Friday, September 13, 2019

Time Eater

a short story by Bill Adler

"Take my hand," Ann says. "Feel my life."

We hide in the forest as it devours time’s last scraps. Only a sliver of sun still glows, but I have Ann’s warmth. Is it a monster from another universe? We only know that the behemoth eats watches, grinding time to a halt with each bite, its obliteration relentless. Today, rivers stopped flowing; yesterday, clouds froze in place. We’ve not seen people in weeks. We may be the last.

It senses our Grand Seikos, crushing the trees that had concealed us, anticipating its final meal before the Earth stops spinning.



I wrote this story aiming to keep it short, very short, under a hundred words. One hundred word stories are special genre of short story, a complicated dance between word count and adventure. I hope that you enjoyed Time Eater. 

Friday, September 6, 2019

Revenge Is Expensive

a short story by Bill Adler



“This better work,” Alexandre typed.

“Damn right,” came out of Kyoko’s keyboard.

“That’s one thing I’m certain about — this is going to cost a fortune,” flew across the shared messaging screen from Tomas.

“Everyone pause a sec,” William said. His words glowed. “This is going to work. And it is worth it. You know that. We’ve been discussing this for nearly a month and now’s the time.”

“Yeah, but $100,000 US,” Kyoko said to the group. “That’s over 10 million yen.”

“It sounds larger when you say it in yen,” Tomas typed. “But I agree with William. It’s put up or shut up time. Is everyone still in?”

“Oui.”

“はい.”

“Yes.”

“Si.”

“Before we commit our bank accounts to an irrevocable path,” William typed, “I just want to reiterate how much of a jerk Mr. Pleasant is. He’s not pleasant at all. Posting that picture was wrong, more wrong than anything I’ve seen since starting our online Grand Seiko group. My stomach fills with acid when I think about that day.”

“Poor Harry,” Kyoko said. “He didn’t deserve what Pleasant did.”

“Nobody does,” Alexandre added. “Even if Harry lied. We’ve all lied in the group about something at some time.”

When nobody replied for thirty seconds, Alexandre continued, “Let’s start next week. The sooner the better.”

“I’ll handle the logistics since I’m in Japan,” Kyoko typed. “I can do it so we remain anonymous. You all just make sure to cover the $75,000 that’s your end.”

“The first package will arrive next week?” Tomas asked.

“Yes. And one a week for twelve weeks or until we run out of funds,” Kyoko said. “Or until his wife leaves him, whichever comes first.”

Alexandre, Tomas, and William sent blue thumbs up.

“Anyone who’s married to a watch collector gets angry when their spouse buys an expensive watch without telling in advance. She’ll steam when Pleasant gets his first package. Become enraged when the second watch arrives. She’ll be furious when the third $7,000 watch is delivered. I figure Pleasant’s marriage may not survive even four watches,” Kyoko wrote. “What’s he going to say? ‘These aren’t mine! I didn’t order any Grand Seikos.’ Once Pleasant’s wife brands him a greedy liar, it’s only a matter of time until the next box kills their marriage for good. I only wish I could see Pleasant’s face when his wife confronts him.”

“If we’re lucky, she’ll think he’s got a mistress who’s sending him watches,” Tomas added.

“Somebody might get a ten dollar baseball cap in the mail by mistake. But not a Grand Seiko. His marriage is toast,” William said.

“That will teach Pleasant not to post private information about anyone on the Grand Seiko Street. I feel bad for Harry, despite him lying.” Alexandre said. “Posting a picture of Harry wearing a Rolex right after Harry said he only wears Grand Seikos was wrong.”

“Pleasant’s an ogre and he’s getting what he deserves,” William added.

Four blue thumbs popped up across their screens.

Friday, August 30, 2019

The Soul

a short story by Bill Adler

“You’re awake.”

The disembodied voice arrives on my left. A man’s voice. Young, a smooth baritone that echoes. In the pitch dark I can't see or know anything other than the man’s voice and that we are in a room with solid walls of some kind.

“I could tell you were awake. Your breathing changed. Your breathing rate increased right after you took in a swallow of air. I’m a paramedic, so I noticed.”

My head hurts, especially the back of it. I try to raise my arm, but my hands are stuck.

