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Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Icons for the Self-Worshipper


Well, not exactly. The image above happens to be the likeness of the watch I wear on my wrist and for which I paid a cool $27 at Walmart. Until recently, I confess, I never paid it much mind, save when experiencing the mundane notion of wanting to know what time it is. A recent article in the Wall Street Journal's "Pursuits" section, however, has caused me to regard my little Timex with greatly increased respect.

The article was a lengthy spread on the latest whiz-bang watches emenating from Switzerland, along with a highly detailed index with recommendations to buy, hold or sell specific makes and models. The prices are most impressive, ranging from a paltry three grand for a couple of models, probably intended as stocking stuffers for the young progeny of hedge fund traders in Greenwich, all the way up to an $860,000 grown-up watch for daddy himself, the Blancpain 1775, which includes, among the many gadgets stuffed inside it, a "tourbillon," an essential feature that "counters the effects of gravity on a watch's accuracy." (That pesky gravity, glad someone's finally done something about it!)

Now, you may wonder, what does this gross excess have to do with my Timex watch? Just this: My humble little Timex, like any watch with a quartz movement, is a better timekeeper than any of the watches referred to above, which contain mechanical movements. What's more, all the bells, whistles and geegaws mechanical-movement watches contain not only raise their prices to stratospheric heights, but actually reduce their accuracy owing to the additional moving parts. Thus we're presented with a curious inverse proportion: the more a watch costs, the less accurate it is.

It is not so curious at all, however, when we consider the gazillionaires who lay out the bucks for these things are not buying timepieces at all, rather expensive jewelry, a male version of the diamond tiara, and meant to be seen and to impress. Not actually knowing anyone who owns one of these hideously expensive toys, I dare not attempt further characterization except to aver with a certain confidence they cannot possibly call themselves Christian: Nobody spending a half-million clams on a watch could possibly worship any entity other than himself.

Only $865,000 and nearly as accurate as a Timex!

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