I am very used to losing things – I have done it for years. Most of the objects are soon found, with their loss rarely causing more than mild anxiety and perhaps some agitation. Sometimes, however, emotions spill over. This blog is about the intense feelings that occurred when I lost, and then found a much-loved watch.

The watch (see illustration) was given to me by Rohan for my birthday over ten years ago. Within no time I had adopted it. To many it won’t look special, but I immediately loved its clarity of design and the rectangular face with its clear no-nonsense Arabic numerals. And for someone who loves precision, having the two longer hands extending over the marks for minutes and seconds was a real bonus. Very soon the watch became part of me and, since I own just the one, this is important.

Before long I noticed that the tiny but crucial fixed-leather loop next to the strap’s buckle had broken and I knew that meant trouble: when these break, the fastening system is compromised and the watch can slip off. And so it did. We were at our cottage in France when one day the watch was no longer on my wrist. Rohan, and a very distraught me, looked everywhere – pockets, floors, car, parts of the garden, but to no avail. For days I felt miserable – nothing else much mattered! 

After eight years the watch reappeared. As if in slow motion it fell out from the underside of a sofa bed. In 2014 we bought the bed and with a lot of physical effort, accompanied by minor acrobatics, the flat-packs were assembled. Whenever guests came to stay, extending the sofa was easy, closing it, however was a nightmare and this summer it was worse than ever, requiring a lot of physical persuasion. Ultimately, it was my hefty kicks that dislodged the watch which must have been nestling in the sofa’s innards since it fell when it was originally assembled.

I put my treasured watch round my wrist and rushed down stairs hooting with joy. Naturally, Rohan too was delighted. My feeling of happiness was intense and invasive. At that moment, and for the next few hours, nothing else was important. Just looking at the watch was reassuring, and later with a working battery in place and a new strap fitted (see illustration), reading the time was once again a pleasure. 

It was, however, a pleasure short lived; last week it went missing again. Rohan and I took our grandson, River, to ‘swim’ at his local teaching pool. When I changed back after swimming my watch was nowhere to be found. I searched in every possible nook and cranny but no watch appeared. I assumed it had dropped on to the changing room floor and had been stolen. I felt terrible, even tearful and the idea of enjoying myself for the rest of the day was anathema – sadness dominated everything. 

That night I could hardly sleep from a mixture of despondency, worry, regret and guilt – how could I have allowed myself to lose it again? But my sadness soon lifted. After breakfast, as I was putting on the shoes I had worn the day before, I spotted my ‘errant’ watch stretched out in my left shoe along the edge of the insole. That I had walked to a restaurant and back to River’s house, then drove to London, parked and walked home without an inkling of its presence was difficult to believe. 

Holding my watch once again and putting it round my wrist was a wonderful relief. Indeed I felt high with happiness – everything in my mind was dominated by a feeling of joy that lasted hours. Interestingly, with this second lost-and-found episode, my emotions were that much more intense.

Moments such as these are not that uncommon; typically this happens when a joke makes one ‘crack up’ with uncontrollable laughter when the outside world becomes irrelevant. And, in very different circumstance, it happened to Archimedes who, having discovered how things float, jumped out of his bath and rushed naked down the street shouting “Eureka” (“I have found it”). Apparently he was so high that he was oblivious to the sensibilities of passers-by. But just as the joy of discovery can take over the mind, so too can the sadness of loss, as it causes numbness accompanied by tearfulness and inertia. I have not previously experienced such levels of intensity and they have come as a surprise. They have also given me an important insight – am I perhaps becoming more ‘in touch’?

The illustration shows a photo of my recovered watch and its new leather strap with buckle and intact fixed loop.

For helping me write this blog, I would like to thank Sarah, Rohan and Vivien

25 thoughts on “A Much-Loved Errant Watch

  1. Thanks for writing and sharing this Joe. There are maybe 2 or 3 things of mine that if they were to be lost, I would feel inconsolable. By contrast, losing something like a bank card/passport is simply annoying and frustrating. Lovely read for a start to the weekend.

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  2. A great blog Joe. It was a mini-roller coaster ride. My computer lost power when you lost the watch for the second time, and I really wanted to know what came next. It strikes me that it’s a naughty watch for hiding away like that!

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  3. Norman once “lost a flounder when he knew he had caught 3 in the nets at the Sounds. He discovered it similarly to you, when he took his gumboots off.

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  4. Hi Joe I know exactly the feeling around loosing a precious object, for me usually a precious ring… recently I lost a ring belonging to my Ma , it had 4 elephants in silver and gold around it….. I think it must have fallen off on the bus when taking off my gloves…. I do however still hope that it may drop out from a nook or cranny in my flat, sometimes when on the bus I search the floor and corners on bus, a truely mad thing to do!!
    I do still miss my beautiful ring!!

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  5. Cher Joe,

    Merci pour cette joyeuse histoire qui m’interpelle. En effet, comme toi, j’ai tendance à égarer mes affaires … Je dis “égarer” parce que, la plupart du temps, elles ne sont jamais très loin et je les retrouve assez vite. Ma mère me disait toujours que j’étais tête en l’air ! Cela dit, à part ma médaille de baptême, je n’ai pas perdu grand-chose dans ma vie !

    Très amicalement,

    Thierry

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  6. A lovely gentle rollercoaster blog Joe… it’s a true ‘watch out’ moment! So pleased you found your watch x2 and it’s been treated to a new strap, with buckle and clasp!

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  7. Dear Joe,
    A beautiful story! And I have one too- Rob gave me a beautiful Swiss railway watch some years ago and I love it. But life changed- I had a spell in ICU last year and had to be rescued beforehand and taken to hospital. I later decided to buy an Apple Watch- if I fall over in a forest the watch will contact my nearest and dearest and then send for an ambulance – that hasn’t happened yet but the watch rewards me for a good night’s sleep, for reaching my exercise goals and tells when I have been sitting too long! I’m grateful for this but miss wearing my beautiful Swiss watch.
    Love
    Robin

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    1. Dear Robin, Thank you for your comments. The question I have is “Do you still have the Swiss Railway watch that Rob gave you?” If so, are there occasions that you wear it? Love, Joe

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  8. Dear Joe,
    Another Collier classic saga. I Doubt whether I will have the same good fortune as you, so will inspect my “fixed loop” much more closely.

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