Watching Somebody's Wrist > IDEAS & IDEALS

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  IDEAS & IDEALS

Watching Somebody's Wrist

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 Recently I came to have a very bad habit of looking at somebody’s wrist. Whenever a man stands before me in an elevator car or sits next to me on the subway train, my eyes automatically fall on the wrist of his left hand. The object of my viewing is the watch he wears around his wrist. When his coat-sleeve covers it completely I give up, but when any part of it reveals itself momentarily with the movement of his hand, I cannot desist from casting a stealthy glance at his wrist to verify the brand of the watch the man wears.

     This somewhat abnormal curiosity of mine started to develop from a month ago after I had bought a somewhat expensive watch for the first time in my life. Of course I have been wearing a watch of some kind all the time until now, but I have never paid any attention to its significance before. Watches are watches, I thought and said, and they are there to tell the time. That’s all. But with the purchase of this watch that has a world-famous brand, I realize I was wrong. Watches are not simply watches, and they are not there to tell time only. They are much more than that.

     The watch I have bought is the one whose brand is well and widely known to those who are knowledgeable of and interested in good and expensive watches. It took me some courage and financial sacrifice for the purchase of it. An old friend of mine in Seoul who has long been engaged in the business of importing this brand from Switzerland kept saying to me, “You had better have at least one good watch,” and at last I persuaded myself into believing his honest advice as well as earnest exhortation.

     Believe it or not, with the watch my life has changed. The first and most conspicuous evidence of change is the keen interest in and enthusiasm for the wristwatches that are famous for their brand names. I had not known that they are so solid and exquisite machines, so good and tender to touch and feel, and so lovely, attractive and beautiful to look at. I did not know that they are so varied in their designs, sizes and prices, and more than anything else, I did not know they have such a large market throughout the world, and there exist so many people who love them so passionately. The purchase has introduced me into a new world of knowledge and pleasure.

     For the last twenty or more years I have been receiving Time and Newsweek magazine every week and National Geographic every month with unchanging pleasure, and the pleasure of leafing through them has been doubled, nay, tripled recently. I came to see in the magazines what I had not seen before: so many magnificent advertisements for the watches. I knew vaguely that they were there all the time, but I just looked them over. Now not only I notice them; I appreciate them. The simple fact that mine is one of the watches advertised in the magazines quickens my blood circulation, and when I discover that one of the most famous athletes in the world today is wearing the same brand as mine, I feel dizzy with pride.

     You may well laugh at or even scorn me if I say that I feel better, stronger and even securer with the expensive new watch around my wrist. My new watch is definitely thicker, heavier and more metallic than the old one, but soon I got accustomed to it and now I feel uneasy and uncomfortable without it. Yesterday morning I left for my office and on the way I found, to my great dismay, I was wearing the old, thin and light watch with the synthetic leather strap. It had served me faithfully for the last five years without any trouble. But after a moment's deliberation I drove back home to get the new one, because I felt that I was not fully prepared for the day's work without it.

     However, you are greatly mistaken if you think I wear this good watch all the time. I wear it only when I go out to do some important works that require some attention, formality, and courtesy. I do not wear it when I go out for some merrymaking or sporting for fear of losing or breaking it. For these informal, rough and merry occasions or events I wear one of the light watches given to me as a gift. My good watch, along with my tie and white shirt, is an inner as well as an outward expression of my respect and preparedness for others as well as for me.

     If you endure me, nay, forgive me, I would like to confess that I feel superior to those who wear the cheap and common watches. Don’t misunderstand me. You must understand that this sense of my superiority comes from the deep appreciation for something really good, valuable and genuine, not from the depreciation, negligence or contempt for the common, practical and useful things. It is like the feeling or emotion I had felt before Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa at Louvre or before Michelangelo’s Pieta at Vatican. Before I had seen them with my own eyes, I was quite happy and satisfied with the photo pictures of them in the book.

     I must confess it was a great luck for me to have a good friend who persuaded me into buying this good watch. Without his exhortation and my trust in him the purchase would not have been made and I would live in complete ignorance of the brave new world of the wristwatches. You should know you cannot have a truly good thing with money only. Shams, fakes, make-believes, imitations, forgeries, humbugs and phoneys abound in the world, and it is very likely you are palmed off a spurious one as a genuine.

     Like a person who has recently adopted a new religious creed I began to try to convert one of my colleagues into buying the same one I had bought with the same good and honest intention. Like me he is not rich, but I know he is financially able to have one if only he decides to, but I have not succeeded yet. He keeps saying, “My watch I am wearing keeps very good time. I am quite satisfied with mine. Why should I spend such a large sum of money all unnecessarily? Besides, I have many extra watches in my house. I think I don’t need to buy any for the rest of my life.” I understand him because I see in him exactly what I was just a month ago when I had not bought this watch, but I feel sorry for his ignorance.
                                                                                                    (January 7, 2005)

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Hyomin Lee님의 댓글

Hyomin Lee 이름으로 검색 작성일

Yes! I can totally relate your satisfaction of having a watch with a prestigious brand.
Some despise and even accuse brand-named goods for causing social problems,
but they are disregarding the history and effort that has been put into the establishment and maintenance of the brand.

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이창국님의 댓글의 댓글

이창국 쪽지보내기 메일보내기 자기소개 아이디로 검색 전체게시물 작성일

To Hymin;

I am very happy to read your short response to my essay.
It is short, but very mature in your view on the subject and, more than anything else, in your English.
Congratulations! Keep up your good work !

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Oscar님의 댓글

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I enjoy reading aleicrts that make me think.
That's one of the things I like about your article.
I am also impressed with your unique take on this topic.
You have a lot of talent.

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