George Hartley started collecting watches just five years ago, but is already hooked.

"I had been interested for a long time, though," he said.

Hartley was gifted with his first Rolex while in college and through the years has collected several more of various brands. As he added to his collection and became more knowledgeable about different ones, Hartley began to look at them in a different light.

He became fascinated by the old technology he recognized in mechanical watches.

"All the teeny tiny gears that tell you all they tell you is amazing," he said. "An Ironman (watch) will tell perfect time; any inexpensive watch will. But the artistry of the mechanics' craftsmanship is what fascinates me."

Hartley said he only has eight watches at this time, but he has settled on a favorite. Vacheron Constantin luxury watches, made in Switzerland, are his favorite. Although he has been to Switzerland, Hartley did not purchase his Vacheron Constantin there, preferring to buy from local jewelers.

The history of the Vacheron watches is the lure for Hartley there.

"It's the oldest watch company, in continuous existence for 245 years," he states.

On a daily basis, though, Hartley wears his rugged watches, he says, or whichever one he feels like wearing that day.

"More than a collector, I am a watch enthusiast," he said. "I like the history aspect. I gravitate toward older companies. The technology of making watches is old and is passed down from generation to generation. But I am just learning about them. By and large, though, what it comes down to with watches is a wound up spring that makes it work."

Down the road Hartley will probably buy more, but he says that is up to his wife.