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One life. Five watches.

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Anchored securely in No 1 position on Mrs GOF’s “One hundred things GOF does which annoy the crap out of me” list must surely be my obsession with forward planning, timeliness and punctuality.
She was raised in a culture which does not give a rat’s arse about any of these things, which probably explains why she is such a perennially happy soul, while I am condemned to eternal (but nevertheless well planned) Grumpy Old Farthood.

Anyhow, be that as it may, here is my story.

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The older one grows the more difficult it becomes to precisely remember life events in their correct chronological order.

The old faithful milestones are still useful; school graduations, geographical relocations, births, deaths, and marriages.
I also have 44 diaries covering the period 1968-2012, but alas they are seriously lacking in useful personal information.

This year I had to buy a new watch, the 5th which I have owned and the purchase dates of each have divided my life into convenient compartments which aid my memory.

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Watch No. 1. Longines 1958 (Google pic)

1.  This first watch was my tenth birthday present. I remember the day as though it were only yesterday. My parents took me down to the jewellers shop in Barker Street, Castlemaine, where I chose this boys Longines watch.  I never tired of the magic of this timepiece and used to lie in bed at night wondering how it was possible for the hands and numbers to glow in the dark….a new innovation in the 1950’s.

This watch accompanied one boy’s very awkward and inept transition through adolescence into young manhood.

Watch No. 2. Seiko 1968 (Google pic)

2. This was my first major purchase after beginning work in Papua New Guinea at the age of nineteen.  At the time, I thought this Seiko Chronograph was the most beautiful and functional man-made object I had ever seen. (These days I would nominate the Cessna Citation aircraft for that award.)   Even today I remain in awe of Seiko’s precision, durability and self-winding technology.

I stumbled upon it entirely by accident. The manager of the Christian Missions in Many Lands at Anguganak in PNG’s remote West Sepik District occasionally imported Seiko watches from Japan for missionary staff, and he had this duck’s nuts of all watches sitting on his desk when I dropped in on him one day.

As my original ‘kid’s watch’ was not water resistant and died a horrible corrosive death soon after my arrival in PNG I could not resist this beautiful piece of machinery.
It cost $80 at a time when my weekly salary was $60.

This watch accompanied me on all the PNG adventures described previously on this blog,  then returned with me to Australia where we did a little outback flying together and discovered on two separate occasions how time could actually stand still when the only engine in a Cessna 206 aircraft fails in midflight.

Watch No. 3 Seiko 1985

3.  This one got up early with me in the mornings to go and milk cows for other farmers and hump backpack sprayers full of Agent Orange over hills and dales to kill their pasture weeds….all just to keep food on our table.
It also kept watch over establishing a partially self-sufficient lifestyle in the Australian bush by planting and harvesting by hand acres of sweet potato, taro, cassava and yams.

Looking at this battered deceased old watch today reminds me that life was not always easy.

Watch No. 4 Seiko 2001

4. This watch continued farming in the mud and occasionally dust, then built shade houses for tree ferns and bromeliads.
It propagated tree-fern spores, nurturing them until they were 70 kilogram monsters dug out of the ground with a spade, then lifted them by hand for transport to landscapers in town.

It also witnessed much of these good works being demolished twice in 5 years by major cyclones and rebuilt them on both occasions.

Watch No. 5 Seiko 2012

5. Bought online from Hong Kong for less than the cost of having watch #4 professionally cleaned in Australia.
This Seiko has a transparent case back which enables me to peer at all it’s intricate inner workings….all the springs and cogs and spinning wheels which makes me appreciate what a privilege it has been to live my life at this time in history and own these beautifully crafted instruments.

I like the idea of this watch and I growing old together, as it is entirely possible that we’ll both run out of tick at around the same time.

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About GOF

"Life is like a sewer. What you get out of it, depends upon what you put into it." (Tom Lehrer)

19 responses

  1. Wow. This post is a joy to read. Fascinating!

  2. That’s a bit of a collection fetish you’ve got going there, GOF. At that rate I can see you outlasting 5 more watches.

    • “At that rate I can see you outlasting 5 more watches.”
      I agree with you Mike….watches these days are crap and probably won’t last more than 12 months each. 🙂

  3. What a great post! Do you mind if I do the same thing? I’ve only owned three watches in my life, and still have them all.

  4. Hi There!
    I’ve nominated you for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award. Check out your link here:
    Thanks for inspiring me!

    • Thank you Kimkiminy for this Award, although I’m not sure whether I can live up to expectations. Like Snowy before me I have come to the conclusion during the last couple of days that I have nothing more worth saying that I haven’t written before, and that this post would be an appropriate point to put a lid on The Bucket. At least temporarily until the Angel of Blogging once again cleaves me to her bosom and suckles me with her milk of writing inspiration.

  5. I’ve read recently that watches will soon be a thing of the past because so many people just use their cell phones for that now. Sad in a way.

    • That’s really sad GOM because it’s like replacing the Mona Lisa with a page 3 pinup girl out of the daily rag and calling it ‘art’. I’m sure there will always be people who appreciate the workmanship and beauty of a quality watch.

  6. I can relate the the chronology dysfunction, GOF. Now when I’m relating a story I take a sneaky peak at Liz to check for signs of confusion. If found I have to check back with her later. Scary.

    If you appreciated how eager your readers are to discover another GOF post in their Inbox you would keep blogging as a service to human kind. There is nothing better than cracking up laughing in Maccas when travelling and having the other punters wonder what they are missing on your laptop.

    I would have sent you the blogging award too but I knew Kimkiminy would have you covered in the first draft. 🙂

    • Thanks Peter, I know what you mean. Mrs GOF and I regularly have disagreements about the timing of old life events… day she’ll get to understand that seniority = accuracy. 🙂

      I’m still teetering about blogging. Every time I feel like retiring something comes up which annoys the crap outta me and I’ve got no other outlet for venting, so I might just use this place for therapy.

  7. I almost want to say that No. 2 lasted even longer than 1985. I guess I should bow to your superior recall though.

    • I think No 2 might have lasted longer than that because I had it cleaned and refaced at least 3 times…..quite happy to bow to your youthful memory.

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