Tired of lying in the sunshine staying home to watch the rain
You are young and life is long and there is time to kill today
And then one day you find ten years have got behind you
No one told you when to run, you missed the starting gun
I carefully cleaned the desk, being sure to wipe up ever inch so not a single foreign object, dirt, or lint could be found. I arrayed my tools, it was quite the kit, but they’d sat idle for almost 6 years now. On the higher end were a set of watchmaker’s screwdriver’s starting at .5 mm thickness, a jeweler’s loupe, assorted Swiss and German made tools to adjust and remove bracelets and case backs, lubricating oil, polishing clothes, polish, and more crude household additions like an old soft-bristle toothbrush, latex gloves, and a Scrotch-Brite pad. I had actually wanted to be a watchmaker for a while when I was younger. I’ve always had a fascination with time and timepieces. I remember my first wrist watch, it was a small digital thing with a rubber bracelet, indiglo and a weird display that looked like the HUD of an futuristic spacecraft. I would look at it and play with that thing while I was sitting in the pews at church. It was for a young boy who would think it ‘rad’ looking. As I got older, I remember the first time I saw a true mechanical watch, the only kind that existed before the discovery that applying an electrical charge to silicon dioxide would create a predictable oscillation that could be harnessed to keep almost perfect time, not only for watches, but also would provide the steady metronome-like heartbeat of billions of microprocessors in this information age we live in. But, before the quartz movement and electric powered watches became standard, building an accurate timepiece was an incredible feat and a costly one, requiring dozens to hundreds of parts, precisely designed, built, and adjusted. These mechanical movements were beautiful though in their operation, a symphony of moving gears, springs, jewel bearings of ruby, diamond, and garnet, escapements, and balance wheels. They are a testament to man’s ingenuity, and despite being rendered obsolete by modern technology, I love these devices, they are works of art in their own right. These days, you generally only find them in high end watches worn as symbols of status, or in antiques. I had some of both as I’d collected wrist watches for years before I married my wife.
Now, I laid out all my old tools, and then pulled out my watch display case and lifted the lid. Inside lay a small fortune in watches, well over half the combined value of the two cars sitting in the drive way. I had mostly collected watches that were historically important designs. Most had adorned the wrists of great explorers, soldiers, or pioneers, those who’d fought in wars, scaled the highest mountains, plunged to the depths of the ocean, or landed on the moon. I looked over the collection and sighed, I selected my favorite, one I’d planned to pass on to my son when he was a grown man and it was time to pass the torch so to speak. Seems a kind of trite dream, “daddy’s watch”, made me think of Christopher Walken’s famous performance in Pulp Fiction. But, it was also the most valuable watch I’d kept after selling a good part of my collection. With proper servicing, it would run for many centuries to come, I’d hoped to have it as an heirloom to be passed down from generation to generation in the family I’d started. But, I realized now it had a more pressing purpose. I’d resisted selling it and others over the years even when my wife and I had been in dire straits living paycheck to paycheck, but now there was no choice if we were going to pay for the divorce and other expenses we’d incurred. It was a heavy diver’s watch, not gaudy, covered in precious metals or jewels, the only precious materials were practical, a crystal made of sapphire and jewel bearings of ruby inside. I’d worn it daily for years, but finally had decided to keep it in the case and only pull it out for special occasions, cleanup, and servicing. I knew every scratch and scuff on the case and bracelet, but overall, it was in great condition, and if I can find a buyer, it should pay for everything.
I went to work on the case and bracelet, scrubbing and cleaning, polishing, and restoring the brushed metal finish. It took hours before it was good as new, I unscrewed the crown and set the time, the automatic self-winding movement had already charged the main spring enough to set the watch in motion. I put it to my ear and listened to the steady, quiet, soothing tick. I slipped it on my wrist, felt the embrace of the familiar cold steel. My friend was a much better photographer than myself, and she’d be coming to take pictures of it for me tomorrow so I could post it on a few exclusive forums for selling such pieces. I set the watch in my automatic winder display case, flipped the switch, and closed the glass lid as it began to spin the watch, turning a small weighted gear inside to keep it wound, and pulled off my latex gloves. I watched the watch spin, and in turn its second, minute, and hour hands continued on their axis, the polished steel gleamed as we spin around the earth’s axis heading away from the sun towards the evening’s darkness, and our planet and solar system hurtle blindly through space to an unknown doom. It is kind of mesmerizing in a way. Sometimes it is terrifying to find time is slipping through your fingers, other times it is a comfort. Times like this you remember how much time you’ve wasted, you never anticipated it, you were just procrastinating, leaving it for tomorrow, only to wake up one day and realize all you’d missed. I don’t wish to say that I wasted the past years of my life that I’ve been married, I know these were valuable experiences to me, and I made many wonderful memories. Perhaps I couldn’t have made any better choices, impossible to say. I remember hard times in my life I’d put my wrist watch to my ear and listen to the calm, steady ticking, and just remember that in time, it would all be better. Time is at the heart of everything, from computers, to business, to music, to dance, the very substance of life. I hope to stop taking it for granted.