Part I – Watches
In my last post, Keeping it Fresh I shared that I have been meaning to write about watches, but kept getting sidetracked with the horrible current situation with Covid-19 along with the quarantine. So a I strayed off the topic of watches and decadence and addressed the huge change in lifestyle. But ultimately, it is these interests that help one through the quarantine life. And by decadence, I’m not referring to expensive things necessarily, but more of a lifestyle and attitude. And it’s finding the decadence in the things you do and your social circle.
This post is not a watch post with photos of great watches and write ups on them. It is not a post about my watch collection, my connection with each watch and their stories. It is not a post about my future acquisitions. Instead, it is a post about being a watch enthusiast (or collector) and how during these times it has even played a bigger role in getting me through this period that can be isolating, lonely and stressful with so much uncertainty.
Right before I was about to write this post, on Friday, I listened to Jameela Jamil’s new podcast (Podcasts are great during these times also) with Dr. Vivek Murthy, former Surgeon General discussing how widespread loneliness is and how to foster connectivity. He eluded to the Western culture giving ‘too much space’ (I agree with him, how people end up in downward spirals I have seen in others-he offered some advice on that). He also differentiated between isolation and loneliness and discussed the social stigma associated with even admitting that you are lonely (also you don’t have to live alone to be lonely). I am looking forward to reading his upcoming book, “The Healing Power of Human Connection In a Sometimes Lonely World.” Because loneliness is actually a major health problem in the country and it is causing other health ailments. Of course, due to social stigma and the fear of being perceived as something ‘less’, most people won’t admit to being lonely (except in music). They act like they are just fine, masters of their own destiny, tough and don’t need anyone attitude. But that is for another post. Maybe after I read the book that comes out at the end of the month.
What does any of this have to do with watches or cars, or any other special interests? When I was planning this post (during cooking or getting ready in the morning), my premise was that these special interests bond people and provide a sense of community. I’ve seen some of these groups thrive and some crumble. The ones that succeed have no politics or ego – it’s a group of people coming together with an authentic interest in the same thing, and then you have a sense of community. I hear countless times, ‘oh my wife is not into it’ but they find some others who are.
In this podcast, I hear this concept I have been thinking about, perfectly articulated in the podcast, by the former surgeon general, Dr. Murthy. He summed it up effectively:
You join a group for something, but it is the sense of community why you stay.
I have found this to be true with every special interest group I have been part of. I join because I have an interest in it, and then I stay because of the camaraderie and community that is formed.
I can tell when I tell some friend, how I got into watches and how much I love it, they kind of go along with it, say nothing but wonder – what exactly happened to her; this sounds really boring. So yes, they don’t get it.
Well, like any interest or hobby, all that matters is that it resonates with you. If your friends don’t understand, they don’t. You don’t have to leave them behind (as in the song Safety Dance: “We can dance if we want to, we can leave your friends behind, Cause your friends don’t dance and if they don’t dance, well they’re are no friends of mine” -quarantine humor).
So most don’t get this new interest, and some think it’s all about status – which it is definitely not.
Hobbies and Gender
I was never a typical girl (I don’t know if there is such a thing, but there norms and stereotypes), not as a child, not as a teen and not now. I didn’t care much for the traditional girl playtime activities like dolls and so forth. As an adult I have never been to a girls night out-I love my nights out, but it just never worked out that way. As I wrote in ‘Tribes and Collectives…Give Yourself Permission to be Yourself‘, I don’t have a girl tribe, but I’m not alone in that. But the good side of not having a girl tribe is that you are not constrained by mere gender to like this or that. You can completely roam freely across your special interests, regardless of ‘guy or girl thing’, and not worry if your existing friends like them, or if they will attend such events with you. A girl without a tribe is free to roam and find her scene.
So gradually over the past few years, I have realized that I am a watch enthusiast. And the more I learned and got into it, the more I realized that I truly love this and want to continue, even if 90+% of my existing social circle does not understand.
As humans we need to continually grow, and never stop. When you stop growing you become complacent. Becoming a watch enthusiast is part my personal growth. It’s not about owning the most expensive watch; not at all. It begins more with appreciating certain aspects and taking more and more interest and joy in it; constantly learning, finding the decadence. Watches to me, much like fine cars, are the intersection of art and technology/engineering/craftsmanship. While some derive a sense of status from wearing a certain watch, that is not the primary driver for a true watch enthusiasts or collector. There is no entry watch before you can become a true watch enthusiasts. We all start somewhere, and build as we can and balance with other priorities and interests. And members of these groups are at different points and love to share their knowledge and experience. It is always exciting to meet someone with a newfound interest and passion also.
Once you realize that you have become a watch enthusiast; it is not a plan but a natural journey; you start gravitating to events and social media that allows you to partake in it. And you find other people like you, even if their collection or taste in watches is different, there is now this sense of community, sharing and continuous learning. I had no idea a few years ago that I would be at this point with watches. Yes, there was some foundation, built over the years, from childhood onward. It probably started with my father, when we lived in Europe, and his gold watch and his photograph of the Rolex building when he was in Germany, but I had no idea, as one of my friends once said, “you have to let life happen,” I did.
So back to the original point, how does this help me through this quarantine? Well, interactions on social media, watching some live IG shows. For example, I recently found out how a certain seller in another part of the world got into selling high value vintage watches. He was originally a telecom consultant….interesting. The quarantine allows this: introverts and low profile types are now on social media talking about how they got into the watch scene and they are discussing the intricacies of certain vintage watches and so forth. These are not showmen, they are just reaching out to others the watch community, yes community, to share their knowledge and interactions. Anyone can start live IG and sometimes have a ‘guest’ join and it’s better than most television.
Then there are the watch meet ups. Now with the quarantine, one specific group has biweekly Zoom meetings. I finally participated in a meet up of this group right before the quarantine hit. Drove down to a meeting. Many shared that the sense of camaraderie and connections were clear. Once this quarantine is over, it will be great to have an in person one because certainly Zoom is not a replacement for in person meetings, etc. But these zoom meetings are still helpful through these quarantine times. And they also provide a different perspective of the group.
So every day, in this isolated quarantine, there is now a sense of connection, check what others are up to, what’s new, who’s doing what, dm with some who may have questions about what you posted, or even how your are doing. Everyone has their own unique style of contributing but all of it collectively constitutes a common connection founded originally on being a watch enthusiast.And once this quarantine is over, there will be in person experiences again. And I am sure, I’m not alone in this, cannot wait. Until then instagram, zoom and other tools to keep the connection going.
And during the quarantine, while working from home, I do rotate my watches and wear them daily. I enjoy looking at them during my video conferences.
All these activities help me get through this and to deal with the horrid tragedies I read about right now. It helps me keep my sanity and be connected.
Also, you can read more about women watch collectors (including me):