Monday, December 29, 2014

Watches and The Wall Street Journal

     In reading the Wall Street Journal more regularly, I am struck by the number of watch advertisements. These are usually found on pages A2 and A3 but sometimes on other pages as well. The advertisements are not everyday. I suspect the watch companies have figured out which days the readers are most susceptible to watch advertising and plan their ads accordingly.
     Being the Wall Street Journal, we are talking about very special and very expensive watches. These watches are all for men. After all, the bastions of Wall Street that can afford the kind of watches advertised are men. They are status statement watches. They are pieces of jewelry and symbols of power and luxury. They are made of gold or stainless steel with metal, leather, and, sometimes even, rubber bands. Because of all this, and I reiterate, they are expensive. They are $5,000 and $10,000 on the low end and there is seemingly no high end limit on how much one can spend.
     In a recent paper in early December, there were five ads on these two pages for fine watches. A in the photo, the watches featured are Hublot, Oris, Breitling, Richard Mille, and Parmagiani. Of these, I was only familiar with Oris and Breitling. I have seen ads for the likes of Rolex, Cartier, Omega, Audemars Piguet, Patek Phillipe, Ulysse Nardin, TAG Heuer, and Vacheron Constantin. The vary from the simple and elegant Patek Phillipe to the dizzying array of dials and knobs that Breitling is know for. There are sporty watches that are waterproof in case only ever has to sail in a regatta or escape from a submarine. There are watches with white dials, black dials, gray dials, and see through dials where one can see the working gears of the watches underneath all the very dials. There are big bold, in your face watches, and they seem to have gotten bigger and bolder in recent years and there are the slimmer and more elegant watches.
     My preference is for the simple and elegant timepieces. There is even a watch company, new to me, named MeisterSinger that only sells watches with only one hand. The are really nice looking watches that would appeal to me if they had two hands.  I think I need an hour hand and a minute hand as a bare minimum and the only other hand I would want is a second hand.  
     I was thinking of writing this piece when lo and behold (it is after all the season for lo-ing and beholding), the WSJ printed an article on this very subject on December 26th. Until reading this article, I never gave much thought to the origin of wrist watches. Certainly, I knew that before wrist watches, men carried pocket watches that were secured by fobs and chains. I even carried one for two years during college including, duh, my sophomore year.
     It seems that wristwatches were mostly popularized by pilots. They needed to track time and could not be fumbling around for their pocket watches. From the simplest Cartier Santos (made for a pilot named Alberto Santos-Dumont in 1904) to complicated chronograph and altimeter watches, they were popularized by pilots and craved by the public who admired the flyboys. It is no doubt why “the pilots” of industry and Wall Street love big bold chronographs.
     Upon leaving the corporate world in 2008, I stopped wearing a watch simply because, for awhile, I had no real tight schedule and I was living on my laptop and cellphone both of which informed me of the time with a mere glance. In 2013, basically because I missed the fashion accessory of a watch, I got all my
watches new batteries and began wearing them. My wife bought me the case that holds my daily watches, which from L to R are, Croton, Tumi, Tissot, and a Swiss Army. The Croton and Tumi have metal bands. The Tissot and Movado have leather bands while the Swiss Army is a field watch with a canvas and leather band. There are black, white, and gray dials. Two have markings, one has numbers, one has Roman Numerals, and one is just plain faced. The Tissot and Movado watches were gifts from various Colgate events, the Croton was a gift from a friend for my 50th birthday, the Tumi and Swiss Army were purchases of my own. I do not believe any of these watches cost more than $300. 
     If I were to only to be able to wear one watch, I would choose the Swiss Army watch. I just like look and feel of a field watch.

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