My first one was twenty-seven years ago. It was also the first digital in the family. Given my age, it was easy and obvious that I was showing off and I couldn’t contain my excitement. My father bought me my first Casio watch in Nepal, so technically, it was also imported – a big deal in the early eighties. I couldn’t wait for school to start. As you may have guessed, I wasn’t looking forward to the studying, really.
There have been other ‘first’ watches after that. The first one that I bought with a scholarship, a very heavy automatic HMT analogue that didn’t need winding; worked on kinetic energy. The first one that ran on a battery. The first quartz. I’ve never had a calculator watch though.
Then came the swanky dual-dials, multi-functions and such. Watches caught my imagination and continue to do so. Any advertisement that displays a watch has me spellbound and wanting it. In some way, they represent time in your hand. My friends who did not like or bother wearing a watch and were content with asking folks around them, what time it was. Then, I found that very irresponsible. They were usually late, when we were supposed to meet. The need to be punctual was reinforced. If you had a watch, you could adjust your pace; you would know exactly how to, even. You could keep time.
Then started the gifts; more watches were owned. Some were on a black dial, which I did not quite like. Digital still fascinated me, but I had a new-found love for analogue dials. A Seiko and a Citizen followed. But the best watch I’ve ever had, since the first one (It was always special) was an analogue-digital watch by Tissot and it was a gift from my father. I used that one for a long time, till I ended up cracking the LCD display and the ink poured out.
I was devastated. I had ruined it so, that it could not be repaired. I still have the watch.
Years passed, and 10-years ago, I bought myself a Casio Databank that guaranteed a 10-year battery. As you can imagine, I had many watches now and they had become an accessory. I could mix and match. A few years ago I developed an allergy to metal straps. My watch and wearing buying spree stopped. The Casio Databank became the default.
I then managed to break its strap in such a way that it could not be replaced. And then, a week ago:
A local watch shop did something and fixed the watch and the strap. So, I am back to wearing a watch after a gap of almost two years. For the last two years, the mobile phone has become my watch, but my ability to keep time hasn’t been affected. So, now, I don’t think much of people who do not wear a watch, but I continue to get irked by people who do not keep time.
And it reminded what I had written about time, six years ago:
The one thing – the only thing that is only ours – is the one thing that we share with everyone in the world, yet it remains ours for us to use, abuse, or waste as we please. We ask for more (as if it wasn’t enough that we have it all anyway) from others – I need more time from you. Can I have some of your time? Time is a currency of sorts – we ask others to “spend” it for us. We even give names to the types of time – periods that are apparently more cherished than the others – weekends, holidays, and festivals. Some of us think of gaining time as we cross time-zones – or losing it (depends on the direction of your travel). We have built icons to celebrate this one phenomenon which we are yet to understand – right from the Jantar Mantar to the Big Ben to a Rolex. These physical manifestations are an endeavour of our purported ability to “keep” time. All we have been able to keep are the physical symbols – the concept is long-lost. In this sense – time is ours – only ours – others need to manage it whichever way they can. We adorn ourselves with Casios, Espirits, Swatches, and Titans – rendering jewellery of the one thing that was given to us as a free gift at birth.
(Via It’s About Time, July 2006)