After 15 years of service, my stainless steel Rolex Datejust died yesterday. The hands will only move backward instead of forward.
Rolex watches have a terrible reputation for being handsome but then dying at an early age. My Rolex never failed me a day in 15 years and I will miss its ugly magnifying bubble for the date and its dull blue face. 


The death of the Rolex was a bit of a heartbreak because that watch was given to me by my mentor, Marshall Jamison, upon the occasion of my graduation from the Columbia University MFA program.
The Rolex had a functional role and a melancholy one because Marshall died a couple years ago. Here is the start of my online memorial to a great master:

On September 2, 2003, the earth broke for us forever when
Marshall Jamison died of congestive heart failure in Orlando, Florida.
He was 85. Marshall was a fine man, a great scholar, a caring father, a
proud mentor and a loving friend. He was a Golden Boy in the Golden Age
of television.

When it came to writing the only thing that mattered was
if the work was good: Fame, success and money all flowed from being
good first. One of Marshall’s many gifts was making bad good. We
already painfully miss him for the world is less without him. Marshall
Jamison’s intelligence, beauty and kindness were powerful inspirations
for everyone at GO INSIDE Magazine and he will eternally shine herein
and glimmer from within us always.

Marshall was the best and I miss him and think of him every day.
My new Seiko replacement watch arrived today and, while it isn’t a
Rolex, it tells time fine at a fraction of the price, but it has not a
sliver of magnitude:

Seiko Diver's Watch

The
Seiko Diver’s watch is big and bulky and sort of fun to have around my
wrist, but somehow I doubt I will still have it around in 15 years.
My “Marshall Rolex,” old and broken and backward telling, shall remain
with me forever.

17 Comments

  1. Man, I know how you feel. I got a red Timex as a Christmas gift from my aunt when I was in third grade. I loved that watch. It had roman numerals on the face and I used to use it to cheat on my roman numerals exam, but only up to twelve, of course. Although, they had four like IIII instead of IV. I don’t know what that was about. It finally died when I was a sophomore in college. I was devasted. Telling time has never been the same.

  2. Hi Korean Celt —
    That’s a wonderful story and I thank you for sharing it here.
    I think we can have deep relationships with certain timepieces because we connect with them during many moments throughout the day and we are reminded of the real value of the piece if is has an internal sentimental marker.

  3. Mate you can get the Rolex fixed. My brother has a Rolex that my grand dad gave to him and it’s about 64 years old I believe. It did break down once but he got it fixed and still works like a charm.
    Great post mate!

  4. Pasha!
    Yes, I could get it fixed but it will probably cost more than my Seiko to make it so! 🙂
    I was waiting for the “I have a 200-year-old Rolex that never missed a second since George Washington gave it to my great-great-grandpa” comment and I’m glad you gave me that message in such a nice way. 🙂
    I think the problem with the Rolex is in the auto-winding mechanism. In a quiet room you can usually hear and feel it “wind” as you move your wrist up and down. All is now silent… probably indicating a screamingly large bill to fix.

  5. I took a cheapo battery powered watch in to get the battery changed. Getting a large chain store to change a battery is impossible. Walmart and Target wouldn’t touch it. I took it to a jewerly store. They changed the battery, but the watch didn’t work. (They doubled checked with another battery to make sure their new battery wasn’t dead). Today’s cheap watches are disposable. If the battery dies and it isn’t replaced immediately, there is a chance that the watch will be ruined. This is probably the reason why the large chain stores don’t change batteries any more.
    I miss my old Timex from the ’70s. It took a licking but kept on ticking.

  6. Hey Chris!
    I agree the new watches today are pretty awful.
    The self-winding watches aren’t too bad, though, and you avoid having to deal with dead batteries.
    I, too, enjoy the old over the new because craftsmanship meant something back then.

  7. Wow!
    Sarah!
    I am impressed you found a job via the online services. You are the only person I know who made it that route.
    Do you have any secrets of your success to share? How long did it take to get the job?
    Do you think geography plays a role?
    Would you go that route again?

  8. Sorry I got here so late. I have been agonizing over my Rolex for almost six months now. I have had it 10 years this January. The time piece works fine, I “only” broke the clasp off of the braclet. ONLY! After six weeks at the local Rolex dealer they claim I need a whole new braclet. Only about 5 to 10 times more than your average watch price. I think I am the only Rolex wearer with the braclet held closed with a piece of tape. Still sick to my stomach over the whole thing. I thought it would last me forever.

  9. I have a very old watch that is a man’s, says Rolex on it, and looks like the oyster perpetual watch…
    How do I tell if it is genuine? It was given to me by a very old man, who died 12 years ago, at age 84! He wore this watch as long as I can remember, so it is OLD!
    But, when looking for a serial number on it, I could find none.
    Is the watch still worth anything if it is not real, and did they make fake Rolex’s way back then????
    I’m confused, to say the least.
    Any help would be appreciated.
    Thank you…