Back a couple of cities ago, I belonged to a small writers’ group that initially formed when we were all put on a committee together to host a brunch for a visiting Bishop (really). I live too far away to meet with them any more, but I keep in touch as best I can, and I love seeing what my writerly friends are up to. A few months ago, my writerly friend Greg had an essay published in The Globe and Mail, about his quest to find the perfect watch:
Having decided long ago that I wanted a watch, I began to think about what watch I wanted. I went through a silly period when I thought I wanted a Rolex. Actually, I thought I could settle on a $5,000 Rolex as a concession to my deeper desire for a Patek Philippe watch. I live downtown and I don’t drive a car, so why not spend the equivalent amount of money for a nice car on a nice watch? I had many dark nights of the soul greedily lusting after a watch like this. I watched YouTube videos, I read reviews and read watch-enthusiast blogs. I tried to convince myself that a single beautiful watch and a few other carefully curated objects could be part of a minimalist life focused on quality over quantity.
Along the way, I contented myself with an innovative smartwatch that was made by robots and was completely mechanical and self-winding. We had a happy two years together, but the watch would lose a couple of minutes a day and I often found myself showing up late for meetings. As much as I liked it, I just knew that it wasn’t my “forever watch.” If you think I use the term “forever watch” without shaking my head at my own ridiculousness over the time and effort I have given to thinking about this watch, then you cannot read subtext.
You should read the whole piece, as it is charming.
I used to wear a watch in high school — funnily enough, when I was probably more surrounded by clocks than I have ever been, before or since. But this was back before high schoolers had cell phones, and the watch did make sure that I made my bus on time. Sometime since then I stopped wearing one, a decision that was surely reinforced once I got my first cell phone (at the ripe age of 24). Why wear a watch when I’m carrying around a phone with a clock, I ask you? And since I had certainly never found anything approaching the standard or satisfaction of a “forever watch”, I assumed that my watch-wearing days were behind me forever.
But Greg’s piece made me reconsider the idea. There are times when I would find it handy to know the time but don’t want to be forever hauling out my cell phone — like at the playground, since if I take my phone out I will start using it. If I had a watch, I could leave my phone behind. Or I could use it at the library, where the children’s section has a clock that’s quite out of sight from our usual hangout. Hmm. Suddenly the idea of wearing a watch was starting to seem a lot less absurd.
And so when we stopped at the duty free on one leg of our recent vacation to Canada and back — I bought a watch. Definitely not a $5,000 dollar watch, or even a $500 watch. Actually it cost me a whopping ten dollars. But here I am: once again a watch-wearer.
I’ve learned some things about watches in the past few weeks, and about myself. I was confirmed in my suspiscion that wearing a watch to tell time is better than pulling out a phone when I was walking to meet a friend for coffee — I was able to check the time without even breaking stride. No stopping or fumbling in my purse: just a swing of the wrist and an even step. Perfection.
I also find myself very satisfied that I chose an analog watch over a digital one. Not that there’s anything wrong with digital watches. But mine ticks — no tocks, just a nice steady tick tick tick that I find, somehow, extremely comforting. I can’t tell you why this should be so, but there’s something about a watch quietly ticking away that makes me feel as if all’s well in the world, not unlike the sound of a whistling train in the distance. Tick. Tick. Tick.
Perhaps the funniest thing to me about wearing this watch, however, is how very grown up it makes me feel. I’m not sure why this is — maybe because people my age usually tell tme with their phones and so I associate it with being older. But apparently it isn’t motherhood, being in my thirties, or my graduate degree that makes me feel as if I’ve firmly arrived at adulthood: it’s wearing a watch. Isn’t that silly? Yet there it is, all the same.
This isn’t my “forever watch”, if indeed there is such a thing. I’d like one with a face that’s a little smaller, and a band made of something more durable than pleather. But I’ll use this one until it’s worn out, and see where it takes me. Tick. Tick. Tick.