I'm too stupid for my Rolex

Expensive purchases and I don’t get along. That fact didn’t deter me from acquiring a Rolex.

On a Hawaii vacation, my major concern focused on setting the watch to reflect island time. Would I be able to screw the hatch-like-a-submarine stem in properly?

Here was my first clue that maybe I was too naïve for a watch like this. My only experiences had been with Timex manual winds, a Porky Pig cartoon watch and a Burger King “The Nightmare Before Christmas” theme watch –– free with meal.

Right on cue, the Rolex ground to a halt. After stressing the entire vacation, I raced to the jeweler and blurted out my pathetic story. He lectured me on proper winding procedure, sent it in and after two miserable weeks with Porky it was back on my wrist.

The watch began to run five minutes fast. I was embarrassed to face another jeweler’s lecture. I asked Mr. Super-Rolex if he ever had any problems with his. Of course not ... well, maybe a few seconds. Then I got the spiel regarding wrist action. Rolexes are made to run so many seconds fast per week, month, millennium –– I don’t know. Maybe I was winding down. Was it the model or was my wrist action too fast?

I’d taken a few days off and didn’t wear the watch. I’d forgotten what a high-maintenance piece it was –– worse than an infant, demanding 24/7 attention. It refused to go!

So, I martyred myself and went to the jeweler. The saleslady grilled me. Had I wound it 32 times? Hmm, that’s a new one. She wound and counted very slowly because I was too stupid to count to 32, according to her glare. Ha! It still didn’t work. Perhaps someone was too stupid to be selling them?

She sent it in for a higher-level exam. Later she phoned with an estimate: $350! At purchase, I was told it would need servicing every seven years. I never equated it with “servicing,” as in a car tuneup. Obviously. some kind of Swiss Watchmaker’s Union rip-off.

I retrieved the watch, its hands permanently positioned at 3, and wore it every day out of spite. When my tax refund arrives, I can afford to have it repaired. Forget necessities. Whoa, am I too poor for my Rolex?

I vowed never to fix it. I scribbled a letter to the Rolex people and fed them my tale of woe: A Rolex supposedly kept running through war, buried in desert sand or ice (I’d read all the stories in the Rolex booklet), yet it couldn’t survive a few years on my tiny wrist? Could this particular model have been defective from the start? Somebody step up and take accountability.

I got a call from Rolex headquarters. Miss Customer Relations sounded incredulous that this had happened to me. But I was on to what she was really implying: I’m the malfunctioning one, not the watch. She suggested I send the watch to her. No! I refused to spend another cent on this accursed watch. Instead, I returned it to the jeweler with a list of demands. Should they give me a hard time, I’d go on Consumer Reports and raise a huge stink about the Myth of Quality –– new cars in the shop, designer clothes you have to re-sew.

Suffering extreme mental anguish and without my precious watch once again, I asked for a men’s loaner to wear around my neck. All I got was word that they would fix the watch for free, though it wouldn’t be back for three months. They had to take a close look at what might have gone wrong.

Porky and I will be together for the duration.

Julia Cousineau is a freelance writer who works in Federal Way.

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