Watches

Let the Good
Times Roll

Few things evoke the spirit of skateboarding as much as freedom, a carefree attitude and youth. And youth is associated above all with having a good time. A good way to keep track of that time is with one of these wonderful watches.

  • Omega Seamaster Diver 300M
    »James Bond« Limited Edition via Chronext, € 8,490
  • IWC Pilot’s Watch
    € 4,850
  • Text
    Wiebke Brauer & Tim Maxeiner
  • Fotos
    Steffen Jahn
  • Production
    Fee Hermann

Wasn’t everything better in the good old days? Wrong question. At least, when it comes to skateboarding. Because skateboarding re-invents itself again and again. Young kids around the world don’t care what came before them, they do their thing without inhibition. Skateboarding is not a just a form of movement but also a form of expression. It’s an attitude and a lifestyle. Now as in the past.

When talking about skateboarding back in the day, we need to return to Southern California in the 1950s. Surfers fused together their younger sibling’s roller skates with wooden planks they had pilfered from nearby building sites. Shortly after its invention, the “rolling board” went “viral” as we would say today. The idea was “shared” und “liked” as much as possible. However, not digitally, but via the old-fashioned method of seeing and copying. There were very few pictures and surely no marketing programmes, advertising or media. And still, the board had its breakthrough: suddenly, all of America went surfing without waves and turned tarmac into the beach.

In 1959, the company Roller Derby launched the first commercial skateboard with modern technology. The result was better tricks.

John Severson, publisher of “Quarterly Skateboard” (later “Skateboarder Magazine”) wrote in his 1964 editorial: “Today’s skateboarders are founders in this sport – they’re ­pioneers – they are the first. History is being made now – by you (the reader). The sport is being moulded and we believe that doing the right thing now will lead to a bright future for the sport.” Despite John Severson’s visionary thoughts, skateboarding first had to endure a setback. In many cities, the dyed-in-the-wool conservative middle class saw to it that skateboarding was banned. But the ban was also based on the fact that the rather wobbly construction of the boards and the wheels made from steel or clay had led to numerous accidents. Just one year after the Severson quote was published, his Skateboarder Magazine vanished from the shelves and skating from society. Only the hard core continued to roll through the alleys and backyards of America.

In the 1970s, new disciplines like freestyle, downhill or slalom came about. The rebellion remained systemic.

It was the invention of wheels made from polyurethane that gave skateboarding a new lease of life and finally ensured its breakthrough. The new wheels meant they could be ridden differently, which would eventually make it possible to do tricks. And as is often the case in any youth movement, first there was the attempt to domesticise and regulate it. The scene’s mainstream organised skateboarding contests where judges awarded points. Judges! A large group of outsiders didn’t know what to do with any of this. So, the then famous, now infamous Dogtown skate crew (named after Venice Beach, which is nicknamed Dogtown) simply disrupted the now legendary skateboard contest in Del Mar / CA by surfing through the crowds and jumping off the competition stage with their boards rather than doing the pirouettes expected of them like well-behaved mainstream boys. The tiny problem was that the judges had no plan for confronting this. How should they scrutinise it? Award points for bad behaviour? Kick them all out?

Sinn 104 St Sa I B, € 1,450 // Frederique Constant Highlife Automatic Skeleton, € 2,695 // Junghans Meister Pilot Automatic, € 1,990
Sinn 104 St Sa I B, € 1,450 // Frederique Constant Highlife Automatic Skeleton, € 2,695 // Junghans Meister Pilot Automatic, € 1,990
What the Dogtown boys also did was they started skateboarding in empty swimming pools – the predecessor to the half pipe – of which the area had plenty in those days. Venice Beach was considered a “seaside slum” on the way down, with many homes empty. Craig Stecyk, a photo journalist who covered the group, asked the right questions even then: Why is skateboarding not considered a real sport? Art? Lifestyle? In one of his articles about the Dogtown boys, he wrote: “Skaters by their very nature are urban guerrillas – they employ the handiwork of government / corporate structure in ways the original architects could never dream of.” To this day, his statements have lost nothing of their meaning.

Since then, skateboarding has changed. Or shall we say, nuances have. Skateboarding should have be an Olympic discipline for the first time in 2020. It was going to be 2021, after all. In Tokyo, the best boarders competed in “vert” and “street” categories. A giant halfpipe was built as well as an extensive obstacle course. It was all about perfect manoeuvres, tricks where the skater and his board pirouette twice in opposite directions are the norm today. The ­pioneers would never have dreamt that. But there also was a rigid points scheme – and people opposing it. Which proves once more that everything needs to change so that it can stay as it is.

→ You can find more watch models in rampstyle #30.

Wiebke Brauer

Wiebke Brauer

Head of text ramp & Freelance author
After graduating from high school, Wiebke Brauer studied English and German as her first major with a focus on media culture. Interested in topics of all kinds and bird-free since 2016, as she says herself. With work for Spiegel Online, auto, motor und sport, Motor Klassik, Fuel and Stern, long a blog for the young and classic car site carsablanca.de - and more than fond of ramp magazine.
rampstyle #30 Blue Skies

rampstyle #30 Blue Skies

Nach »All Summer Long« jetzt das Folgeheft »Blue Skies«. Schlüssig. Denn wenn man etwas mehr über den britischen Singer-Songwriter Chris Rea weiß, schließt sich damit ein schöner Kreis. »Blue Sky« ist eine von Reas Lieblingsmetaphern. Der blaue Himmel das Bild für einen hoffnungsvollen Blick auf das, was kommen wird.

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