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!