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If you could back in time, what watch would you buy?

Maximus Man

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I was kind of thinking outside of the box and doing some self-reflection. If you could go back in time (this is what history teachers do) what model watch would (if you could afford it) buy? What case would you put it in if it does not already come in a specific case (Premier Maximus in a Premier Maximus case)?
 

Joseph Short

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Hmm, difficult question. Especially since I see a new "must have" watch on this forum almost every time I login.
But, if I absolutely must choose only one, I would have to choose the 12 size Southbend, that is a digital watch. I have only ever seen, and that was in another thread on this forum. It has been on my mind ever since the day I first saw it.
 
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Rick Hufnagel

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Outside the box, you say! :)
If I could go back in time, I wouldn't buy a watch. I'd go and apply for a job at the National watch co in early 1873. Hang out with Hunter and Moseley. Work there for a couple years learning as much as possible. During the entire time my bags would be stuffed with trade literature from any watch related company available. :p:cool:.

I would build my own watch while working at the Elgin factory. A 19 jewel 10 size openfaced stemwinder built from the 10s model 2 as a base. All gold train, gold balance screws, Moseley regulator and highly engraved plates. Oversized (to about 14s) roman dial with sunk center (no seconds) marked "R. Hufnagel" in fancy script. Nice oversized sterling silver case with intricate gold inlays and gold joints. I can picture it now .. beautiful!


If you really just want a simple answer without all of my goofiness above, I would go buy a George Walker from NYWCo.
 

yellow_sub

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Too easy of a question. Any early watch from the 15 or 1600's, cause if I didn't' like it then I could sell it for several others :p haha. On a serious note, I'm content with my cases for the moment. For movements, my top ones would be one of the few Waltham repeaters out there, more hamilton military watches and the waltham PS Bartlett models I'm currently missing.
 

vintageguy

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Luther Goddard
I should have added some clarification:

"Opportunism and American ingenuity sparked watchmaking in America. In response to Britain impressment of American sailors the US Congress passed and President Thomas Jefferson signed the Embargo Act of 1807, which prohibited all trade with other countries. Its intent was to harm France and Britain who were at war; however, the Embargo Act proved to be ineffective, hurt the American economy, and led the United States into another war with Britain in 1812.

The absence of French and English imports created an opportunity for Americans to manufacture goods that they normally could not compete with. Luther Goddard (1762-1842) of Shrewsbury, MA, was an entrepreneur who took advantage of the embargo. He is considered to be one of the earliest American watchmakers and the first watchmaker to create serialized, or numbered, timepieces.

Goddard began his career in 1778 when he apprenticed as a clockmaker under his cousin Simon Willard. He later settled his own homestead where he farmed during the summer months and repaired clocks in the winter. Seeing his opportunity, Goddard, along with his sons and a handful of apprentices, converted his clock workshop into a watch factory and opened up a storefront in Shrewsbury, MA.

When trade resumed after the War of 1812, Goddard could not compete with less-expensive imported watches and in 1817 ceased production. Goddard and his son, Daniel, moved to Worcester, MA, and established a watch repair business. He also served as an itinerant Baptist minister and often received watch commissions while visiting his flock.

Before he died in May 1842, Luther Goddard had created nearly 600 serialized pocket watches. His efforts are widely considered to be the first major push for the watch trade [in] America."

https://watchnews.nawcc.org/blog_posts/2017_01_11/2017_01_11.php (emphasis added).
 

Jerry Treiman

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I would like to go back to 1871 and order a 12-size watch from Charles Fasoldt. It is estimated that he may have made five of these. They had his 3-pallet escapement. I would ask him to case it in a plain-polished gold open-face case.
 

thesnark17

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I'd become a sales agent for McIntyre, and the watch would be a wind indicator.

I grew up in Kankakee - never realized how close it was to being a great watchmaking city until years later.
 

