It was hard to say which was worse: the fact that I was standing on a Melbourne CBD street choking on a Kool Mint while my heavily pregnant wife screamed for help OR the realisation that (while flailing about like one of those inflatable guys they have outside used car yards*) I’d gouged the crystal of my honeymoon watch on a nearby public bin.
I also felt kind of bad that my last thoughts were quite likely going to be, “Damn. Should’ve gone with the sapphire.”
Now, before you get too concerned, I just want to reassure you that it’s ok – I lived.
An urban angel (whom I remember looking like Harrison Ford - but I was pretty out of it) was the only soul to answer my wife’s sobbing pleas. He stopped, looked at me quizzically, expertly performed the Heimlich manoeuvre and then casually strolled off into the evening. He didn’t even look back.
Damn, he was cool.
The bad news is that this wasn’t even an isolated incident.
Another favourite dress watch of mine met its maker after I got caught in heavy rain. A few moments of inclement weather and the thing was rendered purely decorative.
Yet another prized timepiece was smashed when, having backed out of my driveway and taken a corner at reasonable speed, I remembered (with horror) that I had left it sitting on the roof of my car. No, I don’t want to talk about it.
What I took from these experiences (apart from an acute phobia of spherical oesophagus-blocking candy) was that day-to-day life can deal you some hard knocks. Often while you’re wearing your best watch.
The quest for the holy grail
As a keen horological enthusiast and collector, this kicked off my search for a ‘one watch’ contender. Something beautiful that could put up with me (and my bad luck).
It wasn’t a fruitful expedition. I found myself constantly having to choose between refined elegance and durability. You couldn’t have both. Not in my price range, anyway.
If you want something done properly…
Rather than whine about my lack of options, I decided that if the watch world needed affordable, full strength style (and I know it does), then I was going to create it myself.
I founded John Robert Wristwatches in 2018 specifically to make exceptionally high-quality timepieces for men who want to look the business and get down to it.
My flagship design, The Archetype, more than satisfies the brief: a classy, mid-century inspired dress watch with all the functionality and durability of a tool watch. It is, in fact, a dressy tool watch.
Tough enough to survive even me…
There’s one more story I’ve got to share.
Stepping out of my car, post midday gym session, I attempted to fasten my Archetype prototype back on my wrist. I’d obviously overdone the battle ropes because my hands were a bit shaky; my ‘precious’ slipped, bounced off the car door and skidded across the carpark concrete. Face down. For what felt like ages.
I walked over to pick it up. Skipping the first two stages of grief, I went straight to ‘bargaining’. “Please let the watch be OK… I promise I’ll never skip leg day again!”
I turned it over. It looked like it was gouged. FARK!
As my eyes teared up, I wiped the crystal with my sleeve. What had appeared to be scratches was just… road grit. The crystal was still perfect - hey, sapphire really is second in hardness only to diamond!
(Damn. Leg day for life.)
Long story short, my parting gift to you is a guarantee: this watch I’ve built can withstand almost anything.
Read Part 3 here - how one goes about creating a wristwatch with nothing but a dream and a drawing.