Horologically speaking – an Omega guilt complex

The watch I own isn’t really me. It’s an Omega Seamaster that was me at some point. But that point was a decade or more ago, and now I’m not so sure about it. But I’m still attached to it for a variety of reasons.

I have to admit I got slightly obsessive about the damn thing. I’d admire it from afar, drooling over it in the shop window, biding my time, partly hoping I’d just get over it and save my cash instead. This carried on for months, until I’d saved enough and actually bought it.

The watch was part birthday present from my wife – and this went some small way to me convincing myself that I wasn’t spending all that much really. She wasn’t my wife at the time, but it was the early noughties, we were young, occasionally foolish, and we were both working. Like many couples, before we had a child to fuss over and spend money on, we’d fuss over and spend money on each other*. So, being partly a gift, the watch has a deeply sentimental value. It is a physical memory of a different epoch in my life.

At the time I bought the watch I was experiencing an intense period of personal growth and change, both personally and professionally. I was in a great job, but I was dressing for the job I wanted, rather than the one I had. As I looked around, I noticed a number of the people that I admired and respected – work colleagues and friends – seemed to be wearing Omega watches. I’d not really paid attention to the watches people wore before, and I’m not ashamed to admit that the need to fit in, and to also show some aspiration took a hold of my psyche.

Ask my wife, she’ll tell you I’m quite the skinflint, but she’d also be the first to concede that, oftentimes, my heart rules my head. I’d been without a watch for years, in fact, I’d never bought myself a watch before. It seemed to me that if I was going to buy myself a watch as an adult, it had better be a damn nice watch. and it also occurred to me that a damn nice watch could become a family keepsake.

There was an undeniable element of me wanting to make a statement with my watch. A bit like your shoes, or your suit, or your car, your watch says something about you. And so I wanted my watch to say something about me.

A watch (or lack of one) is part of a set of things that define you. It gives clues about who you are that people will pick up on. But my watch doesn’t frame the whole picture of my self. Like I said earlier, it’s not me, but my Omega still expresses elements of my philosophy.

There are lots of garish watches out there regardless of your budget, but I wanted something the antithesis of garish. Some will disagree but I don’t think my Omega is garish. It’s understated, completely lacking in some of the more obvious bling-o-rama that other “luxury” brand watches bolt on in some sort of arms race for buttons and bevels and dials. If I could de-badge it I’d probably do that too.

So multiple psychological and sociological pressures coalesced into the perfect storm compelling me to purchase a Limited Edition Omega Seamaster. Even at the time I found it strange. But who hasn’t really pushed the boat out for something special? Whenever I wear it I feel caught between childish glee at owning this unabashed expression of masculinity, and guilt at the ludicrousness of having spent a fortune on it.

A recent service cost as much as a really quite decent brand new watch, which is frankly obscene. Part of me was tempted to just buy a new watch, but I couldn’t do it. My Omega is a deeply sentimental object. It’s simplistic aesthetic exterior masks some sophisticated internal workings. Perhaps this is ultimately the message I’m sending about me when I wear it?

One day, I’ll need to find the right moment to give the watch up. There are a few occasions I have in mind for surrendering this part of my self and my past, and I suspect I’ll agonise as much about the right time to gift it and who to gift it to as I did about buying it in the first place.

It’s apt that my watch represents my past, present and future. It’s a timepiece that makes me mindful of the journey I’ve been on, the place I’m in now, and the journey still to come.

*Sidebar: My wife and I still fuss over each other even though we have a child. It’s just that our daughter takes the lion’s share of the fussing. That’s just how parenthood seems to work.

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