Gifts I Cherish

Gifts I Cherish

My birthday is tomorrow. I plan to spend it with my wife Regan and our daughter. The day reminds me of some special birthday gifts I’ve gotten over the years, like the one Regan gave me when I turned 30. It was one of the most extravagant, personal gifts anyone had ever given me: a Tag Heuer watch with a blue dial. 

“Because it matches your eyes,” she said. 

I couldn’t believe she’d given me such a gift. We only knew each other a few months. We weren’t rich, and she went and spent more than a grand on a watch for me. (Though I already knew she was the one for me when she got up under the dashboard of a Porsche I was working on and started hooking up the stereo.)

She says now, more than twenty years later, “I’m probably the best thing that could have happened to you. 

For more than twenty years, many watches have come and gone across my wrist. But I still have that Tag Heuer watch Regan gave me for my thirtieth birthday. I cherish it – and her.

Today, I collect watches, especially Rolex and Omega. I couldn’t afford them when I was 30, but after working for decades to start and build Lemon Squad, one of the rewards I give myself is indulging in high quality watches. They are works of art. When I sold Lemon Squad, I gave myself the gift of a Rolex Submariner, the same watch Jacques Cousteau wore.

One of my favorite morning practices is going to pick out the watch for the day. I wind it and set the date and time. I belong to social media groups and really like reading the stories of people who collect and restore watches. They’re such personal objects, and there’s a story behind every one.

I also like working on watches, the same way I liked working on cars and motorcycles. I study restoration videos on YouTube and spend way too much time on Chrono24. There’s something soothing, and so cool, about watching someone take apart a watch that’s been sitting underwater and meticulously restore it.

For me, settling down to disassemble a watch, study it, and put it back together can be a meditative act. It focuses my attention and requires precise, small motor skills. I’ve heard even the Dalai Lama enjoys this practice. I get it. For a mechanical mind, this activity is healthy brain candy.

It’s important as I get older to recognize and honor these objects, like the watch Regan gave me, and how watches have played a positive role in my whole life. Today, they help with my anxiety and give me a way to appreciate fine craftsmanship and art.

I’ve been reflecting on my life a lot lately as I’m finishing the final touches on my memoir. It’s coming out in early 2024, and I’m super-excited to share the details with you. Stay tuned for the big announcement …

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