Here’s a fun psychological fact: Once you learn to read, it’s all but impossible for you to look at a word and not immediately decipher its meaning. Try it for yourself. Next time you see a stop sign at an intersection or an exit sign above a doorway, do your best to simply observe the letters without reading what the word says. Impossible, right?
Seth Roberts has a similar experience with wristwatches.
“Whenever I walk into a room, my eyes are immediately drawn to the watches people are wearing,” Roberts said. “I can’t help it. It’s like I’ve brainwashed myself into it. I can tell a lot about a person when I see what kind of watch they’re wearing.”
Roberts is the owner and operator of Hub City Vintage, the vintage watch repair and servicing company he runs along with his wife, Caitlin, and their son, Sutton. It’s the natural result of a fascination with watches that began when Roberts was just a kid growing up in the 1980s. Back then, everything was “digital, high-tech, futuristic, stuffed with as many gadgets as possible,” Roberts said. But when he began looking into traditional watches, he found the craftsmanship and the centuries of history were far more fascinating.
“You begin to appreciate what goes into these watches — how precise they’re built and the magic of someone being able to picture this machine in their mind and translate that into metal and springs,” Roberts said. “And now this tiny, 30-odd-millimeter machine is capable of keeping time to 99.7% accuracy just because a spring is unwinding. It’s pretty incredible.”
Roberts, who specializes in Seiko watches, said he’s not surprised traditional wristwatches have survived through the dawn of the smartphone age. In an era where scratched-up old iPhones or Androids quickly find their way into kitchen junk drawers before ultimately being relegated to the trash bin, wristwatches carry with them the history of their owners.
“I’ve gotten to handle some watches that have meant a lot to people — a grandfather’s watch, a family member’s watch who’s now passed away,” Roberts said. “So it’s something this person now gets to see every day, a part of the person they loved. I can bring these heirlooms back to life. That way, I get to interject my own little part in that story with the work I do. I don’t ever take that for granted.”
For more information, visit www.hubcityvintage.com.