Mexican Bond

THE BODY sprawled by the pool on the first page of Ian Fleming’s novel From Russia With Love sported, among other things, a Gerard-Perregaux wristwatch.

He may have seemed dead, but he traveled in style. Fleming called the Gerard-Perregaux a “badge of the rich man’s club.” I also wear that badge in spite of not being rich.

Mine.

I found the watch in 1998 in an antique store in the Heights neighborhood of Houston.

The watch was inoperative, frozen, and I knew nothing of the brand. It was a time two years before I became Mexico’s Bond.

The watch was priced cheaply because it did not work. I forget how much I paid, but I immediately left it in a repair shop where it was resurrected for about $100.

Gerard-Perregaux, founded in 1791, is a Swiss maker of very high-end watches that sell new for thousands of dollars. They are every bit as good as Rolex though they make fewer watches and don’t crow about it so much.

I bought the watch for one reason. It was motion-activated. Battery-run watches screech to a halt on my wrist in a matter of hours. You may have heard of this odd phenomenon.

It is no myth.

I can only wear motion-activated watches or the old style you actually wind up. Try and find that these days. So, it’s motion-activated, or no watch at all for me.

Back in the 1960s and 1970s, it was easy to find motion-activated watches, but they gradually vanished until the late 1990s when it was almost impossible to locate one. These days, they have become popular again, considered “eco” or “green.”

I wore my Gerard-Perregaux for about five years, totally unaware of its snazzy rep, till it stopped dead again in Mexico. I took it to a humble repair shop, and the guy got it running — for about a week. I tossed it into a drawer and bought a Citizen.

Sometime during the decade it sat in the drawer, I learned what it was that I had, but I did nothing about it. But six months ago I fished it out and took it to the repair desk at the Liverpool department store in the state capital.

A month later and with my wallet over 3,000 pesos lighter, I picked it up, and it’s been running like a watch ever since. I pray this will continue for the rest of my days. I rather like being Mexico’s Bond, or at least resembling him in one small way.

Seems about right to me.

33 thoughts on “Mexican Bond”

  1. I haven’t worn a watch in decades. The last one I had was lost during a change into clean clothes after a cave exploring adventure. Must have been back in the ’70s.

    Thanks for giving us a taste of sartorial savoir-faire. Or something like that.

    Saludos,
    Don Cuevas

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    1. Don Cuevas: People have their peculiarities. One of mine is time. I have many, many others too, of course. The only time of the day or night that I am not wearing a watch is when I’m in the shower.

      I cannot let pass that you deserve a Gold Star for knowing how to abbreviate ’70s. You are impressive. So many folks do not know.

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        1. Señor Cuevas: Apostrophes are likely the most misused punctuation around. Even folks who get nothing else wrong and write very well will often misuse apostrophes. Dunno why. And with years, it’s misused more often than not. Things happened, for instance, in the ’70s, not the 70’s, but you know that. And young adults are in their 20s, not their 20’s.

          And don’t get me started on …… this ……. sort …….. of ………. thing. Lord, why do people do that? Much as I have ragged on about this rampant-dot thing, people still do it right here … a lot.

          I, on the other hand, tend to overuse commas, but I know that. I think they are cute.

          As for your watch, don’t hold your breath, ole bean. The Gold Star is as far as it goes on The Moon.

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  2. Kind of sad that all youngsters wear in the way of watches these days are cell phones or techno watches that count steps. My dad left my son a Baume and Mercier 18K gold band. I had it cleaned and spiffed up some years back but he didn’t wear it and I was afraid it would be taken by teamster movers in NYC. So I took it to the safe deposit box.

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    1. Carole: I’ve never heard of Baume and Mercier. I looked it up. Another elegant brand, though a relatively new kid on the block (1830) compared to my Gerard-Perregaux, born in 1791. In a deposit box, eh? Seems a bit of a waste.

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  3. Like Las Niñas Bien of the era, I started wearing a Rolex (Jubilee bracelet) in the ’80s, continuing up until a couple of years ago, when the watchmaker told me what a new seal would cost. He suggested that I put the Rolex away, getting it out only for special occasions. It served me well, but it was time to put it away. And then one day in Colombia, realizing that I couldn’t seem to find a public clock anywhere, I bought a Swatch, which I wear on the few times each year when knowing the time might be important.

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    1. Ms. Shoes: Considering that you’ve been a Cadillac woman, having a Rolex comes as no shock. As for the “few times each year when knowing the time might be important,” in my world that is every day of the year.

