At the end of the watch

Pocket watchBack in July, I recounted how I had taken my father’s watch for repair and how pleased I was to have it in working order again. My pleasure was unfortunately short-lived as the watch fell into the habit of stopping once a day. This might be at night, when it was on the shelf, or during the day, when it hung from a lanyard around my neck. I nearly missed a train because I hadn’t noticed the watch had stopped.

The first few times it stopped, I tried to convince myself that I had forgotten to wind it up but it soon became obvious that the fault was in the watch and not in me. The obvious thing was to take it back to the jeweller’s shop and ask them to look at it. I couldn’t tell whether the fault was something they had done (or failed to do) or a new problem, so I put this to them frankly and said that if there was anything to pay they should let me know beforehand so that I could decide whether it was worth repairing. They cheerfully agreed, the assistant writing on the docket that the watch was stopping “irratically” (sic).

A week later I received a phone call: “Your watch is ready for you.” I went to collect it. There was no cost. “Our man has had it on the bench for a week and it’s running perfectly.” I was sceptical. It sounded to me as if they hadn’t actually done anything with it. It didn’t run for me so why would it run “on the bench”? I took it home and almost immediately, it stopped. By rights I should have gone back to the shop and complained but this seemed a waste of time.

If we take the 153 bus home, we pass in front of a shop that I had had my eye on for some time. It was full of clocks and watches and had a notice on the window reading “All watches repaired on the premises.” I went in and talked to the shopkeeper, a young man whose conversation and demeanour convinced me he knew what he was doing with timepieces. I kicked myself for not coming here in the first place.

He examined the watch and said he would take it in and look at it. He wrote down my phone number, saying “We’ll call you.” Then he added “Don’t be in a hurry. It will take time.” I thought this was a good sign.

He was right: it did take some time. Yesterday, as we went into Marks & Spencers in Moorgate, the wait came to an end with a ring on my phone. The news was bad. “It will cost £100 to £190 to repair it,” said the watch repairer. “The movement is very worn. You may not feel it is worth doing.” At that point, I lost signal and the conversation ended abruptly but this at least gave me time to mull over the dilemma.

I had already paid £85 to have the watch repaired and if I stopped now, that money would be virtually wasted. On the other hand, what is the point of spending another large sum on top of that? It’s very sad to give up on the watch but one has to draw a line somewhere. No doubt my father would have agreed.

Out in the open again, I phoned the watch repairer and said I didn’t think it was worth going ahead with repairs and that I would come to collect the watch next week.

It will be a sad reunion.

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About SilverTiger

I live in Islington with my partner, "Tigger". I blog about our life and our travels, using my own photos for illustration.
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3 Responses to At the end of the watch

  1. Ted Marcus says:

    Is there a possibility of putting a completely new movement (quartz perhaps?) into the old case, preferably leaving the old hands and face? That might prove more cost-effective, even though it opens philosophical questions about whether the transplanted device remains your father’s watch.

    Sometimes it really is best to let go.

  2. SilverTiger says:

    It’s an interesting idea. I may well ask the watch repairer about it when I go to pick up the watch. If he says it’s possible then I will have to think about it. It’s reminiscent of the “bicycle debate” beloved of schoolboy philosophers (how many parts can you remove from a bicycle and still say you have a bicycle?): would my father’s watch with a modern movement still be my father’s watch? And would that matter anyway? Etc.

  3. Ted Marcus says:

    The version of the “bicycle debate” I’m familiar with is the story of a man’s favorite axe, “Old Betsy.” Betsy’s blade has been replaced three times; the handle has been replaced twice and the bolt that holds the handle and the axe together has just worn out and was replaced. Is the axe still “Old Betsy?”

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