Confessions of a “Watch Junkie”

TimeZone post by Time Flies. 12/97

I am a watch junkie. The story is true.

Well, it all began in the very early 50’s when I would watch my father put on one of his two watches. Nobody else’s dad had more than one watch. I knew they must be something special. He only wore a watch on Sundays. He would not chance them while he was on the job as a
metal smith. I would sit at the kitchen table and he would hand me one of his watches and say, “Look at that, go ahead wind it, can you imagine how smart the people had to be to make that — all the little gears and fine parts”. We went through this many, many times. Dad gave me a micrometer he used on his job. He made things out of gold leaf and copper and prided himself in precision. I played with that micrometer for hours on end. I loved its fineness and precision. A watch junkie was born.

Well, the old tonsils had to come out. Dad came to the hospital to visit. I was five and kind of scared of the whole matter. On the second of three days there (Yep, they kept you that long for that procedure), he dug into his pocket and pulled out a brand new Hamilton kid’s watch (Gosh, I can’t remember the style) and I was thrilled beyond belief. My first fix. I wore that watch to school and played with it during class, mainly just staring at it. I could not wait until it would run down enough to wind it.

Winding it was a thrill. I think that micrometer had something to do with that.

Later, I save my money and bought myself a Roy Rogers watch. Wow! Cool! Mom and I would take the bus to downtown Detroit and we would go to a large department store. She would leave me in the watch department when she had things to take care of . I would entertain myself there for the longest periods, looking in the beautiful wood and glass cases. Most kids wanted to be left in the toy department, I wanted to look at watches. I needed more fixes. But, somewhere along in here, I avoided the terrible addiction for a while. I discovered girls, hanging around the airport helping guys wash their J3 Cubs, and hockey , and I thought the habit was kicked.

When I graduated from high school, Mom and Dad gave me a beautiful, stainless, Hamilton Automatic. BOY! was that thing beautiful. I treasured that watch and was careful as I could be with it. Oh, oh… that watch gave me a rush… oh, it felt so good, I was hooked again. Damn. I bought another Tissot while I at the university. But that Hamilton, what a beauty. Then a fateful event
occurred — a fate that would secure my destiny as a watch junkie. I fell off the back of a truck and smashed that watch into more pieces than were used to make it. Why, would that secure my place among the confederation of watch junkies? Well, I was already set-up, as I said, by my Dad.

Now, with the loss of that treasured piece, I launch myself on a journey for decades to replace that memory, that image of fineness.

Right after graduation, my soon-to-be wife went to Germany. She bought me another fix — An Omega hand-wound Geneve. Oh, my God, help me. Wow, an Omega! Oh boy, I don’t know if I can stand the rush … She knew how I loved that stuff. She aided and abetted. Damn, another pusher in my life. I married her anyway.

Uncle Sam calls. All that time hanging around the J3 Cub and Stinson pilots pays off.

I get to fulfill a life’s dream. I fly. But wouldn’t you know it, I get issued a watch.

Another Hamilton is in my life. Cool. I am the only guy in flight briefings that sits and plays with his damn watch. Gee, even the government is pushing the stuff now. That watch is with me for many, many years and finally I lose it while fishing.

Need another fix, have to find a replacement for that thing. Gotta be the same kind….


Out of the service, back in graduate school — poor as a church mouse. I’m back to vicarious fixes — hanging around jewelry stores and watch departments in large department stores. Gotta have the stuff. Need a fix.

Now, I’m out of graduate school. Gee, I’m a professor, now I can afford the stuff.

Oops, education loans to pay off– but, if I just save a little bit each week. My in-house pusher (my lovely wife) says, if you are gonna do it, do it well. Rolex time! I save $525, go to the dealer and say, show me the Rolex’s. I see an Air King, black dial, cool. The dealer says, the watch is $650. I say that I have $525. He says OK. I say, wow, these guys deal! I am learning how the pushers work. That Air King was on my wrist day and night for a year, but I needed a bigger fix — a Rolex Date, stainless. Gotta have the date. Go to the dealer and find out the Rolex Date is a $1,000. I don’t have that kind of scratch. He says, I will give you the big fix for the watch on my wrist and $500. Whew, these pushers work deals and trades. Neat. I can handle this addiction. I’m cool now, I can get fixes all sorts of ways. Pushers are everywhere and they deal.

