Right Twice a Day

Once again it seems the battery in my 14 year old Fossil Arkitekt watch has given up the ghost leaving me in a bit of a jam with knowing the current time at any given moment. There are certainly alternative tools available, such as the phone, the notebook, the wall-mounted time piece, and just about every appliance in the house, but it's just not the same as being able to quickly look at my wrist and see just how far into the current day we are. Batteries in this particular watch seem to be good for just two years and, while this is certainly better than I can expect from any other battery-powered device in the house, there's a slight amount of disappointment with just how often it seems the watch needs a new battery. If I were a little more foolish, I'd likely consider upgrading.

As one would likely expect, I have an appreciation for timepieces. Smaller mechanical devices, in particular. The amount of precision and detail that is required to craft a reliable and durable watch is phenomenal and a joy to observe. The rhythmic ticking is reassuring. The unobtrusiveness is welcome.

When I was seven years old my father promised to buy me a watch as soon as I could prove to him that I knew how to read an analog clock. By reading, he didn't mean being able to say things like "It's twelve twenty" or "It's three forty-five". Many children can do this by the time they're in elementary school. He wanted me to say the time "correctly". It's twenty after twelve. It's a quarter to four. With the incentive in place, I practiced with gusto and earned my first timepiece, a wind-up Citizen watch with a white face and brown faux-leather band. That watch was worn and cherished daily up until the strap tore, which then gave my mother an opportunity to replace it with a black plastic digital device that smelled of chemicals for the entire time I owned it. In high school I had two digital watches that I would alternate between depending on the season. In college I went without anything on my wrist, choosing instead to look at a cell phone1. After college, though, I wanted to wear a watch again. Something beautiful. Something elegant.

A Fossil Townsman Chronograph with a stainless steel band fit the bill perfectly and was worn daily until it was stolen in 2005. The loss was completely my fault, as I had taken the watch off to wash my hands and arms in a public location. When I realised the watch wasn't on my arm a few minutes later, I went back in search of time timepiece only to see that it was gone. Naturally, nobody had turned it into the Lost & Found, so I was out a watch until the following weekend when I picked up my current minimalist Fossil.

If I were to choose a new watch, though, it would have to be an automatic device. Something that never needed winding or batteries. Something that would adjust itself autonomously if I were to travel to a different time zone. Something that would last far more than 14 years. Something like a Tissot Mechanical Automatic with zero complications and -- ideally -- no visible numbers.

This isn't feasible just yet but, if the opportunity arises, I'd jump at the chance to have a watch that should -- if taken care of -- outlive me. So instead of picking up a new watch, I'll just get another battery for the Fossil I've worn for a third of my life. It shows clear signs of wear, and this is part of the reason I'm not yet willing to take it off my arm just yet.

  1. This would have been back in 1997, which meant the phone was an Ericsson KT-688.