“Handcuffs. We’re handcuffed to metal chairs. The chairs are bolted to the floors. And our legs, too, shackled. There’s nowhere to go, nothing we can do.” The voice pauses, then there is a yanking sound, like a rope being jerked in the game, tug-of-war. “Every now and then I try even though there’s no hope.”

“I’m in pain all over and I’m cold. My head feels like it’s been split in two.”

“Yeah. I know. What’s the last thing you remember before you woke up in this nightmare?”

“I was pushing my stroller between two buildings on Third to get out of the sun. My husband said he’d dash into Starbucks for a couple of iced coffees while I waited in the shade.” My mind snaps to attention. Involuntarily, I try to bring my palm to my face but it won’t move. “Oh my God. Emily! Where is Emily?” Although I already know it would not amount to anything, I struggle in my chair with all my might tug against the cuffs. “Where's my baby? Is she here? Emily! Emily!” A six-month old isn't going to respond, but the mother's instinct rules me, and I call out, “Emily! Where are you?” I shiver from the cold and shutter from my fear. My cheeks are covered with tears I cannot wipe off. I hear dripping, but it is not the sound of my tears falling to the floor.

“Hey, hey. She’s not here. I’m sure your daughter's okay.”

I swallow a few shallow breaths, taking in some of my tears with them, which makes me cough. When I stop coughing he continues, “He doesn’t want your daughter.”

“How can you know that? It’s pitch black here. She could be here.”

He doesn't answer my question. “What’s on your wrist?”

“What?”

“What are you wearing? What kind of watch?”

How does he know I am wearing a watch? Is he in on this? Is he the kidnapper? I don’t know this guy. What am I doing here? But without any other ideas of what to do, I answer, “A Grand Seiko. My husband gave it to me.”

“I have a Panerai.”

“A what?”

“Doesn’t matter. What matters is that yours is a high-end mechanical watch. It’s mechanical, right?”

Friday, August 23, 2019

What’s Your Superpower?

a short story by Bill Adler


Kathy poked at her meat loaf with her fork, as if she were testing the temperature of a swimming pool with her toes. She looked both anxious and apprehensive as she let her fork hover over the plate, before it dropped like a divining rod into the mashed potatoes.

“Good choice,” Abe said.

“Sometimes I want to save the potatoes for last. It’s a toss up, you know what I mean? Eat the food you’re not favoring first, then the good stuff becomes dessert. But the danger is you’ll fill up and won’t have room for dessert.” Kathy consumed two forkfuls of potatoes, letting a few peas along for the ride. “Mmm. Diners are god.” She sliced into her meatloaf with the edge of the fork, took a bite and said, “Speaking of which, “I can drive a thirty-foot truck in reverse. I register voters. I ask random strangers if they’re registered to vote, and if they say ‘no’ I sign them up real quick. And, most powerful of all, I can drink flat tonic water.”

Abe smiled at Kathy while he swirled his spaghetti around his fork. “I have hindsight. I’m a foster cat dad. I grow tomatoes on my balcony.”

“You going to share some tomatoes with me?”

“When we get back, you can have as many as you desire.”

Christopher, who was sitting next to Kathy opposite me in the booth, rang his water glass with the side of his spoon. “Ah hem.” He cleared his throat. “I can function on little or no sleep. I get ready for work in twenty minutes flat, and that includes brushing my teeth. And I’m able to insert a USB stick into a USB drive the correct way every time.”

“Ooo,” Abe said, “That USB thing is a superpower I wished I had.”

It was my turn. “I’m a redhead. I can walk down the aisle of a moving train without holding onto other people’s seats and not fall into anyone’s lap. I can rid my brain of earworms with a single thought.”

Abe, Kathy, Christopher, and I played What’s Your Superpower? whenever we stopped for a meal during our cross country road trip. What’s Your Superpower? isn’t the most inspired group game, but it’s more fun than Twenty Questions, Memory, or Would you Rather? Our superpowers were fanciful, funny, clever and sometimes poignant. In What’s Your Superpower? you can have any superpower, as long as it’s not a real one like Superman or the Flash. And, most importantly,  playing What’s Your Superpower? distracted my friends from their other pastime: ridiculing me for wearing a dive watch.

