So, I never came from a watch family, you know how some kids grow up with their dad wearing a Seamaster or a Submariner and that becomes a bit of a gateway drug so to speak and then they get one when their 18.
I didn't have that so much,
I think my dad wore a Swatch or a beat up Seiko.
But I do remember finding a box of his stuff when I was a kid and pulling out this steel and gold watch, it was a quartz (I know...) Fortis chronograph, which he had bought in his twenties during the mid 1980's. He later gave that watch to me on my 21st, and I'm wearing it now as I write this article.
I managed to lose two phones in the space of a week quite recently. So I was phoneless for a fortnight or so after and it became my weapon of choice, purely as it was so accurate… I don't think I've ever had to adjust the time. And when your using it to work out whether you will be late for work, you want that reliability.
Anyhow as per usual I digress,
The one person in my family who was into his watches, (whom sadly I never met) was my great grandfather. Despite this, He was a bit of a figure in my sister and I’s upbringing, being spoon fed stories of his strength, heroism and wit, washed down with a mixture of war stories, brushes with the law and close shaves with Chinese gangsters in South London. He was almost his own series of adventure novels for us growing up.
As with most families, heirlooms and fabled objects tend to disappear and develop their own mythologies and theories as to what may have happened to them.
Bob, in this case was said to have had a gold Rolex, and after quizzing various members of the family -whom, as stated previously know very little about watches -which was unbearable “It may have had little lines for each hour?” - But I think I've narrowed it down.
He was said to have kept hold of it after a certain smuggling trip, as he was a sea faring man in the late 60’s, and after going through a number of images with my grandfather I think it's a Gold Day-Date on the President bracelet. Perhaps the ultimate grandfather watch, now unfortunately it's been missing since he died in the late 1970’s.
Of course, I will probably never find this watch but whenever I see one I my heart does a little jump. Maybe that's his?
I'm still holding out for the dusty chest poked away in some corner of an attic containing said Rolex and an equally famed German Luger…
I'll let you know if I find it.
Words by Tom Heap