Elizabeth Doerr is certainly an expert in the world of luxury watches. Since moving to Europe in 1988, Doerr has become a highly respected watch journalist. Doerr has served as a contributing author to numerous publications, including iW and Wristwatch Annual, where she served as editor for 11 editions. She currently contributes to Forbes.com, Elite Traveler, QP, Deluxe Swiss Made, and many more. Doerr is the co-founder and editor-in-chief for Quill and Pad. She has also authored two books, Elite Timepieces and 12 Faces of Time.
What is your favorite watch for everyday wear? What do you like about it? Mechanics or style?
That has got to be the toughest question on the planet because I really do wardrobe my watches. Naturally, there are a few that I just wear for special occasions. But I really rotate the rest of my timepieces depending on what I’m doing, where I’m going, what I want to project (because of my profession, even personal friends who know nothing about horology look at my wrist when I go out), and what I’m wearing. But if you pressed me and I had to pick one watch as a daily wearer, it would most likely be my Nomos Tetra. As a daily wearer that needs to be ready for anything, this watch is really ideal for that.
For one, it has a timeless style about it that is not too conservative because it is square rather than round. It can be worn with casual or dressy clothes. Its low-key looks keep it under the radar, and the brand is still quite unknown outside of Germany.
My personal Tetra is one of a limited edition of 2,000 pieces made in honor of the World’s Fair of 2000, which took place in Hanover, Germany. I chose this particular edition because it commemorates that event and because of the open case back displaying the movement.
Yet another great characteristic is its perfect, elegant, classic size of 27.5 x 27.5 x 6.05, which means that it sits flat on the wrist so unobtrusively that you hardly remember it’s there until you need to know the time. And one thing that many people forget is its fairly indestructible, always-in-good-form Shell Cordovan strap. In 15 years, I’m only on my second strap!
Finally, it – like every single one of my watches – represents something to me in a personal sense. I am a solid fan of German watchmaking, too.
What is the most sentimental watch in your collection? How did it come into your possession?
That would be my grandmother’s watch, which I inherited a few years after her passing. It is a 1940s Hamilton cocktail watch, which she received from my grandfather. This watch was her pride and joy, and I remember looking at it as a child on her wrist and discussing its meaning with her so often. It is an object that I strongly associate with my love and respect for her and all that she stood for. That it happens to be a watch is just karma.
When my mother gave it to me, I had the white gold case refurbished and the movement cleaned, but all of its parts are still original and in amazing shape. What a quality timepiece!
As a tribute to her, I wear it every once in a while for very special occasions. I can barely see the time on it, but that’s only because of its very petite size.
What are you excited to wear next, or what timepiece is the next to add to your collection?
My latest acquisition just a few months ago was the Corum Golden Bridge. This was one of my grails, and I finally took the plunge – admittedly spurred on by the book I wrote, which was published in time for Baselworld 2015: Bridging Art and Mechanics.
This is the quite incredible story of how the amazing Golden Bridge came to be. If you know me, then you know that I am quite smitten by independent watchmaking: the independent watchmakers are the real cutting-edge mavericks of our time. The Golden Bridge’s movement was invented by Vincent Calabrese, co-founder of the AHCI, the prominent association of these creators. It is quite an interesting story how Calabrese and Corum came together back then and turned this watch into such an icon.
Is there a timepiece out there that you would never wear, but respect nonetheless?
I respect any watchmaker who gets out there and does his or her thing! However, any timepiece must fit your personality, pocketbook, and – above all – your wrist size. So, in general, I probably wouldn’t personally wear a watch that is too absurdly big for me or one that I couldn’t afford.
What trends are you most excited about from Basel? What trends are you ready to put to bed?
I am so glad that the oversized watch trend seems to be on the decline. I’m not sure anyone needs to wear a 50 mm watch.
I am very excited about the new crop of very attractive, elegantly proportioned timepieces that have just come out at the fairs. Some the brands that are absolutely nailing this are Hermès, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Vacheron Constantin, De Bethune, Speake-Marin, Jaquet Droz, and, of course, Nomos. The other thing I really like is a brand capitalizing on its history without just reissuing the same thing over and over. Here we have Zenith and Ulysse Nardin doing a great job, for example.
Elizabeth Doerr is the editor-in-chief of Quill and Pad (www.quillandpad.com), author of “Twelve Faces of Time: Horological Virtuosos” and “Bridging Art and Mechanics.”