HBO’s The Last of Us illustrates the potent meaning watches can carry (as well as a great gift idea) HBO’s The Last of Us illustrates the potent meaning watches can carry (as well as a great gift idea)

HBO’s The Last of Us illustrates the potent meaning watches can carry (as well as a great gift idea)

Zach Blass

Editor’s note: If you have never played The Last of Us video games, or have yet to start HBO’s adaption for television (get on it!), please beware there are small spoilers for the beginning of episode one below.

Last of Us

HBO always seems to have the hit show of each season. Game of Thrones: House of the Dragon dominated the conversation last year, followed by the second season of White Lotus, and now their video game adapted series The Last of Us is captivating viewers worldwide. To give some context for the game and series, without delving too far into spoilers, The Last of Us revolves around protagonists Joel and 14-year-old Ellie navigating a post-outbreak civilisation. Ravaged by an evolved fungi, capable of infecting human beings and turning them into zombie-like creatures.



In episode one, the show begins in the year 2003 and largely focuses on the father daughter duo Joel (played by Pedro Pascal) and Sarah. These moments largely display the witty banter and love shared between them. The perfect example of Sarah’s love for her father is when she decides to swipe money from Joel’s dresser drawer, but with the wholesome motive of using that money to get her father’s watch repaired and running again for his birthday. Seeing this, it served as a reminder that sometimes the best watch-related gift you can give someone is not necessarily a new watch. Instead, it may be a better idea to take a watch that a loved one currently has and help them get it restored.

If you are a watch geek, you probably already know the nuances to consider. But, if this is new terrain for you, just remember to keep the following in mind. First, ensure the establishment you bring the watch to get repaired is a reputable and that they have the proper know-how to bring the watch back to life. Second, remember the importance of originality – do not refinish or endanger the original condition of the watch unless absolutely necessary. Servicing can be quite costly depending on the watch, its condition, and the complexity of the movement. But, ultimately, it will often be far less than the cost of buying a brand new watch and has the potential to be an even more meaningful gesture as well.

Last of Us

One of the greatest things about traditional watches is the fact that, when maintained properly, they are objects that can be passed on for generations. They can live far longer than their owners. Unfortunately, as the first episode progresses and sets the stage for the global pandemic to begin, in the chaos that ensues as the world begins to face this immense threat Joel and Sarah are shot by a US soldier and it is in this moment the watch once again breaks. The show then progresses to 20 years later, an aged Joel navigating an apocalyptic world without his daughter – still wearing the very same watch Sarah had repaired 20 years prior. The watch is now shown with a broken crystal, and to my observation no longer running. So, why wear it? I would wish for anyone reading this that the memories attached to their timepieces are ones that bring joy.

In Joel’s instance, however, it is his last connection to his deceased daughter – to the last time they were together. Understandably, Joel in the passing decades developed a more gritty outlook on the world. But, his watch, also his last connection to the world before the outbreak, serves as a reminder of his humanity. While current events within the show constantly chip away at it, the watch, and thought of his daughter and the world before, keeps the small flame of humanity burning.  It is a strong narrative device that conveys character emotion and the passage of time – or even how time stopped for him once he lost his daughter. Again, I hope the connections you all have with your watches are more joyful, but the one thing that is certain is that, for better or for worse, our timepieces can be potent symbols that carry intense meaning and therefore should be preserved and protected accordingly.



The Last of Us airs on HBO (at least in the USA) Sundays 9pm ET.