My Grandad always claimed that he was born on New Year’s Day 1894. We were never quite sure as records then were a bit unreliable. At the age of 14 he went off to the Army recruitment office, lied about his age and signed up, serving first in South Africa and then in the ‘Cavalry’ in India.
I do have some photos of him - one of him resplendent in his uniform astride a rather magnificent mount and another of him sitting in a rattan chair in ‘It ain’t half hot mum’ pose sporting the obligatory pith helmet. There are two things consistent in every photo – firstly the spurs on his fine leather boots and secondly the gold chain attached at one end to a button on his waistcoat and disappearing at the other end into a pocket on the other side. At the end of the chain was a gold pocket watch. I remember as a child standing or sitting cross legged in front of him as he sat in his chair below the wall mounted grandfather clock in our kitchen. I’d ask him to show me his watch and he would remove it from his pocket, somewhat reluctantly, and then open the case to show the watch inside. To his dying day I would always see him dressed in a waistcoat, in a shirt with or without collar, but always with his watch and chain. I still have his spurs but sadly I do not know what happened to his pocket watch. I guess it was given to my father but I never saw it again.
Before the First World War, pocket watches were the watch of choice. It was only for the need in what was then modern warfare to ‘synchronise watches’ before the daily barrage began, that ‘wrist watches’ would appear. By the end of the 1920’s they would dominate the market. Slowly but surely every man would have a ‘wristwatch’.
In August 1977 I had my eighteenth birthday. My mum asked me what I would like as a gift and perhaps inspired by that pocket watch my Grandad held so dear, I said I would like a watch. Watches are the obvious gifts for ‘significant’ birthdays. I was bought a Rotary watch which cost £22 from HJ Samuel in Sheffield – a fair sum in those days. It was my first watch and I loved it.
By the time my 30th birthday approached I had already been introduced to and fallen in love with Links golf and so there was only one thing to do on my birthday play links golf, this time at Birkdale – my first round of golf on an Open Championship course. Turning thirty is a significant birthday and once again my main gift was a watch – this time a rather nice sleek steel and gold bracelet Gucci which cost about £300. When my fortieth birthday was on the horizon – I decided I wanted and could now afford a COSC certified Chronometer. Having researched the various prestige and well known premium brands of Rolex, Omega and Tag I settled upon a steel bracelet Tag Sports Chronometer with a time elapsed bezel often seen on diving watches.
Shortly before my 50th birthday, on July 9th 2009 I filed my patent application for a ‘Golfing accessory time piece’ and even though a significant birthday had become an excuse to acquire yet another watch as one of my 50th birthday gifts, I swore that the next watch to appear on my wrist would be mine – my invention, my design, my watch.
I celebrated my 55th birthday with my wife and two daughters, once more in Quinta do Lago, Portugal amidst the villas and golf courses that make the area such an attraction. I sat on the very same sun lounger where I was first mistaken as a ‘diver’ simply by another watch I had been bought for my ‘insignificant’ 43rd birthday.
Finally, on my wrist after twelve years of research and five years of patent applications, planning and product development was my watch – actually one of the seventeen watch models in my men's range. (Recently increased to 54 for men and 18 for women.)
So to the question when is a significant birthday significant? My answer would be when you get a watch. Of course if you’re a golfer, then I would contend the answer is when you get an ETIQUS.
Yours in Golf.