Gathan Beaga

two favourite things... (ii)

…both of them made by humans.

This is the second:

Vostok Automatic Watch (1)

So, some of you will have seen this before, not long after I got it. It’s a watch, a cheap Russian watch, one of several such I own.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, bear with me here, OK?

It’s seen a bit of wear in the last four and a half years. Last year I broke the ricketty bracelet, and had it replaced with a decent leather strap. And even earlier, the numeral 6 fell off and stopped the minute hand from travelling. I had to send it back to Russia to get fixed because the local watch repairers refused to touch it (snobs!).

So I’ll make no pretensions to class for this watch. It is what it is.

And what it is, is engineering magic.

It’s an automatic; in other words, it winds itself. If I wear it every day, I generate enough kinetic energy to power it, and I never have to think about it, never a battery to change.

All I have to do is put it on in the morning. But before I do that, I’ll have a peek in the back, where the workings are exposed behind glass:

Vostok Automatic Watch (2)

Sometimes I take it off so I can look at it, and be soothed by the sight of cogs and wheels; mainsprings and rubies; meshing together and never stopping. A tiny, precise, and wearable machine that announces itself by a gently fragrant ticking.

I think I like this about it best of all: I can pretend that if worst came to worst I could fix it myself. It’s just a complicated piece of mechanics after all, no electricity involved; like an old car there’d be a hope of me pulling it to pieces and building it back again. This is an illusion to cherish!

And a wonderfully cheap thrill compared to a quality Swiss Automatic, which typically start at 10 to 20 times more than this one cost me.

Maybe one day I’ll find a better automatic watch: it will have a 24-hour dial; it will be classier; and of a smaller diameter; and higher quality… but there’s no way it will be as good value as this one.

And anyway, the way this one’s going, maybe I won’t need another.