Watches to watch

Many of my old colleagues and friends are avid fans of exotic watches, I remember one friend who had at least couple of dozens – all from famous brands, primarily Swiss made.

I was not that seriously interested, having changed my watch just about 3 times. But in the year 2000, my wife presented me with the Breitling Transocean blue-dial watch. Till that time, I have never heard about Breitling, though I have seen some ads in lifestyle magazines. There was and still is, an association with aviators for the Breitling watch, and that memory had stuck with me. I liked the watch, not for the least reason that it was a bit masculine and heavy-set. The battery lasted for nearly 3 years the first time and it kind of attracted some attention, though I did not see any of my friends using Breitling. The most famous watches in that circle were Raymond Weil, Rado, Omega, or Rolex or Tag Heuer (struggled to spell), or Longines – I am referring here to Singapore friends in late nineties. Very heavy watches were just coming into vogue at that time, and Singapore being a consumer-friendly and international city, had many watch shops all over the island.

So, Breitling, though not expensive and not in the same class of Rolex, etc., was a unique brand. I do not know the situation now, but I am sure it would have retained that charm of being different, being a watch worn primarily by pilots and aviators.

My other watch was of course, a Titan – the Indian brand which has seriously surprised me by their range of models, their classy showrooms, and their lifestyle approach to marketing. Today Titan is almost like a global brand, is available outside India, and has such a variety and quality to offer that it would be surprising for any international shopper to believe that Titan actually is made in India.

I like these watches to have three dials and three time/day/chronometer-setting screws, so both the Breitling and the Titan have such features ! And, both are works of art !!

Over the past 5 years I have almost forgotten to look at watches. Recently, one of my Australian friends introduced me to a new brand called Panerai, an Italian watch brand, made famous by Sylvester Stallone. It is a real big one, with a unique closing lever on the side protruding outside which needs to be pulled open before one can set the time or date, and it is completely mechanical. This watch was fascinating as it took me back to very old times. You have to shake your hand vigourously to start off this watch, and then it keeps going for the day. The usual body movement is more or less enough for it to keep going, an occasional vigourous shake-up may be needed !

Panerai came with the usual rubber strap so I am not wearing it that often except may be on weekends. Further the shake-up was a bit strange. Nevertheless it is a good-looking watch. I have forgotten to mention here (rather deliberately), that this watch costs just about INR 2,200 – are you shocked ? Unlike my other watches, this one is made in China, and is an absolutely delightful fake ! The original could cost several thousand dollars !

In any case, watches are a fanciful accessory to a man, as I hardly ever look at my watch for time ! I am invariably inclined to look at my cell phone face to get the time, and I have seen that cell phones are taking over people in ways not imaginable a couple of years ago. Cell phones masquerading as watches are already available in the market, though they look a bit unwieldy on one’s wrist.

So, my watches to watch still remain as my original two – Breitling and Titan – one is famously Swiss and the other is truly Indian. I am sure you have yours as well, and some of my friends will turn cold if their brand-name watches stop telling time for want of the battery, and that happens once in a couple of years for sure.

Cheers, and have a good weekend,

Vijay Srinivasan
27th November 2010


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