It wasn’t all that long ago when I last visited Chimes Cafe in the picturesque small market town of Ashbourne. I love the distraction that the place offers, an escape route from the day’s pressures and busy lifestyle which so many of us thrive off. A good dose of relaxation over a pot of tea in a rustic cafe such as this, makes the world seem a less daunting place all of a sudden! I chanced upon this cafe one gloomy afternoon with a good friend one lunch break after a busy morning sat at my desk with all manner of watch related data buzzing around in my head – sales figures, retail prices, repair information, delivery updates, oscillations per hour of the TAG Heuer’s CH 80 calibre and so on and so forth. So you will understand where I am coming from when I explain to you that my appreciation for a little respite was soon overshadowed by a small but nevertheless mounting wave of disgruntlement at my friend’s suggestion of sitting amongst yet more ticking clock faces over a beverage or two. That’s not to say that I wasn’t shortly proved wrong by my inhibitions about this quaint and modest little coffee shop. After unwinding over a flapjack, some pleasant company and a hot chocolate to thaw out my reservations I immediately felt at home amongst the faint ticking of the many sophisticated wall clocks that provide a canvas of polished brass, wooden and stainless steel mechanisms upon all four walls of the room. The swinging pendulums and beautiful carriage clocks on display added to the allure of the place albeit blemished a little by my friend’s smug expression at the realisation that I was in fact thoroughly enjoying myself!
Since then I have always found myself subconsciously steering away from my shopping agenda and making a rather unexpected left swerve into the enchanting house of clocks. For me as a watch enthusiast, spending time with the singing cuckoo clocks and traditionalist barometers mounted onto every wall and indeed listening to the “chime” of a vintage mantle clock is quite a personal yet endearing experience. The space that surrounds me as I sit with a frothy white coffee and immerse myself in my own thoughts is one of intimacy. As my fondness grows for the place, more connections between my love for watches and the cafe’s display of unique and wonderfully crafted timepieces begin to surface. I look down at my very own wrist companion, my Maurice Lacroix Eliros Chronograph and make resemblances to those authentic, vintage inspired pieces which embellish the cafe’s setting. What I particularly love about this watch is its breathtaking complexity in the form of a chronograph function which endeavours to encourage a physical interaction between myself and the watch. Personally, no matter which watch that I choose to spend the day with from my novice and slightly naive collection, my accompaniments always allow me to disconnect with the world and become transcended into a universe that ironically takes the importance away from time itself and instead prompts me to admire my reasons for investment -each distinguished contour and delicately attractive feature.
When I visit this oldie worldy cafe I indulge in a delicious slice of homemade chocolate cake more often than not, and as I sit back and gaze out at the busy marketplace and the cobbled streets lined with villagers absorbed in their own world, I think about my world and why I, like many watch enthusiasts are drawn to such an individual setting. The cafe not only oozes an intense charm but embraces horological etiquette. Each timepiece is impeccable and synchronizes in perfect unison with that of its neighbour. It seems apparent now as I reflect from my desk back at work, that the environment strikes an ideal balance between a bustling tea rooms and a traditional watch making workshop. Quirky is an understatement for this beautiful concept. Clocks and coffee brought together by the smell of homemade cake and the clinking of plates and cutlery as people stir their drinks and tap their spoons on the side of their cups whilst deep in thought… oblivious to the world outside. It comes as no surprise why watch connoisseurs from all over Derbyshire are lured into that humble little abode like Aladdins to a cave. It’s a treasury of both antique and modern clocks which similar to the luxury watch industry, offers a versatility that everyone can relate to. Who doesn’t become mesmerised whilst following the nudging hands of a clock? Who doesn’t find that the inviting smell of a whirring coffee grinder becomes a solace from the impending affairs of the outside world? Time will always be intrinsically linked to our most enjoyable moments in life and for me, an hour spent with coffee, cake and clocks will remain just that.