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Wednesday, 17 October 2012

The Time Machine

I treated myself the other week to a new watch. I have three watches all of which had stopped. There was the Rotary, bought by my wife years ago. I stopped wearing it after the metal strap broke a second time. I had intended to get it repaired but didn't. Instead I wore my Ben Sherman watch; until its leather strap decayed away. I never wore the plasticky "Orange" watch - a gift from my mobile network provider.

I hadn't worn a watch for a couple of years; I didn't need one anyway, there's my mobile or the lap-top or the desk-top computer. They have the time and date and year to the nearest gnat's fart, what need I something hanging on my left wrist.

But recently I've been missing not having a watch. I rummaged in my bottom...drawers and turned out the three watches. Each one would need a new battery; no great expense. Looking at the Rotary, a nice time-piece, I imagined the hassle in getting a new metal strap. The Ben Sherman was ok but frankly not worth the effort of getting a battery and a new strap. As for the "Orange" gift watch - that was a non starter - it was completely disposable.

Slowly the thought grew in my head. If I was to buy a watch it would have to be pretty neat. I spent many an afternoon looking in shop windows in Westfields shopping mall. One weekday I went into all the watch shops. The ones I thought I could afford, I didn't like, the one's I liked were too pricey.

And that's how things remained.

Now I don't know how or why it happened but I decided that if I was going to get a watch, it had to have a mechanical movement, and it had to be Swiss or German. With that in mind I started rummaging through the net. You won't believe how many boutique German/Austrian and Swiss watch makers there are. Many seem to concentrate on one model only; usually an aviator or diving watch. Others produce exquisite designs - a one man band creating a few watches a year.

Quite a few of these were surprisingly not outrageously expensive. Nowhere near the Rolex price point. Luckily I wasn't interested in massive status statements. What I wanted was a classic face, sweeping second hand and a date window.

When I'm unsure of a market I invariably head to John Lewis. Sure enough they had loads of watches - including automatic (self winding) mechanical movements. But what choice: name your price. What could I afford, or more correctly what could I justify to myself (and the missus)? Less than £1,000?

Looking at what was on display, the cheapest watch that I thought matched my specification was just short of £900. I have never spend £900 on anything as inconsequential as a watch. However, the more I looked at it, the more I desired it. I could see it sitting elegantly on my wrist, understated but clearly an object of some class and discernment. And then I thought of my newish Marks and Spencer credit card. I applied for that deliberately to get the 18 months interest free period on purchases. I'd be a fool not to take the opportunity to buy this most desirable watch - interest free. A regular monthly payment of a couple of hundred would see that off in no time!

So I did, I bought myself an ORIS "Artelier". It has a glass back so I can stare at the wonderful Swiss movement, and the second hand sweeps round so smoothly. Even the clasp of the leather strap is a thing of beauty and precision.

And it's arrival was like a state visit. The watch was contained in what can only be described as a cabinet, with a separate compartment for the instruction booklet and my own registration card, with the model and serial numbers stamped out in an impressive typeface. Status or what!

It was a huge expense, a sheer indulgence. But I haven't been so pleased with a new purchase for years. It's not electronic, it's not "run of the mill". It carries with it a history of invention and improvement over a couple of hundred years. It has tiny, tiny moving parts, made out  of steel. It is beautiful!

I've switched to a monthly SIM only mobile deal now I'm out of contract. That'll save me £20 a month so I'm not too extravagant am I?


PigmundFreud said...

Interesting insight into yr mind. Starts with I hadn't worn a watch for a couple of years.... I didn't need one anyway....other devices have the time and date and year to the nearest gnat's fart ....and ends with go on then let's splash £900 on one of these useless tnings! A parable for our times I would say. Look forward to the I don't need a holiday but what the hell have booked a round the world cruise anyway saga

Marginalia said...

Dear PF, how true! Who can fathom the workings of a befuddled retiree's mind.

I do, however, think there's something magical about mechanical things, a view shared by many; witness the fascination in all things Victorian - the great mechanical age.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your efforts to stimulate the econoomy! What is the credit limit on yr card?

Marginalia said...

A Rolex!

Steve said...

I'll give you three weeks before you scratch it during a household chore.