I realize this is a “photo report” and words, sentences, and paragraphs have no place here. But what would a Watch Patina post be without some written prose…
If I close my eyes I can still place myself at my first watch get-together. It was on July 28, 2014 at Pearl Tavern – in a private room overlooking the Chicago river. My invite came via Instagram from Paul Lewin and Chase Fancher – better know as @thepaullewin and @oakandoscar. Back then, they had just founded a society of watch nuts called Commonwealth Crew – the Chicago chapter of New York’s RedBar Crew.
I wasn’t recruited because I owned a rare or expensive watch; Paul and Chase tracked me down because – from what they saw on my Instagram feed – I seemed to be passionate about watches. It was that simple. The quality or quantity of my collection had no bearing on my membership in the group. A “love of Horology” was the only stipulation.
Around this time I had purchased my first digital camera – solely for the purpose of photographing watches. So I was pretty-pumped for the opportunity to try my hand at shooting the timepieces in attendance. I packed my Canon, macro lens, tripod, remote shutter – and a few watches rolled up in paper towels – and headed to my first Commonwealth Crew GTG not knowing what or who to expect…
When I walked into the reserved space – full of highboys draped with white linen tablecloths – the guys seemed genuinely happy that I’d made it out. The atmosphere was like a high school or college reunion – like we’d known one another all along, but just hadn’t seen one another in a while.
After shaking hands – and putting faces to Instagram handles – I added my watches to the mounting “sexpile,” busted out my camera and started clicking away. Before I knew it, the sun had set and the restaurant had gone dark. Luckily my new friends sprang into action turning on the flashlights on their iPhones for illumination.
After this initial meetup I became a regular at Commonwealth Crew GTGs – always with my camera in tow. I became more and more star-struck by the timepieces that showed up. But more than that, I was impressed by the people who attended. However I found myself facing a dilemma: I was spending too much time photographing watches at the risk of being antisocial. That’s when it hit me… The beauty of this group wasn’t the watches, it was the people. So I decided to stop bringing my camera and learned to be content with a few quick-and-dirty cameraphone shots, which allowed me a lot more time to have meaningful conversation – and drink more beer.
I’m sure I sacrificed some killer shots and epic posts, but I wouldn’t trade the missed likes and follower opportunities for the friendships that developed over talking watches. Most of you understand what I’m getting at: the community that’s arisen out of a shared interest and passion for watch collecting. I’m sure I’m not the only one who communicates with the #watchfam more than their own family.
If you know me, you know I’m a sucker for reminiscing and documenting backstories. The pictures in this post do just that. They were taken by various members of the Commonwealth Crew over the past (almost) two years. Some were shot with cameras, but most with just a cameraphone. But what they all have in common is they were all shot in the presence of friends and all “for the love of Horology.”
It’s time to let the pictures do the talkin’. Ladies and gentleman, this is how RedBar Chicago aka Commonwealth Crew gets down.
To see more of our watches, make sure you follow our new Instagram account @redbarchicago.
* photography credit to the following members of Commonwealth Crew: @abnovak, @ajwlim, @bazamu, @boxandpapers, @hairdude, @jablock, @lovechicity, @moabiite, @oakandoscar, @spin_transistor, @thepaullewin