Rambles of a watch fan: What do watches mean to you?
The people who I am most close with know that I am an avid watch fan. Some, like my mom, would even consider me as obsessed. Whenever they see me looking at my news feed on my smartphone, rarely do they see me looking at gag videos, funny cat photos or celebrity news. Most of the time, they notice me seemingly getting sucked into the very screen in front of me; and what do they find me staring at: watches. I get completely spaced out of any conversation when the topic changes to one about watches. Whether I’m going shopping, eating dinner with my family, or grabbing a beer (or two) with the boys, I seem to always find the time to look at and talk about timepieces: may it be a very humble Seiko or a highly sought after vintage Rolex.
Most people are unable to understand our love for watches. The general public call us materialistic, gaudy, self-centered and even insecure; all in an attempt to downplay our passion for these little machines strapped onto our wrists. Much to their disbelief, for us watch obsessives, these mechanical marvels mean so much to us that our passion simply cannot be reduced to us having self-esteem issues or wanting to engage in pissing contests. Contrary to popular belief, collecting watches does not make you materialistic in any way; assuming that your love for watches is pure and not corrupted by a misplaced need to put on a façade of pretentious success or superficial worth. A true watch geek could certainly own a gold Omega and not have to live a life of excess and depravity, and he could certainly rock a Rolex without looking like a total douche.
Watches can help link us to our distant past. In my opinion, there is no possession an individual can own that is more personal than their timepiece. Wearing a watch that was previously owned by someone close to you or buying a vintage timepiece gives you a sense of that person. It represents their style, preferences, occupation and even social status. In a way, that person lives on through you wearing his/her watch. A 1940’s officer’s watch could have well been serving in the Second World War overseas, a 1960’s chronograph could’ve been used to time the intervals between salvos of artillery shots, and a 1980’s dress watch might have been the watch your dad wore the day he proposed to your mom in that Japanese restaurant they used to go to.
Watches can mean so much more to someone who genuinely loves them than just a chunk of metal with gears inside that let’s you know what time it is. It could serve as a proverbial polaroid of a momentous occasion in your life.. A watch could represent you graduating high school and finally getting your taste of adolescent freedom, it could be a memento mori you got when you walked away after getting diagnosed with a serious lung condition, it could even mark the very special day when you’re introduced to your newborn son, thinking to yourself that you’ve just seen the most beautiful thing to have ever graced the Earth.
Watches are much more complex than they appear. They are capable of turning the imperceptible into the palpable, the primordial into the advanced, and the impossible into the unattainable . They are man’s attempt to govern a concept which is so esoteric and present it in a mundane form. In a way, they are an embodiment of the human spirit of curiosity and wonder; trying to make sense of a fundamental part of our daily lives that which in itself is beyond our own understanding. They are constant reminders of the passing time and that the future is literally at our fingertips. But the the most important lesson any watch can teach us, no matter how well crafted it is or how luxurious it feels, whether it’s a $5 Casio you got from a thrift shop or a Patek 5970, time itself is life’s greatest luxury after all.
So, what do watches mean to you?