Thursday, December 17, 2009

Time Out

A few months ago both of my two watches stopped working. Or, more accurately, their batteries ran out. In the past I have had a heckuva time trying to get new watch batteries, so I put it on my to-do list and then started living a life of not always knowing what time it is.

Since I left work, I have found that I don't really need to know. I'm no longer rushing to meetings or stressing to get things done, or wondering how long until I get to go home. And I went through the summer without getting that obnoxious tan line on my wrist that is impossible to cover up when I want to dress up without the watch as part of the ensemble. Thick bracelets?

Well I've finally been off long enough to reach the lower echelons of my to-do list, so I plopped the watches into a plastic baggie and put it in my purse.

Since I live out here at the edges of civilization, the most frequent place I go is our local Meijers. They sell watches, and batteries, but refuse to open the watches up to replace them. They are afraid of getting blamed for damaging them.

I have tried, and I cannot get the backs of the watches open myself. Maybe there is some magic secret trick to this but I don't know it. Please share if you do.

Once I ventured further from home I also asked at Target and some jewelry places at the local mall. Wouldn't touch it.

I stared to do mental calculations. How many people in the world own watches that have batteries that die after two years or less, and where are they all going to get them replaced? Do they just give up and buy new ones, giving the watch-making industry incentive to continue to design inpenetrable backplates?

Then last week I was at the Somerset Collection (mall) to meet some friends for lunch. I got there early and went to Macy's, where they would typically sell the kinds of watches I have. (Anne Klein) The man at the sprawling watch counter told me that they don't do that, but he did offer the name of some place that they go, some jeweler out in Rochester. Not helpful.

As I continued to browse and shop around the mall (collection) I had to keep digging my cell phone out to check the time, so I wouldn't miss our meeting time for lunch. Somehow it always ended up underneath the baggie of watches.

I made it over to PF Chengs a little early, so I walked on past and encountered a store with a giant watch-face on the front of it. Since the battery issue was now on the top of my mind, I ventured inside. The place was gleaming with a sort of reverent hush. It was a little like walking into a grand church. There was an image of a watch face projected onto the ground from some unseen source, and many rows of glass cabinets with glittering watches artfully displayed.

One of the very polite salespersons asked if he could help me, and, feeling lucky, I asked if they replaced watch batteries there.

"Yes, we do." he told me and I think I jolted a little in surprise. "It costs $15 each." I calculated that the $30 probably exceeded the current value of my two watches, but not the cost to replace them. I pulled the baggie out of my purse and handed it over.

After lunch I went back in there to pick them up. The man pulled out this velvet folder and gracefully laid out the two crumply old watches for me to inspect. I leaned over and peered at them. Yes, the second hands were moving around once again.

I paid the man and asked for something to put them in, since I didn't know where that baggie went. As he looked for an envelope, I suddenly tuned in to the conversation going on between another salesperson and a customer standing nearby.

"That's an extra thousand with the diamonds." The customer was holding two watches, trying to decide. This isn't my usual kind of store.

So now I have the time of day ready on my wrist whenever I should desire to look at it. But there was still something I was wondering about.

I looked up the name of the store on that envelope, TOURNEAU. The website shows the prices for those fancy watches I was in the presence of, you can search them by price in ranges of up to $10,000+.

Then I saw it: "Free Lifetime Battery Replacement." It's true that you get what you pay for.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi- This blog surprised me- I must find jewelry shops that replace watch batteries at least twice a year, as I have 5 of them that all need batteries. Maybe it is different elsewhere, but the East side suburban areas have several places to do this service- often with coupons or regular price of $5per battery, done in a couple of minutes. I have one dress watch that is very thin and only certain places will have the tool to open it for new batteries, but no problem usually. Guess you have to research your choices for the new year. Aunt Chris