Meet The World’s Biggest Collector Of Super-Niche ‘Travel Watches’

travel watches hodinkee

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Today, watch blog Hodinkee has a great profile of ghostwriter and timepiece collector Gene Stone, who has what’s believed to be the world’s largest collection of “travel watches.”Stone owns more than 100 of the Depression-era timepieces, which are actually “pocket-sized clocks, typically encased in steel, gold, or silver, and occasionally lined in leather…that have a dial that can be hidden away when not in use for protective reasons,” according to Hodinkee.

While the watches are visually stunning and come from some of the most iconic watchmakers of the era, like Rolex, Cartier, and Van Cleef & Arpels, they’ve failed to gain much of a collector base.

Watch expert Julien Schaerer tells Hodinkee that there are simply too few travel watches out there to warrant a big following.

Hodinkee writes:

Essentially, the travel watch as a singular concept, was something of a transitional piece between clocks and pocketwatches and were quickly superseded by the success of the wristwatch. Travel watches never got their time in the sun, and Schaerer believes because they were targeted at a very small percentage of the watch buying market and only during the 1920s-1940s, they were never a major source of revenue for watchmakers so you rarely see them mentioned in any literature.

Which means Stone has pretty much cornered the collectors’ market, snapping up a huge number of the wristband-less watches at bargain prices. Smart move.

Read the full profile and see more photos of the watches at Hodinkee.

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