Time is Money

I was in the doctor’s waiting room the other day (don’t worry, I’m fine no need for a whip-round for a coffin as yet) flicking through the glossy magazines that are always piled up on the tables. As a side comment, have you noticed the periodicals in the surgeries are the weirdest titled magazines you’ve ever seen: ‘Barge and Canal’, ‘Frog Fingerer’s Digest’, ‘Stately Homes Uncovered,’ that kind of thing? Anyway, I was flicking through ‘Donkey and Mutt’ when I started to notice the proportion of full-page adverts for wristwatches, sandwiched between the articles about Berkshire Hunts and other denizens of the Home Counties, seemed excessive. Well, I thought that was excessive until I noticed the prices. Gasping, “Fuck me sideways!” did not go down well in a packed waiting room but on the plus side, the old dear whose ticker gave out didn’t look like she’d last the winter anyway. A couple of extra quid in the NHS coffers; you’re welcome.

I’ve worn wristwatches since I was a kid, probably from about the age of five. I could tell the time before I went to school mainly because my Mum’s discipline regime was based on the SAS handbook (could have been the SS handbook now I think about it) and if I didn’t get up before 05:30 ready for an hour’s drill and PT there would be trouble. Being able to tell the time saved me from being late and receiving punishment duties like peeling a mountain of coal or painting potatoes white. My watches were always prized possessions as the idea of a little machine of interlaced metal cogs, springs, pinions and gears keeping pace with the rhythm of the universe was pretty heavy shit to get a young mind around. I even remember my first watch, it was an epic diver’s job; it was waterproof and had an external dial on the body you could turn to keep track of the time you’d been beneath the waves. The hands and numerals were painted with a luminous coating so you could see them in the dark. I went through several straps as they wore out and it never left my arm, not even for bath time. My left wrist must have been absolutely minging. I loved that timepiece, I wish I still had it today.

To me, clockwork is such a cool invention and to this day how it was conceived and came to be is a mystery to me, much like the Kardashians. I suppose I could Google its history and educate myself but I think I’ll keep this enigma as something sacredly unknowable to me. I’m jaded about practically everything else, allow me this one spark of innocent ignorance.

Back to the highly glossed pages and the watch adverts in the hefty magazine that weighed the same as a newborn elk. The prices were astro-fucking-nomical, tens of thousands of pounds. Not all of them, some were cheap bits of tat coming in at five to nine thousand quid; and I wouldn’t thank you for one. (Just so we’re clear, that was sarcasm.) My own watches, my treasured informative bracelets of the past, were nearly always Timex and hence rather more reasonably priced. Don’t get me wrong they were priceless to me and I grew attached to them as if they were a bionic enhancement crucial to my very being. Still, I wondered why these slickly advertised timepieces were commanding such horrific price tags. Maybe the time they offered was of a better quality than the time I had been getting with cheaper watches? It could be expensive time provides the rock star lifestyle of hedonistic excess or…or…the rock star lifestyle of hedonistic excess would do fine actually. Obviously, I quickly dismissed that thinking as utter bollocks as time is a construct and thus immeasurable on any level other than ‘tick’ and ‘tock’. On study of the extensive sales copy, I discovered the premium price was actually due to there being a fair amount of precious metal and jewels in the watches’ makeup. Some of this bling was external and obvious, more lay hidden away in the guts of the mechanism allowing for accuracy and consistency in any challenging conditions…or so the claims were made.

To be honest I found some of the examples bleedin’ hideous to gaze upon, huge chunky ostentatious lumps of ‘Look at me!’ that would not have been out of place amongst a bevvy of stuffed toys in one of those fairground grabbing machines charging ten bob for a go. I certainly wouldn’t part with the amount of cash that was being asked for them…but then I do have the wrists of a lady so maybe I didn’t like the beefy designs because I know they would look stupid on me, like I’d bungee strapped a bin lid to my arm. (Younger readers may have to research ‘bin lid’ for those visuals to make sense.)

