Living: Seems Like Old Time

Vintage wristwatches are up-to-the-minute fashion

"Make, movement, rarity," says Los Angeles Lawyer Jack Quinn. "That's what the serious collector looks for." Muses Hans Rohrer, a computer manager in Munich: "These pieces are reverse time machines. They exude a flavor--even a musty smell--of yesterday, a bit of immortality." Rohrer keeps all his yesterdays in a drawer at home. Quinn keeps the family immortality collection snug in a bank vault, although his journalist wife Joan has been known to wear several pieces of it, simultaneously, on her wrist.

After years of neglect and ignominy, including having their movements cannibalized for spare parts and their cases melted down, old...

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