I’ve replaced the band twice, nearly equaling the price of a new watch.
I saved a little by taking the watch to the discount store for a battery a few months ago. The back was improperly affixed, distorting the o-ring that makes it water proof.
The watch is not dead, but dying; it still looks good.
I wish pants still had watch pockets, but I don’t own a pair of trousers containing a little slit pouch just below the waist on the right side.
My father’s gold Elgin pocket watch is in the safe box at the bank.
Bought in the early 1940s, it was among the last made before Elgin Watch Co. joined the war effort making every precision thing from military watches to aircraft instruments.
As a child, I saw my father pull the watch from his pocket, or a vest pocket, and dangle the long gold chain between his fingers.
At the end of the chain was the Masonic emblem of a “Past Master,” as a fob.
A man’s vest contains slit pockets on either side so a pocket watch may be carried on one side and the fob on the other, with the chain connecting and dangling across the belly.
Some men carried a watch in the breast pocket of the suit coat, with the fob in the little button hole of the lapel.
Fobs, or leather strips, were directly connected to a watch as something to grab and drag the watch from a pocket. When a watch had no cover, the fob covered and protected the crystal, or face.
Lilly Bomar Cason Campbell was my first cousin, twice-removed, or the first cousin of my grandfather Phillips.
Her first husband, Aldoph Cason, was a railroad engineer and carried a precision pocket watch. When he died in 1933, the watch came into the possession of my grandfather.
My grandfather carried the “railroad watch” during the last three years of his life, but it has lived in a safe deposit box since.
In later life, Lilly married a member of the Campbell family of Campbell County.
She lived across the road from and played piano on Sunday mornings at the old Owl Rock Church where she and Walter Campbell are buried.
Another watch in the safe box is a Bulova Acutron, a gift my father never wore.
The back is engraved. He was so moved by the gift that he could not bring himself to use it. He stuck to a less-expensive wrist watch.
Acutron, the first electronic watch, was certified as the most precise wrist watch in the world.
Acutrons flew in all the early military satellites and in instruments that went to the moon.
The works were powered by a tiny tuning fork vibrating at 360 times a second, the most accurate until the advent of quartz watches.
There are now gizmo watches, some perpetually corrected by the atomic clocks of the National Bureau of Standards and Technology via a radio signal from Colorado. They are called “atomic” watches, some with a compass, thermometer, barometer and more stuff to break, but I’m attracted.
I don’t know of any watchmakers anymore, someone who can clean and adjust the two pocket watches and replace the battery in the old Acutron.
I need to do something soon. This one is dying.
Joe Phillips writes his “Dear me” columns for several small newspapers. He has many connections to Walker County, including his grandfather, former superintendent Waymond Morgan. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.