Are You Crazy? You’d Pay How Much For A Watch?
by John Keil
Here is an entertaining little story about me, my Audemars Piguet Royal Oak, and a bunch of guys around a poker table – a story I’m sure many watch guys and gals can relate to.
I grew up in the perfect American household, in my opinion, in a suburban neighborhood on southeastern Long Island with the best family a guy could wish for.
Mom and Dad both worked hard to provide. We took regular vacations and spent a good part of the summer at Fire Island or on our modest boat. I played soccer.
Basically, I grew up living the life my wife and I work so hard to provide for our own children.
I tell you this to provide background and color to my story. Most of my friends and family are just like me . . . except for one thing: I will spend thousands of dollars on a nice watch.
About ten years ago I was playing $20 poker on a Thursday night at a friend’s house, a ritual we all looked forward to each week. I came straight from work, where I managed a high-end watch retail store and was wearing my Audemars Piguet Royal Oak chronograph in steel with a blue dial.
With eight guys around the table (four of whom I didn’t know well) and an hour into the game, Joe (one of the guys I didn’t know too well) said, “Hey, that’s a good looking watch!”
My friend Chris replied, “John is in the watch business. He’s always wearing something cool.”
Joe asked if I sold watches like the one I was wearing. I nodded in affirmation.
“Wait for it . . . wait for it . . .” I thought to myself.
“How much does something like that go for?” Joe asked the dreaded question no watch guy ever wants to hear unless surrounded by other watch guys.
Also for background and color: I live my life very under the radar. I don’t wear expensive watches so other people notice, I do it for myself. When other guys do notice, I instantly recognize them as a fellow watch guy, comrade, and facilitator.
“It’s expensive,” I replied.
“Like how much?” Joe asked.
“Between $1,000 and $1,500,” I lied.
My good buddy, watching the exchange, gave me a look that screamed, “You’re so full of it!”
Joe didn’t notice and replied, “Wow! That’s almost as much as a Rolex!”
I nodded in affirmation once again, folded the crummy cards in my poker hand, got up, and went into the kitchen to grab some beers for the guys, thankful that exchange was over.
However, Joe followed me into the kitchen and asked, “Hey, John, do you guys have financing or a layaway plan? Can I give you $250 a week until it’s paid off?”
Begrudgingly, I confessed to Joe that my watch retailed for $14,400 (this was in 2004) and asked him to keep it between us.
Joe and the guys wouldn’t shut up for the rest of the night about how much an “idiot” like me would pay for a watch!
I guess that’s why they call us Watch Idiot Savants.
Also published on Medium.