My weird Rolex relationship, or "Thanks, Dad."

First off, this post is in no way to impugn anyone's positive Rollie-thing.  They are indubitably great watches, but just not so much for me.

I come from the olden times, b. 1960 (hiya, GS, my beloved twin!).  My dad was the arbiter of taste and value in our house, since my mom didn't really usually care.  He did like watches, but was too busy with work and another passionate hobby to be a collector of them.  This shared liking was one of our points of connection, for sure.

Except for an exciting flirtation with the Hamilton Ventura, which made us both giggle with joy, my dad's watches were a plain OP for the weekends/outdoors and something for dress /daily that I just don't remember--thin, gold, white face...maybe PP?  or maybe he wore the OP for work, since as a doctor he might have found it rugged? Did he have others?  (Look at my birthdate-- going back a loooong time, here, memory-wise.)

(And remember the "usually" for my mother?  She made him get rid of the Ventura bc it was "too tacky for words."  It went to showy Uncle Roger, so at least I got to see it sometimes.)

My mom had some sort of small, gold, integrated bracelet watch that might have been an Omega, and that I search for fruitlessly on the internet.  Lady-like, but no-frills since that was the sort of starchy, preppy-plain culture.

And I had a variety of kid-appropriate watches that I don't remember much about.  

Anyway, pre-Quartz crisis, Rolex was a workhorse watch, albeit a much more expensive one than many others (although, in 1960s dollars, only about 1500 or so?  What gives?).  It was often given as a grown-up gift (mostly to boys; girls usually but not always got something girly-er), but there always seemed to be a passive-aggressive message to that, in my eyes:  "be on time!" or "good enough for you--buy your own dress watch!"  or "you've got a good long time before you inherit my Patek,"  etc., etc.  

And honestly, half of the old-money ppl I grew up around (not us; invited to the Manor but not born to it at all) wore Timex or some other simple, maybe American-made watch of the time for their beater.  

So that was the state of watch-affairs chez Fracas, until the QC.  And then, my dad soured on everything...European, as far as consumer goods.  And I'm not quite sure why.  A combination of some sort of snobbery--Rolex's new marketing, increase in bling, sales-force-branded commemoration-watches?-- along with also some sort of delight in and admiration for Japanese production and design.

So Rolex disappeared, as did my mom's gold watch, as did the BMWs.  And one Christmas, we all got Seikos, and, like a new pony in the barn, a Toyota.  And I fell in love--aesthetically, mechanically, and I guess permanently.

And then flash-forward many, many (many) decades, to hobby-ism.  About a year into this thing we all do, I thought--"well, hell-- I might as well just get a Rolex, since it will be the essentially well-built and classic watch that will address all of the reasons I sought out a mechanical watch in the first place."  And since my dad had died long before, it was just me and my own watch-thoughts to contend with.

I didn't like the current catalog then (2017?), so I went to the pre-owned market and bought a small OP, which I thought would remind me of my dad, my history, etc.

And, reader-- I. Hated. It. 

By then, I already had-- or had had, in the early stages of excited experimentation--many watches:  a variety of Seikos, a GS, Hamilton, Tissot, Omega, Longines, Orient, Cartier, some early micros, etc, etc.  And while most of them had left due to my tiny-wrist issues, they all had had one thing in common:  they had charmed me.

I went to Rolex ADs, in the theory that perhaps I had just chosen the Wrong Rollie.  But no, time after time, while appreciating the quality and feel and history, each watch hit my wrist and sat there like a lox.

So the OP went bye-bye (that was easy), and since then I have been Rolex-free, and also happily, at least, free from the angst of the recent Rolex-wars.  

And I don't know how much of this is inflected by my dad, and his taste, and his Rolex purge of the 1970s.  But that is my weird Rolex relationship.  If you show me yours, I will be happy for you and appreciate it.  But I won't want it.

Although I have never tried the Explorer 1, and it has grown on me...and maybe, just maybe...

Thanks for reading my long and self-indulgent watch thoughts.  Hope others will share their histories, around any brand.

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Taste, desire and politics are funny things. 

Charming telling of the indifference to Rolex watches. 

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Explorer one a good choice for the smaller wrist. Mind you you mentioned cartier and thats maybe an even better choice.

Nice story by the way.

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Great story. Given my Dad’s own tango between his 50th birthday Rolex and his longterm Seiko diver, your tale really resonated. Thanks for sharing it.

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Great read!

It's funny, but I had the same reaction to the OP when I finally got one too.  I kept it for all of 3 days before moving on from it.  In my own case, it was because I'd discovered Omega by then, and I preferred Omega's finishing to Rolex's.  

How "tastes" change, amongst individuals as well as in society at large is incredibly fascinating to me.  It's crazy how a "workhorse" watch brand, like Rolex, was positioned perfectly to go from "well-built for the everyman" to today's Flex brand!  It'll be super interesting to see how tastes evolve again, and what else commands cache that we could never have predicted.  Like, maybe 20 years from now the buying public will be going insane over WD-40.  The spray lubricant will be selling on the grey market for 200% markups over MSRP.  Waitlists at Home Depot will go 3 years on the more popular 16oz spray cans.  Young men looking flex in order to attract mates in the Metaverse will bring in home cured prosciutto to their ADs, hoping to get their hands on the coveted blue and yellow branded "aerosolized gold."

r/WatchesCirclejerk - I have no idea what to think about this
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Thanks for taking the time to post!  Yes well I am about the same age as you and it is interesting my dad was a pilot, and as such had a few notorious pilot watches over the years.  He wasn't known for taking good care of them; in fact it really was viewed as a tool or instrument for him, one that could be replaced once it malfunctioned.  I scavenged a couple of these tossed aside pieces and had them restored to working condition, but sadly a few were beyond resurrecting.

