Always Have The Time
“A gentleman’s choice of timepiece says as much about him as does his Saville Row suit.” — Ian Fleming
(Disclaimer: For information and entertainment purposes only. Not intended as personalized advice of any sort. Some links may provide the author affiliate commissions.)
My fascination with watches first truly took root when I began traveling internationally. It was 2015, and I was studying abroad in China as part of a course on International Business and Finance. As my colleagues and I made our way through Shanghai and Beijing, a billboard or advertisement here and there would catch my eye. These were advertisements for Swiss brands like Titoni, with their Seascoper and Cosmo King models, or Rado, with their minimalist, tank-style watches.
Then, whilst traveling home, I saw pictures and ads in Beijing’s and Tokyo Narita’s International Airports for a particular new line of watch, and it was love at first sight.
It was the Seiko Astron GPS, and I thought it was the coolest, most beautiful timepiece I had ever seen.
Then I saw another ad, this time for the Grand Seiko line of watches, and I could swear I heard angels singing.
Since I had a layover at Tokyo Narita, I decided to find a duty-free shop. I had to see this watch for myself. I didn’t have to go very far, as there was an electronics shop near the gate, with “Akihabara” in the name. (How amusingly appropriate, I thought to myself.)
Entering the crowded shop, I asked one of the employees if they had any Seiko Astron or Grand Seiko models. The kind lady at the counter smiled and nodded, happily weaving her way through the throng of busy shoppers to guide me to their display cases of watches.
They were even more beautiful in person, shimmering and glimmering in the lights of the shop. Especially on the Grand Seiko models, the light seemed to bounce off of them in a prismatic way, with a kaleidoscopic rainbow of color going every which way.
Like I said, they were beautiful. Captivating. Alluring. Looking at all of these lovely treasures in the display cases, I felt like a kid in a candy or toy store again. Only this time, I had the means (or at least, the line of credit) to obtain my candy and toys.
Still, my good sense managed to snap me out of my amorous, emotional feelings of want and craven desire.
“Good heavens, man,” I thought to myself, “you’re going to be an MBA graduate! Finance majors, especially, need to have more self-control than that!”
So I left that little slice of Akihabara behind, and boarded my flight home to America. But I was still quite smitten with those watches. I had to have them.
Patience and refraining from such a large (for the time) impulse buy turned out to have its advantages. Not only would I score a tremendous deal on not one, but TWO Seiko Astron GPS models, but I would also purchase my first Grand Seiko at a discounted price from a local shop. That Grand Seiko was on my wrist as I walked across the stage to receive my MBA. A few years later, that same Grand Seiko would be on my wrist as I dined at a luxurious Italian restaurant, with a view overlooking the skyline of Tokyo. The rest of the time, I was wearing one or the other of my two Seiko Astrons. (Wearing both at the same time would just look silly.)
Certain watch snobs may turn their noses up at Seiko watches, but for me, the Astron GPS line represents the ultimate international traveler’s watch. It also was a wearable symbol that reminded me “I have arrived. I am a world traveler and international businessman. No matter where I go, I will always have the time.”
The watch snobs used to turn their noses up at Grand Seiko, but not anymore. Grand Seiko has firmly established themselves as one of the premier luxury watch brands in the world. Their build quality and exclusivity surpasses even Rolex.
As I’ve written before, making your Escape Plan doesn’t have to involve you becoming some modern-day version of the peasant immigrant fresh off the boat on Ellis Island. You can Escape From The West to a more luxurious, lavish lifestyle, and often for less coin of the realm than what you would spend in a Western country. You can have the good life, toys and all.
Some people thought with the advent of smartphones that displays the time, wrist watches would be the thing of the past. But those that thought it, didn’t understand the subconscious power of a person carrying a cool-looking timepiece on their wrist.
As you saw in Skyfall, James Bond carries both a smartphone and wears an Omega watch. And because of Bond, Omega watches are flying off the shelves. Omega paid around $10 million for 007 to sport that watch in SPECTRE.
James Bond originator Ian Fleming said: "A gentleman's choice of timepiece says as much about him as does his Saville Row suit."
Ian Fleming not only wrote that his James Bond Character wore a Rolex, but Fleming himself, in fact, wore a stainless steel Rolex Explorer.
