Something happened, and we need to talk about it. Well, I need to talk about it. To confess, basically. I know this might sound like blasphemy to your ears, but I never cared for watches. In fact, I imagined that binding my body to the tyranny of time would somehow infringe on my perceived personal freedoms. I don’t know… I read a lot of Ralph Waldo Emerson during my formative years, and stuff like that just messes with your way of looking at the world. Anyway, I’d been raw-wristing for the first 41 years of my life until I ran into a bright orange G-Shock (with a tide graph), and my life has not been the same ever since.

You may have never heard my name here on Fratello, but you’ve seen my work. You know those videos with RJ and Lex? Yeah, I’m the guy pushing the red button on the camera. That’s how I came into contact with Fratello. When you just love pushing red buttons, there are really only two vocations you can choose — videographer or president of a country with a nuclear arsenal. I definitely don’t always make the right life choices, but I’m pretty confident I made the right call in this case.

G-Shock GLX-5600RT

Occupational hazards

I immediately realized that Fratello was a very dangerous place for me. When I stumble upon something that fascinates me, I tend to dive headfirst into that wormhole immediately. That’s how my brain works. And with their combination of design, history, stories, and awfully nice people (well, the ones I’ve met so far, at least), watches create a wormhole that’s very attractive to me and therefore very bad for my life savings. I’d Leeroy Jenkins the whole watch world if it caught me. I realized this right from the start. So I made a very conscious decision to just push the red button on the camera at Fratello and nothing else. I’d just try to avoid being sucked into this very dangerous, very dark, and very deep vortex of tourbillons, skeleton dials, and screw-down crowns.


Spending time with guys like Lex, RJ, Jorg, Nacho, Gerard, and Rob while not trying to catch watchinitis is really impossible. I mean, we’re talking about the Sirens of Horology here, for crying out loud (which is basically what Sirens do, by the way). Walking into Fratello’s office every week, listening to these guys, and expecting not to care for watches after a while is like diving into a public pool with your mouth wide open and expecting not to drink other people’s… Well, you get the picture: it’s just delusional.

Shipwrecking my intentions

After half a year, it happened. The walls of Jericho crumbled. Rome fell. Odysseus ran his ship into the cliffs of Scylla. I got a watch. The “CasiOak”. In all black. A couple of months after that, the MoonSwatch came out. Yeah, try to hike away from that one while walking around in #SpeedyTuesday Heights. I’ve got the Mission to Neptune on my wrist right now.

I knew I was lost. My girlfriend had to transfer all of our vital money to an account I couldn’t reach… again. Just like when I discovered camera gear, Star Wars LEGO, and competitive dog grooming. Don’t get me started on the last one; let’s just say everybody involved in that episode is happy that Mr. Figgles found a great foster home in the end, even after “the accident”. It soon reached the point where I was weighing whether a Rolex Submariner was worth more to me than one of my kidneys. Maybe not, but definitely more than my kids’ kidneys if I didn’t take all the legal hassle into account.

G-Shock GLX-5600RT

Surfing the waves of horology

Anyway, this summer, we planned a very active holiday for our family (who I love, by the way. I’d never sell their kidneys, to be clear, but if there’s a market for very small tonsils, I’m listening). We would go surfing in France, or actually learn how to surf (which is another one of those wormholes, proven by the surfboards now suddenly appearing in our house), and do some hiking in the Dordogne. This happened to collide with the exact same moment I decided that special occasions require their own special watches, like holidays, passed exams, weddings, and it being Friday. If you’re a watch enthusiast, you probably recognize these kinds of excuses for buying watches.

G-Shock GLX-5600RT

So I looked for a tough watch that would look good in the summer. Soon, I found the G-Shock GLX 5600RT 4ER, in bright orange. It had a tide graph! Just to make sure you understand, I’d never stood on a surfboard before this summer, and still, I somehow convinced myself that I really needed a watch with a tide graph. Because, you know, tides… Yeah, I had absolutely no clue how I had to correlate tides to waves, but for me, it was the right watch to wear while falling awkwardly off surfboards in the Atlantic.

