stylish gentleman or lady. I say "subtly" because one has to know what to look for to take a fuller measure of the style of the man or woman in question- something I would not have begun to know how to until about three months ago when I found this place.
The science of watchmaking has become a fascinating subject of study (albeit rather informally) for me as well. I love reading articles like Project 99 (the race to create the world's first automatic chronograph by Heuer and others- link: http://www.onthedash.com/docs/Project99.html) or finding a surprising blog entry about a triple axis tourbillon wristwatch (made by Thomas Prescher, http://ablogtoread.com/2008/10/27/th...ive-ever-know/ and http://www.prescher.ch/Collection/To...7/Default.aspx).
The advances in this field, the pursuit of excellence in the light of modern technological advances like digital and quartz watchmaking is as delightfully anachronistic as it is decadently luxurious. Yet the art and science of watchmaking- as well as the hobby of watch collecting- could not be enjoyed as broadly as it is were it not for its approachableness. While many of us may never own a Patek Phillipe or wear a Vacheron Constantin (to name just a few), I have vicariously enjoyed the lovingly display pictures of a new beauty posted by a proud owner on this forum. That these items of expertly crafted metal, gears, and assorted mechanica could be within the reach of a great number of regular folks is rather breathtaking, considering the esteemed patrons (and many monarchs) of the past.
I imagine the wonderment and fascination with automobiles stems from a similar root- that the enjoyment and study of motor vehicles which have a unique history and lineage of their own is made all the more pleasurable because it is feasible for dedicated enthusiasts to acquire high performance vehicles of their own. While I am not one of them (good thing too, as my wallet has been shrunk of much of its girth since joining WUS) I appreciate the similarities between these hobbies.
I want to conclude with a word of thanks to Ernie and the rest of the dedicated moderators and contributing members who have graced these forum threads. I realize that there can be many things which divide us (politics, rules, etc.) but I am glad that most everyone here has reached out a hand of fellowship and friendliness in maintaining an atmosphere of respect and civility. I wouldn't have it any other way (well, perhaps if we could convince Yamahaki to come back...)! :)
Thanks for reading this! Let's continue to enjoy our time (and timepieces) here.