Monday, February 2, 2009

Watch Carefully

Historically, I’ve never really been a watch wearer. But when I got into biking to work and running it quickly became a necessity. In fact, an unfortunate vacation incident that I won’t go into led to a hasty late night Wal-Mart purchase. That $7 digital sports watch served me well. The face was scuffed in a bike accident but it kept time, worked in the pool and I’d grown accustomed to the chronograph and indiglo features.

Still, it looked like a $7 watch from Wal-Mart. Every time I’d see a photo of myself the poor thing stuck out like a ketchup stain on a white dinner jacket. So I started paying attention to watches. I would check the wrist gear on photos of cool celebrities. I tooled around the web and men’s magazines hoping something would catch my eye. Something did. J. Crew just introduced a Timex made replica of a 40s era military watch. My brother, who’s in the military, wears a smart looking Victorinox number that I really admire.

But I couldn’t pull the trigger. For one thing, I’d miss some of the features of my sports watch. And the $150 price tag, though fairly reasonable, seemed high for a watch that probably would sell for $20 if J. Crew weren’t involved. Plus I just saw an episode of the Bob Newhart show where Emily buys him a $3000 watch for his birthday that leads to a fight. He makes a good point at the end of the show. Something like, I wouldn’t have minded if you’d spent $3000 on a piano because a $10 piano probably doesn’t sound very good. But a $10 watch does the same thing that a $3000 watch does and you can take the remaining $2990 and buy a pretty decent piano.” Basically, it’s an expanded version of the old “Don’t waste time with fancy watches” adage.

So I looked around Timex’s website and took a modest liking to their Expedition model. It seemed to be a fair compromise. Then I was at Target getting dog food and happened to notice one on clearance for less than half the regular price. Now I’m sure the model Timex furnishes for Target is a little sub standard. But I assume it will keep time and take at least a half lickin’. Besides, if you consider that I’m getting a nearly ideal mix of the J. Crew style and the sports watch function for three and a half times the price of one and a sixth the price of the other, I’m probably making out.

Funny side story: My brother was shedding possessions before going overseas and gave an almost identical cheap sportswatch to my stepson. Then he proposed to his girlfriend shortly thereafter and she bought him an expensive Tag watch as an engagement gift. It’s a Spanish tradition. But with his line of work, he’s too afraid to damage it. Perhaps it has something to do with our upbringing.

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