With my interest piqued I decided to see how much it is possible to pay for a watch and it was a good job I was alone at home when I found that out, for the swearing I did was monu-fucking-mental. A half-hearted search informed me I could happily part with £800,000* for a watch…fucking hell on a quivering twat-stick. I stopped searching after that financial wind-up (watch based pun, clever stuff this) as I needed my heart restarting. If you were given that particular watch on the day you were born and had it until the day you died it would cost you approximately 30p for every hour it ticked off. On the plus side you could bequeath it to a relative once your toes curled up and they could get another lifetime’s usage out of it as I assume it will run for-fucking-ever at that price. Speaking for myself that mother-tocker would be getting buried with me to earn its keep for the rest of eternity on my wrist. St Peter himself could not stop me sneaking that contraband in, even if I did have to wait a day to retrieve it from a Heavenly bowl.

Eight hundred fucking grand. I know houses can be that price and cars and private jets and yachts and many playthings of the rich, all of which are still sickening to think about but a fucking watch?! To put things into perspective the house could have an indoor pool and a cinema and a Jacuzzi full of supermodels all lathered up. A Ferrari will take you from 0 – 60 in the blink of an eye or possibly take you from 0 – Heaven if you’ve just won the lottery, stepped out of a Ford Fiesta 1.1 and have no idea what you’re doing with a supercar; still a cool way to go, bro. The yacht…well that’s just a caravan on the sea. If you buy one of them you’re a tit that deserves to go missing in The Bermuda Triangle. But we’re talking about eight hundred fucking grand for a watch, it literally fits in the palm of your hand and does little more than tell the time and maybe the day and date but get this…they’re not even that accurate.

The glossy adverts brag of an accuracy of within one second a year or some such for the fuck-off priced watches. The phone in your pocket (which at the time of going to press hasn’t quite reached the eight hundred grand mark yet) has a built-in clock that is far more accurate losing only milliseconds as it is constantly correcting itself via pixie satellite relaying magic or some shit. Anyway, even if your mobile was ten minutes out every hour you could save yourself a shit load of money for the watch in question and ask a policeman for the time. (Don’t try that, they pepper spray you then arrest you for being a smart arse nowadays; Dixon of Dock Green policing methods are well dead.)

I know I am dipping my toe in the bauble pool of the mega-rich and I will never be able to afford a watch like those we have been assessing (or I won’t as long as you bastards refuse to by my book (‘Sif Rants’ from Amazon) but I must admit I did see one sweet timepiece that took my fancy during my usual in-shallow research and my aim here is to use the power of product placement to get myself a deal. It’s not laden heavy with diamonds and is available at a lower price if chosen without the gold inlay engraving on the casing and get this the model is called ‘Sif’; that’s got to be an omen. It is an honest to goodness, no nonsense, traditional style watch but, and this is so cool, its face is made from Icelandic volcanic ash. It has a leather strap, is water resistant and the hands and numerals are luminous…it’s just like my old diver’s watch from 40-odd years ago, the one I miss so much except it has ‘Sif’ written on the dial to make it even more boss. I’m going to burst with excitement. It’s a little out of my price range but if the particular watchmaker in Reykjavik is reading this and would like a shout out in my next rant (and let’s be blunt that’s a free advert that would reach the not insubstantial readership of ‘TBP’ and quite possibly generate more custom than you could handle without expansion) I am willing to offer forty quid for one. See, I’m not even asking for it for free just a little bit of a discount and you can’t say fairer than that. Drop me a line, Gilbert O., let’s make this happen.

I haven’t worn a watch for a good few years now, I don’t know why I fell out of the habit but I did. I still own one and every so often I will wear it but it’s not the permanent fixture it once was. Maybe it’s because as I run out of time heading for the abyss the last thing I need is a fucking reminder attached to my wrist ticking off the fleeting seconds for me one by one. The thing is even if I had a spare £800,000 to spend on a watch I wouldn’t because it’s not how much you spend on measuring your time but how you spend your time itself that counts.

Bloody hell, that’s a bit deep, I must have spent more time drinking beer than I thought. Bollocks, it’s two in the morning. I’ve got to be up in three and a half hours for drill and PT…every cheap-ass Timex** sponsored second of my life ain’t easy, believe me.

*There are watches that are far more expensive, exclusives and the like, that fetch millions but I thought £800,000 was a ridiculous enough price for the purposes of this rant and I’m sure you agree. Put it this way if you earn twenty grand a year that’s forty fucking years’ wages and if that doesn’t make you slap the next wanker that flashes you their Rolex nothing will.

**You can send me a watch too if you like, Timex, I’m an old sentimental fan of your work.