Sunday 17 April 2022

Busy Start to 2022 | Part 1 - January; Seriously, Boss? / Happy Birthday, Son!

I began this post at the beginning of the year, but things soon got very hectic. Subsequently, in an effort to put it all down, I thought I'd get it underway, but rather than one very long post, I'll see if I can break it up into a few parts. 
I handed in my resignation on December 30th. I'd had enough. I'd spent nearly six years working for a guy who behaved like a ramped-up version of David Brent (UK) or Michael Scott (US) from The Office, but without the laughs. Worst boss I've ever had. Can't say any more about it. 
So, I quit on the second-last day of 2021. Same day, one of my co-workers said he had a sore throat. He'd spent Christmas visiting his family interstate and claimed that he had the air-con on in his car for the entire five-hour drive back to Melbourne. Reckoned that he must've caught a chill. 
I gave four-week's notice - as per my contract - and was told that I could finish up on January 24th. Cool. I could tie up a few more loose ends, even though I was virtually up to date with everything. 
Next day, I was told that I could finish at end-of-day, since the office would be closing for the year and would re-open in the first week of January 2022. Okay, no problem. I could use a rest before I began my next job. 

Happy New Year!
                             Finally popped open that bottle of Piper-Heidsieck champagne that I bought in 2015. 
On Sunday January 2nd, I felt a raspiness in my throat. I figured I was coming down with a Summer cold, most likely brought on by the stressful and busy few weeks in the lead-up to Christmas and my resignation just before New Year's Eve. I must have gotten a little run-down. 
My son has had a persistent cough for over a month. He caught a cold from his sister. He usually takes a couple of puffs of Symbicort for his asthma each morning, but has run out of the inhaler and, like any young adult, has been a little bit lax with refilling his prescription. 
To play it safe, he and I decide to go get Covid tested next day. The testing station is banked-up with cars. I'm waived over to another lane with a few other cars. I sit behind the wheel for a few minutes and then I get out of my car, put on my mask, and approach the car in front of mine. I ask the driver if he knows why we were directed into this lane. He tells me that the testing station is full for today and he was told to try coming back tomorrow. Dammit!
My son and I head home and we try again the next day at around midday. A sign at the entrance states;
Covid Testing Closed due to High Demand.
We try again the day after that. Same thing. I hear one of the traffic wardens tell another driver to "Come back tomorrow at around six am."
By now, I've had a very sore throat, a runny nose, aching back, slight fever, and a cough for the past couple of days. Feels like a 'flu, but is most likely the Omicron variant of Covid-19. We are all double-vaxxed in my household, and my wife and I have also had the booster shots. 
As an asthmatic who smoked for 35 years, my main concern is if I develop a shortness of breath. This has not happened so far, but it's the one main symptom that I am closely monitoring for.
January 7th
                      My son and I get up at 6:30am and get to the testing station just before seven.
We get tested a few minutes before ten am and then head home. We're told that we should receive our results within the next 72 hours. 
Meanwhile, my wife and daughter go and get tested on Sunday the 9th. 
My son gets an SMS message on his phone a couple of days later. Result is Positive. My wife and daughter get their results next day. Positive. I'm yet to hear back, but obviously, if they've all tested positive, chances are virtually 100% that I'll test positive also. 
January 13th and I still haven't heard back. I'm pissed off with my co-worker for not going to get tested when he had a sore throat. I'm very pissed off with my boss for not sending the co-worker home to get tested. Very sloppy outcome. No duty of care on my employer's part, no logic or consideration on my co-worker's part. 
Like my wife has sometimes said; You wouldn't want to be on a lifeboat with these kinds of people.

Current guidelines for Covid testing - once you've gotten tested, you are to isolate for seven days. If you receive a negative result during that time, you're in the clear. If you receive a positive result in that time, you must continue to isolate until the seven days are up. By this stage, you are no longer contagious and can go out in public again. 
I get a text message on January 16th, stating that I had tested positive for Covid. Of course, by now, I no longer have symptoms. If that was Covid, then it was like a moderate bout of the 'flu. The sore throat was the worst part of it. 
Glad it's over, though. 
Get vaxxed, people.

