2015: a Watch Odyssey? (i.e., Longines vs. Apple = No Contest)

Marion Altieri,New York writer

Marion Altieri,New York writer

When you come right down to it, I’m really an old-fashioned kinda gal.

That is not to be confused with phrases like, “fuddy-duddy,” “reactionary” or simply, “old.”

What I mean is this:  I was born in the mid-1950s.  Obviously, I’m cool because Elvis serenaded my Mother via the car radio, as she was being driven to the hospital to have me.

I came up through the turbulent and exciting 60s–the Bad Hair and Polyester 70s–the Padded-Shoulders-and-Spiked-Hair 80s…well, you get the drift.

Every decade of my Life was drastically NOT like the decade before.  Fashions, hair styles, music, politics, attitudes–all seemed to change, every 10 years, as if someone said they were supposed to.  But fortunately, the things that keep me rooted are those that are organic, real, and connected to eternal values.

The one thing–the one constant–in my Life as I shapeshifted and became the woman I am today was…horse racing.

As most of you know, I’ve been a fan of racing for 55 years now–since I was four.

Regardless of my compaions at the track–my Mother, or high school or college friends–still, the horse races remained assuringly consistent.

Beautiful horses–the archetypal body of which has not changed in over four million years.

Silks, saddles and finish lines–the Platonic Forms of these things have been around for hundreds of years.

Red jackets on outriders–jockeys in snappy black boots–and “First Call” (“Call to the Post”) played by a bugler. Every day, the same bell–the same traditions–mark a horse race as being an Event.  Even though the horses themselves will run at alarming speed once the race begins–still, a day at the races is a harkening back to a time of eternal, unchanging beauty and elegance.

The rituals remain the same, thank God.  In this era when sporting events too-often give birth to parking lot brawls and rioting after a defeat–still, horse racing at its core is the level-headed sister in a (sports) family of idiots.

(Even the horses who must feel pretty badly about themselves because they’re in claiming races in Nowheresville, Alaska–can hang on to their dignity because they are participating in the long-established rituals that connect them with legends like Eclipse, Lexington and Seattle Slew.  They very much are part of these legends, if for no other reason than that the legends’ DNA courses through their veins.)

Often I stress when I think about the pasty-faced kids who lock themselves in their rooms, clammy hands arthritically attached to gaming consoles.  Sitting in the dark, interacting with 60-year-old strangers and waging war against no-one-and-everyone–these kids are hurtling themselves willingly into a dystopian, post-apocalyptic society in which all interaction is limited to non-tactile contact and (more often than not)–violence for the sake of violence.

This sad state of affairs has been encouraged by too many parents who are happy just to have their kids at home, instead of “on the streets,” and in their rooms, supposedly safe.

What does that have to do with horse racing?  Everything, actually.  If these same parents pried their kids’ fingers from the gaming equipment and took (dragged?) them to a race track–they would give the most loving of gifts to their children:

*  Interaction with living, breathing, sentient beings, both equine and human.
*  Introduction to the ancient–yes, ancient–art and sport of horse racing could change their children’s lives, for the better.  Live horses, instead of dead, two-dimensional mercenary soldiers.  I see this as no contest.

The whole gaming thing freaks me out, anyway, because IMHO there is entirely too much technology in the world, and most of it is useless technology.  Technology for the Sake of Technology.  We have it, because we can.

Seven years ago, I won an iPod Shuffle in a trivia contest.  The thing is about 1″ square.  I threw the box into the glove compartment of my car, and left it there for five days.  I’d lost my mind a little, as I realized that the technology in my Life was getting ever-smaller, and it seemed like I had no control over the situation:

*  First I had a desktop computer.
*  Then a laptop. (Smaller than the desktop.)
*  Then an Acer notebook. (< laptop.)
*  Then a Palm. (< Acer.)
*  Then a smartphone. (<, still.)
*  Now, with the gift of this teeny iPod, I had reached the place at which I owned technology that was so small, it almost didn’t exist.

I was terrified that I’d toss it into my purse–get confused–and pop it into my mouth, thinking it was a Listerine breath strip.

You laugh now, but think about it:  how much technology do we need?
The fact that we can do something does not indicate that we should.

Which brings me to the title of this article, and the question: does anyone really need a watch that’s a computer?

