Couple of weeks later I found myself in Spain interviewing a cruise executive aboard his line's newest ship. The interview was scheduled for 10 minutes, max, at the onboard late-night pizza place. As he sat down, I pulled out my notebook. His eyes went directly to my wrist. He didn't say anything, but his eyes stayed there long enough that it was obvious he was trying to see what kind of watch I was wearing. His looked like it cost more than a house in suburban Fresno.
I could see the gears spinning in his head like the ones inside my five-figure timepiece: I've barely heard of this "Thrill List," but if its staff writers are wearing $11,000 watches it must be legit. Clearly this is not some basement blogger here to suckle a free cruise.
Within the first five minutes of the interview, he'd invited me for dinner with him and some other executives at the ship's fanciest restaurant. The execs I ate with also not-so-subtly checked out my watch. Halfway through, they were inviting me for a second meal and sake at the ship's high-end sushi bar. And believe me, I'm not that charming.
Over the course of the summer, the way I was treated while traveling generally improved. Hotel front desks actually seemed to care when my internet didn't work. Flight attendants gave me whole cans of soda. When I got first-class upgrades, the people I sat next to actually talked to me (watches, I later learned, are how regular first-class flyers can tell the real money from the upgrades). I wasn't sure if it was just the confidence that came from wearing an expensive watch that caused people to treat me better, or it was the watch itself. Either way, my watch and I were clearly sending a message.
Women notice watches too
Interestingly enough it was not the most expensive watches that got the most compliments. The watch people commented on the most was a Bell and Ross 03-92-S with a leather band. It retails for a mere $3,900 at Barney's, or about a third of what my first watch sold for.
At a rooftop bar in Providence, RI, a gal in the league above the league that's out of my league came up to me and said, "Nice watch."
Was this really happening? Was I really getting hit on because of my watch? I see no way this isn't worth $150 a month.
I smiled back and said thanks.
"My family runs jewelry stores," she said. "I know a good watch when I see one. See? We're twins!" She held up a ladies version of the Bell and Ross and raised her drink to toast our mutual good taste in timepieces. I toasted her back, she complimented me again on my choice in watches, then mumbled something about having to go find her friends.
So, no, a nice watch didn't get me a phone number that night. But, you know. Give it time.