Famous Last Words: If You Have to Ask, You're Too Stupid to Own One
Did you hear the story of the rich yuppie whose Porsche was sideswiped and totaled on a narrow bridge? His elbow had been protruding out the window, and the crash tore his left arm off and it flew into the bay below.
Police found the guy at the scene sobbing over the loss of his beloved Porsche.
"How can you be so upset about the car when your left arm is gone."
"Oh, no! Oh, my God. My Rolex watch!"
Those Who Collect, and Those Who Are Practical
Fred—a friend of mine—is an avid collector of watches. Loves fancy watches. Buys them at auction. Buys them new. Loves wearing them!
OK. Jay Leno collects cars. Warren Buffett collects companies. Fred collects watches. And watches make Fred happy.
I've always worn cheap digital watches by Casio or Timex. When the strap wears out, I buy a new watch for around $20. I use it 1) to keep time; 2) to record elapsed time on flights to Europe or the West Coast; 3) occasionally as a stopwatch. These watches have a light, so I can tell time in the middle of the night.
Here's My Question ...
I love looking at ads for expensive watches in upmarket magazines, like Vanity Fair and "How to Spend It" in the weekend Financial Times.
The kind of ad I mean is the one for Breitling you see here. In looking at hundreds of such ads for myriad brands, I have never seen an explanation of the three little circular dials at 12, 9 and 6. No call-outs. No body copy. To me, these things are akin to secret Masonic or Rosicrucian symbols.
Do I have the right to wear such a watch? I've eaten at "21" and the Pump Room. I've been to the casinos at Estoril and the Lido. I even flew in a 1927 Waco biplane with a Plexiglas cockpit cover and a huge, deafening radial engine. The fuselage was black and the wings were bright yellow. I wore a leather helmet with goggles and a parachute. All I want to know is what this Breitling will do for me that my Timex will not?
But Breitling's snooty, elitist message to me is, "If you have to ask, you're too stupid to own one."
I am reminded of a story from the 1960s when I was living in New York. It was told to me by a young woman who worked at Tiffany & Co., the luxury emporium on Fifth Avenue.
One day in early December, an advertising salesman entered the main door of Tiffany's and showed a sales lady a handsome silver key ring. "I bought a bunch of these last year as Christmas presents for my office and clients. Everybody loved receiving them—especially since they came in the blue Tiffany Box. And I loved giving them, since the price was $25. Do you still carry this item? I want to buy more for my new clients."
The lady squinted at the object and said, "I don't recognize it. But let me take it to my supervisor."
She returned a few minutes later and handed the key ring back to its owner.
"We no longer carry them," she said shaking her head with sympathy in her voice. "We found they brought in the wrong kind of customer."
P.S. For a real yuck, check out YouTube for the iconic 1958 John Cameron Swayze live TV spot for Timex.
To demonstrate its sturdiness, the watch was attached to the propeller of giant Evenrude outboard motor. The watch disappeared and Swayze ad-libbed the entire commercial.