Hess Fine Art

Fine Art, Auction, Watch and Antique Experts Since 1984.
1131 4th Street North
St. Petersburg, FL 33701 (map)
(727) 896-0622 | 1-800-922-4377
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What it's Worth

All men have a bit of "Explorer" in them. I guess that is why, in a modern world, a man feels so comfortable wearing a Rolex! But why does the "Explorer" retain its popularity even now as we enter the 6th decade of its existence?

As a watch collector, I am always on the lookout for small watch brands that have an unusual look, a feel that is substantial and a bit of flair for the dramatic. As a small retailer - always looking to improve my watch lines - I look for up-and-coming brands that produce watches that are very saleable and that in telling their story actually help me to sell that brand.

It seems as if just about every watch company in the world wants to stake a bit of claim for the invention of the automatic wristwatch. The reason they all want to do so is quite simple. Our grandfathers (and for many of us baby boomers, our fathers) had little or no access to automatic wristwatches.

When Webb C. Ball was summoned to testify about the timekeeping discrepancies that led to the great Kipton, Ohio train wreck, in 1891, he could not have fathomed in his wildest dreams that he would go down in history as the driving force behind standardizing the watch industry worldwide, nor that his dream would live 115 years later.

Blancpain is one of those companies that, as many of the finer Swiss watch Companies oft-times do, presents its watches in the most conservative of fashion. The company has been around in some form or another since its founding in 1735 by Jehan-Jacques Blancpain, and is steeped in a tradition that somehow gives it the ability to make "conservatism" hip.

Rarely do I get a chance to provide such a quick follow-up to a story about a watch company. But the reaction from many of you (the phone calls, emails and letters) about our story on the resurgence of the BALL WATCH COMPANY two issues ago (Volume 7, Issue 6, Nov./Dec. 2004) has been so great that a follow-up became necessary.