The Watch

When I was 13, I received my first wrist watch; an old hand-me-down from cousin sisters who were often my only source of fashion and accessories. A brown dial set in a stainless steel band- an utilitarian if ugly watch, but I was grateful for it. It was exam season at school and a watch would come handy to keep time during each 3-hour exam.

I outgrew this watch by the time I was 16. Or it stopped working- I forget which. Either way, it was decided in a family meeting that a new watch would be procured for me- Father would take me to visit the “neighborhood with the watch shops” where I could pick out my own watch.

The grand day dawned. Dressed in a white cotton frock I accompanied my Father to the shiny watch stores in the city’s CBD, meeting my watch at the fourth store. The watch came from the contemporary Indian brand Titan. It had a tiny navy and gold dial with little gold shapes as numbers and a polished navy leather band. It had a simple beauty- so beautiful I almost feel like using the term ‘a simple dignity’. Many years later, I realized that it was also very expensive. At the time of purchase, the watch had cost my father nearly 9% of his monthly salary. But Father was uncomplaining and so happy to have been able to get this watch for me. I too was very fond of my watch and took great care of it, wearing it through college and my first few jobs.

Many years passed. I grew up, moved from country to country, and landed in the land of watches- Switzerland. The list of horological maisons here is pretty long: Jaeger-LeCoultre, Piguet, Piaget, Longines, Patek Philippe, Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels, Chopard, Bulgari, Breguet, Montblanc, Rolex…. These watches are so beautiful that looking at them in the shop window feels like admiring art in a museum.

But… I have never felt the desire to get one of these maison watches for myself. Since getting my navy Titan watch so many years ago, I’ve only ever had three watches, including my current one. And they’ve all been the same model that was gifted by Father! Thanks to Titan for keeping this model alive! Sure, I’ve selected different colors for variety- first navy and gold, then black and gold, and now a mysterious forest green and gold. I do have two Swiss watches (received as gifts), but they languish behind piles of unworn clothes in my wardrobe, and I know one day I’ll give them away to a cousin or a niece without a second thought.

Though I increasingly use the iPhone as my primary timekeeping device; it feels good to wear my green and gold watch. Its spangled dial seems like the dome of a planetarium recording my very own time and space- where I come from, how I lead my life, and where I’m meant to go. My Father is not around any more, but the watch holds his place- like a talisman, like a guide.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s