Watchman

Engsiong Tan
5 min readJan 29, 2023

The myth about time pieces

A few decades ago, there was a watch for every adventurer. If you flew, you needed an aviator type of watch. Even though a smartphone could perform all its functions, it still looked like something that belong to a pilot’s wrist. If you were a diver, there were diver watches. Even military divers used the same type of watch as their civilian counterparts. Luxury brands like Rolex sold divers series watches without asking for the owner’s ability to swim. The prices could take one’s breath away or kept one’s asset value underwater. But as long as you had the cash, you could own part of the dream (Or fantasy). Spelunking cavemen can also read time in total darkness. There were watches with tritium. That is an expensive way to say glow in the dark. For fifteen years.

Working Men

The working world changed my perceptions. Military officers were not (always) men of honour. The officers with expensive watches were usually less effective than their competent counterparts. (Full Disclosure: I was stationed at a backwater camp on an island. To say it was dumping ground was an understatement.) If you are good, there was no need for a watch to advertise your ability. While most watches kept up their purpose of keeping time, they started to look as outdated as swords worn by officers.

Machine also replaced man. Unmanned drones now do much legwork for the military. Even my smartphone is used to set the time on my mechanical watches when they stop. It is like owning a robot to take care of the guard dog. Before anyone suggests that I buy the cheapest watch, I have purchased cheaper watches that failed on me. It was the same brand that Bill Gates wears. The last time a watch failed on me was during a military exercise. Fortunately, my Nokia phone saved the day. In case you are wondering, it is one of the phones in the picture below.

Photo by Rayson Tan on Unsplash

Before anyone suggest that I purchase the Nokia smartwatch, I am not going to own any timepieces that needs to be charged regularly.

The harder they fall

I recalled purchasing my first expensive watch. It had a solid metal band and was pretty scratch resistant. Unfortunately, that meant it carved grooves in my laptop. Which meant that I had to take it off when working. Wiser watch collectors then tried to tell me that I needed to upgrade to dress watches.

Except that while my work did not damage my dress watches, my climate did. All my dress watches used leather as their watch strap and all the straps failed after a few years. The problem was that I assumed waterproof watch also meant rain proof. It turned out that waterproof was more of an opinion than a fact. None of the watches were ever exposed to a swimming pool or even the sea. Yet their straps had a problem with the rain. Furthermore the latter leather products drank mink oil. With hindsight, I believe no minks were harmed in the creation of “mink” oil. With the exception of the mink’s reputation.

Craftsmanship

There were cool inventions like the tourbillon. It was sold as a device that counteracts the effects of gravity. If you think that it is a load of junk, you are not alone. There are watches that have tourbillions that are not connected to any of the clockwork. There are watches with perpetual calendars for people too lazy to change the date. There are even mechanical watches which mechanism is untouched by men. It is all assembled by machines.

The downside of craftsmenship was that the watches needed maintenance. Pianos need to be tuned. Watches need to be serviced if they are expensive enough. The cheap counterparts are discarded. The machine assembled watch is also unserviceable.

Homage

It is a nicer way of saying knock off (if they left out the original brand) or imitation (if they copied the superficial parts including the brand). To be fair, I have purchased and worn a fake Rolex so I can’t be too judgemental.

On the point of brands, I hate it when brands are poorly named. Take FCUK. It stands for French Connection U.K. But as far I am concern it is just a misspelled swear word. I am also not going to buy a watch named after the 37th US President.

I hated it when other brands jumped on the watch bandwagon. I mean what does Adidas or Puma know about watches? I am not paying for a meaningless logo that only I can appreciate. Or at the very most, I will buy a cap with a bigger logo. Even I like the Bruan’s engineering on their shavvers, there is really no reason to buy a Bruan watch. (If you do not know about their shaver, it also owns Oral-B)

It is a fact that many watch companies purchase their movements from other companies. As a result, you are just paying for the design. At that kind of prices, the design has to include holograms or optical illusion.

My face

I do not own the watch below as it cost a fortune. Or to put it another way, I could purchase my dream camera and lens and still have cash to have pay for a backup.

KONSTANTIN CHAYKIN Joker watch

I used to think that a copy would be good enough, but I will pass on fake clown. Too much serial murderer vibes. Like Pennywise.

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