At first, I couldn’t quite decipher what it was about some fellow bankers and them proudly wearing Swatch watches that gave me the creeps. I just had the feeling that something unusual was at play. Sure enough, it didn’t take long for me to learn that my suspicions were warranted.
Something as seemingly trivial as wearing a relatively inexpensive watch can have deep-seated motivations.
Now, before I move on, I just want to be straight with you: I’ve got nothing against Swatch watches. In fact, I own a few and I love the way they look.
What disturbs me is the way Swatch watches are worn by people like Mario, an Italian Managing Director people referred to as “Linguini Head” because of his wild curls.
I don’t need to get into an analysis of the interplay of the things we wear, fashion statements, wealth and perception. Most of us will agree that, on average, young man or women will find a girl or guy sitting behind the wheels of a Ferrari Testarossa more attractive than a similar looking individual driving a Honda Civic. And, like it or not, many bankers have the means to look and dress affluent, whether the aim is to attract the opposite sex, exude power or satisfy some personal fetish.
In a rare twist of nature, however, a banker will sometimes try to give off that appearance of wealth by doing something a little off the beaten path of the traditional banker. A male banker may put aside the Piaget and Rolex and strap on something much less glamorous.
That was Mario.
Linguini Head had a collection of seriously expensive watches and each of them gave off the “wow” factor. Sure, wow can be interpreted a number of different ways: “wow, he must be rich!”; “wow, what a waste of money!”; or “wow, he must have a tiny @*£%$”. Point is, these were £10k+ watches.
But every once in a while Mario wore a Swatch watch. A plain black Swatch watch.
And trust me it wasn’t because he particularly liked Swatches for what they were, their style or mechanics. It was the I’m-an-MD-wearing-a-freaking-Swatch-watch-take-that reason.
A very particular fetish
I wish I could have commissioned a psychologist to study Mario’s brain activity under two different circumstances.
Setting: sitting at a conference table with his watch nicely visible
Scenario 1: wearing a Rolex
Scenario 2: wearing a Swatch watch
Stimulus: catching someone looking at his watch
I guarantee the pleasure center of his brain would not only show high levels of excitement in the first scenario but also the second. Perhaps even more in the latter.
I’ll never forget the twinkle in his eyes the first time he caught me looking at his Swatch watch. He probably ran home and made love to his wife for the first time in months.
On the occasions that Mario wore a Swatch he tried hard to catch your eye with it, either by purposely moving his right hand and wrist or by staring at his watch long enough to draw you in.
To think that this cheeseball was actually getting a buzz from wearing a Swatch. The notion that he was wearing a £30 watch despite earning millions a year in bonus money excited him. He’d gotten to the point where wearing expensive watches had pretty much reached its limit; so now he’d taken it to the next level: wearing a cute, relatively inexpensive wristwatch.