Thursday, July 17, 2008

Who Wears Which Watch?

For as long as I can remember I've been a fan of watches. I got my first Tag Heuer, one of the original Formula 1s, when I was about eighteen, a Christmas present from my parents, and I've added a few to my collection over the years.

I'm not a watch ponce either. There are numerous cheapo ones as well as a few expensive ones and a whole plethora of medium ones in my collection. There's more Casio G Shocks than there are NGOs on a Hikkaduwa beach on a Saturday night and more Seiko Kinetics than there are drumsticks in the wine rack in my kitchen.

I'm a marketeers dream as far as watches are concerned. Every time I buy a mens' magazine here and browse through it, I'm the original person that the rain forest of watch adverts are made for. All those little lines about a watch being passed on to the next generation, about top sports stars becoming better players because of the watch they wear and about a good watch being the measure of a good man, well I fall for them, hook, line and sinker. A fellow who isn't at all concerned about his choice of watch is a sub standard chap in my book. Not that I've written a book. I suppose that line would carry far more weight if I was David Blacker or Ashok Ferrey.

A couple of years ago I bought my last "pricey" watch, a Tag Heuer diver's one, the copy of the Omega Seamaster that they do. Up until then I'd been quite the fickle one, wearing a different watch whenever a change took my fancy, which was often. On getting the new one I loved the look of it so much that I wore it solidly for the two years. The G Shocks, the Seikos, the Swatches and even the other Tags were left in my watch drawer and forgotten, like ex lovers, and I devoted my energy to the new love.

There I was happily doing my things on Sunday afternoon when I glanced at the time on my lovely Tag, the one I'd been wearing for the longest time. Something unnerving caught my eye and I looked at it again. The unnerving thing was the second hand, it was jumping at four second intervals. I knew that this is the indicator of a low battery, which would normally take weeks to get changed as most jewellers here send the watch away and charge a fortune for the honour.

On any other day the situation would be a bummer for me. This time it was worse, the week in the motherland is coming up and the thought of spending it with a different timepiece wasn't a pleasant one. Strange I know, but true. I can't rationalise my feeling, it's just something that other people who like watches may understand. But, ever the coolheaded fellow in a crisis, I went straight to my watch drawer and pulled out a favoured G Shock. It was on my wrist quicker than you can say "What the hell is daylight saving time anyway?" and I thought things would carry on as usual. Well, they didn't.

"Why Rhythmic?" I hear you ask. Well Dinidu, it's like this. My trusty Tag gives me the most basic information one can get from a watch; the time in hours, minutes and seconds and the date. That's it. It has a bezel that only turns one way and is waterproof to a depth of 300 metres, features that might be useful to Action Man but not to a drummer who can barely swim a width without looking like he's just gone ten rounds with ________ (insert your choice of sexy woman here)

On the other hand the G Shock gives me access to every possible bit of information you can think of. If you want to know the time for high tide in Hawaii just ask me and it's there, if you want to know what time your Mum farted yesterday and how long it lasted then I've got the answer (14.2 seconds, which I'm impressed with) and if you need to know this week's average price for a Barefoot sarong then my watch will probably have it somewhere.

I struggled though. This digital display business just isn't the same. Hands on a watch give the viewer a real sense of time, time that has elapsed and time that is remaining. I like to look at the time and instantly make that calculation, that visual connection, of how many minutes there are to go before the hour. It's okay to read a digital display that tells you it's 8.41, but that gives a very accurate picture of now. It's much better to look at the hands and see that it's somewhere around 8.40 ish but to also see the gap, the minutes remaining and the time that has passed.

The analogue experience is a better all round one for sure. It's a bit like helicopter vision, one of my favourite business analogies. Helicopter vision, which you may have figured out already, is the ability of a good manager to see a situation from different levels, as if flying in a helicopter. So, when just above the ground you can see every minute detail and every blade of grass, but when you go higher you get a much better overall view and see things that just weren't visible from the ground, yet you lose some of the detail. It's said that a great manager possesses great helicopter vision and can view a situation from whatever level he or she chooses.

Well, the analogue watch is like being just that bit higher up than with a digital watch, getting a better all round view but only losing detail that isn't necessary for me anyway. I don't really need to know the average price of a Barefoot sarong, the reality is that I'll probably buy it if I like it anyway.

That's why I struggled with the digital watch for a couple of days. Luckily I found a local watch place that installed a new battery, sealed the watch and pressure tested it all for a sum far less than this week's average Barefoot sarong price (lucky I had that info to hand).

My trusty Tag is back and the situation remains normal.

It was a narrow escape though.


Jack Point said...

Why does it take weeks to change a battery? The local agent for Tag in Colombo does it over the counter.

I'm consciously steering away from buying any more watches, I wear my Tag for parties and use a cheap thing for daily use.

Rhythmic Diaspora said...

JP - It's not that it takes ages for the job to be done, just that Tag have some kind of "official" repair centre in the UK and most high St jewellers send the watch away there to have the job done.

Anonymous said...

Answer to this has to be an entire post. I think I can live off my watches for few years! :). Say I have (in a safe deposit box) a 1969 moon watch (Omega) assigned to NASA (Grand pa gave it to me) and another NASA watch that I earned myself.
Then there is a few hard to pronounce names collection. But you will always find me with a Breitling Navitimer watch, usually with a white dial. (I 've got many a gifts, from Breitling for last 6 years,You have to buy the watch from a dealer.)
All my watches are automatic or manual. No batteries. I an crazy over watches.

Rhythmic Diaspora said...

KS - Wow! - I'd love to see a post about your watches, with pictures if possible. Sounds like there'll be some stories behind the faces.

Scrumpulicious said...

Seriously- you could write a book with just all your blog posts. It would be so cool!
I can't say that I can relate to your passion too much. I have one beautiful Storm (yeah, a lil' pretentious) watch that sticks with me through thick and thin. BUT I do get the whole analogue thing. Knowing that my watch says "5 to 5" tells me the day is so much close than it saying "16:55" - does that make sense?

Java Jones said...

Rolex rocks!

ViceUnVersa said...

hmmm... anytime soon would you be tired of owning so many watches. Especially the Tag divers?
You have my contact details. :)

Pink Mist said...

AARRGGHHH the Tag Formula 1 is my dream watch!!!! Damnit, not fair that you got it at 18!!! I'm building up to it... at this rate, I'll manage to buy one in about 3 lifetimes. Until then am a swatch loving penniless student, donations are welcome.