I wore the Seiko SKX009K while I sat behind the wheel at the testing station for three hours. Just as well I brought a book;


I may have mentioned this before, but I have strong memories of my Dad wearing this watch. He used to work night-shift as a machinist at a textile mill. At around ten pm most nights, I'd glimpse him winding this watch while he waited for the coffee to boil. 
After downing the cup of coffee, he would walk two streets away to the bus stop to catch the 10:50pm bus to Brunswick (Melbourne, not New Jersey). He would arrive at the stop near the Brunswick Town Hall and then walk a few streets to where Peerless Mills was located and begin his shift at 11:30pm.
He wore this watch on an expanding bracelet, but by the time I took ownership of it, the bracelet had snapped and I figured it would look nice on a leather strap. 

January 18th
                     My son and I head into the city to go visit the TAG Heuer boutique. He turned 21 on Christmas Day and my wife and I figured it would be nice to get him a watch of his own, even though he'll inherit my collection one day.
Sort of*. 
But, I'm getting ahead of myself.
Rewind to a couple of weeks earlier. I fish three or four watches from my collection. They are all basic time-and-date watches in different case diameters. I sticky-tape a ten cent coin onto the dials of each watch. My test is not about how the watch looks, but how it sits on the wrist. 
We sit down with our boy and I go through the basic idea of a classic Gent's Watch. Something in stainless-steel, that just tells time and date. A watch that won't date. A watch that works well whether you're 21 or 91. 
But first, let's look at sizing. He already has a Seiko dive watch that I got him when he turned sixteen. It's 42mm in diameter and is built to take a beating. However, a day-to-day watch should perhaps be a little more understated. A little more all-purpose. 
Firstly, the 34mm Tudor Ranger goes onto his wrist. 
Then, the 36mm Omega Railmaster.
Finally, the 38mm Seiko SARB033. 
All three of these are basic pieces.
He leans towards the size of the Seiko. That's cool. I've done my research and have looked into two brands that both offer something in 39mm. Sure, one millimetre larger than his preference, but I doubt he'll notice. 
I explain to him that I'm aiming for a watch that will do virtually everything. So, my criteria would be the following; 
- Time and date
- Mechanical (for longevity and heirloom aspect)
- Water-resistant, minimum 100 metres (I don't care what anybody says, that's the minimum for peace-of-mind days at the beach, jumping into a hotel pool, or snorkeling)
- Luminous dial markers and hands (for readability in the dark)
- Metal bracelet (you can always put a leather strap to it later if you want)

As I said, two brands came to mind; TAG Heuer and Tudor. And within those two brands, two different models;
One of them is a Tudor Style, in 34mm 38mm and 41mm;
It ticks a lot of the boxes. 38mm is the right size, 100m water-resistance, nice black dial, date window, steel bracelet. 

However, it lacks one crucial element, in my humble opinion. The hands have no lume in them. There's no glow-in-the-dark stuff in them. You're sitting in a cinema watching a boring movie, you won't be able to check the time to see how much longer you'll have to sit there. You wake up in the middle of the night and glance over at your watch on the nightstand and all you're gonna see is more darkness. 


Not so much if this watch was part of a collection, whether it be two other watches or 20. But as a watch to wear on any and all occasions,
So, that left us with TAG Heuer. 
But first, a digression.
Now, before I get into it, I just want to say that I have a lot of respect for the TAG Heuer brand. Back in my watch selling days, my store would get a lot of customers coming in for TAGs. Some of them would purchase the watch and would never be seen again, living happily ever after. 
Others would come back one, two, three or five years later, ready to purchase their next watch, be it another TAG Heuer or some other brand. 
Basically, TAG Heuer was the gateway brand for a lot of people. It got them interested in a well-made and dependable Swiss-made wristwatch and they would come back for more, regardless of brand. 
Aside from that, I bought myself a quartz TAG Heuer 1000 Series dive watch (left) back in 1987 and it served me very well.
I should have kept that watch, but I stupidly sold it back in the early days of my watch collecting life. Yes, yes, it was two-tone and strongly borrowed from Rolex design, and it was battery-powered. 
But it was the Eighties, after all. 

