Time flies when you’re having fun—or even when you’re not. My phone and cable box tell me the correct time without fail. My new grandfather clock is 10 minutes slow and I’m not sure how to correct it. I’m supposed to tighten the screw at the bottom of the pendulum, but I can’t remember if I’m supposed to turn it clockwise or counterclockwise.
Neither of my beautiful steel watches tell the correct time. My steel Patek 24/7 stubbornly lost 6 to 11 minutes, no matter how many times I sent it for repairs. Back and forth my watch went to Switzerland. Even the head watchmaker couldn’t fix it after many months and years of trying. How had I ended up with a Humpty Dumpty time piece? A wonderful gift from my husband for my 50th birthday, the watch worked perfectly for 4 years and has been persistently slow ever since.
“Would you like a new watch?” My husband asked me on my 60th birthday.
“I can’t bear the idea that this beautiful watch that’s advertised as a time piece to be passed on to the next generation isn’t even making it through my lifetime.” In spite of my frustration, I couldn’t bear giving up on the watch that my husband had lovingly selected. For my 60th, Howard gave me a butterfly necklace. The butterfly did NOT regress to being larva and still sparkles without any delay.
Five years later—for my 65th—I couldn’t stand seeing my watch lose more and more time and I was tired of talking to the head of customer service at Patek Philippe, who must have shuddered every time the receptionist told him who was calling. “I’m ready for a new watch this year. I’m tired of wearing a watch that refuses to work and spends more time in Switzerland than on my wrist.” No wonder the millennials rely on their phones (or Apple watches).
I don’t care about all of the nifty Apple watch features. My watch doesn’t need to double as a cell phone, tell me how many steps I’ve taken or calories I’ve burned. All I want from my watch is to tell me the correct time (within a minute or two) and—secondarily— function as a nice piece of everyday jewelry. In my opinion, the Apple watch is definitely NOT pretty and certainly not jewelry. Am I wrong to think there are MANY pretty watches that also perform timekeeping– the task they were designed for? Is that too much to ask? At the end of the day, pretty is as pretty does.
My 65th birthday gift was a steel face Cartier with a large face with big roman numerals, the better for me to see with my aging eyes. Unfortunately, within six months my new watch started losing time. First it was 3 to 4 minutes, then 6 or 7. How could two watches in a row fail me? I couldn’t believe it. Maybe my new watch would be okay when I moved the time forward at the end of daylight savings? Not a chance!
I sent the watch back to the dealer and wore the old Patek Philippe, which had mysteriously become more accurate than the Cartier. I was grateful to have a second watch to sit prettily on my wrist. Even if my Patek was a little slow, it felt like an old friend.
Three weeks later my Cartier returned and kept accurate time for about a month before slowing down. According to the Tourneau repair people, it was losing 17 seconds a day. If you do the math, well, my watch was gradually slowing down…. Right now, it’s five minutes slow.
I was hopeful when my new grandfather clock arrived that I would finally know the right time without having to consult my phone or cable box. I wouldn’t even have to look at the clock. I could just listen to the chimes.
After the handyman carefully assembled the clock, he informed me that the face was misaligned so that the key could only be used to wind the clock “with great difficulty.” Translation: It would be impossible for me without herculean strength in my fingers. But that wasn’t the only problem. Three days later the clock was running 10 minutes fast.
I emailed the owner of Old Time Chimes about the problem with my brand-new clock.
A week later, after at least a dozen emails back and forth between the owner and a local repairman, my clock was fixed—at least for the moment.
Why do I care so much about knowing the correct time? Maybe because with every passing year I feel as if time is racing along faster and faster and will run out before I know it. At the end of each year, I can’t help thinking that time is whizzing by despite Covid, war and global misery. My brother in law recently moved to Florida and just turned 80.
“How does it feel, turning 80? Howard asked him.
“Like I’ve entered God’s waiting room.”
My husband and I are considerably younger, but still. Each passing year becomes a smaller and smaller fraction of our lives, so the birthdays seem to happen more often, crowding closer and closer together. Birthday candles have been out of the question for decades.
I guess I want to know the correct time so I can use my time wisely and assert some control over it. I wouldn’t mind slowing down time, but I know that’s not going to happen because a watch or clock that falls behind is just lying to me.
I’m tired of fake news. Aren’t you?