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  4. My Dad had a motion-activated watch, purchased in the ’60s. Dad died in 2010. I waited a year and then asked my Mom if I could have his watch. None of my brothers were interested in it until they saw it on my wrist (I am the only girl in a family of 5 kids). The watch is not an impressive brand, the monetary value is little. The sentimental value is great, however. I don’t wear it often, but I love that watch as it always reminds me of my Dad (he was a good one).

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    1. Joanne: I just noticed your comment in the trash pile. I have no idea how that happened. Sometimes WordPress functions badly. Apologies on WordPress’s behalf.

      Sounds like you’re putting your father’s watch to excellent use. Congrats.

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  5. My eleven-year-old Casio waterproof watch is still running on a ten-year battery. It takes a licking and keeps on ticking.

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    1. Andrés: I know you’re old enough to remember that it was Timex that took those lickings and kept on ticking. Not Casio. But a still-functioning battery after a decade is amazing. Alas, I cannot wear battery watches. If I put on your watch, the 10-year record would end swiftly.

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  6. Never heard of the brand. I haven’t been able to find a wind-up watch in stores, though I haven’t looked on Amazon. Watches have vanished in the States among the younger crowd. I’m surprised you still wear one, being a high tech guy.

    A man who wears a watch but thinks print books are old fashion. Who knew?

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    1. Ray: I had never heard of the brand either, and still would not have had I not looked it up a good while after buying it. As for wind-up watches, I bet you can find one on eBay. You can find everything on eBay.

      Young Americans don’t wear watches anymore? I didn’t know that. As for my being a high-tech guy, not really. I do love my Kindle, however, as you know. And my HP desktop too. I don’t do the internet via tablets, smartphones, laptops, etc., just my HP desktop. At home. Always at home. Well, 99 percent of the time.

      I don’t think print books are particularly old-fashioned even though one could certainly argue that they are these days. What the Kindle possesses is spectacular convenience, which is even more important for me due to where I live. I only read books in English, never in Spanish.

      If you ever get a Kindle or, more correctly, when you get a Kindle, you’ll kick yourself for not having done so long ago. It is one of the best things high-tech has come up with in the history of mankind.

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      1. Except for duct tape, baling wire and hot glue sticks.

        I’ve been meaning to ask you about Louisiana. I used to live for a short while in Chalmette, and when I’d go for breakfast and get coffee they’d always ask: “Do you want American or Louisiana coffee?” Is Louisiana a separate country? Don’t get me wrong. I like chicory coffee. I was raised on it. That was all you could get during the Second World War because German U-boats were sinking Brazilian ships as fast as possible. In fact I wish I had some right now.

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        1. As far as the coffee goes, I discovered a brand called “Community Coffee” in Baton Rouge. It is strong. It took a while to get to Alabama, but I drink it every day.

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        2. Señor Mystic: Of course, Louisiana is a separate country. I thought everybody knew that. And don’t tell me you were drinking coffee during the Second World War. You may be old, but you ain’t that old.

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        1. I hate the way WordPress won’t allow you to edit a comment.

          You are correct about the convenience. I recently went into a large chain bookstore to buy the latest release by a well-known Alabama author. Guy says, “We don’t have it, but I can order it for you.” I replied, “I can order it myself from Amazon and have it in my hands by tomorrow. This is why you guys are going out of business.”

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          1. Ray: I fixed that garble in your previous comment, but I don’t know if I fixed it the way you intended. If not, email me, and I will make you look good. Yes, I wish the WP comment system was editable too. It’s very similar to Disqus except in that important detail.

