Time and Tide: The Importance of a Wristwatch
My father always told me that men shouldn’t wear jewelry. I can say for a fact that he abides by this rule. He doesn’t even wear his wedding ring, as he can’t stand the feeling of having something on his finger. The only thing that he has in his closet that resembles anything in the realm of jewelry are his cufflinks. That, only because he has french cuff shirts.
My father has always put function and comfort above everything else when it comes to his style. He is a minimalist. If you met him on the street when he wasn’t going to work, he would be dressed in the standard suburban dad gear that you’d think of. However, most days, and I remember my dad heading off to work in the morning, he’d be dressed in a suit. The suit, the tie, the overcoat would always change, but one thing would be constant. He always wore a watch.
Like most boys, you take a lot of your cues from your father. I remember, I received my first watch the summer before 8th grade. It was a blue faced Fossil with a steel link band. I wore it everywhere, I even tried to wear it to bed until my mom told me to stop being an idiot. It took me a long time to get used to the heft, the steady weight of a watch on my left wrist (my dad taught me early on: right-handed, watch on the left wrist, always keep it out of the way, ever the functionalist). At the age, wearing a watch made me feel like a grown up, and back then, before cell phones were ubiquitous, I spent a lot of time looking at my wrist to see when class was going to be over. I also learned to be more subtle when looking at the time, mostly due to the fact that I would be yelled at by my teachers. It’s not my fault that you can’t make 8th grade social studies interesting.
As I grew up, a watch never left my wrist. Now, I feel naked without it, my wrist feels too light without it’s familiar weight on it. You can argue that I don’t need to wear a watch anymore because people always have their phone on them, but I argue that a watch is more than functional, it also serves another purpose: To remind us of the enduring nature of time.
I know that one day I will inherit my father’s watches, and a long time after, my son will inherit mine and my father’s. Your watch is a piece of you, a piece of you that you pass on. I think that’s why people spend so much money on watches, especially in decades past. It wasn’t a status symbol, it was a piece of jewelry to show off how wealthy you were, but it was something to pass down, an investment, but something you could use every day. There is something inherently masculine about a watch, and in many ways it is the last real piece of mechanical engineering that we use in our daily lives. Watchmakers spend a lifetime perfecting their craft, and I truly believe that at the highest levels, it is a work of art.
On a more personal note, I have a particular quirk when it comes to my watches. Whenever I fly to a new timezone, I never change the time on my watch. The math is always easy enough in my head, and if I really need it, I can just check my phone. In my mind, my watch is always set to what time it is at home, because that’s what matters to me. It just recently occurred to me though, that one day, home might not be a place, but a person, because home is where the heart is.
That, would be kinda neat.