What a depressing thread so far. Let’s look at some other angles.
It is difficult to imagine another price guide in the current economic and collecting environment. The prices are just too unstable and subject to so many caveats. However, the PG remains one of a few useful all-encompassing guides to watches, if you just ignore the prices. In this it still has significant value for newbies and even some of us who have been around a while. My focus has often been narrow (mostly Waltham) and I still refer to the PG for some basic information on other companies. I also refer to Abbott, Crossman and anything else I can get my hands on. As all of us recognize, any book that attempts to cover the entire field will have errors in it. That is why it remains important that we continue to research AND PUBLISH information on individual companies, types or eras. As for value guides, I am afraid there is no easy answer in the near future. Perhaps as the investors leave the field (and values decline) there will be more opportunity again for those who are really interested in horology and not just the dollars. This will be a good thing.
I think we will all benefit if we can back off on the mantra of “condition, condition, condition”. A well-used watch, or even a broken movement, may still have just as much “value” in documenting the history and technology of the watches as a pristine example might. If our watches don’t have to be perfect there will be much less switching of dials and cases. One may also be much more willing to take apart and study a movement that won’t really show one more scratch among many. I learn so much from exploring my collection of running or broken movements, each demonstrating some nuance of a particular company. It sounds like Neil is telling us that there are plenty of Marions to go around if you don’t demand perfection. I don’t have one yet so maybe this is the time for me to add one or two to my study collecton. (I have and enjoy both books, by the way).
Some of you talk of the influential collectors and researchers who have passed and moan about what are we to do? What we need to do is become the new experts. Many of the new experts share on the various watch discussion sites. Some publish, but too many sit on their secret hoard of information. Neil, as long as you are not out to make a profit on your book or see a “bump” in Waltham values I would encourage you to get a book out on Waltham. You mention a stigma for Waltham among the less informed. Your work would help greatly to inform those who need it. You could show why a watch does not have to be high-end to be interesting. I know of collectors in many fields who have found it feasible to get collector books published without much personal outlay. The royalties may be slim, but there is great satisfaction in making a contribution to the field that will last beyond an ephemeral web site. I don't expect most web resources to last more than a decade or two (if we are lucky), but I have books going back to the 1800s.
As for Tom McIntyre’s web site … yes it is down right now, but he is working very hard on a new and improved version. (I am helping him with some of the data preparation).
NAWCC member since 1971
Charter member of Pocket Horology Chapter 174