Watch #8 – My Vulcain Chronograph

Some watches you just gotta have while others grow on you. Some you regret buying and others you could never afford. Some watches don’t make an impact but others define you. But can a watch take you hostage? That’s exactly what this Vulcain Chronograph did to me.

I’m a professional watchmaker and aside from fixing other peoples watches, I like to purchase watches that need service or TLC. I’ll fix em up best I can, and then sell them back to the watch loving community. This is a 70’s Vulcain Chronograph. It has a beautiful racing dial, red subdial hands and the workhorse Valjoux 7730 movement. I bought this watch last year as a “needs repair’ on eBay and sure enough it was in rough shape. The crystal was broken, one of the subdial hands had fallen off and needed repair and the movement was not running. So I serviced it and it went pretty smoothly overall. No big hiccups and now it works great and looks awesome. With all my new watches, I’ll wear them for a bit to decide first and foremost if I want to keep them for my own collection. We all know that watches can tell great stories. They are there when life moments happen and they can become loyal friends. That friendship often grows and those attachments become stronger. But what if you’re wearing a watch that you’re not crazy about when an experience that changes your life occurs? My wife told me of a good expression: “Meaning making”.

As a watch lover and watchmaker I am aware of the nostalgia that we cozy up to with our watches. We all wish that our grandfather had gifted us a rare reference Submariner. If we don’t have that, I think we assign meaning to watches just to share in that kind of connection to history. I suppose I assigned meaning to this watch. The story goes like this:

My mother died a few months ago and she was as nostalgic as anyone. I always enjoyed showing her my latest watch repair or acquisition, and she was extremely proud and supportive of my work and the field I chose. She fought cancer for almost 5 years and was an inspiration to me as she fought harder than anyone I’ve ever heard of. The day that I finished the repair on this watch, I wore it as I visited her in the hospice. I didn’t know that day would be the last day we spoke. After she died, that moment became so incredibly important to me and I scrambled to find anything to connect me to it. This watch has become that direct link. The problem is, I don’t enjoy wearing it. I don’t even really like it. To me, it’s bulky and awkward and I can’t seem to fit a strap that I like. I also feel a slight resentment towards it for holding such an important moment.

I realize that everything is still so fresh and my process is still ongoing. Who knows how I’ll feel about it in a few years. Maybe my son will want it when his love of watches develops (he’s only 9 months old, his collection is rather sparse). It’s too bad this watch doesn’t really do it for me, like I had hoped. But to me, it’s still very important. Could I eventually develop Stockholm syndrome? Where the hostage falls in love with their captor? Perhaps, or perhaps I should wear it more so that it might experience new moments that can define it. Time will tell.

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