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Average Age of an Horologist

How old are you?

  • Under 50

    Votes: 27 21.6%
  • 50-54

    Votes: 11 8.8%
  • 55-59

    Votes: 18 14.4%
  • 60-64

    Votes: 21 16.8%
  • 65-69

    Votes: 24 19.2%
  • 70-74

    Votes: 9 7.2%
  • 75-79

    Votes: 9 7.2%
  • 80 and over

    Votes: 6 4.8%

  • Total voters
    125

gleber

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Jun 15, 2015
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I'm new to this, but I've come to the conclusion that Horology is an old man's sport. I attended a flea market at one of the clock supply houses this summer, and it surprised me that I was pretty nearly the youngest one there. Without revealing my age (Which is at least old enough to know better), Id' say most of the attendees were male and retired.

Are there any youngsters out there? Is this a dying species headed for extinction, or do you need to reach a certain age before acquiring an interest (which is sort of my story).

Just curious... Any thoughts?

Tom
 

MartinM

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Jun 24, 2011
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I do know of one young man in my area that trained for a couple of years under a Swiss clockmaker and is kind of savant in general knowledge of clocks, models and types of movements. He's ~14 years old.
 

dAz57

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Dec 7, 2011
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Well we were all young once, I started at 16, I am now 60, and still younger than a lot of people I know in the trade, I don't think of it being an old person's game, I think watch and clockmakers seem to be longer lived that most.
 

MartyR

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Dec 16, 2008
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Tom, I think that "collecting" is an older person's activity - firstly because most forms of collecting require a fairly high level of surplus income, and secondly because the interests of young people have moved towards cyber-activity rather than "real world" activity.

When i was 1 years old I was collecting stamps - the used ones that I would steam off envelopes and which came free because people gave their old envelopes to me! Stamp collecting was common for boys then, although some of my peers rebelled and collected "inn signs" or cigarette cards or even marbles. What all those things had in common was that they cost almost nothing and were interesting only because other boys collected them so they became a talking point and a source of pride :)

Horological collecting is a quite different form of collecting. It requires reading, acquisition of knowledge, time spent researching, and ever-increasing sums of money; those are facilities rarely found in young people because they don't have the time or money.

It doesn't concern me that I am an old collector among old collectors. I see no particular merit in the often uttered mantra that "we need to attract more young people to our hobby". I would much rather that we continue to allow young people to mature to the point where they choose to adopt the hobby as theirs :)
 

gleber

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Hi Marty,

While that's generally true about age and income, I see a lot of young car enthusiasts who have nice cars that are definitely more expensive than my entire (and growing) stable of 27 clocks. And some gamer PCs would also exceed my clock budget for the year.

I guess it also has to do with appreciation. Wheels = mobility and often represent a necessity for getting around. Clocks seem to represent more of in interest in history, engineering, architecture, art and culture. So, I could see how maturity would play a role in appreciation of clocks.

Good points about not forcing this interest on those who aren't ready for it.

I'm not trying to say your observations aren't right, just adding another $0.02 to an interesting discussion. Some threads don't need a black and white answer, and I'm enjoying the different perspectives.

Tom
 

MartyR

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Dec 16, 2008
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Tom, you need never worry about telling me I'm wrong ... that has been known :whistle:

I know several members of car clubs, and they tell me that their clubs are populated mostly by older people. Ironically, their "complaint" is that the youngsters have moved on to motor cycle clubs!!!! Who knows? There is a surfeit of anecdotal information and a lack of real data in most of these case.

X-box online gaming clubs are, I am told, the typical haunt of the teenagers now. As for me, I wouldn't even know how to wind up an X-box :excited:
 
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FDelGreco

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When i was 1 years old I was collecting stamps - the used ones that I would steam off envelopes...
Marty:

Wow! You were quite a prodigy to collect stamps at age 1! And to think your parents used to let you handle steam at that age! <grin>

Frank
 

MartyR

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Dec 16, 2008
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Marty:

Wow! You were quite a prodigy to collect stamps at age 1! And to think your parents used to let you handle steam at that age! <grin>

Frank
Yeah, and now I can't even summon up the energy to hit the "1" key twice in a row :(
 

John Hubby

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Sep 7, 2000
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Tom, the hue and cry about clock and watch collectors "dying out" has been around for at least the past 50 years. There are letters to the editor to that effect in the NAWCC's Watch and Clock Bulletin back in the 1960's.

We don't have really good data for NAWCC since it was isn't required to give date of birth when you sign up for membership. However, there is enough data available that has been put it voluntarily and through member surveys to show that the median age of NAWCC members has actually declined from the mid-60's to the low 60's over the past 20-30 years. What that means is that at least for this group of collectors, your average member is slightly younger today than was the case in the late 20th century. This belies all the gnashing of teeth that we're a dying breed from a biological standpoint.

