After I lost my Seiko watch bashing my way through bushes surrounding the New Zealand Parliament to escape the Police, watches ceased to be important to me. So many great and important things happened in my life that a simple time-keeper seemed banal and devoid of intrinsic interest. Of course, I needed a watch and buying one in New Zealand still made no sense so my Godfather, on a visit from Singapore, brought me another Seiko, rugged as the previous model, but this had a digital LCD face and, although it sported very many Chronographic functions, it was a watch without romance and beauty. After three years in the New Zealand Police I began law studies. I became a New Zealand Barrister and Solicitor and went on to complete a Master in Law degree at the University of Michigan Law School in the United States. Subsequently I moved to the City of London where I began working as a mergers and acquisitions lawyer in the late 1980's. With so much going on, time-keeping was a basic function and what I wore on my wrist interested me as much as the type of pencil I wrote with. That is, not at all provided that it was functional and practical.
But in London, working as a lawyer on takeovers, I was working with people for whom money was no object. People who were very rich. Not only, but the young lawyers made enormous amounts of money, more than they could easily spend. It was the Great Britain of Margaret Thatcher at the end, a time of financial liberalisation, privatisation and excess. One could afford to dress in the finest suits, choose any expensive shirt and quirky tie. There are those who are used to money and for them it is normal to have the best. There are those who come from a normal background but who thrive in an environment of luxury: they have arrived! I always felt like a bit of a fraud. I wasn't a very good lawyer, I found it boring and the hours long and tedious. Meetings seemed interminable but I travelled a lot and got to eat in some fine restaurants so it had its compensations. Of course, in such an environment the watch was a potent status symbol. But not the Rolex. In rarefied legal and merchant banking circles the Rolex is, well, too common. No, Partners in City Law Firms ad Merchant Banks had watches of the finest pedigree: discrete but unmissable, understated but saying-all.
My digital Seiko, bland and uninteresting, but functional, in this environment suddenly seemed a bit tacky. I could have kept it as a kind of historic keep-sake but in the City of London people didn't wear watches with digital LCD displays. It would mark me out and not in a good way, so I started to graze around the duty free stores at airports when I was travelling. But I never saw a watch that got my attention like that first Seiko my Godfather brought back from Singapore. This was the bar that a watch would have to surmount for me to purchase it.
Until, one day, I remember it still, at Heathrow Airport at the watch shop selling, amongst others, Breitling watches. The Breitling appeal is transparently manipulative, linking the watch to aviators. I don't know how many aviators buy a Brietling, I guess not so many, but for young city professionals the fine machinery encapsulates, however improbably, the appeal of skill and adventure. Liking aeroplanes and aviation I was rather seduced by the Breitling appeal but I found the watches mostly excessive with all their dials, over engineered bezels, crowns and screwed-in backs. I didn't see myself buying one until there it was: a Breitling unlike any other. Simple, navy-blue dial, understated elegance. Finely worked stainless-steel, elegant crown, low-set stop-watch knobs. I knew then that I had found the time-piece that would be my next chronographical companion! I bought it and it stayed on my wrist until I arrived at La Faula. I still love that watch although a watch at La Faula is unnecessary. So it sits secure in the safe and occasionally, when the safe gets opened to remove passports or important documents, I take that watch out and feel it, heavy in my hand, its mechanism still, and I enjoy the fact that it is mine.