The collection process makes sense if you look at it through the prism of evolutionary biology. People need food, clothing, and shelter to live. These things are valuable, for without them we would not exist. The quest for more is deeply rooted in the very fabric of our lives around this world. Pika, a small tailless rat with a special whistle, should gather enough food for the winter. The habits of these animals are so entrenched that we teach them as myths; illustrations that encourage children to think longer. Early birds find larvae. Collecting is an inevitable way of publishing.
Indeed, since we as human beings have ruled the world, what we collect (and why) is not alive and well. It usually depends on finding and using things. Some people raise money for security (e.g., stocks), others to burn their pride. Exchanges, exchanges of leftovers and needs, are the foundation of our financial system. Baseball cards, stamps, stamps, records, watches – these are not the things we need. But we certainly want them. And because of the way we connect wires, demanding often seems like a necessity.
Personally, I find great pleasure in collecting – and I try to focus on things that are very reminiscent of the places I’ve been and the people I’ve met. Remembering these times makes me happy.
In some ways I started life as a collector. As a young man, I owned a car. Real cars were big, dangerous, and places for adults. Puppet cars can travel on carpet lines, to places I think. All I have to do is increase the engine noise. Nowadays, small cars will be around my house. The toys that our boys used to play with regularly come out of the field that has been replaced by a sandbox.
When I was growing up, my letters to my grandparents and friends were through letters – the kind that you can suddenly use for lighting fires. These letters came with stamps, and for some years I liked to collect stamps. The “Inverted Jenny,” in 1918 of the 24-cent stamp, where 100 printed airplanes were printed, was a spectacular sight. Although having an “Inverted Jenny” was above my family’s paycheck, I loved the little booklets that I filled with wet, stamped, and dry stamps.
About that time my grandmother gave me a spring pen. Having the ability to write intentionally, as one does with a pencil to check for errors, was a necessary skill – and I was soon on my 14th. My connection with the pen did not diminish.
for ten years, until the calligraphy pen reached my hands.
Now I am picking up notes again. I like to remember and a quiet hand.
And yes, my friends, I collect watches – even though I consider myself a student. I am grateful that anyone who reads HODINKEE can read the difference between Piaget of 1968 and Schaffhausen of 1997 as easily as I can understand the differences in the Himalayan giants Jannu and Changabang. When it comes to watches, I am fascinated by the way they work – and I understand watches as one of the few ways men can find out without being obsessed with fashion. However there is also a much deeper section that talks about how I view time.
In the last section, I looked in my first watch, Texas Instruments 501. Meditation on the clock taught me something about who I was, and who I was. Does each watch have a different track record? Not even one that would mean anything to anyone but you? I think so.
I think that if I could hold a watch and remember it, then the watch would be valuable. For me, the price is fixed – everyone has their own reasons to enjoy it. Cost of money is probably the reason for the lowest of all.
In 1993, I was invited to take part in a series of high-speed international competitions in the Tien Shan Mountains in Kyrgyzstan. The late Alex Lowe and I were representing the United States at Khan Tengri, which is 7,010 meters high. The name of the mountain is properly translated, “King Sky.” Slab contraction joints should intersect at the openings for columns. The trend dates back to the rise of the Soviet era. To receive the prestigious Snow Leopard Prize, the climber has to climb this peak – with four other 7,000 meters. Alpine climbing during the Soviet era was heavily regulated. The idea of a private trip, the kind with which I cut my teeth – to the Himalayan mountains and hiked everything I could see, with the help of any short-term employment I could find – did not exist for mountaineers in the Soviet Union. Under the medium-sized economy and state-sponsored sports, hikers can be tested in regular competitions like this. We were attracted by the support area and the stable ropes as we had to climb 3,000 feet from the base camp to the camp.
