Time travel

Time is luxury. Make the most of every second.

By Debbie Hathway

Published in Sawubona September 2019


What would you do if I gave you 86 400? Today, tomorrow and the next day. And the day after that. What would you do?

The question was posed to me recently by one of my mentors. My mind instantly moved to money. Paying off debt. Living a little. Travelling. Stressing less. ‘What would you do,’ he asked, ‘if you had 86 400 seconds. Not rand. We are given 86 400 seconds every day and yet we take time for granted…’
It is a familiar refrain when I interview luminaries in the luxury watch and jewellery industry at the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie, which is one of the top-two international watch fairs in Switzerland. No matter where these watchmakers, jewellery designers, marketers or owners are based in the world, the sentiment is the same. Time is luxury. It is not about material things. It is about things that matter.

They are quick to wax lyrical about their latest favourite timepiece adorning their wrist, whether their design preference leans more towards the fun, the stylish, the glamorous, the iconic or the investment. Patek Philippe is a leader in the latter category, renowned for its advertising slogan that has maintained traction for more than two decades: ‘You never actually own a Patek Philippe. You merely look after it for the next generation.’

Across the board, however, creators, collectors, fashionistas and fans all agree. A watch is a fashion accessory. They use their mobile phones to check the time.

Take your time
I attended a kizomba dance class in Cape Town recently. This ‘African tango’ that is taking the world by storm originates in Angola where it is usually seen at family and community celebrations. The traditional version is less about intimacy, and more about connection – the kind you can demonstrate with your mother or uncle or daughter or cousin, unlike the more sensual version being seen on urban dance floors. So when my partner disengaged from our close embrace, during which I had become lost in the security of a rhythmic dance led by a respectful, patient partner, it was with some annoyance that I realised he was checking the time…

I forgave him momentarily when I caught sight of his chunky wristwatch and was distracted by the opportunity to discover what he was wearing – until he reached into his pocket for his mobile phone, smiling at me good-naturedly. He is half my age. The watch makes a statement but he uses his phone to tell the time. It is more accurate and less likely to lose time. (Perhaps he would change his mind if he was wearing something like the Montblanc Heritage Perpetual Calendar Limited Edition 100 with its power reserve of 48 hours.)

Noticing the temporary break in movement, our Angolan teacher, Danilton Faria, hastened to get us going again, shepherding us into one corner of the room where we could continue without danger of interfering with another couple’s practice. ‘Keep your space,’ he said to nobody in particular. ‘Listen to the music. Don’t rush. Take your time.’