Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Tie Dye Shirts and Luxury Watches

I was bummed yesterday when I read that a huge hippo has been floating in the Thames all September, and I missed it! It was a massive wooden sculpture by Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman, and was due to depart -- no doubt for warmer climes -- on Sept. 28. I assume it kept to its schedule. Bummer.

I always hear about things like this after they've happened. I still haven't made it to the Tower of London to see the poppy display. I've been too busy traipsing around suburbia with my camera!

Yesterday the library was busy as all get-out, for some reason. A ton of returned books, a heavily laden cart to re-shelve. We took our group librarian photo, wearing our tie-dye shirts, and some of us held '60s-themed books for good measure. I held a copy of Richard Brautigan's "Trout Fishing in America" and "In Watermelon Sugar," even though (or perhaps because) I'm sure none of the kids at school have the slightest idea who Richard Brautigan is. (And is he appropriate reading for middle schoolers? Probably not.)

Apropos of nothing, you know what I don't understand? Luxury watches. I don't understand their appeal or why anyone would spend thousands and thousands -- tens of thousands -- of dollars or pounds on a wristwatch. It is completely beyond me.

This comes to mind because often when I open The New York Times web site these days, a huge advertisement for Vacheron Constantin or Cartier expands and fills my screen, and I am just so not interested. Vanity Fair magazine recently sent an advertorial supplement to its subscribers focused exclusively on luxury watches -- celebrities posing with them, that sort of thing.

Watches are the target of every smash-and-grab thief here in London. I seem to read tons of articles about people being accosted and robbed of their Rolexes.

If I had ten thousand dollars to spare, I would not be buying a watch. In fact my idea of happiness is to not have a watch. (The battery in my 17-year-old, $45 Fossil brand watch died about two years ago and I have yet to replace it.) These days who needs one, with a clock in every mobile phone? I realize having a Rolex is more about status than telling time, but still -- it's mysterious.

(Photo: A quiet side street near Swiss Cottage, yesterday.)


  1. Top photo Steve!!

    About the luxury watches - I think it's about vanity, showing off and spending money simply because you have more money than sense.
    I worked for five years with some-one who never wore a watch. He didn't think it was necessary.

    Young adult literature - I read it from time to time for a change of pace and usually I consider my time has not been wasted.

    Ms Soup

  2. I actually own a Rolex. Haven't worn it in decades. Never kept good time anyway.

  3. I haven't worn a watch in over 25 years...and never will again.

  4. love the photo! and a disappointing link to the tie-dye shirts. I was expecting to see the picture of y'all wearing them. but watches? yah, I don't get it. I never got in the habit of wearing a watch. back when people develop those habits, like high school, there were no cell phones but I was so small and skinny that they didn't make a watch band that fit my very small wrist and I hated having one on that sloshed up and down my arm. even now I can wrap my thumb and middle finger around my wrist and cover the fingernail on my middle finger with my thumb.

  5. It was good to catch up with your posts after my long weekend away. I flew to Chicago Saturday morning...yes the same weekend as the airport shut down. What a mess that created. We were way late arriving and way late getting home on Monday. But, at least we made it. That's better than a lot of people.
    I hadn't thought that much about the watch thing. I still wear one but, it's true that I usually check my phone for the time.

  6. I used to love Swatch watches because some of them were art. Now, like most of us, I just use my phone. I imagine with Apple's new smart watch people are going to start wearing wrist computers. My son, always an early adopter, is already researching them.

  7. Oh I loved Swatch watches! I quit wearing a watch a few years ago after I started singing in the choir at church. Found myself checking my wrist multiple times during the service (isn't this EVER going to end?). I decided that it would be better if I just didn't know what time it was - and it HAS been better :)

    I LOVE the hippo! I would have been sad to miss it to - and you'd better check out those poppies. Glorious!

  8. Counterpoint on the watch thing: I've regularly worn watches since I was 10. I've had a gazillion of them, and lost or broken most. If you have a strong interest in things mechanical, like I do, and you are generally involved in activities that are hard on things like watches, like I am, then a nice watch is rewarding. Ticking away, rain or shine, always running, no batteries, no outside energy consumed. It is a reminder to me that we can make things that last when we choose to. That said, when I bought my watch, I did it only for me. So much so that I intentionally chose an understated watch that unless you know what to look for, looks like just another watch. But I know the difference.

    When I was in college I was given a Mont Blanc pen. It is now almost 20 years old. Some things were built to last. Isn't that a good thing? Without that pen how many pens would I have lost or broken because they were cheap and they didn't matter? I could probably buy another few Mont Blancs for what I've 'saved' by not buying cases of 'Bic Clicks'.

    I don't take off the watch when I work on a car. I camp with the watch. I swim with the watch. I wear it in the ocean. I take it biking with me. Gardening. Dishes. I've wiped out many many less expensive watches, and sent more than a few back to their manufacturer to be repaired under warranty. How much money would I 'save' if I just got 20 Casios instead? 10 Seikos?

    I will not take a phone to the beach. I will not take a phone with me when I ride my bicycle. I don't carry it when I work on a car. Some things should not be interrupted by phone calls or Facebook reminders. My watch only tells time, and only when I ask it to. Otherwise it makes no noise and asks nothing from me, not even that I be careful with it. That is money well spent.

    But tacky watches and glitzy jewelry in general, I agree with you. Why have a red Ferrari on your wrist or hanging from your ears? We don't live in that kind of a world any longer.

  9. Soup: I agree. The watches are more about showing off than anything.

    Ms Moon: OK, there MUST be a story behind how you came to own a Rolex. Do tell!

    Vivian: Yay! I never will either.

    Ellen: Well, we don't have the photo yet. When we get it maybe I'll post it, if my coworkers don't mind.

    Sharon: Ugh! Glad you survived the Chicago travel!

    37P: Yes, swatches were cool! I never had one but I always liked them.

    Bug: There's something to be said for not being tempted. When I used to meditate regularly I found that having a watch could be a distraction in the same way -- though it was also handy if I was the time-keeper.

    Utah: I KNEW I could count on you to provide the pro-watch perspective! I can completely understand the appeal of a well-made item, and knowing your penchant for the mechanical I can see how a well-made watch would be interesting to you. I'm probably conflating the well-made and the glitzy in my mind, but when I hear about watch robberies and see those ads, I always think of diamond-encrusted chunks of platinum that weigh 20 pounds -- like a Russian oligarch might wear.