Vintage Time Pieces Worth Preserving by Kevin Lamoureux – May 10, 2011 – Cornwall Ontario

Cornwall ON – Don’t consider “trading for cash” those vintage gold retirement watches or heirloom fobs before seeking the advice of an horologist.

It’s fascinating how collectible objects like jewelry or time pieces can evoke such intriguing stories.  When Gerald Leat came in to have me photograph his most cherished heirloom, an Art Deco pocket watch passed down from his father, I was first awed by the beauty of the piece and then compelled to learn more about its pedigree.

It was Montreal in the roaring 20s and John Leat was coming of age. To mark his twenty-first birthday, John Cecil Leat’s father, James, presented him with a sporty contemporary gold and silver Bulova pocket watch.  It is engraved with his initials“JCL” and features an  open face dial in the Art Deco style, and has a hinged back to reveal the fifteen jewel Swiss made movement.  These watches required cleaning and oiling about every five years,  and watchmakers would often engrave their initials and the date after each servicing.  On this piece, you’ll find initials and dates from 1941, 1947 and 1949.

While Mr. Leat once used this watch almost daily, sometime in the 1950s, the watch stopped working, and John may have considered it too old-fashioned to bother servicing anymore.  So it didn’t see the light of day for about forty years until Gerald inherited it in 1990 after his father passed away.

It wasn’t until November 2010 that Gerald found a craftsmen who specialized in restoring vintage wrist and pocket watches.  Darryl Lessor, a certified watchmaker and “horologist” based in Hudson, Quebec, was able to bring  the roughly eighty year old time piece back to perfect working condition.

Gerald has developed a passion for vintage men’s time pieces and also has some interesting skeleton style watches in his collection.  The skeleton design exposes the inner workings of the piece which is very cool.  One can’t help but marvel at  the beauty of such masterpieces that marry art and technology in an age where fewer and fewer specialized craftspeople are left to care for these vintage keepers of time.

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