When you wear a dive watch, you have
powers beyond imagination. Photo by
Samuel Chan from the Grand SeikoOwners Club.
It was gentle ribbing, but the words still stung. “Are you going to bungee jump into the Pacific?” (That was from Christopher.) “You won’t need lead weights around your scuba suit; your watch is big enough to carry you down.” (Abe’s spoken thoughts.) About five hundred miles ago we stopped to get water bottles and Milky Way bars at a 7-11. It was drizzling. “I volunteer Dan to go out in the rain to pick up supplies. He’s got the dive watch,” Kathy said.

I should have expected the ribbing, because they’re right. Who needs a watch that’s water resistant to 1000 meters when the wettest I’m going to get my watch is a shower’s gentle drizzle. I’m no diver. I can’t even remember the last time I swam in a pool or waded into the ocean. (In my defense, redheads visit the beach at their own peril.) I bought this beautiful, British technological marvel of a watch because it’s fun. There’s nothing wrong with having fun. The Christopher Ward C60 Trident Elite 1000’s dial is one of the most gorgeous blues I’ve ever laid eyes on. The blue bezel reminds me photographs I’ve seen of the Great Barrier Reef’s coral. The watch is fashioned out of titanium, the same stuff they use to make submarines, which means it’s impervious to nearly everything, including shark bites — not that I’d ever get closer to a shark than at an aquarium —  and it keeps great time, too.

I was eating a tuna melt sandwich and drinking a Diet Coke at Tim’s Joint, the diner off I-40 a few miles from Flagstaff, Arizona we had stopped at, when Christopher put his burger down, pointed to my watch, and blurted out, “You can dive 1000 meters underwater without a scuba tank. That’s your superpower.”

Friday, August 16, 2019

The Grand Seiko Snowflake, A Photo Essay


“With luck, it might even snow for us.” 
-Haruki Murakami, After Dark



Meadows and forests inspire poets as places of tranquility and meditation, but snowfields are just as evocative and refreshing.

The Grand Seiko Snowflake’s dial is the Karmann Ghia of watch dials, a look that will endure for as long as the universe. But unlike the Volkswagen Karmann Ghia, or other everlasting image such as the Coke bottle, Hasselblad 500C Camera, the V-J kiss in Times Square, the Snowflake’s dial is without complexity or adornment. It is what it is: A field of drifting snow over which time moves. It's as if Mother Nature herself played a part in designing this dial.

The dial tantalizes you, invites you step into its embrace.

Please enjoy this photo essay about the Grand Seiko Snowflake. The photos are from the Grand Seiko Owners Club, which you can join for free at www.gsoc.watch.


Photo by Mark Lim

Photo by Tim Gleason

Photo by Stefan Molin

Photo by Tony Abbate


Photo by Tim Gleason


Friday, August 9, 2019

Condolence Cards for Watch Collectors

We Watch Cards is delighted to announce the publication of our newest batch of watch condolence cards.

Is your watch buddy suffering from a watch-related malady? While a card can’t cure the underlying problem, showing you care can go a long way toward putting a smile back on his or her face.

We have cards in stock for various occasions including:



A lost auction

Spouse intercepts the box with the watch before you get home

Bought a watch at an auction and immediately afterwards one in better condition appears for sale

Watch magnetized

The authorized dealer service center polishes your watch without your asking

You have a more expensive version of that Rolex than your boss, and he notices

You put a scratch on your watch that can only been seen with a loupe

The scratch on your watch is a deep as the Grand Canyon

You forget the screw in the crown and get caught in a downpour

You set the date at 11 am!

Watch stolen

Your quartz watch battery runs out while you're on a ten-day camping trip

You get stopped by customs and can't prove you bought the watch in your home country

Your spouse spent your watch money on a family vacation

You got scammed on eBay

Your Rolex arrived after waiting for two years, but now you're into Grand Seiko

Thursday, August 1, 2019

The Snowflake


a short story by Bill Adler

“Daddy’s back!” Isabel bent her knees to dash to the door, but Angeline pinched the back of her dress, holding her in place, making Isabel’s pink and white striped dress look like a tent.

“Don’t run, sweetie. You’ll broil. That’s not good for you.”

Photo by Mark Lim
“Okay, mommy.” Isabel walked with an exaggerated slow motion movement, lifting her feet high and moving her arms like a windmill. She panted as she got close to the apartment’s front door through which her father’s beet red face peeked. From the living room, Angeline could see rivets of water rolling down Isabel’s neck. The back of her dress looked like a sponge, her long, black hair a sticky mat of sweat that clung to her skin.

