The readers of Popular Science in 1950 rightfully demanded accuracy for their 25-cents. After all, a quarter was worth $2.26 in today's money (using The Inflation Calculator). Yesterday, I posted a reader's letter of complaint about a wooden fish sculpture that Popular Science identified as a perch. When the reader pointed out that the fish did not resemble a perch, the editors of the magazine blamed the artist: "He calls it a perch."
Here's another letter of complaint from the January 1950 issue, about a remarkable pocket watch:
Take a look at the article referred to, from the July 1949 issue:
I don't know anything about sidereal time vs. astronomer's star time, but I do know that the editor's reply is insulting: "Reader Congdon's eyes are sharper than his imagination." Does it show a lack of imagination to point out an inaccuracy? This is a cruel jab designed to stun the reader into accepting the bullshit that follows: "various dials and hands [were] set in positions to show the greatest amount of detail." How does it show more detail to set the day of the week to "SUN," the month to "JUL," and the day of the month hand to "31" instead displaying a date that doesn't go back to WWI? And the small hands could be positioned almost anywhere without obscuring details. What do you think Congdon thought when he read the response?
Mistakes in magazines are inevitable (I've made more than my share as a magazine editor, and probably made at least one mistake in this very post), but editors shouldn't get upset when they are pointed out. Instead, they should thank the reader for taking the time to complain.
Here's my own complaint: Popular Science leaves us hanging -- "Only one more complex watch was ever made -- and it was stolen in 1942 and is still missing." C'mon - give us a little more!
All that aside, how cool is this watch? I wonder what happened to it? And who bought it? According to the Inflation Calculator, "What cost $30,000 in 1949 would cost $271,373.68 in 2010." Today, the Elon Musks of the world would casually chip off a microscopic fraction from their gold pile to possess such a timepiece, but who would have bought such an expensive watch in 1949? Share your thoughts in the comments.
An ardent watch collector, Graves was a patron of Patek Philippe, competing with James Ward Packard, the famed automobile manufacturer, for ownership of the most complicated watch in the world. In 1927, Packard commissioned the world's most complicated watch but not to be outdone, Henry Graves surpassed his rival in 1933 to become the owner of the most complicated watch ever made, spending 60,000 SF, nearly five times the price paid by Mr. Packard. It took over three years, and the most advanced horological technique, to engineer this truly one-of-a-kind timepiece; only one watch was ever built. Called "the Supercomplication", this pocket watch was held in the Museum of Time near Chicago, IL for years until it was sold for a record-breaking $11,002,500 to a secretive anonymous bidder at a Sotheby's auction held in New York City on December 2, 1999. The watch currently resides in the Patek Phillippe Museum in Geneva, Switzerland, and is the most expensive single piece on display.