Sitting here at my desk at home, I’m staring out the windows at the rain shifting directions as is usual at this time of year in Montana. The wind whips the aspen from one direction to the next. Late afternoon or early evening thunder boomers are not uncommon. It’s time to write another journal entry. But this one is, somewhat like my last, a bittersweet one.
One never knows what singular event might change the course of one’s life. I barely got into a small private boarding school and I barely got out of it. That is to say, I was not a scholar in typical form. Grades were not the proving ground for me. I was a C student at best. Needless to say, that’s where I met a gentleman who was hired by the school for $1.00 a year…. He was retired and essentially offered his expertise to help in the chemistry and physics labs. He also held a class (not graded) called Timepieces. This is where the seed was planted. The first time I saw the workings of a pocket watch, I was smitten. It was, as the legendary George Daniels put it, a universe in itself. It combined the most delicate and precise mechanical engineering, the most elaborate decorative features (admittedly superfluous in regards to function) as well as a historical encyclopedia of advancements that culminated in something as “simple” as a watch! Metallurgy, thermodynamics, engraving, precious metal work, enameling and more. There was something about all of these artisans that brought this apparently simple thing, a watch, into a new realm for me.
Fast forward… I was accepted, first in my high school class, into college. Maybe it was because of this fascination with watches, maybe not. Either way, the first two years of college were not building a foundation of a career. I would spend idle time in my dorm room tinkering on watches that I’d ordered via dealers through the mail. Then, my parents were wondering….. To make a long story short, I ended up in London, working for A-1 Watch and Clock Shop. Following that, I was offered an internship at Christie's Auction House in New York City. What a GREAT opportunity! Then, with some life experience under my belt, I completed my college education in Boston and opened up a small repair shop in the North End. In 1990, I packed up and moved to Bozeman to open up the Last Wind-Up.
The main focus of this particular entry was that no matter what you might think you will become, there’s a good chance that this will change, or at least be modified. And it is part of this transformation that has brought me here.
One summer, while working in the financial district for the firm my father was employed by, I showed him a watch that I’d just recently purchased at a watch trade show. I told him how proud I was that I’d purchased it for at least half of the book value. He said, very plainly, “it’s not worth twice what you paid until you sell it for twice what you paid.” Lesson learned!
My father offered me another piece of advice. “I don’t care what you do in life. As long as you are happy and productive, success will find you.” I can’t say enough about his words of wisdom and I’ve passed that on to my kids as well. Dad passed this year, about a week after his 85th birthday, on May 25th. He offered me the watch that was given to him by his parents on his 21st birthday. I hold it dear to my heart as I know he knew I would treasure it and honor it with care and admiration, as I have his generosity enabling me to pursue my passion. RIP, Dad. Your legacy will endure!
Dad and his grandfather, 1940