Tuesday, November 15, 2016


There is a problem with hunger. The more you feed it, the more you want. This true of hunger for food, your drug of choice, and the hunger for whatever it is that you like to buy. Giving into hunger on a regular basis has something to do with my waist measure. It also just might have something to do with the balance you carry on your credit card.

Consider: Since I have inherited a few old watches that have some collectors’ value, I have developed an appreciation for fine watches. I have researched my watches (and some watches that I covet) on the Internet. I even read a book on the art of watch making I found at the Furman University library. Some days I hear one of those little bad angels sitting on my shoulder telling me, “Go ahead. Take a step into this cool new world. You could find a used Rolex or Omega in the $5,000 to $10,000 range. Think of it as an investment.”

Then, just for good measure, the little voice adds the kicker, “You deserve it.” How often do your bad little angels come up with that line?

Recently, I went to see the new Doctor Strange movie. In one of the early scenes, the brilliant rich arrogant neurosurgeon opens a drawer containing nine watches that cost about $20,000 apiece. This scene set up the, “pride cometh before a fall,” sequence that would ultimately land the good doctor, now penniless and alone, in Katmandu on the doorstep of the Ancient One. I wonder if any other person in the audience, like me, couldn’t wait to find out what kind of watch Doctor Strange likes to wear.

And the answer is, a Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Ultra Thin Perpetual Calendar, at $31,500!

Until the 1970s, men tended to buy a quality dress watch sometime around age 30. They expected to wear this watch for the rest of their life. I really like the 1951 Hamilton Darrell that belonged to my father-in-law. Watchmakers consider it a fine example of a quality American watch, but it isn’t anything that collectors are willing to pay a premium to own. You can find one in pretty good shape for $200. I can only remember my father-in-law wearing one of two watches, the Hamilton he bought in 1951 and a fancy quartz watch he was given as a premium for attending a time-share presentation. After the quartz watch quit working, it was consigned to the garbage can. After my father-in-law died, I had the Hamilton cleaned and serviced. After I wore the watch for about seven years, the crystal was scratched up, so I had it serviced for a second time. After 65 years, it still keeps excellent time. I believe that its classic art-deco look is still in good taste for a men’s dress watch.

When my father-in-law bought his watch, he was a professor at Georgia Tech, but he hadn’t yet completed his Ph.D. The retail price for this watch was $65, not an easy decision for professor just beginning his career. That is $605 in today’s money. You can buy a really good watch for $605, one that with proper maintenance would last the rest of your life. But today, we upgrade. We buy something new every time something new is available. How long do you keep a cell phone? A car? A husband? How many pairs of shoes are sitting in your closet? In our new home, we have not one, but two walk in closets to hold all our stuff. In our old home, we didn’t have any walk in closets.

Maybe the good little angel, sitting on our other shoulder, might be suggesting that it is time to fast for a few days or months from whatever hunger is causing us a problem. Hungers, no matter how legitimate, always lead to problems if overindulged.

James Bond prefers the Omega Seamaster at a paltry $3,875. Maybe if I just bought one of those things, I would finally be content.

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