** Warning: TLDR entry. I know it’s long. Just shut up and read it. **
In a previous entry I mentioned in passing that I’ve got a thing for watches. (Bonus for clicking link: wedding pics! NewWifey(tm) in a DRESS!)
This is absolutely absurd of course. I’m perennially two missed paychecks away from living in a Somali refugee camp. I might as well take up Fabergé Egg collecting. It’s just as farfetched.
But I have a thing for watches. What can I say.
So when I read that the Holy Grail of watch companies, Patek Philippe, was holding a one week only, first time ever, last time ever, FREE exhibition in Manhattan, I immediately grabbed the KY and a fistfull of Kleenex. When I was done I ran to NewWifey(tm).
“Honey! Honey! Patek Philippe is having an exhibition in Manhattan!! Let’s go!”
“Who’s Patek Philippe?” she said.
“Not ‘who’. It’s a watch company. Probably the most famous in the world.”
“Are they expensive?”
“Very. Even the boxes their watches come in cost more than our house.”
“So why do you want to go? You can’t afford any of them.”
“I can’t afford Alina West either, but I watch her videos.”
“Well you better not drool that much at a watch expo.” she said. “Fine. Go. Dream the dream, buddy.”
“That’s not drool” I said. “And do you want to go with me?”
“I have absolutely no interest in your fetish. Besides, I can’t tell a Timex from a toaster.”
“Don’t worry, there’ll be plenty of eye candy for you too. There’s bound to be tons of good looking wealthy guys. In suits.” (NewWifey(tm) is a sucker for suits.)
She thought a moment. “How wealthy?”
“Some of these watches cost more than Faberge eggs.”
“Ok, I’ll go” she said. “Who knows, maybe I can trade up.”
“Yeah, good luck” I said.”Just don’t forget I was the one who brought you there if you do manage to score. A new Ferrari would be a nice gesture of appreciation.”
“Yeah, good luck” she said.
The next day we drove to the Park-n-Ride in North Bergen and hopped a bus to the Port Authority in Manhattan. Outside the terminal we hailed a cab, and 7 dollars later we were deposited in front of the Cipriani building on 42nd Street and Park Avenue, right across from Grand Central Station. The line to get into the exhibit stretched back to Madison Avenue. We got on the end.
The line moved pretty quickly for all that. Because the exhibit was divided into a circuit of different rooms, the doormen would let in a group of people and when that group worked their way through the first room they let the next group in.
But even though the line moved quickly it was still a pretty blistering experience. We had a hot day to begin with, and when you added in the cars idling next to you on 42nd street unable to move for the crush of traffic, I was baking like a sidewalk ham. Plus, I was wearing my Funeral Suit (with my good Pepe le Pew tie). Even NewWifey(tm) had a distinctive sheen to her, and she was dressed decidedly lighter.
However – and this surprised me almost more than the watches we would soon see – every 10 minutes or so a phalanx of tuxedo’d waiters would emerge from the building, each carrying a large silver tray loaded with water bottles. The worked their way back down the line handing out bottles as they went. I wasn’t thirsty, but I snagged one anyway. It had custom label, with the event name and logo wrapped around in blue and gold. Fucking classy as hell. I felt immediately out of place.
So there we were on line, me sipping my free classy water and NewWifey(tm) swiveling and scanning for wealthy potential suitors. Or at least wealthy philanderers.
And of course I didn’t notice the blob of neon pink bubblegum until I stepped in it. Gahh! Have you ever stepped in New York City bubblegum on a 90-degree day? It’s like the La Brea Tar Pits, but prettier and stickier. I thought I was gonna be stuck until some future paleontologist dug me up and put my bones on display. “Early Homo. Fat. Possibly Homo. Bazooka Joe Tar Pit, Olde NY.”
Thankfully I did manage to free myself fairly quickly. But I now had a bolus of goo the size, shape, color, and smell of a jumbo shrimp stuck to the bottom of my shoe. Every step I took made a soft sucking sound and then “pop!“, and left a small pink blot on the sidewalk. Well, I couldn’t walk into the storied Cipriani building and leave a series of sticky neon blots behind me like I could at home. I had to get that stuff off.
Fortunately I always carry a credit card in my wallet. I don’t have any actual credit, but I carry the card anyway for things like scraping ice off windshields. And gum off shoes. I hopped on one foot over to the curb and leaned against a tree for support while I removed the gummed up Florsheim.
And then immediately dropped my bare foot straight down onto a pile of dog poop.
Can I say it again?
How did I not see that three inch high mound? How did I not smell it?
So there I am in Midtown Manhattan on a 90 degree day leaning against a tree in my itchy wool funeral suit, a pink soled shoe in one hand and a foot buried ankle deep in dog shit. And in 10 minutes I was going to be shoulder to shoulder with some of the wealthiest and most elegant people ever made looking at some of the most elegant and legendary timepieces ever made.
