"I do not trust people who do not wear a wrist watch."
- Ama H. Vanniarachchy
The Importance of Storytelling and the Journey
It is not the watch that makes the person, but rather the person who makes the watch. Allow me to explain—I used to think that having the same watch as someone to whom I looked up to would make me more like them. For example, owning multiple Rolex watches would turn me into a master storyteller and excursionist like Anthony Bourdain; multiple Omega watches would turn me into a suave, world-renowned spy like James Bond. This is obviously not true, and I am not suggesting that anyone is defined simply by their wristwatch. A watch enthusiast does, however, take notice of what other people are wearing, and so, this will form the basis of this article.
One should always strive to be their own person and clearly outline their own character. In fact, Epictetus notes in The Art of Living that we should all endeavour to precisely define the person we want to be. Not to imply, however, that we shouldn’t take notice and embrace traits and habits from people we admire. As mentioned, these admirable traits are not fashioned by physical accessories like watches or clothes, but rather through one’s personality and knowledge gained from experience. Accessories we choose to wear should therefore serve as an extension of who we are and remind us of the journeys we have embarked upon. They serve as symbols for what we believe in and stand for. We may mark our physical accessories with stories, make them inanimate storytellers, and make them a part of our character. It shouldn’t matter what you wear or its exclusivity, because all that truly matters is going out there, enjoying the journey and making lasting memories. If you wear something that travels with you the whole time, wear it well and it will soon become full of stories.
A wristwatch should have character, grit, a good story behind it, maybe a little class and the ability to genuinely put a smile on your face every time you look down at it. It should remind you of someone or something, an experience, a memory or a feeling which may not always be happy but certainly one that goes well with company and a glass of scotch. Looking at your wrist should be like glancing back in time; it should give you the perspective to recall all the memories you have endured together. Whatever it may be or wherever you see yourself, a watch serves as a literal symbol of time constantly sweeping forwards beckoning you to search for that next adventure. With this in mind, we should learn to appreciate and embrace new experiences and acknowledge the past. Our past experiences play a substantial role in molding us into who we are today. We are curious creatures by nature, so accepting the past grants us permission to seek and embark on the future, whatever or wherever that may be.
I’ve worn watches since the first grade and to me, this was the ultimate accessory. I recall giving exceptional love to a mint green digital watch from the dollar store. I used to wear it every day and compare it to the watches on other people’s wrists. It amazes me how so many of my memories both in recent years and in the past revolve around the watch I was wearing. A Timex Ironman Triathlon my dad gave me defined my middle school years and a G-Shock defined my high school years. As I got older and began working, I progressed to my first mechanical watch, a Steinhart Triton 100ATM. This particular watch continues to be very special to me because of its scarcity and the wonderful experiences I’ve had since I bought it. It holds tremendous individual value for me. Personal changes, trips, memorable nights out with friends and family, disappointing moments, happy moments and everything in between just scratch the surface of the experiences this watch has endured with me. Beneath all the scratches and blemishes, it continues to sweep forward reminding me not lose sight of the past but to look forward for what’s to come. A watch sits proudly on the wearer’s wrist for the world to see and may serve as a conversation starter that segues into these stories we’ve experienced.
Humans are natural storytellers; it’s how we connect and communicate effectively with one another and what makes us interesting and diverse. We come from all walks of life, down different paths, and have experienced various things. The art of storytelling has continually evolved from pictures carved onto walls to what we now share around a campfire on a summer evening. Nonetheless, stories are and continue to be a mystic entity that we have complete control over and the one tool we use that doesn’t involve any practise or finesse – just good company and open ears. They communicate a message and to me a watch is an accessory that reminds me of my stories. Whenever I look down on my wrist I take comfort in seeing a rich repertoire of my own narratives and what they symbolize to me.
