A Nice Watch Weekend by Marsha Cusic

A Nice Watch Weekend

by Marsha Cusic
© April 2003

Saturday, I was on my way to an annual, giant flea market (that my husband had no desire to attend). 

My best girlfriend (we call ourselves the Kung-Fu Master Shoppers) had to work, so I was all alone.

I get to the flea market and WHAT!!?? I have the wrong date! - it's NEXT week!!! 

What to do? Go home and clean a closet? Mop a floor? Nah.... I think I'll go "bump around" in the stores for a while.

Who am I fooling'?? I'm with neither husband nor girlfriend?? Nobody to look at me like I'm crazy?? I know good and well - I'm gonna' go look at watches! 

I go to a vintage shop that sells all Art Deco stuff. He has quite a few old watches in stock, I try on an Bulova Curvex, a Sylvana triple date, old Hamiltons and Benruses (Benri?), Omega bumpers, several others. No Pateks, APs or anything like that, just several nice, way-too-small-for-my-wrists offerings. A few catch my eye but don't really call my name. It doesn't matter anyway since I don't even have vintage money on me to begin with. After a while, I get ready to leave, I've got work to do at home. 

Who am I foolin'?? I head down the block to the place that I was really avoiding in the first place, a store that's starting to carry some pretty good watches. When it opened a few years ago, they were selling silver jewelry and DKNY watches at best. In the last few years it's been amazing to see the watches that have been added to their stock, and if this is any indication, there must be growth in the mechanical watch market (especially automatics) and even, the market for "high-end" watches. 

There's a special thrill in being a woman WIS, especially when watch hunting. No one expects you to know a doggone thing about a watch, other than what color watch band you might want, and it's funny to see the sales folks' reactions. I walk in, gaze at the Tags and Zemexes (Zemi? They always look great in photos but "fashion-y" in real life IMO). 

The Sales Girl (post highschool grad, weekend job) asks if she can show me anything. She drifts towards the Corum bubbles that look like toy watches to me. I mean, some of them look kind of interesting, especially a jump hours model, but most too "girly" for me. None seem like a watch I'd want to look at for say, twenty years, which is sort of a criterion of my ceaseless searching.

I ask to try on a Hamiliton Khaki that looks pretty cool. Puzzled at my choice, she takes it out and informs me, "this is a nice one, it has a built-in chronometer and chronograph in it".

Hmmmm, must be a really good watch.

I'm not an overwhelming fan of the newer Hamilton re-issues of the old styles, but some are nice, my husband bought a Lloyd Chrono for me a couple of years ago, though I soon allowed it to become HIS daily wear watch (see, even male WIS spouses inherit our watches). I spot a Hamilton I hadn't seen before, a "Limited Edition" (yeah, we know all about those) that is a sort of an Hamilton Khaki Chrono but in 18 kt, for what seems to be a good price for a pretty big chunk of gold. Wow. It's got a bit too much lug for my taste (lugs are very important to me), but it's really worth considering.

Hmmm, looks a bit "mannish" on me - believe it or not these things do matter to me, I love men's big watches but I have to get just the right balance between the yin and yang. When I get back home I check online and it seems like maybe it really IS limited, but then again, it's a Hamilton and it' kinda like, well, it's limited......and, then what? For the price and at that "level" I'd probably rather have a B &M Capeland anyway, but all that gold is so appealing. Then again, am I looking for a watch or sifting for gold for goodness sake? Time to move on. 

By this time, the sales girl mentioned that maybe I'd like to see the Michele watches. I have nothing against them mind you, they're cool and cute, but a bit precious for my taste; all that stuff on the dial and the mother of pearl too - a bit too sweet for me. I was being nice so I didn't shoot her too evil of a look, but I asked to see the UNs in the other case. She must have sensed that things weren't going well and and sent some secret signal to her boss.

He's a young guy, and though he doesn't hesitate when I want to see the UN, he clearly thinks I have no idea of what these watches are. There are several models and when I seem to know most of them, he's clearly flummoxed. Even though as you know I'm not an ei8htohms by any stretch, I know a lot more about a watch than the average woman (or man). But this young man turns out to be a real watch lover, and he's first startled, then tickled to be able to talk real "watch talk" with a watch loving woman. 

We discuss the Blue Max and thanks to Marcus Hanke I know a little about that watch and the guy is incredulous. I mention the Freak and thanks to Bernard Cheong and Marcus I know a little more about that one than I did a couple of weeks ago and the sales guy is like totally blown away. He has just got to be saying to himself, "how in the world am I discussing the Freak with this Black lady with dreadlocks?". LOLOLOL!!!

In fact, I didn't even have to ask, he immediately tells me discount prices but alas, it's not gonna close the gap between me and a new watch. Like the old record by the Dramatics "she was,...just shopping...not buying anything" But it sure is fun to look. 

I'm one of those for whom the UNs that look great in pictures never seem as good to me in person; they seem less substantial or something in real life. But this time I did see one that I really liked: The GMT +/- Big Date. Black dial and DIAMONDS (yup, I love me some diamonds, diamonds are NOT too girly for me). This watch was wild and cool; in fact, I did like the model that is withOUT diamonds even better.

Still, nothing is REALLY moving me. I pass up the Orises (uh, Ori?), nothing in that case interested me at all, though I like some Oris models that they don't have, the older Big Crown model with the fat skeleton hands, date chapter ring and the scoopy date pointer. Love that watch. But there's nothing that he has in the Oris display that catches me.

