My Journey Towards WISdom (Part 2)
The lean years (1983-2002)
From 1983 to 1997 my fascination with watches somewhat declined and I shifted from one quartz watch to another. 1983 was the year I learned to drive and I guess I was more interested in cars and girls, therefore watches took a backseat.
I distinctly remember what I wore in 1983, which was a Citizen Ana-Digi Temp.
It was my first hybrid (analog-digital) timepiece and had a thermometer readout, which was considered a pretty nifty feature at the time. I must have worn the watch for about two years and later had a few digital watches, notably the Casio with the built-in calculator.
Yup, the geekier the better! Here’s a borrowed photo of the Citizen Ana-Digi Temp. Citizen made dozens of this model and probably made reissues in limited quantities right to the late 1990s. Mine had a different dial color scheme but the layout is like so. What I liked about this watch that it combined two analog subdials (hour and minute on the left, perpetual seconds on the right) with two main LCD segments and a separate LCD function indicator.
Two examples of classic Citizen Ana-Digi Temps
I may have worn the Citizen Ana Digi Temp until early 1985 and changed to some other watch that I cannot really remember. I may have worn one or two Casio digitals that formerly belonged to my brother.
In 1987 my family took me to Singapore (by now I was the official car driver) and for some reason I told my mother I wanted a new watch. This time I decided to tone down on the geek factor and go for something more suave, more conventional. The result was this fine H557 caliber, Seiko analog digital alarm chronograph. Its production date is November 1984. It’s kind of cool to have a watch made in the same month as my birth month. Of course, when I bought the watch I had absolutely no idea what the serial numbers on the caseback meant.
My H557 compared to the huge Seiko SNKF05K
It’s a pretty small watch by my standards today, measuring at only 32mm diameter (with crown) and 38 mm from lug to lug (north-south) with a thickness of only 7 mm. It’s made in Japan at Seiko’s Suwa factory (the other one was the Daini factory.) I stopped wearing this watch by the early 1990s. When the battery died I just stashed it away and couldn’t be bothered with the third battery change. In the early 1990s my career at Maybank began and I tended to wear mostly Casio analog digitals and an obscure, hand-me-down Guess “moonphase" quartz dress watch from my dad.
Here’s a rare old self-portrait of yours truly wearing the Seiko H557 watch. 🙂
My interest in Casio watches revived in 1995 with the Model DW-5900 G-Shock. I bought it from an electrical appliance store (of all places!). I was interested in that cool G-Shock primarily because of its EL (Electroluminescent Light) and not much else. I had read about Timex‘ Indiglo watches in magazine ads but at the time the local stores didn’t carry the Timex brand.
The G-Shock served as my beater watch and I practically wore it everywhere, even to the African country of Malawi in 1998, on a work assignment. When I got home the first thing I did was to reward myself with a “better" watch. I regarded watches in the same vein as clothes, I hated the idea of having to visit the tailor or a watch store. In other words, I thought of watches as a necessity rather than a passion that I could indulge.
Here’s a borrowed photo of a DW-5900, similar to mine but this one has orange text instead of red. The DW-5900 is perhaps one of Casio’s best selling classic G-Shock models, considering that it is still in the market since the mid 1990s.
Yep, I found one of my old photos of myself wearing the old DW-5900. This scanned photo was taken at dinner time. The flat had virtually no furniture and the electrical contractor and network cabling guys had to contend with sitting on the cold floor.
It was pretty chilly in this mountainous town of Blantyre in June when the “winter" season sets in. I actually measured the temperature with a small mercury based thermometer and it got as low as 15° Celsius at night, when the wind was blowing.
What happened to my G-Shock? I didn’t bother to replace the battery after the second time. Well, sometime in 2003 I tried to revive it with a fresh battery. The watch functioned but the left half of the LCD numerals simply disappeared. The resin band had deteriorated into such a bad state that it felt rather gummy to the skin. Sigh. Another watch down the drain, so I threw it away.
Seiko makes a fiery comeback!
At the shopping mall I was at a loss as to what watch I should buy. I thought that I deserved something dressy and nice. And no digital readouts, for heaven’s sake. Accompanied by a colleague, I went to the famed Sungei Wang Plaza shopping mall as there were many stores to choose from.
I was certainly no WIS yet and the my criteria for a new watch was very simple:
- It has to be priced below MYR1,000 (USD298)
- Preferably a multi-functioned analog watch
- Elegant looking without looking geeky
- A brand that’s renowned and reliable
Instinctively at the watch store I narrowed my choice to Seiko. After all, I’ve had a history of Seiko ownership and had no problems with any of my previous Seikos. So I picked this one up for just MYR600 (USD179). It was a lot of money for a “mere watch" to me at the time.
This is my white faced SDWD19P, with the discontinued 7T32 caliber. I chose it because I’ve never had a white dialed watch and an analog chronograph. The alarm function is a plus but after the novelty wore off I never bothered to use the built-in alarm. I soon discovered that the alarm subdial works independently of the main time. That meant I could use the alarm “time" to indicate a different time zone! 🙂
At the time of writing, my SDWD19P had gone through two battery changes even before the 2-second low battery warning kicked in. That’s right folks, for a watch that’s nine years old it’s just on its third battery. Which is about right, as the 7T32 has a three-year battery life.
I practically wore this Seiko chronograph everywhere! To work, going out with my ex-girlfriend(s), to the swimming pool, it’s stuck with me through thick and thin. It became my beater watch for 5 years and have the scars on the bezel to prove it. Miraculously, the watch glass (crystal) remains unblemished to this very day despite my less-than-careful use.
My Old Faithful was given a minor refurbishment in 2003, with a new bracelet to replace the badly scratched old one and a battery change cum pressure test at the Seiko Service Center. It is now in semi-retirement and I have replaced the second bracelet with a nice Morellato leather strap. I thought it’s time to give my Old Faithful a small makeover and well deserved rest. I still keep the original bracelet though, in case I want to feel the steel caressing my skin once more. Do I still wear my Old Faithful?
Yes, but once in a blue moon I guess. I will usually wear it when I miss this watch. 🙂
Coming up next – Insanity kicks in!…