The Sacred Crafts is one such company that embraces and thrives on a good story and whose watches come preloaded with stories even before you start making your own. Originally specializing in reclaimed wood, they have more recently entered the luxury watch arena using the same recycled materials from retired Thai fishing boats. They have seamlessly integrated function with rugged yet elegant charm resulting in a timeless piece that is packed full of culture. No two watches are ever identical; the perfect imperfections and individual number stamp found on each watch is what makes them unique and exclusive. Complete with a beautifully finished, reclaimed wooden gift box with extra straps, this isn’t just another watch to add to your collection; rather, something to be worn and battered in the years to come manifesting itself as more of an extension to the wearer. Under its tattered shell lies a Swiss, ETA 2824 automatic movement which boasts legacy, accuracy and durability giving the watch a certain sense of luxury making it suitable for all occasions. Personally, my favourite aspect of the watch is the brass finishing on the case. While this material is still new in the wristwatch industry and mixed opinions exist with its use and longevity, a brass watch will age with you. Through normal wear and exposure to the environment, the watch will yield itself to a patina state. With time, as patina and tarnish scar the watch, it acts as a physical reminder of the time you’ve spent with the watch and experiences you’ve shared with it. Many tarnish spots have been added to the case of my first brass watch. For example, I can still recall one night with my family making cocktails and accidently squirting lemon juice onto the case. To this day, the discolouration is still present acting as a subtle reminder of this particularly fun night. This is the beauty of a material like brass, it doesn’t hide the adventures it’s endured, it wears it proudly and without remorse, awaiting its next adventure.
We are defined by the stories that make and break us. Maya Angelou said, “there is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” This being the case, live daringly, go out and create some of your own stories to share. If they don’t work out, have the courage to put yourself back out there. You never know what you’ll find unless you try, so stare uncertainty in the eye and venture boldly into the unknown. Embrace whatever you find and wear whatever new experiences proudly. Take comfort in the fact that one day, maybe soon, you will be given the chance to look back and share such stories.
To learn more about The Sacred Crafts and their story, please visit their website:
If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to me via the Contact Me link or DM on Instagram @thenightcavalier
WHY ARE THE BEST MEMORIES THE ONES WE LEAST EXPECT?
The first mechanical wrist watch I purchased was a Steinhart Triton 100ATM. My fascination with watches began through my dad. He has been collecting watches since he was my age back when Breitling’s and Rolex’s were not only affordable but also accessible. I still remember the excitement whenever my dad opened our safe at home because I knew he was either getting something for my mom or it was time for his monthly watch inspection. From his entire collection, the limited-edition Hamilton Crosswind was always and still is my favourite piece. Nevertheless, we would pull out anything from a Rolex GMT-Master to an Omega Sea Master Chronograph, to an IWC Doppelchronograph. I was not allowed to breathe on these classics, much less touch them because, as my dad would say, they were very delicate and could easily break. As I’ve gotten older, and a little bit wiser, the reality was simply that he didn’t trust his 8-year-old son to handle these precious commodities. I suppose my dad took some pity on me, so to tide me over, he gave me an old gold (coloured) mechanical pocket watch. It was certainly no Waltham or ultra-exclusive piece, but still very nice with a healthy heartbeat. We would sometimes sit on the bed or in our office and my dad would, simplistically, explain that the innards of my pocket watch exactly matched what was inside his watches, albeit slightly smaller and a little more complicated. A more comprehensive explanation about how each gear, spring and jewel worked harmoniously to tell the time and how this coordinated mechanism worked freely without the use of batteries or circuitry would distract me for the entire day. From then, I was hooked and begged my mom to buy me cheap, dollar store watches every time we went out. I loved these things and had a plethora in my collection! There was so much variety and so many styles, you could get one for just about every occasion.
In his bin of discarded, misfit watches, my dad had a massive, polished gold (coloured) diving watch that must have weighed more than me. It didn’t work and to this day, I still don’t know where and why he acquired such an ungodly wristwatch. That’s not to say that this watch wouldn’t look good on somebody; it just wasn’t my style as an 8-year-old kid in public school. Despite this, I would often wear it because it felt substantial and hefty on my wrist which I liked. During my “Liberace” phase, larger watches were all I liked - the larger the better. I later wore a massive Casio Pro-Trek with all the bells and whistles. This thing was complete with an altimeter, a compass, multiple time zones, calendars and alarms all the while being powered completely by the sun. As an adolescent boy, I thought this was the coolest thing ever despite my small wrist completely disappearing behind it like the sun during a lunar eclipse. I remember I was 10-years-old when my parents bought me a limited-edition Avro Arrow watch from the Air and Space Museum located in Downsview. Unfortunately, the museum was closing down, and they were clearing out some inventory, so we got it for a pretty good price. I absolutely adored this watch. It was beautifully constructed with an engraving of the aircraft on the backplate. This watch will forever be special to me not only because of its aviation heritage, another field close to my heart, but more notably because this was the moment I felt like my dad accepted that I was ready for a “big-boy” watch. Gone were the days of mint green plastic and gargantuan 27-in-1 watches. This excitement soon wore off because my Arrow watch would remain in the safe and be worn only on special occasions. Although disappointing, I think a part of me learned to appreciate this and learn the importance of delayed gratification. When I did wear the watch, my eyes were glued to my wrist. Now that I am older and have a little more understanding of wristwatches, I realize the Avro Arrow watch is truly a unique piece not only because of its exclusivity, but also because of its movement. It houses a rather unique hybrid quartz and mechanical power plant developed by Seiko which mechanically generates power to run a quartz movement without batteries. If you haven’t seen it, check out my Instagram where I showcased it on the 62nd anniversary of the Arrow’s demise.