On the way into the store I had seen a display case that I pretended to myself that I hadn't really seen. You ever do that? It's one of those "don't even go there" situations. A case of Martin Brauns. After an hour or so trying on watches, I start to walk out the door, and decided, aw, what the heck (I didn't really say heck) why not? So I step back in. Who am I foolin'?

"Let me try on that one".

"Uh which one ma'am?". (I'm at the age that in most situations involving younger folks and commerce, "honey" is not cool and I DO let them know it - "honey? excuse me, you've known me HOW many years?")

Anyway, I tell him "THAT one".

"The Eos." 

Well, this guy is so shocked that I even know the name of the watch he can hardly open the door to the case. He starts to explain, "these hands measure "....
"yeah, yeah, I know, let me just try on the watch."

Oh God!. I LOVE IT. LOVE IT. LOVE IT!!!. And deep inside I must have known I would love it, that's why I wouldn't look at it at first. Just one more thing to pine over. 

This watch is so ....pure. Even with those wacky hands that look like bug whiskers and even if I want to know the sunrise and sunset I can really just look out the window. But the watch is just so beautiful. That baby just looked so good on my wrist I almost swooned.

You know, this watch thing is quite a journey for me. Everyone's approach to this is different. I honestly can't afford (or should I say, can't justify) the watches I really love and hardly buy any watches at all. My only "good" watch (cheap by our standards) is an Eberhard 8 Days that I've had for two years. I am a true believer in the perfect watch approach, perfect for me that is.

I have no desire to wear a watch for a while then flip it for another. A watch is very personal to me, very special (I loved a recent post I read, in which the very scratches on the watch were a dear sign of experience and ownership, I loved that).

I want my watches to be with me for the rest of my life, whether that will be the next 50 minutes or or 50 years. So it's with excuriating great care that I'm choosing my next watch, eliminating one dream watch after another until I get to the watch that I simply must have. I've bought a few here and there over the last couple of years but always VERY cheap (Like 50 bucks or so)so that I don't spend a lot on watches that I'm only settling for - and pretty soon they would have added up to one that I want.. 

One by one, I am discoving that there are elements that I don't like, and I reevaluate ones that I thought I hated. If I had been buying watches that I thought I liked, I would have bought and sold over and over. For some this is a part of the watch experience and it's fine. For me, I want a watch forever if possible. So choosing takes great care. 

The Martin Braun has, for one, the type of relatively thin, military style lugs that I thought I hated, and the Gold Hamilton had lugs those that I thought I liked. But presto, on Saturday, I didn't like the heavy lugs on the Hamilton and I liked the thin lugs on the Braun. Who woulda' thunk it? 

All wonderful complications aside it is the beauty of the Braun and it's finish is what turned me out. That perfect round dial, the rounded bezel set off from the straight lugs looked so good on my large wrists (I have large hands too - they go with my large body). 

The extra hands and decorative, functional screws for the sunrise hands, give the dial a sort of strange, insect look but the watch is exquisite, with subtle guilloche throughout the dial. (I'm not crazy about Braun's "sun" logo though, I'm a stickler for logos too, can eliminate a watch just on the logo). 

Well, the salesman whipped out the old calculator and figured out a decent discount, that even still would still be an impossibility, at least at this time in my life. But, I asked for the catalogue and had to be satisfied with reading it instead of wearing the watch, but it's ok, the catalogue is great too.

On my way home, I stopped and bought a Watchtime Magazine Price Guide, a big, neat catalogue of the brands and their current crop arranged in order of price. Needless to say, when I went home and cracked it open, I had to start at the BACK of the book where least expensive watches are!

Regardless, the Braun stayed on my mind. I had that feeling of knowing a watch is right. Really right. The Panerai is another, it's right for me too. I'm a lover of clear, strong silhouettes, which is why the perfect round case, with a bezel unstepped and uncoinedged and unnotched, works so well. Then I decided that that the sunrise, sunset complication is a bit superfluous for me (I mean, I really can just look out of the window if I really want to know). But so what, I like it anyway, and just the idea that this young man Braun would even try to do it. 

But being realistic, maybe I should just look at Brauns that have plain dials with no complications, they are beautiful too. I know somebody (Rob?) posted some pics recently. I keep hoping that I'll run across some heavily discounted non-Eos Martin Braun's in gold - fat chance - at the same time I have a miraculous windfall of some kind. 

One problem for me is that stainless steel simply does not look good on my skintone, I am a caramel brown and gold looks eminently better (yeah, sure it does). So no matter what, I'd rather have it in gold, which is of course way costly. I'd go vintage but the 42 mm watches look so good. (but if I found a gold vintage I really loved, I'd get used to a few mm's less for sure). Of course 42 mms is the exact size of the Martin Brauns (my, what a co-incidence).

In the meantime, I'll to go back to being realistic and maybe just save up a little while for a Traversetolo, it's about 42 mm and has a nice round dial too and I feel almost disloyal falling in love with another, sweeter watch (you ever feel that?) after wanting a Traversetolo for so long. I have to get real but perhaps a Traversetolo in gold would be good (though the 8 days version, that would be nice, apparently only comes in s/s).

Anyway, please excuse my rambling, I've decided that I'm going to share my this process of my next watch search with you. All in all it was a wonderful watch Saturday indeed. 

The Martin Bruan??? Be still my heart. It is perfection.


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