Lost in transit, II

I had a watch that thought it was a yo-yo: It kept going back to Switzerland for repair after repair.
Watches are not known for running backward, but this one did. It wasn’t a cheap discount-store model, which you might have expected to have some quirks. It was a Movado museum watch, with a black ceramic bracelet and nothing on its black face but a gold dot at the 12 o’clock mark.
It was the most beautiful watch on earth, the one luxury item I ever coveted, and in a moment of self-indulgence in 1994 I bought it at an airport shop. Soon after, I went to work one day at 7 a.m. An hour later I glanced at my watch. To my surprise, it was still 7 a.m. An hour after that, it was 6 a.m. At least, that’s what the watch said.
I reset it and it worked fine until a few days later, when it pulled the same stunt. The watch had to go back to Movado, which replaced the movement.
In 1999, one of the hands on the face became unaligned. Back it went to Movado. In 2006, the time-setting pin broke—twice. Again Movado fixed it. Later that year the watch simply stopped working and had to be repaired. And in October of that year, while I was on assignment in the United States, it died yet again. This time the company’s repair list looked like a total makeover:
*Movement
*Dial
*Hands set
*Gasket case back
*Crown
*Gasket crystal
*Clean case and bracelet
But at last, 12 years after I’d bought it, I had a watch worthy of its name.
And then, just before I landed in Los Angeles Airport on September 15, 2010, I took off the watch to reset it and put it back on my wrist. Half an hour later, I was about to present my passport to the official in the arrivals hall when I saw that my wrist was bare.
An American Airlines employee agreed to go back to the plane and look, but she would not let me go with her. I duly filed a lost-item report with the airline, called the airport police’s lost and found, called back the airline. But the watch, no longer a yo-yo, did not come back to me. It was gone, lost in transit.
For a brief moment I wondered whether I would buy another Movado. If I could afford to now, I would. Instead, the next day I stopped at the nearest drugstore and bought a $20 jobbie. It’s far from beautiful, but it tells time. Someone else now has the pleasure of wearing the most beautiful watch on earth, and I refuse to mourn.
Text copyright 2010 by Esther Hecht. No part of the text may be used without written permission of the author.
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