At a Loss at IWC Watches

The Gate Crasher: Nov. 2012

“Hello!” a pleasant-faced girl beamed at me with refreshing enthusiasm, “I didn’t know you were an IWC man!”

I glanced at my companion, Martin, for help – did she know me? And what was IWC? But my friend was already taking the young lady’s hand and tipsily examining the ring on her index finger with a lingering caress, unsettling even for an observer: He had just been reading a book about kinesthetics and how it might heighten his allure for the fair sex.

“That is one, I hope,” the woman said playfully casting her gaze in the direction of my wrist and firmly extracting her hand from Martin’s grip.

“Absolutely!” I realised she must be talking about the broken down Omega hanging loosely on my wrist and I thrust my left hand deep into my pocket before she could discover the heresy. “Here, look at mine!” giggled Martin in a last doomed effort to attract attention.

I surveyed the surroundings. We were in a large oak panelled chamber off the Graben with a corner bar and lined with posters of improbably square-jawed, be-stubbled pilots flashing chunky silver timepieces. Across the way a large glass case shimmered with enormous glittering chronometers. With a sinking heart, I recalled the dull business networking where I had first met Valerie, and with a shudder, the people who enjoyed talking watches.

“So what is it that draws you to the brand?” the girl asked me enthusiastically, having abandoned Martin to the mini burgers making the rounds as finger food.

“Not much up on the brand,” I confessed, as Valerie’s glossy smile faded and the faint lines of a frown flickered on her smooth forehead. She was clearly at a loss as to how to deal with such appalling ignorance.

“But the IWC pieces have wonderful lines, a cutting aesthetic,” I added doing my best to look impressed, and eager not to give up just yet.

She glanced over my shoulder, and then back to me, as a thought appeared to creep over her and a cold gleam of determination shone from her eyes.

“Come,” she said, commanded. “The pilot watches! There we might find something for you!” Her eye lingered on a picture of an impossibly handsome aviator just above us on the wall, before she ogled back to me, smiling her sweetest smile of seduction.

“This one would be just perfect!” she said tapping the case holding what looked like an old fashioned stopwatch, enormous, matte black, and particularly ugly. There was no price tag: always a bad sign.

“And the stainless steel model here?” I spoke deliberately, as a potential customer might when weighing up a significant purchase, taking a ponderous sip from my glass of fragrant wine for good measure. “Oh, the Mark XVIII?” she almost squealed, clasping her palms together and leaning towards me in rapture, “That is my very favourite! It was used by British pilots flying the long range Vulcan nuclear bomber!”

Secretly wondering what my problem was that I didn’t find such a fact remotely interesting, I began to consider my exit strategy. But just then, out of the corner of my eye, I had seen two sights that had already lifted my flagging spirits, one was a rosy faced and beaming Martin making his way over to where we were standing, the other a pretty waitress loaded with a tray of shimmering cocktail glasses.

Ever obliging, Martin flung his arm around a wincing Valerie and asked her to “tell him about the watches,” while I headed for the booze. As I later discovered, Martin’s interest in the lovely Valerie had been more than skin deep: His IWC had stopped one week before and he was hoping for a discount on a replacement.

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