Every Watch Tells A Story: “My Vacheron had disappeared from my wrist”Luke Benedictus
EDITOR’S NOTE: These videos for our Every Watch Tells A Story series were filmed off-the-cuff at the Time+Tide Club Christmas party. Here, Editor Luke tells the story about how he lost his watch and learned that “vintage” is sometime just a euphemism for old and decrepit.
At the end of 2018, I quit my day job in order to hurl myself into start-up life. Knowing that I wouldn’t have much disposable income for a while, I decided it was time for a modest splurge. The watch was a Vacheron Constantin Patrimony from the early 1960s. It was a slimline watch whose pale champagne dial was configured with a spacious ease that I found strangely calming. It came in a touch under $4000 AUD and when it arrived in the post, I was bewitched.
The following week, I wheeled my two young sons – then aged one and two – to my neighbouring park in Sydney’s Rushcutters Bay. The weather was muggy with stormclouds lurking overhead. After an hour in the playground, I glanced down to check if it was time to take the boys home. Unfortunately, I was unable to do so. That’s because my watch was no longer on my wrist.
It was now that I recalled the fragility of the ageing buckle. Amid the battle of trying to control two hooligan toddlers, my watch must have somehow fallen off. Horrified, I retraced my steps, desperately scanning the pavement. But the timepiece was nowhere to be found.
Back home, I hastily scribbled out a bunch of felt-tips signs yelling “LOST WATCH – REWARD OFFERED” and ran around the neighbourhood taping them to walls and trees. In the unlikely event that someone hadn’t already pocketed it, my big fear was the incoming storm. The Vacheron may have been a handsome watch, but waterproof it was not.
Dejected, I trudged home and waited. I felt sick. The watch had been an extravagant purchase that I couldn’t really justify in the first place. Now I’d lost it after barely a week.
Just after 6pm, the call came in. A middle-aged man had found my watch on the edge of the cricket pitch and spotted my hand-written sign. Almost tearfully relieved, I sprinted to meet him and gave him $100 along with my heartfelt gratitude for life.
As the rain bounced against the window that night, I ordered a new strap (pale brown, calf leather, hand-stitched). That was another $US170 to add to the tally. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the end of the additional spend.
Two weeks later, I was rushing out of the house on the way to work when I heard a delicate tinkle on the ground to my left. Peering down, I saw that the crystal had fallen clean off my watch, leaving the dial and hands completely exposed.
Restoration demanded further investment. After a trip to Max Schweizer Swiss Watch Service in George Street, the eventual repair and service cost me $800. In under three weeks of ownership, my watch had added at least a grand or an extra 20 per cent to my initial outlay ($100 reward + new strap and now this latest schmozzle).
And herein lies the unspoken truth about vintage watches. Yes, their provenance can give them a rarity value that can’t be mass-produced. But, let’s not kid ourselves here: vintage is ultimately a euphemism for old. Time inevitably takes its toll on functionality and that means regular servicing and the very real possibility of further investment. Reconcile yourself with that fact before you buy. That tarnished patina on the crown may nod to your knowing eye and impeccable taste, but it won’t keep your watch ticking. For a vintage timepiece, immortality has its price.