passage of time

Last year, after I got home from travelling for a few months, my sisters told me: "Happy birthday, can we buy you a new strap for your watch?"

They were plainly disgusted with the state of the cracking, peeling mess that was my watch strap then. Leather gets into a pretty bad state in humid weather, and mine completely fell apart when left unworn for months - first it dried up, and then it split.

I guess I should be unimpressed that the leather strap of a Cartier watch would fall apart that way, but I wasn't - it's been six years of me wearing it in a resolutely un-precious way. Six years' worth of everyday sweat, dirt and skin oils accumulating in the leather. Six years of me never cleaning it. Six years of occasionally dousing it in water by accident, like when I forget to remove my watch when I do the dishes. 

In short, I wear this watch (it's the Tank Solo) a lot, and I actually rather loved how worn the strap was getting, and the scratches accumulated on the bezel - it looked a lot more "me" than when it was shiny and impeccable.

The design still speaks to me as well - I love the tidy square bezel, the sapphire crown and the matching sapphire-blue hands, the eggshell-white dial, the Roman numerals, the strong Art Deco lines. It was distinctive, but restrained.

The watch, with its original black strap, in 2011. A small part of the top layer cracked and peeled off last year

So off I went to the Cartier boutique, thinking I would replace the strap with another black one, no question. But the sales assistant brought out a whole array of bands, and my eyes immediately lit on the red - a rich burgundy, heady like a glass of wine. It was beautiful.

I dithered for quite a bit. Black was cool, classic and elegant, and perfectly in harmony with the restraint that made me love the Tank Solo in the first place. But the red was alluring in its own slightly flashy way. I'm not especially adventurous where colour is concerned, but it felt right, to take a different direction. I went for the red. 

I'm glad I went for the red. It adds an unexpected punch to my outfits (by my muted standards at least), while retaining the classicism of a Cartier Tank.


When I showed the watch to a friend, she remarked that only I would find the change drastic - the red was so dark that it looks black in most settings. She's right. 

I have this internal monologue about clothes (and I suspect I'm not alone) - it's so loud that I think everyone hears it, everyone sees what I see. Except they don't, for the most part. It's just me, tying myself into knots, trying to decide on details that don't register on anyone else. 

But it's also these little details that I find deeply satisfying when I get them right - that is to say, to my exact liking. Personal style, after all, is precisely that - personal.

What kind of details do you fuss over that no one else notices?



Alex said…
I remember reading your blog back when you were thinking of getting this watch or the Hermes! Nice to see it's still going strong. The red really suits you as well. May I ask what size of the tank you got?

I fuss over fabric content and quality definitely, small details that only need to please me. Most recent example are my new Church's boots, I love how well crafted they are, I don't think I'll ever be able to wear badly made shoes now.
Sue said…
I have the Cartier tank. Mine was given to me by my sister and I love how sort of discreet and comfortable it is. And guess what? I have it with the burgundy strap though my strap is a little more worn than yours. But not as bad as your black. ;)
jamie-lee said…
I love the subtle hint of colour, and the plain fact that the watch has been so well-loved by you that it required a replacement strap!
Lena said…
Beautiful strap! What a gorgeous colour. I'm on the same boat about wearing things in too... there's just something so comforting to me about things that are lived in, though I'm not sure if I could articulate why (for example, I let my sterling silver jewellery tarnish for a few weeks before wearing them)!
And as someone who thinks a bit too much about clothes, I'm a little obsessed over seam finishings. The first thing I do when I see a dress I like, is to turn it inside out! haha
I really like the burgundy color!

I may not be that discerning with a lot of little details myself, though I really enjoy when certain items become a well-loved part of me. (The only thing that gets daily wear with me is a little gold necklace that my mom got me as a graduation present, the kind of thing that I'll never need to take off.) I did get really into the idea of my recent Coach purchase in part because of the yellow suede lining in the outer pockets that is a bit visible from some angles. The contrast between that and the blue leather felt pretty special to me. Outside of that though, I think most of my favorite items end up that way just because they're comfortable and "easy" so that I don't need to pay attention to them. I appreciate the signs of wear and tear a bit as they accumulate, but generally don't really notice...
Lakshmi said…
Very elegant, discreet.
lin said…
Alex: It's the small Tank Solo. I find the large ones weirdly misshapen on me, but that's in part because I don't like large watches.

Most important details seem invisible to others...

Sue: I blame the tropical climate!

jamie-lee: I guess saying that I wore this to death isn't at all an exaggeration.

Lena: I find new things so conspicuous in their newness, to the point where they don't seem to harmonise with the rest of my clothes.

Seam finishings say so much - I'm deeply impressed with any brand/designer, regardless of price point, that tries to get them right.

Xin: I think when things are satisfactorily made and blend seamlessly into our lives, we don't need to worry about them. It's when they don't that the tiniest of details can nag at you!

Joy said…
Still want to get one for myself, one of these days!
koko said…
The red is beautiful! And it will get nicer with patina over time. I wear a watch every day, despite having my phone with me at all times. I prefer when things show signs of use as well, which is probably why I have no qualms buying secondhand clothing, especially jeans that someone else has already taken the time to soften :D

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