In 1979, an experimental broadcast was done by Doordarshan in colour. By 1982, full broadcasts in colour were a thing. You remember what I’m talking about. The bulky box, that sat in one corner, some of them didn’t even have remotes at that time, an analogue dial to change the channels on one of our first digital devices, in our very homes.
The VCR was next, followed by DVD players. The Walkman was replaced by the Diskman, the Nokia 3310 by the flip-phone and thereafter by the smartphone. The 8-inch floppy disk was made obsolete by the 3-inch floppy, thereafter the USB key-drives by cloud. Technology is a revolution that is unstoppable and ever evolving. Maybe in another 42 years, I might not even have to key-in to write, as I’m doing right now. Probably, there would be a chip implanted in my brain, so I could sync my thoughts into an email, an article or even a text or another form of message, or share a picture instantly; over social media, as my eyes see it, without an intermediary device. Possibilities are endless.
The devices that we grew up with, I doubt we’d even find them in an electronic scrapyard, somewhere.No wonder Patek Philippe conjured a campaign “You never actually own a Patek Philippe, you merely look after it for the next generation”. The year was 1996, 25 years ago to this date. It brought about a lot of clarity, to my present self, not only from a point of view to what Patek Philippe said for their own watches, but in context to mechanical watches in general.
I do have my grandfather’s old German camera, which he bought in the 1960’s, but it doesn’t work anymore. And even if it did, I’d be fooling myself if I thought I’d be able to click a few shots, as I’d never be able to procure the film, for the same. I even have his Omega Seamaster, circa 1950, that works. That’s the thing about mechanical watchmaking. From the advent of wristwatches, close to 90% of them, over the last 100 years, have been produced with a lever-escapement. Could be a simple hour-minute and date display, or a calendar, or a chronograph or any other complication. The marvel of mechanical watches is that a qualitative one can be restored. The pivots can be repolished or fabricated over lathe, gears can be redone, rubies replaced, all to the skills of your restorer. But that’s not the only point. The fact remains that I can have a piece of heritage, of history and I can do the same. Imagine me leaving my Macbook to my grandchildren!! Sure, that’s a fond way to remember.
Not as often as I would like, but when I do spend some time with my grandfather’s watch, I get to read the inscription “To N. R. Mirza, for his dedicated service to TATA”. It reminds me of the days when I could get on his lap and cajole him into telling me a story. My grandfather had a knack for making superhero stories, where his grandson was always the protagonist. These are just a tiny few of the tidal wave of memories that grip me and send me back in time. All of which are made possible by a simple mechanical hour-minute, hand-wound movement, encased in a 34mm gold. May not be literal but that’s how I travel back in time.
A special thanks to Mr. David Stopera, for his article on BuzzFeed (https://www.buzzfeed.com/daves4/incredibly-important-technology), that inspired me.