I became interested in watches via an odd, back-door route. After decades of caring nothing at all for them, I suddenly fell into the hobby one day.. as the result of reading a science fiction novel!

Re-reading, actually. I'm an avid SF reader, and William Gibson is one of my favorite authors. The novel in question, "All Tomorrows Parties", is his best work since "Neuromancer", in my humble opinion, and watches figure prominently in the story. That aspect didn't hit me on the first couple of readings, but upon rereading it in the fall of 2003, something clicked. I decided that I really, really needed a vintage Jaeger-LeCoultre Mark XI wristwatch, preferably a 1953 RAAF issue. Upon researching that particular watch, I discovered that the price of entry was $2K+ or so for a mediocre example, and $3K+ for a nice one. Out of my league by an order of magnitude.

When I researched the Jaeger-LeCoultre brand, I discovered that modern JLC products were even further beyond my budget. What passes for a low-end JLC makes the average Rolex seem inexpensive by comparison! Even used late-model JLC watches were, if not beyond my means, at least far beyond what I was willing to pay on a whim. That left vintage JLC watches...

I watched auctions on eBay, and after a bit it became apparent that, if I shopped carefully, I would be able to find a decent ca. 1930 to 1970 JLC in the $300 to $500 price range. Yowzah! I bid on several likely candidates, post-war manual winders bearing a close resemblance to the Mark XI, only to lose them at the last minute.

I finally settled on a NOS ca. 1972 Master Quartz. Though it bore little resemblance to the coveted Mk. XI, the price was right, at less than $300. Most serious watch fans sneer at quartz, and even casual watch hobbyists prefer mechanical movements almost universally. But, for me, the Jaeger-LeCoultre brand itself was more important than the specific styling or type of movement. Indeed I've become something of a quartz fan. Part of that is my tendency to "root for the underdog". But I'm also convinced that, from a practical daily-wear standpoint, quartz is more reliable and cost effective.

The NOS (New, Old Stock) aspect played a big part in my choice, too, and I was not disappointed. The watch is flawless! And well it should be, since it is, for all practical purposes, brand-new. I added a solid-link stainless steel Hadley-Roma bracelet, and continue to enjoy the Master Quartz to this day. And, yes, I still consider it to be the centerpiece of my collection.

What's that? "Collection?", you say, "How did we get from a single watch to a collection?" Well, easy. I liked the JLC so much that I thought to myself "Gee, this watch is really tip-top. But if I wear it every day, it'll get knocked about and scratched up. I'll save it for special occasions, and get a 'work watch' for daily wear."

And I did so. Then another. And another. Then I discovered The Poor Man's Watch Forum. Besides being an online discussion board, there's a big focus on photos. They define a 'Poor Man's Watch' as being any watch which costs $1,000 US or less. (I know! I can't bring myself to think of a watch costing a thousand bucks as a 'Poor Man's Watch', either!)

In any case the collection really ballooned after I started participating there, and now stands at 35 watches. On the PMWF a watch costing $200 or less is informally known as a 'Beggar's Watch' and, I'm happy to report, all but two of mine qualify.

But even after all this, I found myself still lusting after the Jaeger-LeCoultre Mark XI. If you've read my bio page, you know that I'm an NC Programmer by trade, and also an experienced machinist. I've long respected clock & watch-makers since they are, historically (along with gunsmiths), directly responsible for the current state-of-the-art in manufacturing. So the solution was obvious - make my own home-grown clone!

I researched the Mk. XI (long hours poring over 'net photos & specs under a 'scope), generated a CAD model, and from that point it was no different than my daily work routine. It was fun using my professional skills on a hobby project.. I rarely get to do so! You can read more about that project here. You might also be interested in Francis Chang's neat Mark XI page, and Timezone also has a rather erudite and metaphysical article by Carlos Perez. Otherwise, please check out my collection via the link below. Thanks for lookin'!

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