Reams of words have been used to debate what is the true picture, but here are some random thoughts from this collector who is a good bit above the NAWCC's median age:

1) It is said that active collectors seem to be older now and are dying out (Tom's mention of the "dying species"), however I think that is because any individual making that statement is looking at HIS cohort of collectors and friends that he's been trading with for the past few decades and not at the big picture.
2) The advent of the internet has had a big negative effect on collector membership organizations, since collecting now can be done from the comfort of your smart phone or laptop instead of needing to join a collector's club and go to their meetings and sale events.
3) Statement 2) has not particularly affected the total number of collectors, just how they collect. The total number may have in fact increased.
4) Generational differences have been given as a reason for a loss of interest in collecting, my view is that much of this is being viewed from what the current younger generations are doing today, not what they'll be doing when they reach their 60's. For example, most of the NAWCC's new members now are the baby boomers.
5) Societal and technological changes "have" had an impact on the number of people who can fix (repair) things. Mechanical aptitudes have diminished with every new electronic and memory chip controlled mechanical item introduced to the marketplace over the past two generations. "Old" technology artifacts get tossed in the recycle bin instead of being repaired and maintained as was the case prior to the 1970's.

I'm sure others can add more. :thumb:
 

doug sinclair

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Aug 27, 2000
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I count myself very fortunate. I started learning this craft before quartz watches, but also before battery powered watches of any description. Today, the competition in the trade among people who can attend to the needs of 90% of watch owners is flourishing. Someone with a few simple hand tools and brief instructions can swap out a quartz movement that costs a few dollars. But put an antique mechanical watch into the hands of these people, and they're lost! The watches people collect today are generally the watches I trained on, decades ago. So, thank Heaven for sentiment! I have a steady stream of watches coming my way for repair, often because the owners are having difficulty finding others who can fix them. But as to new blood in the trade? Why would someone looking for a future want to invest the time and money learning a trade like this today, when two years in a technical college, and a young person can make twice or three times what even an expert watchmaker could make! Especially in light of the tightening up of parts availability for newer watches. I count my blessings that material for older watches which is not yet tightly controlled by companies like the Swatch group, is generally still available. So if you have the ability, there will be watches to fix for a long time to come.
 

Robert Gary

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Feb 26, 2003
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I also think we must qualify what we mean when we speak of "younger members". When I use that term, I am generally referring to those in their mid-40s and up. One needs both spare time and spare money to collect much of anything today, and those younger than about 45 to 50 are too busy with careers and families. Once their children reach or leave college, they typically start looking for more outside activities, which could include horology. Personally, I was 49 when I joined the NAWCC.
 

rmarkowitz1_cee4a1

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Nov 26, 2009
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I believe that the greying and withering of clock collecting is undeniable. Yes, based upon looking through Bulletins going back 30, 40, 50 years, it's always been a bit of an old fuddy-duddy hobby. But there were interested younger folks as well. And somehow we did it without a MB or internet to stimulate and maintain that interest and intellectual curiosity.

For example chapter 8 meetings used really be something to behold. We rubbed elbows with luminaries like Chris Bailey. Myself and other "youngsters" could share a luncheon table with the Robinson's, Dr. Taylor, Ken Roberts and Foster Campos plus others. Great marts, lectures, workshops.

However, I believe that it is also a reflection of the overall greying and withering of that portion of the population that collects more "traditional" antiques.

I both attend and set up as a dealer at some local shows and flea markets.

It's definately an aging crowd. And that's true of the dealers, too. Very few (< say 40-50 years) to take their place.

25 + years ago when I started actively collecting, there were lots of us relatively younger folks. Again, eager, reading and enjoying the thrill of the hunt.

Not the case now.

Yes, there are socioeconomic reasons. Please, there are some very well heeled 20 to 40 somethings. They are just not interested in traditional antiques and collecting. Time and again I see things that would have been desireable just a few years ago now going cheap or ignored.

Also, few are inclined to join traditional organizations. Odd Fellows, Elks, Eagles, Masons, Rotary? Face it, people work long hours and even from home (curse of the computer with emails and texting). They're going to spend time with families and significant others.