“Honey!” I yelled to NewWifey(tm). “Get over here, quick!”
NewWifey(tm) had obviously been too distracted by the glitterati to notice the drama going on right next to her, because she looked at me in real surprise and said “Why is your shoe off? And why do you smell so bad??”
I quickly explained the situation, and begged her to do something.
“Ok, ok” she said, and thought a moment. Then: “I’ll be right back. Don’t lose our place in line.”
She didn’t have to worry about that. Nobody would come within 10 feet of me. I watched NewWifey(tm) as she jaywalked across 42nd Street and disappeared into Grand Central.
Five minutes later she was back. “I knew there had to be a tourist shop in there” she said. “Here, put these on.” She tossed a small plastic bag at me.
Inside were those socks at the top of the page.
“What the…honey, you bought me clown socks?”
She shrugged. “What did you expect a tourist shop to carry? It was these or a pair with Betty Boop as the Statue of Liberty. And it’s not like I had time to hunt down a Hanes Factory Outlet. We’re almost at the front of the line. So shut up and put the socks on.”
I shut up and put the socks on. But I felt like a tourist from Des Moines.
Five minutes later NewWifey(tm) and I were waved inside.
As soon as we walked through the door both of us stopped and gasped. There in front of us, inside the Cipriani building, was another building. Patek Philippe had built an entire two story building inside the cavernous open auditorium/conference space of the Cipriani! It was a full scale reproduction of their store in Geneva, and I couldn’t resist the urge to be a total tourist dweeb and pull out my little Nintendo DSi and take a picture:
Um…my little Nintendo DSi is not made for this sort of thing. Sorry. Anyway, that’s the top of the building-in-building. I wanted to get the whole thing in, but Mario and Luigi do not come with a wide angle lens. Suffice it to say, the building goes waaaaaaaay back, and is waaaaaay high.
Inside the second building we went, and as soon as we went through the front doors we stopped and gasped again. This was to be an ongoing theme the rest of the tour. Every room, every hall, every bathroom, took our breath away. Much as I’d love to bore you with descriptions of every piece, every display, we saw, I’ll just limit myself to a few highlights.
Like Queen Victoria’s Patek pocket watch:
And one of the world’s smallest mechanical watches – that thing on the right. It’s tough to tell scale in this pic, because the larger watch on the left doesn’t look *that* much bigger. But that watch on the left is also a miniature, about the size of a quarter. The puppy on the right is officially called “The Tiny One”, and is 11mm across the face – a bit smaller than my pinkie nail. It looked like a glittery aspirin, and is wound by a teensy key at the end of that chain. Made in 1850, it still works. If I ever get a horologist gerbil, this is what I’m getting him:
Eau d’ Hudson River at twenty paces! This is one of two pistols on display which have a small watch hidden in the handle, and shoots…perfume! They were made for the Chinese market, a fact I’m still having trouble grasping. Was there a society of punctual duelists towards the end of the Qing Dynasty who felt that spraying cologne rather than bullets was a more ignominious fate for a foe? Was their hygiene so bad that the only way to mask it was to fire a .45 caliber lavender scented slug directly into their pits at 2,500 fps? I have no idea. But they sure were purty.
There were two in the cabinet, but my camera wasn’t up to the task so here’s a screen grab of one of them:
We stood and gaped at the company artisans they flew over from Switzerland to do things like engrave cases and enamel dials right before our eyes:
And then we rounded a corner and came nose to glass with this:
That, my friends, is the mythical Patek Phillipe Type 89. Yes, it really exists.
What? You’re not familiar with the Patek Phillipe Calibre 89? Well let me explain. The Calibre 89 is basically the Space Shuttle of watches, except it’s more complicated, more expensive, and hasn’t blown up on takeoff (yet).
That pretty much covers it.
So I’m standing there in front of the Calibre 89 display with my jaw open and a puddle of drool forming on top of my shoes, when the Patek attendant stationed next to it says, “Pretty sweet, huh?” He had the distinctive bulge of a shoulder holster under his jacket.
“It sure is” I said. “I wonder how long it would take me to save up for one?”
He eyeballed my 10 year old polyester funeral suit, the red plastic game system-cum-camera, the swatch of yellow and black checkers visible around my ankles, and said, “What do you do for a living?”
“I’m a radio announcer.”
“Are you Howard Stern or Rush?”
“Then do you know how old the earth is?”
“I think around 4 billion years. Why?”
“That’s how long it would take you.”
Shit. Back to saving for Fabergé Eggs, I guess.
(BTW, they’ve sold 5 of those puppies now I believe, at 26 million a pop. I guess that’s how they can afford to hand out free water. And build buildings inside of buildings. If you’re curious about the watch, what it does, why it took 9 years to make, and why I’ll never have one – and you enjoy subtitles – then this little vid is for you.)