As I got older, I sort of lost interest in mechanical watches and returned to my digital watch days. Perhaps the perception my dad gave in my younger days that mechanical watches are more delicate skewed my perspective resulting in me wearing them only during formal occasions or family functions. After graduating high school, I didn’t immediately go into post-secondary studies and decided to take a year off. I was fortunate enough to work and use some of my earnings to travel a bit. It was also during this time I developed a complete fascination, and quite honestly, an obsession with smartwatches. Like most, I thought having access to everything a phone can do on your wrist seemed insanely convenient and utterly, just cool. I wasn’t quite ready to pull the trigger on an actual full-size version, so I opted for a Fitbit Charge. I wore it for about a week and something felt off about it. I realized it wasn’t “smart” enough for a smartwatch because of its lacklustre face. I decided to exchange for a Fitbit Versa which I rationalized would better suit my needs. This model, for those who don’t know, had a descent size screen and all the fitness functionality of the Charge, but operated more along the smartwatch wavelength. Again, I wore it for about a week and like before, wasn’t feeling it. Something felt off about it, a hollow feeling if you will. And as strange as it sounds, it felt fragile and delicate despite it being targeted to those with rugged/active lifestyles.
One night in January, I discussed my thoughts on the Fitbits with my dad and said that I think I was ready to buy my first mechanical watch. I knew I was making the right decision as I was immediately transported back to when I was a kid and my dad was showing me his collection of mechanical watches. It was then I realized that a good quality mechanical watch is a sort of storytelling artifact. Like my dad, I would be able to show my kids my collection and eventually one day pass it on to them. I couldn’t say that about a smartwatch whose longevity was limited by obsolescence. A mechanical, or even higher quality quartz watch, will carry on almost indefinitely with proper care and maintenance. It is an everlasting piece that will inevitably outlive the wearer. This nostalgia and new found appreciation propelled me deep into all sorts of brands and styles of mechanical watches. My love of larger, robust watches still prevailed so it was easy to decide that a diver was the best way to go. After sifting through all the various styles and colour combinations, the Steinhart Triton appealed to me the most. Despite its large size, the ergonomic design, robust construction and a tasteful yet balanced array of dial colours made it an easy choice.
I decided that this would be the one and only watch I’d wear every day and for every occasion. I wanted this watch to live with me and experience everything with me, which it kind of did. Everything from happy to sad memories, being rejected from my dream school to swimming in the saltiest seas to repairing a deck to sneaking into a bar in Nashville to just sitting and enjoying the summer sunset with family. This watch never left my side. I also learned that mechanical watches aren’t as delicate as my dad made them out to be. They’re built to endure the perils of everyday life with the wearer; they’re tough and can take a beating… just look at the many scratches found on the cases of my watches. As the years progressed, my fascination grew as did my collection and although every watch I own is special in some way, my Steinhart will always have a special place in my heart. I‘m sure everyone has a story of how they became interested in watches as it doesn’t just happen all of a sudden but generally happens over time (pun intended). Sure, some stories span longer timeframes than others but no matter, there is a tale to be told. One thing’s for sure, those who wear watches and truly appreciate them, no matter what they wear, know that a watch is so much more than an instrument that tells time. What’s more, the best memories are usually the ones we least expect. I never thought spending Saturday afternoons with my dad looking at watches would so profoundly influence me and lead me to writing about them today or even dedicate an Instagram page to them. Yet, here we are. This sentiment can be broadened to all aspects of one’s life, be it with friends, your partner, outings, vacations, etc. The very best things in life, the times that prove to be the most impactful and fulfilling are always the ones we least expect. May time be on your side...