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Nice story!

I‘m similar to you.  My dad decided to sell his 1966 Rolex Explorer (it was $600 bucks brand new, he could afford it by saving up his lifeguard wages, try that today).  
I helped him sell it 1. because he could get 20k for it and that is way too much $ for me, and 2. I tried it on for a few days it decided it was just too boring and not worth convincing him he should sell it to me at a discount.  

Now, like yourself, no desire to enter the turbulent Rolex Wars and 50 shades of grey market dealers.  Happy to be a no Rolex watch collector 🙂

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UnholiestJedi

Taste, desire and politics are funny things. 

Charming telling of the indifference to Rolex watches. 

Yes, and the politik of taste as well.  My parents were both lefty-liberals, but quite the aesthetic snobs.  I always found that odd.

Thanks-- really write to charm myself, but always nice if someone comes along for the ride 😉

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Justingalore

Explorer one a good choice for the smaller wrist. Mind you you mentioned cartier and thats maybe an even better choice.

Nice story by the way.

Thanks...I think I might like to write, which is a new thing to learn about myself.

It will take a long, slow perusal to see if the Explorer might join the watchbox.  But 36 is absolutely a sweet spot.  And I have a vintage Louis that is sometimes called a mini-Louis, but it has so much presence that it is a perfect fit.   Also, 6" wrists 😕

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TickyBurden

Great story. Given my Dad’s own tango between his 50th birthday Rolex and his longterm Seiko diver, your tale really resonated. Thanks for sharing it.

Thanks!  Hey, maybe you'll write about that; sounds interesting. There's something about that Dad-way-of-being that I love, and that I think I share even though I'm as far from a Dad as can be. 

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SurferJohn

Thanks for taking the time to post!  Yes well I am about the same age as you and it is interesting my dad was a pilot, and as such had a few notorious pilot watches over the years.  He wasn't known for taking good care of them; in fact it really was viewed as a tool or instrument for him, one that could be replaced once it malfunctioned.  I scavenged a couple of these tossed aside pieces and had them restored to working condition, but sadly a few were beyond resurrecting.

I love to be able to get my watch-thoughts out of my head in this nice place 😀

Yes, it was such a different time in terms of watches as tools.  And of course for a pilot, always the next level--indispensable and life-saving.  And like any tool, you often need to cut your losses and move on to the next when it stops working; that can be a safety issue, too.

Hope you'll maybe post some of those pieces and write about them...that's fascinating.  I wish I had my Dad's old watches, but they all seem to have disappeared before I even thought to keep track of them or save them. 

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Fieldwalker

Nice story!

I‘m similar to you.  My dad decided to sell his 1966 Rolex Explorer (it was $600 bucks brand new, he could afford it by saving up his lifeguard wages, try that today).  
I helped him sell it 1. because he could get 20k for it and that is way too much $ for me, and 2. I tried it on for a few days it decided it was just too boring and not worth convincing him he should sell it to me at a discount.  

Now, like yourself, no desire to enter the turbulent Rolex Wars and 50 shades of grey market dealers.  Happy to be a no Rolex watch collector 🙂

Thanks!  

That's good to hear; I sometimes feel a bit odd in my disinterest and indifference, which is different from dislike.  Maybe worse, somehow.  As you say, too boring. 

And I really like your story.  I remember those days; how did we end up here?  Glad you helped your dad,  and stay Rolex-free 😉  

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Fracas

Thanks...I think I might like to write, which is a new thing to learn about myself.

It will take a long, slow perusal to see if the Explorer might join the watchbox.  But 36 is absolutely a sweet spot.  And I have a vintage Louis that is sometimes called a mini-Louis, but it has so much presence that it is a perfect fit.   Also, 6" wrists 😕

Ooh do you have a pic. I  have the medium tank but rocked the smaller one for a while. 

Image
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Justingalore

Ooh do you have a pic. I  have the medium tank but rocked the smaller one for a while. 

Image

Here it is!  Double French-stamped, 1970s. Bought it from the original purchaser, which was quite a nice bonus. Original box, too, which is quite beat up but still special. 

My wrist is 6" and I'm a terrible photographer.  It actually looks a bit smaller on my IRL.

  I love yours; do you not have the smaller one anymore?

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Fracas

Here it is!  Double French-stamped, 1970s. Bought it from the original purchaser, which was quite a nice bonus. Original box, too, which is quite beat up but still special. 

My wrist is 6" and I'm a terrible photographer.  It actually looks a bit smaller on my IRL.

  I love yours; do you not have the smaller one anymore?

No I preferred the size of the bigger one and the accuracy of solarbeat. A bit like for you, I find the watch photographs bigger than it is.

i much prefer it  on leather than the  bracelet I was trying out in the photo.

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Justingalore

No I preferred the size of the bigger one and the accuracy of solarbeat. A bit like for you, I find the watch photographs bigger than it is.

i much prefer it  on leather than the  bracelet I was trying out in the photo.

Makes sense.  Well, it's a sweet little piece; maybe not super-versatile given its size and age, but I doubt I'll part with it.  

I actually like your solarbeat on the bracelet-- toughens it up.  (Aiming for a steel Santos next year or so, just for that reason)