Ugly Watches

12 Sep

About one month ago, I first became aware of a watch for sale on Watch U Want. It is a watch created by the watchmaker Christophe Claret for the Guy Ellia watch company. I am always looking at listings for complex watches, and that probably has something to do with why an ad for this watch appeared on my browser. The watch originally retailed for nearly a million dollars, but it has been marked down to $250,000. For some reason, the internet robots that place these ads on my web pages aren’t able to ascertain that I am incapable of buying a million dollar watch.

This watch is as ugly as it is useless. It is too large to wear comfortably in almost any occupation. It has to be hand wound, so it would be a constant burden, and even an extremely wealthy person would feel uncomfortable wearing it almost anywhere for fear that it might get damaged:

guyellia-repitianminutezephyr-_26048-dnls-150928_13461

Yet, I absolutely love this watch. If I had a net worth of not less than $250 million I might even consider buying it. For a detailed explanation of what this watch is and what it can do, I recommend viewing this video posted by Watch U Want:

Like many pragmatic people, I am tempted to ridicule this watch. It is far less useful than the Samsung Gear watch I wear all the time. My Samsung watch is also my telephone. However, it can be used as an alarm, navigation, texting, a timer, and several other functions…most of which hold no interest for me. I am reminded of how I used to look for watches with lots of functions. For a while I wore a Casio Databank that was designed to be used as a calculator, but that I mostly used just for its alarm functions. I still use that watch as my main alarm clock, but I never wear it.

Half a century ago, before watches became electronic and digital, watches that had lots of “complications” were mechanical marvels. The pinnacle of these watches were the so-called automatic watches that were supposedly self-winding, although they were (and are) so inefficient that their users had to buy expensive winding stations and/or spend a substantial amount of time pumping their arms to keep their watches wound.

Like I said, I am tempted to ridicule this watch, but that is the wrong way to look at it. If you go to YouTube and look at some videos of watch making and watchmakers, you will quickly realize that the making of these watches is not just a monetary enterprise. The people who make these watches are extremely proud of their work and view themselves more as artists than as merchants. The correct way to view a watch like this is as a work of art.

I cannot afford this watch. Yet, I still get enjoyment from it. It pleases me to know that a watch like this exists. It pleases me to look at the video posted by Watch U Want and marvel at its mechanical monstrosity. Like I said, it is not an attractive watch. Yet I love it. The person who made this watch was obviously in love with machinery. He had the same mentality as people who see a race car and want the hood opened to inspect the engine. To most people, engines are ugly, but to someone who loves machinery, they are beautiful.

This watch is expensive because of the craftsmanship, knowledge, and effort that went into making it. However, it would never have been made if there were no people rich enough to buy it. Watchmakers could not afford to make watches like this if there were no people who could both afford to buy them and were willing to shell out the money.

For that reason, I must also love the people who have that much money and are willing to spend it on this kind of watch. I may feel, in passing, that their money would be better spent on more charitable pursuits, but what if it was? Then this watch would never have been made and I would never have been able to look at the pictures of it, watch the video about it, and marvel at its aforementioned mechanical monstrosity.

The same is true of most of the famous paintings that are now displayed in museums. They would never have been painted if not for the rich merchants that commissioned them. The artists who painted them could not have afforded to spend the time if no one was willing to pay for the painting. I suspect that watches like this will eventually find their way into museums, where they will be admired and appreciated by generations to come.

So, let us all appreciate the extravagant watchmakers of the world and the extravagant watch buyers of the world. If not for all of them, there would be no ugly-beautiful watches like this one, and there would be no ugly-beauty in the world to appreciate…if only on museum walls and in YouTube videos.

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