Saturday 20 December 2008

Watching the second hand tick away

I hate being late

“Oh dear! Oh dear! I shall be late”, said the White Rabbit in Alice in Wonderland [1] and dear me, do I hate being late?

I like the concept of time, it brings order, responsibility and purpose to any activity; old-fashioned as it might seem, keeping time is the measure of man and the inability to keep to time makes one less of who that person might aim to be.

The concept of African time [2] where people cannot seem to adjust their activities to the regimen of a watch and the promise to be at a place for a particular time is as annoying as it gets for me – it works in Africa but the Western idea of time is radically different – I live in the West and have been schooled in the Western ideal of time {Read the link for a idea of those concepts of time.}.

I am always beside myself in befuddlement when I cannot get a person to be precise about time, I like arrangements that say, "I would be there at 6 o’ clock" rather than "I would be there around 6". Is that before, after, fashionably late or hours later?

If I cannot make it on time, I always endeavour as a matter of both courtesy and integrity to inform and provide an estimated time of arrival.

I have had people call from home about being late at the time when they are supposed to have arrived – I usually have the good mind of cancelling at that time – what if I was cooking?

I thought I had my time

Not even a year ago on holiday, I walked into a horologe retailer and thought I had the watch I wanted, I had moved on from digital watches though I was still fixated on dual time for the sake of travel and differing time zones.

I was weaned off that idea, but after I left the shop with a Swiss-made [3] watch which had the time, date, day and hours, I found that the watch was a bit crowded with 6 hands moving at different speeds for seconds, minutes, hours, hour of day, date and day – then I could not see the time at night because someone had economised on the fluorescent material.

I have to extricate myself from the snobbish idea that watches made in the Switzerland are the best watches, if they are really genuinely made in that country just as the best wines are not necessarily French.

I had a new watch and within 24-hours it was in its death throes, but I used it and it gave me the time and every month shorter than 31 days meant I needed to do the dainty pinching of dials to adjust the day, not a problem with digital watches.

The aquatic force of batteries

However, by the time you have a watch that is water resistant to 10 atmospheres or 100 metres replacing the battery becomes a feat of engineering to maintain the water resistant integrity and there are very few horology shops that would give that service for watches not on their shelves – by which time you are shopping for another watch.

My watch graveyard just had a new burial; I just counted 6 watches that have lost my love for their running out of juice or looks.

It was not a birthday treat bit the proximity to that day could have made it all the more significant, being the last Saturday before my holiday and Christmas, I was up and out by 10:00 AM rather than feeling like a Saturday morning.

Little netbook, large ability

I had to get a bag for my new ultra-portable Toshiba NB100 [4] netbook which does not have the best of reviews from the aficionados but everyone who has had a play with my netbook is already half-way to the shops to get one of theirs – experts cannot all be right – I like my new toy and I do quite a bit on it now.

It has the Intel Atom processor, it was upgraded to 2GB of RAM at no extra charge from 1GB, possibly because of my charm, it has a 120 GB hard disk, an 8.9” screen and weighs in at 1.05 kilograms.

Though it comes installed with Microsoft Windows XP Home, since I have Microsoft TechNet [5] subscription, I upgraded it to Microsoft Windows XP Professional, installed Microsoft Office 2007 and many other things that make this small netbook an amazing tool.

Move to wind up working

I got the bag and further up the road, I stumbled into this friendly Seiko shop where the staff were friendly, knowledgeable and quick clued-in about their wares – Judith was just fantastic.

I wanted a kinetic watch with date and day that I could view in the dark – if I needed the dates to automatically adjust I had to get one that had a 15 year battery built in going for about EUR 1,000 – just must be kidding me.

Now, I have seen all those Rolex [6] and Audemars Piquet [7] advertisements on television and they are to give that aspirational feeling of becoming some successful sports person – that is fine for those who take all that tripe, the wearers are paid to wear those watches in order to persuade us to pay silly prices to pay others to persuade more to buy into this seemingly exclusive club.

No, I do not aspire to be a golfer, a motor car racer, a sailor, a tennis player or some Utopian Adonis posing like Michelangelo’s David, I just like something that tells the time without having to make my heart stop every time the second hand moves.

Expensive handcuffs of time

Sure, I’ll wear a EUR 5,000 watch that has all the specifications I want if I can become an advertising object else, forget it.

I have never been given to ostentation or the hedonism of having expensive handcuffs telling time masquerading as watches for the world of crime to contemplate hacking off your hand to get at your stupendously expensive time wear if I am to use the parlance of those in the market of making watches hip.

In fact, I find many young people use their mobile phones for time keeping, I am always aghast to find a man is not wearing a watch – but then I am probably just too old-fashioned to recognise this trendy trend.

In the end I settled for something not too expensive a Seiko [8] timepiece that tells the time and requires I move my arms a few times in the day with a reserve of about 6 months of energy before I have to swing it violently again to get it to start up.

If I am still wearing it, I hope they would allow it to go 6-feet under with me to keep time for 6 months before what is left is the miracle of bones being given breath to rise again sometime in the future.


[1] Alice's Adventures in Wonderland -- Chapter I

[2] The Western versus the African Time Concept

[3] The Swiss Watch Industry - Swiss Made

[4] Toshiba NB100

[5] Microsoft TechNet - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

[6] Rolex - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

[7] Audemars Piguet - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

[8] Seiko - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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