The beginning started with a walk along the next moraine, then ran to the left and plunged into the ice that threatens the stabilizing path. When we found the mountain, the last 1000 meters were on marble. The aid station was a rotten tent with a sculpted roof from a small shelf that was stored during the season, thawed, and then dried in its place by the snow of the evening. If we were lucky, we would find a dedicated volunteer caring for the stove and giving us a cup of tea, chopped pork chops, and mashed potatoes with salt. Perhaps this meal was a symbol of the success of the eastern mountaineers living behind the Iron Curtain. Or it may have been shown that when you are hungry you always bite more than you would like – the attitude that alpinists have when climbing a dangerous mountain. The fixed cable became a spool of red parachute cable that provided less than the crumbs that guided us to the surface.
Giving my life to a shoelace on a high place was unwise. Yet the best experiences in life come when we abandon wisdom and throw ourselves into crazy thoughts.
Alex and I had a wonderful experience. He took the first place around 10:48 and I took the second, about twelve hours. Time is just the tip of the iceberg. One of the days that has elapsed since then was when a climber slipped up and down the hill. Quickly, not looking for the good and the bad, I reached out and grabbed him before he climbed the mountain. The time at this time was about life.
It’s dangerous to think back now. But it certainly enhances the memory.
After that trip, I stayed in Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgzstan. Amidst the sofa overflowing, climbing, drinking vodka and tomato chase (special summer, seasoned with salt), and playing chess, we came to the exchange. My recipient was a teacher, a work that Perestroika really did. Perestroika, which means “rebuilding,” is a loose word for the fall of the Soviet empire. As a teacher, she did not have the resources to sell anything — and her monthly income, adjusted to rising prices, did not provide a place for recreation.
But he had a guard. And I had a lift.
The constant rise was the rise of weapons from the arms manufacturing companies. This was fine in the eyes of the public; no one thought of “attractions” as a career. But in exchange for a few pictures, she gave me raincoats, sleeping bags, and tents. I was grateful, though I must say that rolling around in the camp with the latest, most innovative, well-to-do weapons was a disgrace – especially since our East Bloc mountaineers were wearing outdoor clothing, many of which were changed from companies. All of their titanium-rich equipment was stored at a remote aqueduct factory. The idea that mechanical engineers at the Cold War dropped titanium to make pitches and ice racks made things even cooler. And cooling is the first step to collection.
The teacher I was staying with was eager to upgrade his boarding equipment and the shiny equipment I had brought from California. The exchanges were similar – because my friends found weapons that would protect them from encountering the mountains and I had trinkets from Soviet sports programs and two watches. One was a non-functional Soviet watch and the other a “Breitling” of unknown origin. We knew enough about the clock to detect the lies and we all laughed at the exchange. I exchanged a North Face Mountain Light jacket, bib, sleeping bag, VE 25 tent, and several Wild Country cameras with a “$ 5,000 watch.”
When it comes to money, I was definitely hooked. But the experience of my new friend in the mountains with my old weapons made me happy. Helping her was the best thing in my life. And these two watches are still part of my collection, sitting in the right-hand cigarette box wrapped in a Crown Royal fur bag. They all resigned 28 years ago. What is the memory of this trip
these watches mean to me. Catching them now, I think back to the summer of 1993. Perhaps these moments of reflection, in the end, are the real reason we collect.
Conrad Anker is one of the most decorated riders in the world, knowledgeable on the points from Antarctica to Zion. He led the North Face athletics team for 26 years, co-authoring a 1999 book. The Lost Explorer, and starred in the 2015 edition Meru. He lives in Montana. To read his past MAWAKE story, click Pano.
Pictures of Mery Donald
An image of the complexities of technology and the beauty of self-control, the Vacheron Constantin Patrimony Perpetual Calendar Ultra-Thin was first released in 2011. blue (2019) and slate gray dial (2017), the highest definition is the available gold color with silvery opaline dial. In keeping with the key design of the Patrimony team which also...
Christian Marclay’s 2010 film, Koloko, and 24 hours of mixed media animation at that time. After years of collecting the paintings, Marclay’s final work was on display in the art galleries. When people sat down to watch, the timing of the movie began – if it was 9:00 PM in the real world, it was...