John Cote

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If we are sticking to American watches I am with Jerry. I would buy a gold Fasoldt with his coaxial/constant force escapement. I would go for the larger, more standard sized version though and have it put in a heavy and nicely engraved case..
 

musicguy

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Although I do like many of the answers above I will be the contrarian here.
I do not want to go back in time to buy
any watches. I do like Rick's idea above though. I like that that the watches I
collect are old and sometimes uncommon or scarce(and hard to find now), the
thrill of finding the ones I want, researching them, talking about our finds here on the forum,
and the thrill(sometimes good sometimes bad) of the auction.
Last night I found a PL that has a real personal connection to a differnt
collectable (that I used to collect as a young kid). Old bottles. Old bottles
are like PL's and many american ones had a name and a town
on them. Finding a NY PL pocket watch with the same town as a bunch
of the bottles I found when I was 14 made it even better. Especially because that
towns name was changed 120 years ago! Both the bottles and
the PL are from circa 1880's. Not to mention many other personal
connections to the town(and its a great looking movement too). I do like research so going back in
time could clear up many current misconceptions about certain PW's
usage and dates they were introduced. I also lke the artistic
nature of the cases, dials, and movements and have daydreamed
that if I were back there knowing what I know now
I would have created watches that would be in very high demand today. :) :p

Rob
 
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John Cote

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Although I do like many of the answers above I will be the contrarian here.
I do not want to go back in time to buy
any watches.
Oh Rob, how about if I phrased it differently. What if you could be your great or great great grandfather? What if you, in such a roll had the thought of buying a watch which could be passed down as an heirloom to your great or great great grandson Rob. What watch would it be?
 
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musicguy

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John,

What if we looked at it a different way. Aren't we already going back in time
mentality by collecting, studying, admiring, and using these vintage time telling machines.

Today I went back in time as I was researching a PL that I have recently purchased.
I saw a cook book from 1896 that had an advertisement for my PL and I did look
at a few of the recipes. Then I saw a yacht competition on the Hudson in 1898
with one of the boats sponsored by my PL jeweler. With a few more clicks
I was looking at the street his jewelry shop was on in 1885. It's in the historical district
so it does look like 1885(and his house is still standing on a different street). Maybe I'll see Doc Brown.


Rob
 

musicguy

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model1857guy,

At first glance(It's so purple) it almost looks like a exposed jeweled barrel.

1610072001924.png
 

John Cote

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John,

What if we looked at it a different way. Aren't we already going back in time
mentality by collecting, studying, admiring, and using these vintage time telling machines.

Today I went back in time as I was researching a PL that I have recently purchased.
I saw a cook book from 1896 that had an advertisement for my PL and I did look
at a few of the recipes. Then I saw a yacht competition on the Hudson in 1898
with one of the boats sponsored by my PL jeweler. With a few more clicks
I was looking at the street his jewelry shop was on in 1885. It's in the historical district
so it does look like 1885(and his house is still standing on a different street). Maybe I'll see Doc Brown.
I love the story Rob. It is why we are collectors. I just can't tease you into playing. :cool::p:cool:
 

Tom McIntyre

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I'd become a sales agent for McIntyre, and the watch would be a wind indicator.

I grew up in Kankakee - never realized how close it was to being a great watchmaking city until years later.
When did you grow up there? I spent quite a bit of time in the library looking through the newspaper archives a few years ago.

It is possible that some were made from the ebauches between 1915 and now but most of the 6 that have shown up look like they were made in Kankakee. The exception is the one that Vance LaPorte made in San Diego in the 1920's. Besides that one, there are the two versions of the Master Watch with the McIntyre gold plug engraved logo and the other two (also 25J WI without the logo plug. DeLong also made the 12 size 23J when Fred told him that was what the jewelers were looking for.

The LaPorte watch is actually 27J because it has two big ruby rods mounted where the patent banking rods would have been in the factory model.

The DeLong patent model 18S full plate and Fred McIntyre's "student" watch are also really interesting.

There is a pretty complete writeup of the LaPorte watch here: https://mb.nawcc.org/wiki/Bread-Upon-the-Waters.

If you really like McIntyre there is a lot of information here also AWCo Web.

Fred's grandson Bruce McIntyre and I are interested in having a display of the company's products in Columbia as a permanent part of the Watch & Clock Museum exhibits. The open face non-logo McIntyre is in Evanston IL and the HC version is in the Boston area along with the 12 size model. Bruce and I have the rest of the known examples.
 
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thesnark17

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I was there 1990-2006. And if you're clever, you also know my age now.

