What’s With Men and Their Watches?

Clooney time is more precious and sexier than regular time.

Tuptim Malakul LaneDecades of fashion have produced little else for a man to project his style, riches or taste in such personal terms as the watch.

Masculinity may propel them forward and inhabit the body language of a professional image, but men lacking God-given looks or height or abundance of hair – sometimes all three – must look for material enhancement.

Airplanes, automobiles, and yachts only do the trick upon arrival. Once the luxury carriages have been left behind, it’s only the wristwatches or sparkly rings which make the man. This is where he states his claim to success.

These days, the meaning of the watch is a potent combination of snobbery and reverse snobbery.  So while the men strut like peacocks, let’s decode their secrets.

The Six-Pack Millennial

He is too young to have much in the bank account, so he struts his good looks and athletic prowess and says, “I’m organic, I don’t need a watch to tell the time. The sun and the stars do that for me, but if I really have to be on time for the interview, then my iPhone does that.”

He is never without his iPhone.  On the minus side, when he doesn’t answer it – left it in the car, you say? – you know he’s moved on to the next girl. On the plus side, he is never late. He raises the level of intimacy by texting under the table with lightning speed, only to receive another message before you’ve even sent the first reply.

The Classy Snob

He wears a dark suit and white silk shirt. Peeking subtly from his engraved gold cufflinks winks the 1950 Patek Philippe handed down from his grandfather.  This man wants nothing more than to state the heritage of himself – and his old money. He owns a house in the country and an exclusive condo it the city. Drinks only Krug Brut and doesn’t step into restaurants without Michelin stars. His signet ring is emblazoned with a family crest. If by some dark magic he happens to be single, his ex-wife did not get much from the divorce package. But no, he’s probably married and just looking for other opportunities, as is his tendency in ventures of business and pleasure. A perfectionist, he is disciplined and expects the same high standards of those around him. A funny guest at a party, he only plays with fancy ladies.

The Gaudy Newly Rich

The actress Liz Hurley once referred to a gold Rolex gifted by then-boyfriend Steve Bing as “a pimp’s watch.” The Gold Rolex is the brass ring of the flashy, newly rich man. Success brought wealth – but not style. He thinks he’s James Bond in a glitzy Gold Rolex symbolizing status, wealth and power, an image he thinks he deserves. In Thailand, his shiny new Mercedes takes him around town. Short and sporting a big belly, his well-manicured pinky sports another bauble. An emerald ring choked by diamonds makes mockery of his stubby finger, this one a lure for a young mistress hoping for a chip to make it into her vanity chest.

Despite all the shinies, he is prudent and doesn’t like any unnecessary experimentation – only exotic food to enhance his libido. He scours the world for the best shark fin and strangest herbal drinks to fuel his imagined potency.

The Rich. Very Rich.

There’s elite – and then there’s elite. Few are those who can afford the watch called the “racing machine for the wrist.” A Richard Mille. — What do those earning meager salaries, top civil servants with generous paychecks, patronage-bestowing politicians and CEOs of money-printing firms have in common? They can’t dream of owning one. The prices are stratospheric. Having one on your arm elevates one into the universe of the uber-rich. It proves you are Tom Cruise-rich, Rafael Nadal-rich or Michelle Yeoh- and Jackie Chan-rich. Wearing one is hard evidence of extreme wealth and membership in a very special club of the rich and powerful.

Those bearing them tend to be eccentric and a bit obsessive, as they straddle genius and insanity. Money for these men is no longer the goal but a means to an end. But because he doesn’t come from old money, while everyone else is in the caviar he can claim he made do with a bowl of noodles.

We could go on with The Party Man, The Athlete, The Powerhouse or The Con Man. Maybe even The Soldier, The Sailor and Candlestick Maker? Today’s women have so many choices, some may even want all of these in one?

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Tuptim Malakul Lane na Ayuthaya lectures at Mahidol International College on Media Communications, is a freelance writer and a practicing psychologist. She is multicultural and multilingual, having spent her childhood in the United Kingdom and Middle East following her father’s diplomatic career.