Now, I’m into the big-time. I’m running with the right crowd now — the fine watch set. The high is very good. Now, I start finding fixes wherever I can. I start off easy.

A couple of Raymond Weil’s, Baume and Mercier’s, and another Omega — a Seamaster 120. I start to deal with the pushers in order to impress them that I’m not just some street rat. I know the game. Fixes are cheaper than they seem. I’m gathering steam now. I start to wear a different watch each day. I read about them and the first thing I turn to in the Wall Street Journal are the watch ads. Boy, that

Patek stuff must really be good — what a high that must give you, I think.

Well, it all goes down-hill from here. A couple of trips to London and Harrods and Watches of Switzerland on Knightsbridge Road takes me into the international pushing scene. I come home with two Breitlings, a Fortis and another Omega. By this time, I have been through three Rolexes, three Omegas, two Breitlings and several other watch brands.

My in-house pusher buys me a Rolex GMT Master II to commemorate our years together and my love of aviation. Gee, Chuch Yeager wears one, right? Well, he did not the day I met him. That does not matter. I am getting fixes from all directions now. I am on a constant high. I purchase several more Breitlings. An Aerospace, a Chronospace, two (yes, two!) Old Navitimers, and a Colt. Gee, they are aviation watches, right? Well… if you think so. This is very good, but I find the high is temporary. I don’t want all these watches, just the high, and beside I have not replaced the Hamiltons. That’s a good excuse to stay with the program. Keep hunting.

At about this point, I discover a pusher in San Francisco. Before this I am dealing strictly with the pushers in NYC and Boston. This SF guy is good. He points out that there is more to the watch stuff than how it looks. You have to really analyze the stuff to find the kind that gives the best high. Movements, its all about movements, fit and
fish, history. You know, the esoteric stuff. But, I want the ultimate high, and I still really need to replace those

I start finding new stuff. Never heard of some of these before, like Bell & Ross. I buy five Bell & Ross watches. I am interested in out-of-the-way stuff now,
Oris, Revue-Thommen.

I buy a few of those. I start to trade, sell, buy, buy, sell, trade and so on. It is all spinning now. I can’t seem to grab hold. The highs are good, but not REAL good. I try the aviation bit again — Longines, Weems Navigation, Lindbergh Hour Angle,

Gee, everybody has an aviation watch high… It does not do it for me. I keep hearing what the San Francisco pusher is telling me… there are good watches and fine watches… Oh, oh my eye is keeps seeing this thing called the Mark XII and Oh, my gosh, there is a watch which looks an awful lot like the Hamilton which was smashed to bits, the JLC Master. But , that stuff is too rarified for me. So on I go, headlong into two more Omega Seamasters, another Bell & Ross. I’m just not being satisfied anymore, I am still looking for something that will really do it — the big high. So, I make the plunge and get the big fix — a JLC Master Date. Whew! now we are talking really fine stuff here. I’m in another world. It reminds me of the Hamilton — the hands, the dial. Listen to that rotor, creamy smooth winding, what fit and finish.

This REALLY is different stuff. The pusher is right.

I start to frantically sell off the bulk of the other watches I still have. They don’t satisfy as much. The JLC does. Now, I know that I am operating in a different arena. That Mark XII is just waiting for me. I give in to the addiction. Holy, Wow, I can’t believe it, that Mark XII is something else. Look at that cross-sectional diagram, the soft-iron inner casing, look at how that puppy is put together. I am reminded of the micrometer, precise, fine feel. I am off on an excursion into another realm here. The high is unbelievable. A JLC Master Grand Taille follows. I HAVE FOUND IT! It looks like the watch Mom and Dad gave me. My journey is partially over. The highs are wonderful. Absolutely wonderful.

As you can see, I am not responsible for this addiction. I have my parents, my in-house pusher, the little pushers in NYC and Boston, and a friend in San Francisco to blame (Thanks! Richard). I am an addict.


While I have owned 42 (maybe a few more which I cannot recall right now) watches, I only have seven now. Some were given to my son, like my Speedy Pro. Yes, I did find the replacement for the USAF Hamilton issue. I found one in Australia which was a Royal Australian Air Force issue. So, it is not EXACTLY the same.

Good , I can continue the search and find other highs along the way. I will let you guess what I ended up keeping — for now.

There, now I feel better, the story is out. It has been therapeutic.

Time Flies