It's such a clever movement design - seemingly the last word in American high-end designs for mass production, and between that and the personal connection I was quite sad to realize that only 6 are known. Also that my hometown never got its chance to be named in the same sentence as Aurora, Rockford, or Springfield (and yes, I know it was their own fault really). Which in turn meant that it took longer for me to find my way into this hobby. I feel confident that had I grown up in Elgin, I would have found my way here 10 or 15 years earlier.
 

Fred Hansen

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Here's one to think about ...

Howard Davis & Dennison serial #1 was the personal watch of Edward Howard.

In 1895, Edward Howard was in difficult financial circumstances and sold this watch to a group of 15 members of the Massachusetts Charitable Mechanic Association (an organization of which Howard was also a member) that contributed $5 each for this purchase. The watch remained with this organization for many years, who at one point received an offer of $65 for it which they voted on and declined. The watch was eventually loaned to the Smithsonian Institute, where it remains today.

So imagine here firing up the time machine to show up earlier in 1895 and making Mr. Howard an offer for his watch, and then whisking it away to the present day, meaning no one sees it in the 125 years in between. It would be a mind blowing piece for the watch collection, but would this be destroying too much of the history of our hobby in the process?

(Most the historical info above is from the January, 1945 issue of the NAWCC "The Time Keeper" ... if anyone has any corrections or additions to what I have written they are enthusiastically encouraged!)
 
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John Cote

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Here's one to think about ...

Howard Davis & Dennison serial #1 was the personal watch of Edward Howard....

So imagine here firing up the time machine to show up earlier in 1895 and making Mr. Howard an offer for his watch, and then whisking it away to the present day, ....
Well...as far as I am concerned Freddy has the winner, winner chicken dinner. I will buy the beer next time Fred.
 
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Tom McIntyre

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No. 1 is a great watch, but probably no more interesting intrinsically than No, 3 which was very likely Dennison's personal watch and was found in a second hand shop in the Springfield area by Henry Wing Jr. in the 1940's or 50's. The shop owner told him he thought it was a Swiss fake and the case might not even be gold. It was lying on an open shelf. I was told that Wing insisted on paying him over twice what he was asking to try to keep his conscience intact.

Freddy got a chance to spend some time with that one and the oral history came to me from Don Wing. It is my supposition that it would have been Dennison's watch with No. 1 going to Howard and No. 2 going to Davis.

I think it is likely that Dennison sold the watch along with his Waltham stock when he was setting up the Tremont Watch Co,

I believe that one is now in the same collection as the McIntyre that lived for a while at the Time Museum in Rockford IL.
 

johnbscott

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This is a very interesting topic. I thought I would stick my neck out!

I have been admiring and collecting quality 16s and 18s American pocket watches for more than forty years. All of those watches are very good but a big part of my continuing quest has been to find out which type of watch was or is the best (in my opinion). I am particularly interested in reliable time-keeping capabilities.

I have yet to reach a conclusion, so I shall continue to search, but I have found some greats along the way and I am still enjoying myself. Though my quest is incomplete, I venture to share that my interim findings include recommendations for:
  • Almost any Hamilton 18s;
  • Almost any Hamilton 16s;
  • Any high grade Waltham 1899 model;
  • Almost any 18s high grade Waltham;
  • Any railroad grade 16s South Bend;
  • Early high grade 18s Elgin watches;
  • Any high grade 16s or 18s Illinois;
  • Any Ball ORRS (yes, there is overlap here).
There are certainly more but these are standouts, for me, so far. Note that I put watches back into near original condition before judging them as I carry them in daily life. I have a significant restoration backlog, so there is quite some distance to go. I am quite aware that none of my recommendations are startling!

As an additional comment, I must say that I am amazed at how good the better watches from the 1870s can be. There was very little improvement, from those times onwards, in terms of timekeeping capability. From those times, the development was mostly about manufacturability, repairability, aesthetic appeal, convenience, and so on.
 

Pete 2021

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I grew up on the wrong side of the tracks in rural North Carolina, so the actual article does not mean as much to me as the memory does.
My sister gave me an original Mickey Mouse watch when I was just a little shaver. She had saved for that watch nearly a year.
I would go back in time and get that watch in memory of her.
Sappy as hell, I know, but that's just me.

