A Tale of True Luxury
In his constant quest for the factors that
distinguish a truly great watch from a merely ordinary one, Watchbore is
reminded of the story of a certain English gentleman, who upon taking delivery
of his new motor-car, resolves to subject it to the trials of a golfing tour in
the South of France. Thus tossing his clubs into the spacious boot (bristspeak
for “trunk”) of his brand-new Armstrong-Hepworth Continental Mark VIII
(for the owner/driver), our hero settles into the soft Connolly leather of the
driver’s seat, and pressing the ivory starting button on the matched veneer of
the now-extinct tropical hardwood console (dash), swooshes off towards le
But, before he goes any further, Watchbore feels obliged to wake up his
readers and warn them that he only recounts this somewhat risqué, but
nonetheless gravity-removing anecdote after the decanter has been passed to him
at least half-a-dozen times. He consequently suggests that any ladies present
may wish to have their blushes spared by availing themselves of the hospitality
of an adjoining room, where they will no doubt be regaled by Mrs. Watchbore’s
well rehearsed dissertation on how perfectly impossible it is to get decent
servants these days.
With the adjournment of what has been cynically referred to as the gentler
sex, Watchbore can now return to our hero as he speeds along the long, straight
cobbled roads of France, the thunder of the twin 16-cylinder Rolls Royce
Matebele engines scattering peasants in this path, and the howl of the Rootes
superchargers souring the milk in the udders of the cows in his wake. But,
reclining in carpeted and polished comfort, a refreshing cut-crystal glass of
whisky and soda at his elbow, his gloved forefinger resting idly on the
marquetry steering wheel, our hero hears nothing save – you guessed it – the
motor-car’s H. W. Benson split-seconds chronograph tachometer clock quietly
ticking the seconds away.
Almost nothing, that is. For every now and then – yes, there it is again – an
almost imperceptible clicking sound disturbs the serene interior of the
It has often been remarked that intolerance is the handmaiden of perfection.
One might overlook a slight tremor in the whisky and soda if one ran over a
particularly large species of livestock, but this outrageous rattle was going
too far. Unworthy of proper British engineering.
Our hero tried to get on with his vacation. He played a few rounds of golf
and baccarat, seduced three widowed countesses, a Bulgarian spy and a
chambermaid, but he still could not get his mind off that faint yet persistent
clicking noise, every time he drove his new motor-car.
At last he could stand it no more. After following incomprehensible
directions through the hinterland of France, our hero at last draws his vehicle
up before the workshops of Monsieur Alphonse Culasse, mécanicien et
“Ah, just the chappie I want to see!” exclaims the Englishman in
atrocious French. “Voulez-vous trouver et fixer le rattle atroce dans ma
automobile,” he bellows, prodding the French mechanic with the stem of his
“Mais oui, Milord!” assures the Frenchman gazing dumbly at the
gleaming Mulliner Park Ward coachwork of the most beautiful car he has ever
seen. His greatest dream had come true – to have the world’s most famous
automobile entrusted to his care.
The mechanic, offering the hospitality of his roof to the Englishman (which our
hero generously repays by seducing his daughter), thus resolves to spend all
night, if need be, solving the problem. He searches everywhere, he takes the car
entirely apart, checking every nut and bolt, marveling at the flawless
craftsmanship, the detailed luxury of unimaginable comforts and conveniences.
Everything is perfectly fitted. The rattle remains elusive. Unless Deep in the
recesses of the trunk (boot) Monsieur Culasse finds a couple of strange looking
objects – two small wooden sticks, about the size of his little finger, with a
point at one end and a cup at the other.
The following morning, the haggard mechanic is forced to admit defeat.
“I verify everyfeeng, Milord. Je vous assure, votre automobile eez la
perfection. I find nothing, only zees,” continues the mechanic holding out
a pair of golf tees in his horny palm. “What eez it?” he enquires.
“Why,” says the Englishman, “they’re to put your balls on when
“Ah, ces Anglais!” exclaims the Frenchman, throwing his arms
heavenwards in admiration. “You Eenglish, you theenk of everyfeeng.”
This significance of this tediously told, gravity removing tale will shortly
Continue to Part II
be revealed in Watchbore’s forthcoming exclusive review of a watch that in his
mind combines all the features of true luxury.
Copyright © Alan Downing, February 2000