All in all we spent about two hours wandering through that fantasy kingdom. There was a bunch of other stuff I’ll never ever ever ever ever ever be able to afford but plan on buying someday anyway. And we watched the company’s self-stroking film in the theater they built inside the building (they built a movie theater inside the building that they built inside the building!). Finally it was time to leave.
A quick stop at the gift counter for a 20 dollar commemorative program, then we were out the door and back in the 90 degree land of dog turds, bubble gum cement, tacky novelty socks, and Timex watches.
“So, did you enjoy it?” said NewWifey(tm).
“Yeah, it was great” I said. “Although it left me wishing I’d taken that position as third world potentate when I had the chance. How ’bout you? Any luck?”
She scowled. “Nah. One boob squeeze from a guy I thought had potential, but he bolted when he saw my Timex. And an offer from a foot fetishist, but…bleh. Sicko.”
“Oh well, better luck next time. If the show comes around again I’ll get you a better watch.”
We hailed a cab back to the Port Authority, and an hour later we were back at Dangerhouse.
Just one other anecdote about the day to mention here, one that I think illustrates pretty well one of the differences between “dating” and “married”.
Over dinner later (pic in a minute), NewWifey(tm) said, “What would you like for your anniversary present this year?” (When we were dating she loved surprising me with her choice of gifts. Now it’s a bit of a sodden chore to think of things, so she just asks.)
I already had my answer ready. If you read the entry I linked to up above, you know that last year NewWifey(tm) blew me away by gifting me a Movado Museum Classic watch. Pictures don’t do this thing justice. It’s gorgeous on the wrist, especially when poking out from beneath the sleeve of a black polyester funeral suit. She knew I’d wanted one for the longest time, and spent all year saving up for it. Still brings a tear to my eye thinking of that.
But here’s the thing. Watch snobs HATE this watch. Hate. When I went on a watch forum and posted, “Guys! Guys! My wife gave me a Movado Museum Classic!!” they practically banned me on the spot. “Your wife must really hate you” was probably the nicest of the comments left for me in the thread.
Why do watch snobs hate my Movado? Because it’s quartz. *Real* watches must either be hand winding or automatic (winding themselves with an internal rotor that swings around while you move your arm). People who buy quartz watches – especially Swiss made luxury quartz watches like the Movado Museum Classic – are the most ignorant of all watch people and to be shunned.
Fuck them. I love my Movado. My QUARTZ Movado.
But…I want an automatic watch too, now. Blame the Patek Phillipe show. I didn’t want the orgasm to end.
The 16th wedding anniversary is the “silver hollowware” anniversary, according to the Holy Retailers who determine these things. I’d already picked out a stunning, thoughtful gift for NewWifey(tm): a silver flask in the shape of an iPad, so she could sneak her mint juleps into…everywhere. (I still like surprising my mate and help-meet, thankuverymuch.)
So taking all this into account, when NewWifey(tm) asked me “What do you want for your present?”, I immediate answered “A Seiko-5 model SNK601!”
She groaned. “Is that another watch? Our anniversary is only a few days away – I don’t have time to save for another watch!”
“No, no!” I said. “This is like a starter watch. A watch with training wheels for people who want to see if they can handle an automatic model. It’s not expensive at all! And it’s silver!”
She sighed. “Ok, fine. Send me the link. With two day shipping that should be plenty of time.”
Four days later she gave me a wine decanter with a silver band around the neck, and a set of matching silver salt and pepper grinders.
“Happy anniversary, baby!” she beamed.
I looked at my presents. “Thanks. They’re beautiful. But…what happened to the watch? You know, the thing I told you I really wanted when you asked me what I really wanted?”
“Meh. I saw the picture in the link, and I didn’t think that would be something you’d really like. So I got you these!”
I smiled and kissed her and we had a nice meal, and afterwards I took the decanter and set it next to the three other decanters I have on the bar and put the salt and pepper shakers next to the other salt and pepper shakers.
And I love them. Fuck the Seiko-5.
THAT’S the difference between dating and marriage.
(Er…but I still want that Seiko. Someday….someday....)
Oh wait, it’s NOT The End. I forgot I promised a pic of the post-watch orgasm meal.
This is what you make when you’ve just had a watch orgasm and you’re tired and elated and one ankle smells faintly of dog shit and you just want to get some calories in so you can get back to blissfully re-living the day in your mind:
Basically, this is chicken thighs covered with leftover stuff I had in the fridge – some Mornay sauce, a bit of horseradish cream sauce, the remains of a ginger root – plus onions and the last of a clamshell of grape tomatoes, garnished with chopped scallion. Into a Romertopf, and by the time we’d showered, grabbed a quickie, showered again, changed, and opened a bottle of wine, it was ready. It was also terrific. The cheese in the Mornay made it brown up really nice, and the horseradish really gave it a welcome spark.
Ok, now it’s The End.