In dusty dresser drawers and moldy boxes across America, hidden treasure awaits those faced with sorting the possessions of our loved ones who have passed from this world. That treasure could be something valuable like an heirloom owned by a relative, a bespoke horological masterpiece, or a gold retirement watch.
Or, you could discover that the bedside dresser was really just a junk drawer. If you are looking to find something valuable then finding a zip lock baggy of busted watches is the last thing you might want to see. However, the value can be relative because we attach keepsake value to items that our loved ones wore. It becomes a part of their identity that gets flashed into our memories of yesteryear. Each of the photos below shows my father with a different watch. I don’t think they lasted too long with him.
My parents were not wealthy people. They spent every dime that they had to raise four kids and later a few grandchildren. I honestly don’t know how they provided such a wonderful childhood for us, but we never wanted for anything or felt neglected. Their choices in timepieces were strictly utilitarian… especially for my father who would put them through the ringer as a marine biologist, teacher and camp director.
As such, he never really stuck with just one watch. When one broke, he would replace it. Over the years, I remember seeing some quartz department store watches and digital cheapos that one might find in a drugstore. So what did I find in the sock drawer? Read on…
The largest discovery was a loudly ticking pocket watch named a Westclox Scotty. It sounds like that “60 Minutes” watch that they show on TV. This is the last version that Westclox made which dates it somewhere between 1974 and 1990. It was manufactured in the United States… Remember that the U.S. used to make many of things before MADE IN CHINA became the norm.
Next, I found a USA flag watch with an identity crisis. On the back, this watch reads “Geneva” (which everyone should realize is located in Switzerland), but then it reads JAPAN MOVT. On the front, it has GOD BLESS AMERICA. Now my question is… which God? Would it be the Christian God in Switzerland and the U.S. or the Shinto and Buddhist gods worshiped in Japan.
Speaking of religion, I found the ultimate memory aid…. a watch with the names of disciples on it, plus the image of Jesus. If only forgetful students had this in Catholic school, the nuns might not be inclined to smack their knuckles with a ruler. On the back, you can read that this lovely design was not made in heaven, but Hong Kong with a Japanese movement.
The Casio shown above is so damaged that either my Dad had a rough day collecting specimens in the field or he picked it up on the beach because he liked the way it looked. He was an amazing packrat of a collector. While it may seem strange to save this, the watch looks like it has quite a story to tell.
Perhaps my favorite find was my Dad’s Seiko SQ 100 quartz watch with day and date. I seem to remember him wearing this or one like it. The crystal and electroplating show this was a “wearer”.
The case back is missing but that reveals the interesting digital innards. I wonder if it would work if I found a case back and added a battery? Hmmm… I might have to try that.
So, did I find treasure? Just getting into the “off-limits” drawer to poke around was satisfying. It was a look into trinkets and souvenirs of a lifetime. But the answer is YES. I did find a gold plated Longines quartz watch that was owned by my grandfather in the early 1980s and passed to my father. One of the last requests that he had for me was to find it, but that is a different story for another article coming soon.