THE BODY sprawled by the pool on the first page of Ian Fleming’s novel From Russia With Love sported, among other things, a Gerard-Perregaux wristwatch.
He may have seemed dead, but he traveled in style. Fleming called the Gerard-Perregaux a “badge of the rich man’s club.” I also wear that badge in spite of not being rich.
I found the watch in 1998 in an antique store in the Heights neighborhood of Houston.
The watch was inoperative, frozen, and I knew nothing of the brand. It was a time two years before I became Mexico’s Bond.
The watch was priced cheaply because it did not work. I forget how much I paid, but I immediately left it in a repair shop where it was resurrected for about $100.
Gerard-Perregaux, founded in 1791, is a Swiss maker of very high-end watches that sell new for thousands of dollars. They are every bit as good as Rolex though they make fewer watches and don’t crow about it so much.
I bought the watch for one reason. It was motion-activated. Battery-run watches screech to a halt on my wrist in a matter of hours. You may have heard of this odd phenomenon.
It is no myth.
I can only wear motion-activated watches or the old style you actually wind up. Try and find that these days. So, it’s motion-activated, or no watch at all for me.
Back in the 1960s and 1970s, it was easy to find motion-activated watches, but they gradually vanished until the late 1990s when it was almost impossible to locate one. These days, they have become popular again, considered “eco” or “green.”
I wore my Gerard-Perregaux for about five years, totally unaware of its snazzy rep, till it stopped dead again in Mexico. I took it to a humble repair shop, and the guy got it running — for about a week. I tossed it into a drawer and bought a Citizen.
Sometime during the decade it sat in the drawer, I learned what it was that I had, but I did nothing about it. But six months ago I fished it out and took it to the repair desk at the Liverpool department store in the state capital.
A month later and with my wallet over 3,000 pesos lighter, I picked it up, and it’s been running like a watch ever since. I pray this will continue for the rest of my days. I rather like being Mexico’s Bond, or at least resembling him in one small way.
Seems about right to me.