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  7. My wife suffers from that phenomenon also. I was on a bus in Iztapalapa in Mexico City when two guys got on and pulled pistols and said, “Close the door and keep driving. Everbody, watches, rings, money.” I had 50 pesos in my pocket. They stopped and said: “We said watches.” OK, I almost laughed. I had a watch with a plastic band that I had bought for 30 pesos three years earlier. They took it and departed two streets farther. Their big score was a girl who had just got paid $1,500 pesos. Wearing a Rolex or any of those highline watches will attract thieves. Even fake ones. They showed me some at a Chinese novelty wholesale store in Houston. They are called “Blocks” by people in the business. Fake rings are called “Hoops.” I knew this guy at the Astrodome who bought them by the dozen. He was gay and he would invite young guys to his pad and leave a Rolex fake lying around, and let them steal it as their “pay” and laugh about it. The Chinamen wholeseller showed me the name. I looked at the watch, and it said “BROLEX.” You take off the glass, and with box cutter, scrape off the “B” and you gotta ROLEX. Inscrutable Asians. This guy wasn’t Chinese. Actually, he was Korean. He kept looking at my friend’s dog. “pretty dog,” he said. My friend said, “You like my dog?” It was a yellow beagle. “Oh yes,” he said, “yellow dogs are the tastiest.” A few years ago, a woman wearing a Rolex was leaving the Embassy and was assaulted and killed for her watch. I quit wearing a watch. I use the cellphone clock. My cellphone is a cheapo also, no internet. I just receive and send calls, no texting. Keep it simple. I don’t play games on the ‘net either, too time-wasting. At my age, I may not have much time left. Einstein said Time shouldn’t be wasted.

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  8. Your watch is not “motion activated,” it’s automatic, which is the term that applies to self-winding watches.

    As for my own watches, I’ve been sporting an automatic Baume & Mercier “Capeland” since 2001 until a few weeks ago when it stopped working. B&M’s website was spectacularly unhelpful as to getting it repaired. But perhaps on my next trip to San Francisco I’ll see if it can be done there.

    Even though I don’t particularly need a watch (the cellphone tells more accurate time) I find it one of the best pieces of jewelry a man can wear and still remain in good taste. And if you have a nice watch, it speaks well of you even if you’re dressed down.

    Saludos,

    Kim G
    Redding, CA
    Where a late grandfather’s Rolex awaits us on the next visit to Dad & stepmother.

    Like

    1. Kim: Take an automatic watch off your wrist, and toss it into a drawer for a few days or a week. It will stop running. Ergo, motion-activated. You say toe-mah-toe. I say tomato.

      So, you’ll be sporting a Rolex before long. My, my! Fit right in with that BMW. Or is it a Mercedes? I forget which. It’s nice to have high-end amigos, even if they are long-distance.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Now you have to talk about peculiarities, and I have to…..stop…….using….all those …..cute periods?
    What is this world coming to? Us old English/History majors just hardly fit in any more. But then, did we ever?
    This blog is one of the real bright spots in my day here NOB. Have not worn a watch in years, the cell phone time is much more exact and always present, working.

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    1. Ricardo: Are you one of those rampant-dot people? There are so many of you, I lose track. I call them dots, not periods, when they are spread all over the place as so many people do. Drives me nuts and mystifies me at the same time. Why? I ask myself.

      I always eliminate them here (well, I won’t in your comment because you’re making a point, so to speak) or I at least reduce them from 20 or 50 to three, making an ellipsis.

      As for using a cell phone for the hour, it’s a lot quicker to glance at your wrist. As for The Moon being one of your day’s bright spots, thanks. I like that. You are an astute fellow.

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  10. …..wow. If dots and misplaced apostrophes trigger you I can only imagine what emojis do to you 🙂
    Millenials still wear watches but not to tell time. They are merely decoration as we found out lately. While out shopping my wife asked the time from a young man sporting a rather large shiny watch. Instead of looking at it he pulled out his cellphone.
    I have a few watches kicking around but cannot bear to have one around my wrist. That plus it’s fun asking strangers what the time is.

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    1. Brent: I have no great beef with emojis. I do not use them, however. But they do not “trigger” me. Endless ………….. dots …………..do……………,however.

      Funny about asking the kid the time, and he doesn’t take the short route directly to his wrist. Lord, what is this world coming to?

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  11. Wearing a watch no longer interests me, simply because I no longer have to be punctual for meetings or events. I have several nice timepieces, including some mentioned. The one I enjoy wearing when I do put a watch on is the one I got for a graduation present in ’66. It is a Bulova Accutron Spaceview. It is the first watch that ran on a battery, with a tuning fork motor. It has a clear face which allows one to see the inner workings and summons questions about it.

    Sadly, wristwatches along with cameras, maps and a myriad of other items are or will be obsolete soon. It will be interesting to see what people say about our gone devices in the future. All in all, time marches on, and we need to use it wisely before it passes us up.

    In our time, men were judged on a couple of things, the shoes they wore and the watches they had … (sorry).

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    1. Tancho: I don’t think of watches as jewelry. I just want to know what time it is, 24 hours a day. Personal quirk, but a good one, in my opinion. I do like those watches where you can see the innards, however.

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