“Wasabi? Wabi-Sabi? What?”
Wabi-Sabi, guys. Wah-bee. Sah-bee. In case you haven’t heard of it, Wabi-sabi is a “world view centered on the acceptance of transience and imperfection.” And yes, I did pluck that bit out from Wikipedia. And how does this relate to watches? Well, it’s the last part of that Wiki quote that’s coming into play here.
See? I know for a fact that there are some watch owners out there who tend to “baby” their watches a little bit more than necessary. In extreme cases, that usually means said watch barely gets any wrist time at all. Before you know it, the love is lost and up it goes for sale in a condition that’s rated “9.9/10. Barely worn.”
Nothing wrong with that, strictly speaking. Unless you’re hoarding a limited edition watch purely for the purpose of reselling it at a higher price and to that, I say to you…
In any case, back to
the wasabi Wabi-Sabi. I guess what I’m trying to say is we shouldn’t get too hung up on putting scratches or dents on our watches because at the end of the day, we’re wearing and enjoying our watches. Who really cares if there’s a hairline scratch or nine?
I’ll be the first to admit that I’m also guilty of depriving some of my more cherished watches from getting their well-deserved wrist time because I couldn’t face the fear of knocking them against a doorknob or the edge of a table. So I sit and stare at them, occasionally taking said watches out and winding them up. All this, just to remind myself why I purchased them in the first place – and it does the trick. 70% of the time.
The full 100% comes on days when I actually wear said watches. And every single time, I try to remember how good it feels to have them on and I tell myself “Dude, you gotta’ experience this more, man. WEAR. YOUR. WATCHES.”
Unfortunately, I’m still in the midst of fully embracing that.
“Or am I?”
See, all that changed when I took delivery of my Seiko SRPC35K1 ‘Mini Turtle’. The shift began innocently enough. The watch came on a steel bracelet and while I had no problems with it (it’s a supremely comfortable bracelet, btw), I quickly began to look for alternative straps to pair it with.
Within a day or two, I dug up a suitable leather strap and decided to get to work. With my spring bar tool and desk all cleared, I began the (relatively) straightforward process of removing the bracelet first. Side note, the SRPC35K1 has solid end links. Solid end links! On a watch costing just a little over RM1,000!
So anyway, things were going smoothly until…
My hands stopped doing what they were told to do.
I can’t even remember how it all played out but one minute I was pushing the pointed end of the tool into the drilled lugs of the watch and the next thing I knew, my hand decided to pull up with just enough force to damage said pointed end. Now, you might think, “Okay, no big deal. Let’s just use the forked end and pull the spring bars out like how anyone would do on a watch without drilled lugs.”
Breathe, breathe, try again.
My hand slipped.
For those who have yet to try swapping out the straps/bracelets on your watches by yourself, let me tell you that when this happens, it’s NOT good. For those who have had the displeasure of doing it, you know what comes next.
Those are NOT smudges, they’re scratches
So there I was, seated at my work desk, staring at the scratched inner lug of a watch that hadn’t even seen a week’s worth of wrist time. First, there was denial. I could not, would not believe that I had just mucked up my brand new watch. After more incredulous staring came anger.
My useless hands. My useless brain. Why?!
Then, bargaining. “It’s not that deep right? It’s not even a scratch. I bet it’s just dirt. Right?”
Then, depression. *pensively stares out the window*
Then, acceptance. *orders a set of Cape Cod polishing cloth*
*Cape Cod set arrives*
Now, it’s during this time window where it slowly dawned on me. The concept of Wabi-Sabi. Learning to accept imperfection and how, in some odd way, that actually makes an object more desirable from an aesthetic point of view. Maybe because having that degree of imperfection allows us to impart traits of what makes us human onto inanimate objects. As a result, the watch becomes more relatable, more characterful. More… human. More like us.
Now before I begin to really sound like a preachy moral philosophy professor (and that’s why everyone hates them), let’s get back on track with my dinged up ‘Mini Turtle’. Over the next few days, I convinced myself that there was no point in treating it like a safe queen because of 1) the aforementioned scratches, and 2) it’s a diver from Seiko!
These watches are meant to be abused. Not putting a scratch on a diver is akin to buying a hot hatch and never giving it a decent thrashing. It does not compute. And so the watch came along with me to work, to the grocery store and even to the gym.
All of this, on a bike.
And you know what? Not once was I convinced that this was a mistake. Quite the opposite, in fact. In this short span of time, I bonded with the ‘Mini Turtle’ more than I ever did with some of my previous timepieces. Oh, and you know what’s even better? That feeling of… liberation. The realization that it’s completely okay to put battle scars on your own watches.
He says as he polishes the scratches away…
I’m not gonna’ lie, though. It hurts like heck with the first scratch but trust me on this, you’ll forget about it in no time. It won’t matter in the long run. Plus, it’s an abating thing. Every subsequent scratch/ding/dent will have a smaller psychological impact and before you know it, you’re really marking that watch as your own. It’s a watch that has really, really lived a life with you.
So, get out there and USE your watch! Wabi-Sabi the living daylight out of it! My watches are now more “damaged” but I’ve never been happier.
“Really? Really, though?”
Okay, fine. Just make sure you have a set of Cape Cod cleaning cloths with you, alright?