Pete
 

Joseph Short

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Pete 2021, I don't think that is sappy at all. One of my favorite watches is my early 70s Seiko Bellmatic.
My parents gave it to me for my 16t birthday. It's one of my most cherished possessions.
 
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musicguy

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Pete

I completely agree with Joseph a watch with sentimental value is priceless
and worth going back for.


Rob
 

John Cote

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No. 1 is a great watch, but probably no more interesting intrinsically than No, 3 which was very likely Dennison's personal watch and was found in a second hand shop in the Springfield area by Henry Wing Jr. in the 1940's or 50's.
Tom,

You and Rob just aren't playing by the rules (Waaaah :confused:) Freddy told a great story about going back in time. We want fantasy. You are just being too concrete. I want to go back and order 10 Patek Split/Minute/Perpetual Calendar/Moon Phase/Equation of time hunters from the ad in the back of the Jeweler's Circular and keep them in mint condition in their little wood boxes until now. I want fantasy.
 

musicguy

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Freddy told a great story about going back in time. We want fantasy.
OK I agree, I'll play....

Marie Antoinette's gold Breguet pocket watch, ca. 1827.
It took 44 years to complete after it was first commissioned in 1793.


Rob
 

Fred Hansen

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I will buy the beer next time Fred.
Works for me :Party:

No. 1 is a great watch, but probably no more interesting intrinsically than No, 3 which was very likely Dennison's personal watch and was found in a second hand shop in the Springfield area by Henry Wing Jr. in the 1940's or 50's. The shop owner told him he thought it was a Swiss fake and the case might not even be gold. It was lying on an open shelf. I was told that Wing insisted on paying him over twice what he was asking to try to keep his conscience intact.
Just keeping things efficient with my time machine powers - for #1 I just have to aim for early 1895 and find Edward with $100 or so in my pocket, for #3 I'd be spending the 1940s and 50s wandering from one Massachusetts second hand shop to another :emoji_sunglasses:
 
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Tom McIntyre

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Taking the time machine challenge, I would go back to 1843 and buy a watch from John Roger Arnold's estate sale.

Some modern collectors would not touch the watch since it was modified from its original state as a John Arnold pivoted detent chronometer and made into the first tourbillon by Abraham Louis Breguet by cutting away the escapement area of the plate. It goes by the name L' Hommage because of Breguet's memorial inscription to the original maker of the watch.

John Roger had taken the watch as a gift to Breguet from his father when he went to study with Breguet in the 1790's. Breguet returned the modified piece to John Roger in 1811 as a memorial to his father.
 

bruce linde

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the best fireworks show i ever watched was after an oakland a's game, reflected in the eyes of a 3-year-old girl who had never seen fireworks before.

i'm a clock and not a watch guy, but i've recently gotten hooked on watching watch passions reflected back by y'all.

keep on, pls!
 

Tom McIntyre

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Yes I have visited it a few times. :)

When the horology exhibit was under renovation a few years back it was in the Student's Room and we had the opportunity to handle it.

I am not sure if it is on display now or not. I had the impression that it was a difficult item for the staff in that it is a horological hybrid. I think its story is much more important that its significance as an artifact. Breguet identified more than one piece as his first tourbillon.

Breguet had sent his own son, Louis Antoine. to study with John Arnold while John Roger was in Paris. I like to think those two were the prototype of the exchange student concept.
 
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topspin

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If I could go back in time, I probably wouldn't find much time for buying watches. Rather, the main focus would be to scoop up a copy of all of the greats from the history of chess when they were each at the peak of their powers. Then bring them all together and hold a big tournament to sort out, once and for all, who was the best.
It would be interesting to compare the watches that they were each wearing / carrying. Maybe this could be offered as an organised entertainment between rounds.

You could do a similar exercise with boxers, tennis players, racing drivers, football teams, etc.
 
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Dr. Jon

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I would like to track down a watch, few if any have heard of and I cannot find.

John Hutton was a pioneer chronometer maker in the 1840-1870's and he made some free sprung levers for the 1851 Great London Exposition. After selling one of these directly to Amos Adams Lawrence, his US agent, the Bond company, took Hutton to a London lawyer and made him sign an agreement not to sell watches to Americans in the UK. (Amos Lawrence bankrolled most of the abolitionist movement and Lawrence Kansas is named for him)

As a result, the US Army sent a guy from DC to the Bonds to buy one of these to use for the survey of the Gadsten purchase. If it was used, it was the first lever watch used for geo-location. I would love to find out what happened with that watch.
 