With that in mind, it seems obvious that wristwatches are here to stay no matter what technology in time-keeping comes to us in the future.
The first idea of the wristwatch started with the earliest watches in the 16th century. They were called ‘arm-watches’ and were exclusively worn by women as it was considered to be jewelry. Men, at that time, used pocket watches.
The first wristwatches worn by men were officers in the military at the end of the 19th century. This was because of the importance of timing attacks during a battle without revealing the plans to the enemy by using signals that were visible to all. Using pocket watches during battle or mounted on a horse was totally impractical, so officers began strapping their pocket watches to their arms.
By World War 1, the idea of wristwatches for men became popular so they started to be mass produced.
Starting with Dr. No, Sean Connery wore a Rolex, for every one of his Bond movies. We see a tight close-up of his Rolex in the opening sequence in Goldfinger.
From Live and Let Die, Roger Moore wore a Seiko most of the time. Starting with GoldenEye in 1995, 007 has worn an Omega watch on all his missions.
On the train in Casino Royale, Vesper looks at Bond’s watch and says, “Nice watch. Is that a Rolex?” Bond replies, “Omega.” For SPECTRE, Omega came out with the Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra James Bond.
So it looks like Omega is here to stay for 007’s watch of choice.
All of these images, both in the movie and commercials, program our minds as to the power of wearing a cool looking watch. Having time on our wrists at the ready, gives us the illusion of control over the ever illusive idea of moving through time.
Indeed, one of the first items that is recommended for those embarking on the James Bond Lifestyle is to buy a new watch. It doesn’t have to be an Omega or Rolex to start with, doesn’t have to be expensive. A new watch is worn to remind the wearer that: “Things are now different. I am now living the James Bond Lifestyle and will not backslide into any pettiness or negative ways of thinking.”
A great example of how a watch can empower someone is in this true story concerning Frank Sinatra:
In 1952 Frank Sinatra was down on his luck and singing to small audiences at Skinny D'Amato's 500 Club in Atlantic City. He planned to go to Africa to visit his wife, Ava Gardner, who was there filming the movie Magambo with Clark Gable. She had sent him the airfare. But Sinatra was broke.
Seated at a lounge table with Joe DiMaggio and Skinny D'Amato, Frank asked the baseball legend for a thousand dollar loan so that he could buy Ava a gift. DiMaggio refused.
When Sinatra was absent, DiMaggio said to D'Amato, "I never loan money to a has-been." D'Amato asked DiMaggio to loan it to him. Figuring the powerful nightclub owner was good for it, DiMaggio gave D'Amato a thousand dollars. Later D'Amato gave it to Sinatra. Not loaned, gave.
On top of that, D'Amato bought Sinatra a solid gold watch saying, "This is to remind you that you'll be back on top again. And bigger than before." When Sinatra became the most powerful man in Hollywood a few years later, he never forgot his loyal friend D'Amato and performed every year at the 500 Club for free.
This story has a lot of different things in it to examine. If you happen to be down on your luck now, or have a close friend that is in a slump, you can see:
The importance of a loyal friend.
The power of a new watch. (Whether you buy it or receive it as a gift).
The power of good words to a friend that needs encouragement.
The beginnings of Joe DiMaggio's well-earned reputation as a cheapskate.
The paying back of help received in difficult times.
Whether you're up or down, you help a friend or not, you're cheap or giving, you are always relating with people. And you are always either building or destroying a career, friendship, or reputation.
* This Sinatra story was confirmed via Grace D'Amato's book, TV interviews, and books on Sinatra and DiMaggio.
So with the above said, start window shopping for a watch that empowers you. Be sure not to spend needed survival money or money that can get you to the next level of business on a watch. But get a new one that will keep you in the James Bond Lifestyle mind-set.
Always have the time. Invest in at least one good watch (your phone doesn’t count!). Find the style of watch that works best for you. One money-saving strategy is to buy pre-owned, from a reputable dealer.
What is your favorite watch that you currently own? Do you have a “grail watch,” or collection of watches that you dream of owning? What does your dream collection, or even your actual watch collection look like? Subscribe and comment below!