Watch This

Preface: You are being duly warned that this is an odd rambling post about the throwback Citizen wristwatch I’m presently wearing, brought about by the sudden and surprise arrival of a 1988 photo of me — sent and taken by my friend Joel Ordesky (that he found while searching for other pics) — in which I happen to be wearing the first Citizen I ever owned. You should also prepare yourself before continuing beyond the jump for the mint-green sweaterlishousness I was wearing in said photo, plus the fact that I was once young with nary a gray hair on my wrinkle-free head that still sported a baby face some of whose original parts were lost six years later in my motorcycle accident:

Wow, right? Thanks to Joel for that trip back in time, but let’s move on now and focus on that watch, shall we?

When it comes to wristwatches, I pretty much feel naked if I ever am so absentminded as to leave the house without one. Part of that feeling is because as a child I quickly connected the timepieces with being “grown up.” Wearing one was like a badge of adulthood. In fact, I can distinctly remember during my “learning to tell time” phase the first watch my mother bought me. Though it was a decidedly childish Mickey Mouse watch that she purchased for me during a trip to the old Woolworth’s on Third Street in Santa Monica (loooong before it became a yuppified promenade), I felt decidedly more mature with it on my wrist and wore it proudly and grownupedly until I of course eventually proved the “Kids Will Be Kids” theorem and lost it.

Fast forward to me at 20 and it’s at that time for a rather odd reason that Citizen first became the brand that catches my eye before all others.

I say “odd reason,” because one of the first “grown-up” watches I ever bought required two trips to Tijuana in the early/mid-1980s. Two trips because I saw it for sale my first time down to that border town in 1984. I went into severe WANT mode for it, but balked with the vendor when he wouldn’t sell it for anything less than $80.

I came back to my homeland and had a rude awakening to find the watch retailed for $200 stateside. So less than a year later the first chance I got to go back to Tijuana I took it and was fortunate enough to find the watch, this time not putting up too much of a fight when the bottom line still wasn’t going to go below $80.

That mint-green sweater shortly went the way of most my other ’80s fashion statements, but that watch I wore pretty much every day of my life from 1984 until I broke it in 2002 trying to DIY a battery replacement. In the midst of extricating the old cell the tool I was using slipped and thoroughly decimated the LCD componentry. I was heartbroken.

In the 10 years since, I’ve worn a lot of watches — mostly Citizens, but also the occasional Casio or Timex — but none with the connection I had for that first chronograph. One was a gift my mother got me shortly after its demise in ’02 during her heavy involvement with shopping channels. Actually it was a pair of Citizens. The primary timepiece was stylish and functional with a large red face , and it came with a bit of an old-school straight ahead digital they probably couldn’t sell (pictured above) that went straight into my jewelry box because I’m more of a traditional time teller rather than a number reader.

When the strap broke during a spill I took on my mountainbike while riding a treacherous El Diablo single-track in the San Gabriel Mountains and unbeknownst to me at the time of the crash I lost the red Citizen, out came the digital, in went a new battery and I wore that in platoon with a couple other watches until I sprung for one of Citizen’s fancy Eco-Drive models I found at Costco in 2009.

Problem was I not only never developed an attachment to it, I actually never really liked it. Sure, it was handsome and never needed a battery or winding, but it came with a manual day date, and thus that was always off (not to mention difficult to read in low light). I liked it even less when the crystal got nicely scuffed in the spills I took on my bike first at CicLAvia in mid April and added to a couple weeks later in East Hollywood.

So I dug out that good old yesteryear digital yesterday, and on my way to an afternoon volunteer orientation meeting with next week’s Silver Lake Jubilee, I walked it over to the local shoe/watch/jewelry repair shop around the corner for a new battery and voila it’s what you’ll find on my wrist going forward, where I’ll be relying on its no-frills simplicity and easy readability.

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Will Campbell arrived in town via the maternity ward at Good Sam Hospital way back in OneNineSixFour and has never stopped calling Los Angeles home. Presently he lives in Silver Lake with his wife Susan, their cat Rocky, dogs Terra and Hazel, and a red-eared slider turtle named Mater. Blogging since 2001, Will's web endeavors extend back to 1995 with, a comprehensive theater site that was well received but ever-short on capital (or a business model). The pinnacle of his online success (which speaks volumes) arrived in 1997, when much to his surprise, a hobby site he'd built called VisuaL.A. was named "best website" in Los Angeles magazine's annual "Best of L.A." issue. He enjoys experiencing (and writing about) pretty much anything creative, explorational and/or adventurous, loves his ebike, is a better tennis player than he is horr golfer, and a lover of all creatures great and small -- emphasis on "all."