The brand used to be known as Heuer and it made some very respectable chronographs in the '60s and '70s before falling on hard times in the late l970s, along with a lot of other Swiss watch brands, thanks to the influx of inexpensive quartz-operated watches that had been coming out of Asia for almost a decade. 
Just as Heuer was going under, along came a company called Techniques d'Avant Garde. This company supplied equipment and resources to the motorsport industry, such as Formula One. A search through the internet can bring up many photos of F1 drivers from the 1970s wearing Heuer wristwatches. The brand, predominantly through the efforts of Jack Heuer, great-grandson of the brand's founder, saw its watches on the wrists of Formula One greats like Niki Lauda and Clay Regazzoni. If you ever want to read about this, visit a website called Calibre 11. It's perhaps the best site about Heuer. 
Here's a link;

Man, another long post! Okay, so where was I? Oh yeah, the Tudor didn't fit the bill, so we looked at TAG Heuer. Specifically, the Carrera Automatic. Heuer created a chronograph in the mid 1960s and named it the Carrera, after the legendary - and short-lived - Carrera Panamericana road race;

The Carrera Panamericana was a border-to-border sedan (stock and touring and sports car) rally racing event on open roads in Mexico similar to the Mille Miglia and Targa Florio in Italy. Running for five consecutive years from 1950 to 1954, it was widely held by contemporaries to be the most dangerous race of any type in the world.[1] It has since been resurrected along some of the original course as a classic speed rally.
                                                                   - wikipedia entry

A mid-Sixties Carrera Chronograph (Reference 2447SN), pic courtesy of the phenomenal Calibre 11 website. 

This watch is one of the most famous chronographs ever made, and in my humble opinion, it belongs in the same iconic realm as the Omega Speedmaster Professional, Rolex Cosmonaut, Zenith El Primero A386, and Universal Geneve Compax chronographs of the same era. 

TAG Heuer brought out a re-edition in the late 1990s, remaining pretty faithful to the original design. Shortly after that, the brand introduced a line of watches under the Carrera banner and these have been in production ever since. 

Within this range, there is a nice time-and-date model. Measuring 39mm in diameter, it is water-resistant to 100m and features a discreet date window down at the six o'clock edge of the dial. All stainless-steel case and bracelet, available in black, blue or silver dial, with steel hands and markers. And, one more model with a black dial and gilt hands and markers. 

I ran through the pros and cons of each colour. This was based on what I've learned over the years, but also on my own preferences and opinions. Now, I didn't want to sway his decision in any way. I just wanted him to make as informed a decision as he could. 

Silver dial - Perhaps the dressiest of the bunch. Although, from my experience, the hands can tend to 'blend in' a little against the dial when viewed in low light. 

Black dial - A sportier look overall. Best contrast between dial and hands. The main drawback, if you can call it that, is that just about every brand has a black-dialed dress watch as part of its line-up. 

Blue dial - A very nice shade of Cobalt blue. If blue is your favourite colour, then go for it. If you're gonna worry that a blue dialed watch won't go with certain outfits, then steer clear of this one. More importantly, worry less about the colour of your watch dial and whether or not it'll match your clothes.

Black dial with gilt markers and hands - If I had to choose, this would be the one. Still sporty, with its black dial, but the rose-gold plated hands and markers give the whole watch a nice lift. And in some lighting, the black dial appears to take on a pleasant 'coffee-bean-brown' shade. This is something that I pointed out to my son about this watch. I told him the choice was his. If liked the blue, go for it. If he liked the black, go for it. Etc, etc. 

He chose the black and gold. I had been saving my money over the last few years, in order to pay for a couple of titanium crowns to be  fitted by my dentist and, once I had enough for this procedure, I just kept on saving. 

I called a fellow I know who deals with TAG and managed to get a few bucks off the rrp of the watch. 
My wife and I were thinking that it would be an idea to get the case-back engraved, but the watch has a see-through case-back, with very little space left over to add any engraving. Still, I just may look into getting it done. 
I have to say that it does look good on his wrist, and I think he likes it, based on the fact that he doesn't normally wear a watch around the house and yet here he was, a week later, with the watch on his wrist while he tackled zombies on the Playstation 4. 
He's worn it to work a few times since he got it and the watch now has some scuffs and marks on it. 
It is now truly his.  

*...even though he'll inherit my collection one day. Sort of. 
I think I've said this here before; Giving my watch collection to my kids would be more a curse than a blessing. My daughter has said she has dibs on the Rolex Submariner, but I told her that that watch would be sold upon my demise - if I still have it when I kick the bucket - and the proceeds would be shared between her and her brother. 
I'd let them choose two or three watches each. The rest would/should be sold and the proceeds split between them.  I'd also reiterate to them that these watches require care and feeding. 
Anyway, hopefully, it's not something I'll have to deal with for quite some time yet. 

I hope you've all been well, and thanks for reading!