It will be coming up on 50 years since the day she gave me the watch. November 17, 1967.
It was the day I was discharged from the Army after 4 years of honorable service. It was also the day I became safe from Vietnam. I was 25 years old on that particular day. She was 22 and the following month was to be our 4th anniversary.
She too had served four years enduring two years of separation with occasional two or three week periods when I traveled home from Eritrea or Texas. When my mom died unexpectedly in 1966 at age 43 I was sent to serve the remainder of my enlistment near home. My brother was already in the war zone and my youngest brother would soon be drafted. I spent 14 months notifying families that their (son, father, brother – fill in the blank) had been killed. My unit went to Vietnam without me.
So my young wife viewed that particular day as a very special day in our lives. We had saved our money during our years of separation; she had lived in her parents home. The previous Summer we purchased our own home. We had our bedroom and dining room furniture and a new Sylvania color television, I had a job with the bank and we would buy our first new car, a 1968 SAAB 96 and the rest of our furniture in early 1968.
And she bought me a watch for this special day.
An Omega. One of the earliest automatic wrist watches which didn’t require winding each day. The movement of the wrist kept it running. It was the days before battery operated throw away watches.
And it was one the best.
I wore that watch every day of my working life. I only put it away after she passed in 2004.
It is 18k gold with the original Omega band, which has a gold clasp. You will notice from the first picture that the band is quite worn out – from 40 plus years of wearing it every weekday.
And I am told that it is now quite valuable.
Several days ago I dug it our of my personal things drawer and put it on. Shook my wrist several times and voila, after almost 50 years it began to run. I set the time and wore it around the house for several days. Still running and keeping excellent time.
Retired old guys like me no longer need a watch. Other than for a doctor’s appointment, there is no where I have to be at a specific time. I have a number of clocks around the house and therefore I know the time at a glance. The time is also on my flip phone.
I eat when I am hungry, go to bed when I am tired and get out of bed when I wake up. So it is for an aging man living alone.
I would think that young people no longer wear wrist watches staring as they constantly do at their precious phones. But who knows.
Maybe new rules of etiquette will emerge making it a faux pas to pull out your phones during formal dinner conversation or meetings in the board room or during sexual encounters to take pictures. The wrist watch may have a future.
Wearing the watch in Lahore
Looking at the worn wrist band on this now valuable old watch I realized that this watch has been everywhere I have been. It’s travel history would make for good reading. London, Paris, Milan, Rome, Athens, Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, Cairo and Alexandria, Dubai Mumbai, Madras and Delhi, Karachi and Lahore, Colombo, Hong Kong, Bangkok, Shenzhen, Rio, Sao Paulo and Brasilia, Mexico City and Bermuda. And innumerable places in America from Hawaii andNew York to Beverly Hills, Chicago to Dallas to Miami and Tampa.
For decades this watch had been around my wrist, silently keeping track of time for half a century.
Wearing the old time piece and thinking about it for a few days I decided to look into having it completely overhauled and cleaned by a certified Omega watchmaker. Today he called me to discuss what I have.
“Fifty year old automatic Omega? Does it run? Want the band replaced as well? Well I can tell you without seeing it that because of its age and value it will probably run a minimum of $500 to perhaps as high as $700 to completely overhaul it.”
He wanted a week after receiving it to examine it. “I will let you know the exact cost to the penny in 7 to 10 days. But weather we do the work or not, definitely replace the band! The watch is quite valuable.”
So off it went today, certified and insured, return receipt with signature to be obtained.
I know exactly what I am going to do with it when it comes back, all shiny and like new.