My father died on 18th September and so I felt the time was right to re-publish an article I wrote some time back. It’s about a humble watch which has become the most important material possession I will likely ever own.
A grail watch is considered to be the one that an individual desires for many years and I have almost got mine now. There is a reason why it is ‘almost’ my grail watch, but it is not quite because I cannot get the model I really want.
When I was a child, my father used to wear a Bulova Accutron Snorkel 666 feet which I was always fascinated by. He treasured it a lot and I remember watching him staring at it for much longer than he needed to when he was checking the time. It was there when we played in the garden and when he helped me with my homework. It was there when he played football in the park with me and when we did everything else together, including letting me put it to my ear to listen to the familiar electronic buzz of the movement. This watch is such a distinct reminder of my father that it became my grail watch a long time ago, but there is a problem.
For a father to pass down a watch to his son that is a big thing, but unfortunately my mother cannot find the watch. My father is in the latter stages of Alzheimer’s and many possessions have sadly gone missing, along with his oh so brilliant mind, and so we continue to search for the one thing I would like to be handed down to me. It is the perfect memory of my father and one which I dearly hope to retrieve when he passes, which is expected to happen soon. Maybe I am grasping anything to remember him by, a small trinket to keep him alive, but the reality is that his personality died long ago and so we are left with the shell of a man who we watch decline month after month.
If I could find that particular watch, and I mean the actual watched he wore during my childhood, it would mean so much more than a keepsake or a memory. It, to me, is him because it was there during my formative years and I want that exact watch on my wrist, and I want my son to feel the same way about it when I pass it on to him. Only a watch can do that for me purely because he was not a man who wore jewellery and so it is the only object that would mean so much.
Until that time I will have to live with a shell of the watch I really want, but it is a fantastic piece of technology which marries the best of old and new in a form which is delightful to look at from any angle. The Bulova Accutron II Snorkel is a clever recreation of the original and as you can see below, it most certainly follows the lines and form of the 666 feet well.
The internal rotating bezel remains, as does the instinctively 1960’s design, but inside is the latest Accutron movement from Bulova which is accurate to +/- 10 seconds per year. There is no day indicator, but in every other respect it is the original, if you don’t look too closely, just with a slightly modernised face.
I could buy an original for £350 in very poor condition, roughly the same price as the one above, but it has to be the one my father wore to make me wear it every day and to cope with lesser accuracy. Sadly the latest Accutron is a shell of the original, just like my father is of himself today, but if you want style, functionality and something that is a little different, this is the watch to buy at the moment…
…and then my mother called to say that she had found the watch in the loft. It had somehow come out of a box of ‘stuff’ and was nestling in the corner in the dark, alone and in poor condition. I really did not care because all I wanted was the watch and to see it again.
It arrived and I spent an age just staring at it, playing with the crowns that both struggled to even move and looking at it from every angle. You can look at this watch from any angle and always see something new, something clever and an original aesthetic which is rare in modern watches no matter how expensive they are. A look inside proved to be disheartening because it looked dire, rusty, nothing moved and so I imagined it would just sit on a shelf as a keepsake from the man who is still somehow hanging in there.
I searched for someone to repair it and found Paul from Electric Watches (Welcome to Electric Watches! – Electric Watches). I emailed him and duly sent the watch to be looked at. Paul was quick to respond and had all of the parts it needed to come back to life, and the quote was much better than I expected.
Two day’s ago I received the Snorkel back and it is humming nicely, it is deadly accurate and it is in near perfect condition. All that is missing is an original strap, which is not easy to find, and that’s it. The watch retains a sense of age in places which is an advantage and really does feel like the one I used to admire so much.
This is it for me. I can think of no other watch I want to wear every day. I wanted this watch when I was 5 year’s old and I still love it today at the age of 45. My father bought this watch to celebrate my birth just after I was born and he always wore it, and I shall do the same. It brings home to me that a watch for many people is often much more than a beautiful device used to tell the time. It can be everything.