Watch lovers above a certain age can recall when simply seeing decent/interesting/rare timepieces was almost a cause for celebration. It wasn’t all that long ago when seeing someone wearing an Omega Speedmaster Professional was like happening upon an AC Cobra in Maine. Today has been particularly rich, but then I am staying in a hotel in Paris – and hotels are second only to airport lounges for watch, er, watching.
Trouble is, if you stare too closely at someone’s wristwear, they’ll probably think you’re planning to mug them for it. This is quite unlike a woman staring at another’s shoes when she enters the room: the wearer doesn’t expect to be held up for a pair of Choos or Louboutins, though I seem to recall it was used for a scene in Sex & The City.
(Not sure if one lady staring at another’s handbag suggests a potential burglary, but that’s the behaviour I note in every restaurant, at every party, etc. Women check out other women’s clothing and accessories. Men just check out other men’s watches. And girlfriends.)
Anyway, I wake up, head down to breakfast and the table opposite me is occupied buy three young women and two children. Definitely NOT a group one should stare at if one is old and male, but I did briefly see a white-dialled steel Rolex Daytona dangling from one wrist. Not a bad start to the day for watch watching.
Why am I in Paris? I’m at a hi-fi show, the Festival Son & Image organised by my dear friend Jean-Marie Hubert. He’s wearing a Panerai Slytech chronograph with white dial. Our mutual friend Ricardo is wearing an Omega Seamaster chronograph with orange bezel. Hi-fi guys love big watches. Me? I changed from my Grimoldi Lunar 1969 Black Shark to a Glycine Airman 1953, Ref 3904.
Here a Rolex Submariner, there an Omega Speedmaster Professional II. Lots of Cartiers adorn the female populace, one bit of nationalism that’s easy to admire. But the coolest watch at the show? Jozefina Lichtenegger, CEO of European Audio Team (E.A.T.) was wearing – instead of her usual Ulysse Nardin GMT – a 1940s military-style Longines in perfect condition, found in Prague for an absurdly low €400.
How do I know? I found it and am kicking myself for being a gentleman and letting her buy it instead instead of me slapping down the Euros….