Bryan Eyring

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I would like to track down a watch, few if any have heard of and I cannot find.

John Hutton was a pioneer chronometer maker in the 1840-1870's and he made some free sprung levers for the 1851 Great London Exposition. After selling one of these directly to Amos Adams Lawrence, his US agent, the Bond company, took Hutton to a London lawyer and made him sign an agreement not to sell watches to Americans in the UK. (Amos Lawrence bankrolled most of the abolitionist movement and Lawrence Kansas is named for him)

As a result, the US Army sent a guy from DC to the Bonds to buy one of these to use for the survey of the Gadsten purchase. If it was used, it was the first lever watch used for geo-location. I would love to find out what happened with that watch.
Is there a record of the serial #?
 

Clint Geller

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The problem with going back in time to buy a provenance watch is that you could not have owned the watch when it was new without changing the provenanace. A big part of HD&D #1's special historical importance is that it was Edward Howard's personal watch. So if I had bought it, that could not have been the case, unless I had somehow persuaded Edward Howard to sell it to me second-hand, which seems far-fetched. So I would "settle" for any of the other 8-day movements in a correct original case. I wouldn't mind having an Arnold Pocket chronometer, a Reed pocket chronometer signed "E. Howard & Co.," a gold 19-jewel Nashua, or a helical hairspring Model 1859, either. If I could have custom ordered an N Size 21 jewel Howard split plate with a gold train and a really spectacular Moorhouse double sunk black dial with my own name on the front in elaborate Gothic characters, and of course signed and dated on the reverse, thart would be great too.
 

musicguy

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The workmen were too busy eating cake.
I was going to make up a story about the "cake"(or translated as Let them eat brioche) but she was dead
long before this watch was completed.

double sunk black dial with my own name on the front in elaborate Gothic characters, and of course signed and dated on the reverse, that would be great too.
I like that.


Rob
 

John Cote

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The problem with going back in time to buy a provenance watch is that you could not have owned the watch when it was new without changing the provenanace. A big part of HD&D #1's special historical importance is that it was Edward Howard's personal watch. So if I had bought it, that could not have been the case, unless I had somehow persuaded Edward Howard to sell it to me second-hand, which seems far-fetched.
Clint,

I think you need to go back and re-read Fred's post. Big Ed did sell the watch. Freddy simply wanted to be there to offer him a bit more.
 

Clint Geller

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Clint,

I think you need to go back and re-read Fred's post. Big Ed did sell the watch. Freddy simply wanted to be there to offer him a bit more.
Yes, I see. Of course, an oddly dressed stranger approaching Howard to purchase a watch not known to have been for public sale would have struck him as rather odd, to say the least, but I suppose we are suspending disbelief on this thread anyway.
 

musicguy

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If I could go back in time to a few auctions
that I could have bid 10 more dollars on and won that would be nice.


Rob
 

Fred Hansen

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Yes, I see. Of course, an oddly dressed stranger approaching Howard to purchase a watch not known to have been for public sale would have struck him as rather odd, to say the least, but I suppose we are suspending disbelief on this thread anyway.
The plan here is to hit up a nice 1890s clothing store first and then find Edward in a semi-private setting, start talking watches, regale him with tales from the future (showing my iPhone will probably get some attention), and then make my offer for his watch.

Hopefully I end up with a watch in my pocket, hopefully I'm not incarcerated, and hopefully my time machine doesn't break down leaving me stranded in 1895.:oops:
 

musicguy

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And hopefully you don't break the space-time continuum and
create an anomaly
 
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Dr. Jon

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This stretches the topic a bit but if one is intersted, there is a lot of wisdom on the topic of time travel and "practical advice" on getting stuff and dealing with paradoxes in the book The Rise and Fall of DoDo by Neal Stephenson and Nicole Galland. Stepehenson and Galland did a lot of research and thre is quite a bit about time issues, The book was a lot of fun for me.
 
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John Cote

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......but I suppose we are suspending disbelief on this thread anyway.
Exactly....of course we are suspending belief and disbelief. This task necessitates a bit of imaginary reality.
 
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