Image courtesy of Ripstar / Hannah Smid

Roaring memories in plastic resin

All jokes aside, this watch was a game changer for me. It turned the world of watches from a quirky niche into something I connected with. I put it on when we got in the car and didn’t remove it for three-and-a-half weeks. And in that time, it became a part of me.

The G-Shock was on my wrist during the long ride from The Netherlands to France. Also, it took the same beating in the salty and sandy waves of the Atlantic as I did. It was there in the middle of the night, with backlight and everything, so I knew what time the baby two tents down started to scream its little lungs out (2:47 AM, by the way). I took the watch on all kinds of hard plastic pool slides, jumped off of a waterfall with it (well, a little one, but still), and took it on a rocky hike. I climbed the walls of medieval castles with the G-Shock, wore it while baking pancakes, and had it with me while kayaking on ancient rivers.

G-Shock GLX-5600RT

The Casio G-Shock GLX-5600RT truly left its mark

My G-Shock was there in scorching-hot Paris on the ride home, and in the end, the watch literally left a mark on my wrist — a white square on my somewhat-bronzed arm.

In other words, this watch attached itself to all kinds of great memories that I have of this holiday with my family. As such, it became part of me, and it made me realize how much more a watch is than just a time teller (even if it has a tide graph). It’s more than a nice apparatus, more than a beautiful design, and more than just a piece of art. This individual watch is now unique because it’s the only piece with these memories attached to it. I smell the ocean when I look at it (and not just because I didn’t clean it; I was speaking metaphorically). I see the trees and the rocks and the waterfalls again, the kids having fun on the camp side, the girlfriend looking lovely in Paris; it’s all there, in the watch.

G-Shock GLX-5600RT

Rugged watchmen

You know that dream where you’re walking into a room full of people and suddenly realize you’re completely naked? Well, first of all, I wonder if nudists have the opposite version of that dream, walking into a room full of people and realizing they’re the only one wearing clothes. But that’s not the point I want to make. After my holidays, I experienced the watch version of this dream — walking into the Fratello office with my bright orange Casio (with a tide graph) and suddenly realizing I’m entering this den of rugged watchmen with their Speedmasters, Cartiers, and Rolexes. I imagined they’d smirk about the orangy plastic digit producer on my wrist.

G-Shock GLX-5600RT

Of course, if you’re a veteran Fratello reader, you know this would absolutely never be the case. These guys love watches. They love people who buy watches, regardless of design, price, or brand. They actually admired the G-Shock, studied it critically like every watch deserves (apparently, a tide graph is cool, but Tough Solar would’ve been the icing on the carrot cake), and loved the stories I told about wearing it. And yes, they even loved the orange color. And it made me feel accepted into a culture that I tried to keep at bay for quite a few months, fearing the impact which that culture would have (mainly time- and money-wise). A futile attempt, I realize now.

G-Shock GLX-5600RT

Let’s all dive in!

This digital G-Shock turned from a product you can buy on the market into a personal amulet that exudes roaring memories wave after wave. Or an “armulet”, if you feel corny. It made me realize that this is what makes a watch special. Yes, there’s the design, the craftsmanship, the materials, the mechanics, but that’s the watch as an object. Once you add memories, stories, feelings, and connections with other people to it, the watch becomes subjective, personal, and a singular totem of your identity.

So if you’re in doubt, dive into the watch waters and float on their currents. It’s absolutely magnificent! Find the excuse you need to buy a watch for that special occasion coming up, and let the experiences that you have while wearing it turn it into your own personal memory machine (with a tide graph, or without). Probably, if you’re hanging out on Fratello, you already did. So as a fairly inexperienced but really enthusiastic fellow watchaholic, I really want to know what watch first got you hooked. Tell me the stories of the first watch that turned into an “armulet” for you.