Broken Watch

Invicta Automatic Watch

The clear back of an Invicta automatic watch shows the motion activated self-winding mechanism.

My sisters always get mad at me. A few years ago they thought that a milestone birthday deserved an extra special gift, so they got me a “super watch”, an Invicta automatic watch. This isn’t just a watch. It’s a top of the line chronometer, very beautiful, waterproof to 200 meters, and, most importantly, needs neither winding, nor batteries. It “self-winds” as it is worn. The motion of the wrist actuates a pendulum and stores the kinetic energy from movement, enabling the watch to run. I’ll be honest, I was floored. It’s an amazing watch and far more expensive a watch than I think I deserve.

But I just don’t wear the watch and that causes a lot of strife. My sisters contend that a beautiful watch is not to sit in a display case, but to be worn on a wrist. I agree with them. But a watch on my wrist is a special case.

I’ve been wearing watches since I’ve been 9 years old. I have my father to thank for that. He got me my first watch and it was a nice watch. I still own it. But in 1995 I got my first pager and it showed the time and the watch faded away. When I “upgraded” to a cell phone, the pager faded. And a smartphone made the “dumb” phone fade away. And through all this the watch never came back. In this business of search and rescue and emergency management redundancy is very important, but redundancy to know the time is not. You tend to be very conscious of the time when on a mission and it’s not because of the watch.

Broken Watch

Technical rescue puts personal equipment at risk.

About the only time I wear a watch these days is when I’m in a place where my phone does not have signal or stands a good chance of being damaged. Generally that’s in a cave, on a cliff or in a remote wilderness. And because of these environments, my watch budget is about $5. I need a watch that tells time and that I won’t cry over when I destroy it. I destroy a lot of watches. This year I blew out the band on a watch when at the cave rescue training in Texas. The watch still works, but it will never be able to be attached to a wrist band again. And this weekend I managed to crack the face on a favorite cave watch. It was favorite because the hands were phosphorescent and would glow in the dark. Very cool in a cave. And easy to tell time in the dark.

So that brings me back to the Invicta. I really do love it. It’s an amazing piece of finely crafted precision technology and something that requires no human intervention to run. That’s good, because I always forgot to wind manual watches when I had them. I’ll wear this watch to a wedding or a high society event or even a night at the theater – not a movie theater or a dinner theater, mind you – a Broadway play kind of theater. But I can’t justify such an amazing watch for my everyday environments. Knowing what I do and how hard I am on my gear, it’s only a matter of time before I scratch it or crack it or just destroy it.

Operation Rumble in the Rockies

Operation Rumble in the Rockies, a North Central Region full scale exercise.

Technical Rope Rescue

Responders working in the air to rescue an unconscious window washer.

This weekend we hosted Operation Rumble in the Rockies, a regional full scale exercise combining many teams from across the region. Part of the exercise was rescuing an unconscious window washer trapped twenty feet above ground. It’s technical rope rescue and in a light breeze there’s still a bunch of swaying that happens on rope. Great news! We saved the window washer. My watch wasn’t nearly as lucky.

This past Friday was National Siblings Day and I love my sisters. I should probably tell them that more often. On Saturday I destroyed another watch and I’m grateful that it cost around $5 and most likely delivered that value to me in the amount of time that I had it. As I was retiring the watch today, I thought the convergence of events over the weekend was interesting. Worthy of an article, at least.

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