Having been born and raised here in the UK, Baseball was never really ‘on my radar’. Sure when I was young at school we had “rounders” but that’s a far cry from American Baseball. It was however during the first few weeks of being a father that I remember dreaming of one day standing in a field, playing catch with a baseball and gloves with my Son. Yes that’s right – a very idyllic sentiment of an American stereotype, but the father-son relationship that is often well portrayed in films I have found to be true – namely a fierce protection of family and the pursuit of a deep father son relationship. Something I never had.
However it was many years before this in my twenties – long before I got married when I felt I wanted to leave a future son something of value – something that represented and embodied one of my values and so I bought my first ‘proper’ watch. I’ve always had the mindset that I’d prefer to buy something of quality that will last rather than “buy cheap – buy twice”, and so I bought a COSC certified Breitling.
A watch to me represents the observance of the inevitable; Time moves on. So to be wise, we need to be intentional about what we do with this time. As we get older we start to understand the finality of time. Each person is given a different amount. None of us knows exactly how many years, months, weeks, days or hours we have and so we start to understand that time is valuable. This very concept hit me like a sledgehammer when my son was born. And so although he was only a few months old, I bought a pair of baseball gloves and a ball in anticipation of what was to come.
With house moves, job changes and unfortunate changes in personal circumstances over the years, the gloves and ball moved from one loft to another, ever waiting for the right time when my son was old enough to start having some ‘deep-and-meaningful’ conversations while passing the time chucking a ball to each other.
However last year I grabbed the gloves and walked up to my local field with my son and spoke to him of how I had dreamt of that very day some 12 years earlier. We mucked around, laughed, spoke and generally just hung out without much of an agenda other than spending time together and building memories – one of the most valuable things we can do with our time. It also struck me how much my relationship has evolved with him. He is no longer a small child who needs nurturing, but is growing his identity and forming the values that he cares deeply about and he will carry with him for the rest of his life.
This brings me to the most important lesson I want to teach my son. Each of us have talents, abilities, strengths, gifts and experience that we gain over time. So what will our legacy be? How can we impact those around us to leave the world and the people in it a little better off than when we arrived? This for me is the question of legacy that drives and motivates me. Because if i’m honest, there’s never been a selfish role model that I’ve ever looked up to, and my experience has always been that there is far more pleasure, satisfaction and meaning in life when we choose to positively impact others than when we just pursue personal happiness.
In September 2020, Oris launched a limited edition watch to commemorate and celebrate the life of Roberto Clemente – called the ‘Oris Roberto Clemente Limited Edition’. This is a Big Crown Pointer date with a white dial, and embossed case back and a themed strap with the leather and stitching reminiscent of a baseball glove. It’s a beautiful watch and many have commented that it is arguably Oris’s most beautiful watch with classic proportions and an unobtrusive subtleness. The connection of both time and baseball reminded me of my son and our time hanging out together in a field on a summers afternoon.
However what struck me most when looking into Roberto Clemente wasn’t his baseball achievements (even though these are clearly why he is considered a baseball legend) it was his humanity. Here was a man who had a healthy relationship with time. One of his most famous quotes puts that into a challenging perspective:
He was a passionate humanitarian and activist and lived to serve others by bringing real change in his home country and his local community. His love for humanity marked his fate as he lost his life in an airplane accident attempting to aid earthquake victims in Nicaragua on New Year’s Eve in 1972. He chose to personally escort a shipment of aid after learning the previous shipment never got to where it was needed, and sadly the aircraft crashed after takeoff due to being overloaded.
Each day when I put on one of my watches i’m reminded that I don’t know how much time I have left – so don’t waste what I’ve been given.
Each of us has at our disposal the most valuable, irreplaceable resource – time. So what are you going to do with it? What are you going to be known for once you have made your impact on the world?
Really enjoyed reading ‘My relationship with Time ‘. Being an ex ball player – I was pleasantly surprised for the baseball reference. The pastime of Baseball is very synonymous with fathers and their children – isnt it? What a wonderful picture you paint, of a Patriarch and his apprentice musing about life while throwing a stitched baseball to one another.
Unfortunately I have come to realize recently , that I have chosen poorly, in ways to spend my time. Often paralyzed with fear and doubt, I have walked through the maze of my life without hope and faith – much to my dismay. Its true I have wasted some time – but alas – I can see better now, as I choose to care for my mind and my serenity.
I Too Ben, love watches. I love how they look, i love how they feel , and I love the stories that they help create. I’ve started i modest collection – in Hopes one day to gift my precious timepieces to my precious boys – Lennox and Ellis. The thought of my boys losing their Dad scares me of course – but much solace is found in the thought that they would choose to wear my watches as they face the world.
Thank you for your article Ben – it certainly gives me pause to think about things – things like gratitude and generosity. Today I choose to live one day at a time , with hope and faith in my heart – and a beautiful wristwatch on my skin – that one day I will pass down to my proteges – who I hope live freer and with less restraint than I did.
With gratitude and Love
I clicked onto a video posted by watch Gringa critiquing an Omega Planet Ocean watch and decided to investigate your channel that she recommended, feeling fortunate that I made the effort when I read your pensive essay about time, fatherhood and the lessons that we hope to leave behind once our precious time is finished. I recently celebrated a 71st birthday so I am confident in admitting that I might be living in the back 9 of my time remaining. My modest party was arranged by our younger daughter and her partner at the sort of eatery where reservations need to be made weeks in advance, not the usual circumstance for me but suffered a lecture by my fierce wife to simply appreciate and enjoy the evening. Our server made a casual comment that it was uncommon to wait on a table of diners all sporting interesting timepieces, I assumed that while he was not wearing a watch, that he was obviously an enthusiast as well. I suddenly realized that I have dabbled with the mechanical trinkets for longer than I have been a loving husband, dutiful dad to our two young adult daughters who are certainly no longer children. They have been good sports about my harmless affectation, friends and even a few of their teachers over the years would refer to me as “the watch guy” when they both believed with firm conviction that I was so much more than that to them.
Recently I have decided to share some of my gently worn watches collected over the years with my daughters and one son in law, obviously at some point all that I have enjoyed will be theirs but for now I still have use for the majority.
My brilliant dad emigrated to Canada in the late 1950s with a young needy family and found employment in hot greasy Chinatown kitchens, finances were fragile but one summer day he arranged for steel Omega Seamaster watches for my older brother and me, I might have been age 9 or 10, 6 decades later I still own that first adult timepiece. My father was an intense, laconic individual, the simple Omega was an incentive to succeed in our new country and a reminder that our time is valuable and measured. Each new watch that I purchase returns me to that first and the unspoken lessons from my dad. I cannot articulate what stories my own daughters will assign to the steel items that they now wear each working day, hopefully the significance and value to them is greater than a small mass produced item can reveal.
Ben, I enjoyed your emotional essay about a deeply personal relationship with time and hope the journey continues for a very long time!
I purchased a first Breitling Chronomat from an elegant Swiss gent back in 1986 and no longer own that particular watch but have been loyal to the brand since. I was able to sell my Rolex Datejust and steel sub to finance a few household essentials after marriage and fatherhood created different imperatives in my life, lol.