I don’t know about you, but my eyes start to bleed when I think about having a watch on my wrist that I’m expected to use as a computer, a phone or a stove.  I want a watch so that I can look at it–tell the time–and admire its beauty.  Period.

Like you, my brain has been assaulted lately by ads for the new Apple Watch.  I Googled the thing, to know more–not because I’d ever consider buying one, but because I was curious as to why anyone would want to.  And to see how overpriced. (I remember when CD players first came out, around 1985:  for those of you who weren’t alive yet at that time, they cost $900.  No, I’m not kidding.)

So I found the Apple Watches, and immediately I saw the demographic to whom they’re marketing the thing: the same  young people who have to have the latest technology, and have it now.  The price range is $549 to $17,000.   For 17 Grand, you can get rose gold and a “sport band.”  Read that, “polymer.”  (“Plastic.”)

(Funny thing is that the “sport band” reminds me of the “sport band” on the Hello Kitty watch that a friend gave me a few years ago, which she bought via Avon.)

But, hey, for those who have the dinero and the desire, I say, go for it.  If you want to spend a year’s tuition on a watch that will show you pictures of pretty butterflies on-demand–it’s your cash to blow.

Like any other fad, it will come down in price–if it doesn’t go The Way of the Pterodactyl first, because the intended audience realizes that they can’t stare at  a computer/phone screen that small for long periods of time.  (Do you really want to try to watch “Jurassic Park” on a screen that’s maybe 1.5″ x 1″?)

LONGINES LOGOOn the other hand–rather, on the other wrist–we have Longines.  Longines, the revered Swiss watch company that understands horse people and our beautiful, elegant, historic sport of racing.  Longines, as you no doubt know, is the Official Timekeeper of most of the world’s most prestigious Thoroughbred races, including our American Triple Crown and the Dubai World Cup.

Longines knows that a relationship with horse racing (as with polo, dressage, eventing, etc.) is as natural as that of a horse and rider:  both the watch company and equine sports epitomize The Best, The Beautiful and Intimate Connection.

No gaming consoles here:  every Longines watch is organic–carefully sculpted of Earth’s best materials–just as are horses, the humans who race them.  Nothing loud or obnoxious here:  every Longines watch is silent.  She sits waiting for her audience to discover her, rather than reaching out of your TV, throttling you over the head with the demand to buy.  Unlike the Apple Atrocity, she doesn’t demand your attention.

Horses and Longines watches are so very much alike, in that:  not everyone can get quiet enough to hear, feel and intuit the deeply beautiful spirit within.

I long for a more-quiet world:  a world in which children fall in love with horses when they’re young–and so never fall prey to the siren call of violent video games.

I crave a shift in values:  that sports like horse racing, dressage and polo become so popular as to overtake the popularity of sports that, at their core, feature violence and anger.

It is in this horse world of mine that I find peace and joy.  Yes, horse racing can be loud, but not necessarily inelegant:  when “your” horse is first at the finish line, of course your emotions take you to that place of ecstatic utterance.  But the foundation of that joy is the gift of one of God’s most quiet animals, animals far-more wise than any football player.

Given my druthers, I’ll take a Longines timepiece any day of the week, over the monstrous Apple Watch.

An Apple thing lying on my nightstand as I try to slumber would make me sleep with one eye open.  Just as in “2001:  a Space Odyssey,” I can see it unfolding now:

I’m trying to sleep.
Suddenly, my room is all aglow.
I rouse, and realize that the glow is emanating from Apple Watch.
“Turn off, and go to sleep,” I anthropomorphize as I address the thing.
“I’m sorry, Marion, I can’t do that.”

Permanent, irreversible insomnia.

LONGINES EQUESTRIANIf you’re inclined to purchase a new watch this year and you value timeless grace, I urge you to check out Longines’ collections, most notably the spectacular new Equestrian Collection, which recently was introduced.  (Absolutely gorgeous, and yummy:  metals, leather, stones…all quiet, all beautiful, all sublime. Precision timing, without screaming at you, 24/7.)


This is not an ad for a particular brand of watch.  This is just me, hoping to encourage you to look for refinement in a world that’s loud and techno-crazed.

We are the archetypal sport of horse racing.  Go ahead:  clothe-bathe-surround yourself and your soul with all the beautiful accoutrement of our singularly lovely sport.  Too much brash, loud technology in your Life?  Quiet yourself, and hear the soft sweeping of the second hand:  you don’t need a watch as a search engine, or to order Chinese.