Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Time Machine

I have a time machine, when I put it on it takes me back 40 years or more - when my father was young and flying was his passion.  He learned to fly six years before I was born, and flew a lot in the 1970s.  Sometime in the early 70's, a flying buddy of his was trading up to a Rolex, from a Bulova Accutron Astronaut. My father bought the watch used from his friend - as I recall for around $100.  The Accutron was one of the first truly accurate electric watches.  It uses an electronic tuning fork to generate a reliable wave to operate the mechanism.  The watch hums. The second hand moves smoothly around the dial. This model was called the Astronaut, it was designed for the space program, they were unsure how the mechanical watches and clocks of the day would work in weightlessness. This is an early one, made in 1963.  

My father wore it for decades. It was his pride and joy.  It was accurate, and reliable and durable.  He wore it hard, and it showed.  A few years ago "vintage" watches became popular and I asked my father about it.  He said the last time he took it in for service the jeweler told him parts were no longer available.  He wasn't sure but he thought my mother had tossed it away.  I was disappointing, I had hoped to wear it someday.  

After my father died last summer, my sister and I were going through the drawer in his bedside table and I found it.  I was speechless, moved to tears.  I dropped it in my briefcase and brought it home. A month later I took it into a local jeweler who sent it out to a couple of watchmakers to see if they could fix it and the conclusion was that it needed parts, parts that had not been available for over 20 years.  When I picked it up, the young man said, look online, there is a place North Carolina that might be able to fix it.  I looked and found  - I kid you not - Old Father Time.  They are in the outer banks of North Carolina and claim to have bought the entire stock of parts and tools, when Bulova decided discontinue service.  

I packed it up and sent it off.  A couple of weeks later I received an email with the estimate.  After I scraped myself off the floor I decided I better think about it before I spent that much money on rebuilding a 54 year old watch.  The next evening I emailed them to go ahead and mailed them a check.  The emotional value of this time machine was worth - well about what I paid for my first car back in 1977.  The description was a museum quality restoration.  

Three weeks ago I received an email that it was about finished and they had cashed my check.  I telecommuted one day last week, the Fed-X box had to be signed for in person.  

It is perfect.  I don't think I ever saw it look this good. I was almost afraid to wear it.  I have worn it twice, putting it on takes me back to my teenage years, it connects me to my father and my past.  

Do you own a time machine? 


  1. How wonderful! I had my grandfather's gorgeous deco watch from the 1920s. So special to me. I wore it all the time. One day I forgot to put it on. Our house was broke into and that was the end of the watch!

  2. what a wonderful story about a special possession! the money was well spent, dear. it's a lovely timepiece.

    I don't own a time machine.

  3. Great story, great watch (wouldn't a Speidel Twist-O-Flex band make it more period correct?)

    I have a couple of gold pocket watches that belonged to my great grandfather that I should have appraised.



  4. It’s beautiful.
    If we waited to only use the good China on “special” occasions, we would rarely enjoy it.
    Every day is a special day. Follow your father’s lead and use it, enjoy it.

  5. Time machine? I don't think so. I have a jewelry drawer that I call the watch cemetery. Dead watches that only need batteries but they're so chea...er, inexpensive, that we would only replace them with another inexpensive one. I don't have a sentimental bone in my body but your story is wonderful.

    Oh, wait! I think I found a sentimental bone fragment or two. When my father died in '87, I "inherited" his old rowing machine and sweats. I was (still am) the oldest and fattest so my sisters felt that I would make good use of them. I gave away the rower because it was too low to the ground to hang clothes on and I wore the sweats until I looked homeless. After my mother died in '93 the six of us girls went thru her stuff a picked pictures that we wanted. Some were copied so we all received one. I now have hanging on my wall a picture of me and my sisters when I was eight and the baby was, well, a baby, sitting in my lap. Before moving from San Diego to Livermore we took another studio picture in almost the same poses. The baby, being thirty at the time, refused to sit on my lap, go figure. I have both pictures hanging together. I guess there are time machines that have nothing to do with timepieces, huh?

    1. A few basic tools and you can change most watch batteries. The batteries are cheap on Amazon, there are three types of backs, most pry off (easy to open,) many screw off, you can buy a simple tool for that on Amazon, some are held on with screws - I have yet to try to open one of those. I own two good watches, and wear mostly cheap ones - and change the batteries in those myself.