RM
 

richiec

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Feb 24, 2007
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Many true statements RM. I just moved into an over 55 community, they are after me to join the Men's Club. Unfortunately, they meet on Mondays at 9 AM, I still work 10-11 hours a day, 5 days a week so have no time for it and then spend weekends doing watch work, house chores, food shopping, maybe golf in season, servicing my car, painting the house and driving my wife everywhere, so who has time. My daughter, 34, and her soon to be husband make very good livings yet do not collect anything old or even collectible that I know of, they are more interested in hanging out in the city, working crazy hours and making lots of money. I don't even know if my future son in law knows who the Elks or Rotary are. I was an Elk for a short period of time but found the kind of "secret rituals" a little much and then found that many join for the cheap drinks on Friday and Saturday nights, I saw very few do any charitable work, just the usual 10-15 % of the group. Today's youth join Facebook, Twitter etc. I bought a new suit with a vest so I could wear a pocket watch or two to my daughter's wedding, let's see what kind of reaction it gets or lack thereof.
 

darrahg

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To keep in line with the title, everyone should have been stating his or her age. Average it out and that would be the answer. Well, at least we would know the average age of those adding to this thread. '70'
 

Robert Gary

NAWCC Member
Feb 26, 2003
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65
 

MartyR

Registered User
Dec 16, 2008
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In response to popular demand .... I have added a poll to the thread to give us an idea of the age analysis of the participants :D

All those who have already declared should also vote.
 

gmorse

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Jan 7, 2011
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Hi Martin,

What is of equal importance here is the mental age of the participants!

Regards,

Graham
 

David S

NAWCC Member
Dec 18, 2011
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In April 2012 I looked at all the personal information I could find that members had given. I found 61 members who had listed their age. The average was 61 and the median was 60.

David
 

MartyR

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Dec 16, 2008
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Hi Martin,

What is of equal importance here is the mental age of the participants!

Regards,

Graham

I didn't think of that :whistle: When we're done with this one, let's have a poll on mental age, attention span, and steadiness of hand ;)
 

Robert Gary

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Feb 26, 2003
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I didn't think of that :whistle: When we're done with this one, let's have a poll on mental age, attention span, and steadiness of hand ;)

MartyR: You are cruel!:cuckoo:
 

harold bain

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Deceased
Nov 4, 2002
40,853
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Looking out at the road rushing under my wheels
Looking back at the years gone by like so many summer fields
In sixty-five I was seventeen and running up one-o-one
I don't know where I'm running now, I'm just running on
Gotta do what you can just to keep your love alive
Trying not to confuse it with what you do to survive
In sixty-nine I was twenty-one and I called the road my own
I don't know when that road turned onto the road I'm on


Jackson Brown- Running on Empty
Guess my age!!

 

Robert Gary

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Feb 26, 2003
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Harold:

67?
 

Robert Gary

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Feb 26, 2003
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Burkhard Rasch

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even though I´m not able to lower the average age of clock-collectors significantly:I´m (still) 59
Burkhard
 

Kevin W.

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Apr 11, 2002
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I am 58 and holding, not going to get any older, if i can help it.
 

Robert Gary

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I am 58 and holding, not going to get any older, if i can help it.
Sounds like a plan with limited options, Kevin. :eek:

Robert
 

Fitzclan

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Jul 20, 2014
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61. Mentally? Hmm... Just don't ask the wife...
 

Robert Gary

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Jerry Treiman

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I started collecting at the age of 14. I joined NAWCC at the age of 20 although I had been attending meetings as a guest for a few years already. There was only one other person my age in the chapter at that time (Southern California Chapter No.4). Gradually I have been moving up the ranks, agewise. I slowed down my activity a bit when I had a daughter and through her early years, but have made up for lost time after she became independent. I am now approaching 65 and have as much enthusiasm for the hobby as I ever did.
 

doug sinclair

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My late father (passed away at 76 yrs.) always said he was going to be like the elderly Scot who said if he knew where he was going to be on the day he was to die, he'd keep away from the place! Celebrating my 75th Christmas. Best to you all!
 

Tom McIntyre

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I will be 80 next July. I started collecting clocks in Canada in 1965 as I was finishing my schooling and starting our family. I did not join the NAWCC until 1971 after we had moved back to the U.S.

Our two oldest children are Californians as am I and our youngest was born in St. Catharines, Ontario. My wife is a Texan and the major benefit of my time in the Air Force.
 

novicetimekeeper

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I'm 60 next year, but I can't claim to be a horologist. I have a few clocks and watches.
 

Tom McIntyre

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novice, I guess that just makes you a hor.
I would have thought that qualified for horolo. Hejust hasn't gotten the gist of it yet. ;)
 

Robert Gary

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From Google:

ol·o·gy
ˈäləjē/
nouninformalhumorous

noun: ology; plural noun: ologies

  • a subject of study; a branch of knowledge.

    So, if you are studying any aspect of time, you qualify as a full horologist.




 

doug sinclair

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I went to the funeral in 2014, of a long time watchmaker friend who died at the age of 92. He was active into his mid-80s. He was in his early 20s when he commenced his training course at the Elgin School of Watchmaking, circa 1946. This followed a stint in the Royal Canadian Air Force as an instrument technician, having taken numerous courses on hydraulic and pneumatic instruments such as were fitted on aircraft of the era.
 

MartyR

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The average age suggested by the poll of 47 members is 64.

I suspect that may be lower than many had thought ....
 

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