#FieldNotes – My Father & His Watch

In the spirit of Father’s Day this year, we here at Team Matick thought we share with you some of our intimate and personal watch-related stories with the one of the most important men in our lives.

Do you have a story you would like to share?

Feel free to reach out to us and we may just feature them on here.


Marshall

As a young boy, my father didn’t grow up with much to his name. He was born in Penang Island, Malaysia, to a family that was poor, and he was the first son to receive a scholarship to pursue his studies in the United States, which was something unheard of at the time in the family.

He wasn’t a man who celebrated much of these milestones in life, his focus has always been on survival more than anything else. He left for the US as a young boy who knew little about the world outside of Penang Island, with quite literally nothing to his name. He had no choice but to resort to working multiple part time jobs during his studies to keep himself afloat. This thrifty and frugal lifestyle pretty much influenced his outlook on life throughout his youth, and eventually his adulthood. He never asked for much, and could easily get by with bare minimum; that was the kind of man my father was – and still is to this day.

When I was finishing up law school in 2016, I decided to get my father a watch to signify my appreciation. After several months of rigorously saving every penny I could, I managed to save up for a Seiko SNZF17 “Sea Urchin”.

It wasn’t exactly a fancy watch by any standards, but it was a versatile one. When the watch first arrived, I swapped out the rattly bracelet for an aftermarket one with straight end links; I’d say it gives the watch a pretty nice look. I passed this Seiko to him when I got home from the UK couple months later, he didn’t say much about it (apart from complaining about the price I paid for it at the time), but one day he sent me a wrist shot of the watch on his wrist, and the rest is just history. Just by looking at the watch, you can tell that he wears it every single day and on every occasion. All the scratches, dings, and dents, they are all the spirit of my father embedded into this watch, and that is the beauty of it.

This Seiko would eventually also give me something to hold on to, a memory of my father for me to keep and cherish when he is no longer with me, and hopefully one day, pass it down to my children.


KC

The story of my watch journey first began with my father’s 1952 Omega Seamaster. It’s a story I’ve mentioned a couple of times on the KC & JonJon podcast already, but the short version is that my old quartz watch died and I searched the house for any watch that I could wear to work. I stumbled on this old Seamaster, which my father said wasn’t working right. But I shook it a little and the watch immediately started ticking away, and I wore it to work the next day. 

This old Omega Seamaster is a fairly basic, stainless steel, time-only watch with a central seconds hand, and has the bumper-wound Omega Caliber 352 beating within. Patinated beyond all recognition under the heat and humidity of tropical Malaysia, the dial is now a splotchy brown, with some marring of the hands and markers as well. Having finally been serviced in 2016, the watch is now worn sparingly, but keeps good time and has a decent power reserve despite the inefficient bumper mechanism.

The watch itself, however, has some nebulous origins. The serial number dates it to 1952, but my father first got hold of it sometime in the 1980s when it was gifted to him by my uncle. My uncle picked it up from a watch store selling second watches, and it came without box, papers, or service history, as is par for the course with most watches of this vintage. My father then wore the Seamaster for the next 20 years or so without ever sending it for a service, before the power reserve gradually worsened and he gave up on it and kept it in a drawer.

My father, like many others of his generation, learned the need for financial prudency from a young age. Having come from a blue-collar family with 7 other siblings, life was never easy and a dollar saved was more than a dollar earned. The Omega Seamaster was a watch that he appreciated, but also seemed too expensive to send for a service. Why spend so much on this old watch when you can spend less on a brand new one that could tell time just as well, if not better? It is only now in his retirement that he has started to indulge in some of his hobbies, including golf and horology. And that included sending this Seamaster in for a much-needed service.

So this Father’s Day, I’d like to celebrate the spark that lit our joint fascination with mechanical watches: this water-damaged, six decade old watch that simply refused to die. And I hope to keep it alive for many decades to come.


Vincent

I have two watches passed down from the men in my family. 

I inherited the first one from my dad in 2017 when I came back to Malaysia during summer break. I was given the option to choose between a Victorinox Maverick Chronograph and this, a Tag Heuer Formula 1. I chose the Tag of course, because of both the brand and its 40mm case size. As you can see clearly, the watch is full of “character”, as enthusiasts might call it, but really it was just beaten up as my dad works in the furniture manufacturing industry.

The second one came in the form of a 26th birthday present. A little background on my late grandfather: he grew up in Seremban, Negeri Sembilan and worked as a truck driver at the age of 18, before moving over to soy sauce manufacturing. By the time my dad was around, he had a company with a business partner manufacturing and selling soy sauce to the local grocery stores and restaurants. Sadly, his then business partner pulled some strings behind his back and ultimately gobbled up the entire business, which resulted in my grandfather being ousted from the company. 

With that, and also the early passing of my grandmother, it resulted in my grandfather feeling defeated. I still remember my aunt telling me this: “After seeing the state that your grandfather was in, we as his children swore to work hard so we can all provide him a better life.” A year after I was born in 1995, his children, including my dad, bought him a watch to signify the success that each of them had achieved for him, and it was this very watch, the Omega Constellation 1512.30.


Jon

You might have heard me talk about the story of how I got into watches on the KC and JonJon podcast multiple times, but since it’s Father’s Day, I’m quite happy to put it all into writing.

As far back as I can remember, I’ve always had a watch on my wrist. Whether it was a funky Swatch, or some McDonald’s Happy Meal freebie, that small piece of real estate on my right arm was taken up. As I got older, I enjoyed pretty interesting fashion watches; watches that told time in quirkier ways than your regular three-hander.

My interest in mechanical watches started when my dad decided he had outgrown three of his watches and gave them to me. These were a Panerai Radiomir, a Gerald Genta Arena Biretro, and a Alain Silberstein Pikto. These mini machines fascincated me, from the sweeping seconds hand, to the spinning thing at the back. That got me doing more research and led me down the incredibly deep rabbit hole of this hobby of watch collecting. So, as much as he complains that I am spending way too much money on watches, I have to give him a friendly reminder that it is actually all his fault.

I’d have to say that my dad’s tastes in watches are similar to mine. He appreciates the finer details, like the enamel dial on his Breguet Classique 7147, but he also admires eccentric pieces, such as the Pikto that he gave me. He’s also given me advice in watch collecting, such as not to buy a certain brand’s products because they don’t contain in-house movements, or to save my money to buy watches from brands with watchmaking pedigree. Sometimes I listen, most of the time I don’t. My dad and I don’t really have much in common, but I’m glad watch collecting is something that we can share.


Happy Father’s Day.

For Team Matick,

Marsh, KC, Vincent, Jon

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