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WORLDWIDE Chapter 149 Message Board Forum Index » Headlines, Headlines » It is with great sorrow to report that Art Zimmerla has died
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It is with great sorrow to report that Art Zimmerla has died
PostPosted: Tue Feb 28, 2017 11:58 pm Reply with quote
Chapter President
Joined: 02 Dec 2002
Posts: 25677
Location: Boston, Ma

Art was a great friend to me beginning in the mid 1960s. I believe my Dad was introduced to him by Russ Nelson at one of the great Chapter 4 meetings, and I followed with a long time close friendship.

Interestingly, Art lived with his mother, Gladys, just down Sunset Blvd from my home in Brentwood (how convenient!). We spent many a night in his watch room (which was also his bedroom) pouring each of our latest finds. Early on Art collected early American but quickly drifted on to RRs and his all-time favorites--Hamilton watches, ephemera, and research and he created a great collection of same and was THEE expert on all aspects of Hamilton. Over time Art let me have most of his best early American including that fabled trade of my Hamilton #3, the first Hamilton finished and sold, for his original 19J Nashua signed watch reportedly once belonging to Mosley. (The early American "boys" thought I did well and the RR "boys" thought he got me. Anyway we both were happy.) While the chatter continued on for over a decade, I got the last laugh as Art just prior moving eastward to Council Bluffs, Iowa sold me back "my" wonderful Hamilton serial #3.

So. Calif was an incredible hot bed of pocket watch activity, probably starting in the 1940s. Art and I came along just after Russ Nelson and George "patina" Kelsch started buying and collecting watches, traveling the country sides buying hoards of watches and material in the late 50s. Art attended many regionals and nationals and I tagged along early on with him. We had a great time and he introduced me to some of the "Eastern boys" that I did not know--the best being F H McMillan at the 1971 Buffalo National. (I remember it like it was yesterday and Mac and I also became close friends; thanks, Art.) To continue the So Calif activity.........in the mis 1960s I would go out on watch hunts in So. Calif. I went to an old jeweler in Burbank one day and the owner said there was someone I must meet--it was the great Wilbur Dexter, an inventor, a famous machinist and watch collector. Sometime in the early 70s Wilbur starting hosting his early American Watch Club meeting in his small machine shop in Englewood, Ca. (not his original shop which was Dexter Laboratories.) Of course the first two who regularly attended were Art and myself, soon followed by Russ Nelson and George Jefferson. A few other hanger-oners would occasionally stop by-Johnny McCorkindale (spell?) comes to mind. (I believe Wilbur got the idea from the late great watch collector, Wesley Hauptmann who chaired meetings in his BH home in Benedict Canyon. And, serving those ice cold Dr Peppers idea came from me.) So having Art around with the fantastic chapter 4 meetings (these were better than many regionals nowadays), conventions, evenings at Art's place and Saturday meetings all afternoon at Wilbur's, plus the telephone made horology the GREATEST!

If any of you have viewed the 1976 Anaheim national exhibition catalogue--you might notice-those special, professional showcases which were provided by Art. His family owned a world class show case company which made store showcases for all the expensive department stores throughout the USA. We needed special locked cases to display the greatest private horological display ever. I asked Art and Art, as he always did, came through--his company Grand Rapids Zimmerla even delivered and set up the display areas. This is the kind of guy Art was--if it was a worthy issue he would pitch in; if it was nonsense, he'd waive you off. A classic example of Art's generosity to those who were his friends is the story re Wilber Dexter. Wilber just could not find an Otay watch or movement to save his life; so after some years Art simply gave him a cockless gilt example he picked up at a show. Wilbur sure was proud of that Otay and told everyone with whom he came in contact. Yep, you guessed it-- he made a cock that very week!

Sadly, Art lost interest in doing a Magnus opis book on Hamilton, as his mother passed away, he married very late and moved away.

Art was the best. He also collected and fixed antique radios long before the watch game. He once told me he got interested in radios prior to his USC days because he was bored with school. I had not spoken with him recently but the last time I did he was back at "playing" with radios. I believe Art was 85.

R.I.P., my friend. I shall never forget you nor the great times we had collecting, laughing and scratching about the cast of characters in the watch game.

Jon "the truth" Hanson
Founder and President of Chapter 149--the leading horological collectors' club!
American Horologe Co -- America's Most Respected Name
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It is with great sorrow to report that Art Zimmerla has died
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