Another day, another author with a nicely written ode to wristwatches (did Gary Shteyngart create a category?). Michael Brendan Dougherty starts by telling the story of the Italian frogmen and the Panerai Radiomirs they wore on their wrists, wondering why he’s so entranced by these timepieces that don’t even tell time that well.
We’ll quote at length, because this paragraph encapsulates pretty much everything we love about watches:
Or maybe this history is just one part of my excuse for caring about these shiny, expensive objects. The others are a boyish fascination with the engineering that goes into fine watchmaking, or with the design history of each of the major ateliers. Not to mention the career and financial success that fine watches can signify — first and primarily to yourself, but also to other “watch people,” or to the world. There is a certain personal style that can be expressed by the choice of watch, one usually perceived only by other connoisseurs. And, in an age of disposable technology, fine wristwatches seem durable beyond measure. I toss out my phone every few years. My computer gets replaced at least twice a decade. But if you turn in your wristwatch to be serviced by a watchmaker every few years, it will be ticking away for generations, maybe centuries.
He also mentions a yellow gold Cartier his mother wore, and how, to this day, whenever he sees Cartier’s signature roman numerals, he thinks of her. We hear a lot about dads and their sons and the watches handed down, but not as much about mom’s watches, so this was a refreshing image painted by Mr. Dougherty.
He goes on to describe his Grand Seiko GMT with a gold GMT hand, which, if I had to guess, is probably the SBGJ227 “Peacock”. He says that because it’s a Grand Seiko and not a Rolex it signals to other watch loves “I am one of you.” One of us indeed, Mr. Dougherty.
Watches collect memories and emotions in a way nothing else does. They’re timeless, certainly in a way that modern personal technology is not. A welcome respite from the exhaustion of replacing your phone every two years or clicking yes on a software update every night before bed.
Thanks for the article, and thanks for turning on a few more readers to the fine world of fine horology.
For the full article, head to the National Review