Angeline had tried to cut Isabel’s hair multiple times, but each time Isabel protested, “I like my hair! I like my hair!” Even though short hair would be far more comfortable, Angeline let Isabel have her way. There were few pleasures a little girl could enjoy, with fewer to come.

In a single, fluid motion, like a performer at Cirque du Soleil, Samuel rested his carry-on bag on the marble floor and scooped Isabel up. “How’s my little girl? I missed you.”

Isabel clasped her hands around Samuel’s back and wrapped her legs around his waist. “I’m hot, daddy. It’s been terribly hot. You’re hot, too, but I want you to hold me. K?”

“I missed you sweet pea. I’m glad I’m home.”

Angeline wiped her forehead with a cotton cloth as she enjoyed the reunion of father and daughter. “I’m sorry Samuel.” Angeline remained seated on the sofa, leaning forward so her back didn’t touch the leather couch. She picked up a white paper fan adorned with cranes and fanned her face. “I’m sorry babe. They just cycled off the power. No electric fans for another” — she glanced at her watch — “six hours.”

“I know. I walked up.” Clutching Isabel with one arm, Samuel wiped his forehead with the back of his other hand. Samuel could probably have released Isabel and she wouldn’t have fallen; his shirt and Isabel’s dress were glued together with an amalgam of salty sweat and cotton fibers. He reached into his pocket and withdrew his paper fan, pale blue with a white Merlion in the middle, snapped it open, and fanned his and Isabel’s heads. He chuckled, “It seemed like such a good idea at the time to get an apartment on the thirty seventh floor.”

“Ooo, a breeze,” Isabel said. “You’re the best fanner, daddy.” Isabel turned her head. “And mommy, too. You’re both the best fanners in the world!”

Isabel raised her arms, a signal she wanted to be released. She sat on the floor. Samuel sat beside her and continued to fan Isabel. “I’m hot mommy. Can I have an ice water?”

“There’s no ice, sweetie. Mommy’s sorry.” Angeline was glad Isabel couldn’t see where her sweat ended and tears began. “I can bring you a regular water. I’ll get you a glass to drink and drizzle water on your head and then wave my fan real hard to cool you.”

“K.” Isabel stretched her legs out on the floor, spread them, and spread her arms. She turned her head toward Samuel. “Do you have to go back to Japan? I don’t want you to go. I missed you.”

“No, sweet pea. I don’t have to go to Japan again. In fact, I caught the very last flight back to Singapore. After today there are no more flights.”

“No Disneyworld?”

“No anywhere. It’s become too hot for planes to fly.”

“Will I go back to school?”
“Maybe, sweetie. Maybe you can,” Samuel said. He pushed the wettest parts of Isabel’s hair away from her face and fanned her faster.

Angeline slid to the edge of the couch. In a low voice she asked, “Did you get it?”

Samuel lowered his voice, too. “Yes.” He held out his wrist.

Angeline stood slowly and walked to the front hall, a trail of sweat dropping behind her. She sat next to Samuel and Isabel and put her fingertips on the watch’s crystal. Even though the watch existed in the same awful place as the three of them, it felt cool. “A Snowflake?”

“It is.”

Photo by Tim Gleason
“How did you find it? How did you manage —”

Samuel put his finger on Angeline’s cracked lips. “It doesn’t matter how. We have one, that’s all that matters.”

“A Grand Seiko Snowflake.” Angeline cocked her head to the side so she could get a better view of the watch’s snowfield dial. Never in her life had she wanted to run barefoot through the snow, but in this moment she daydreamed the soles of her feet were being tickled by cold, feathery flakes. Snow appeared to drift across the watch’s dial as if blown by a north wind. Angeline imagined how delicious crisp air tasted.

Samuel nodded.

“Did you find a priest? Did you have the watch blessed at a temple?” Angeline shook her head. “I still don't understand how this will work.”

“No priest, no shrine, or incense or prayers or anything like that added. The man who sold me the Grand Seiko Snowflake told me, ‘You are the magic’.”

“I still don’t understand.”

Samuel took Isabel and Angeline’s hands. He stood up, lifting them. Samuel guided his wife and daughter to the balcony. His flesh burned as he pushed open the metal door.

“Ow,” Isabel said. The fiery sun scorched her face.

Samuel cast his eyes on the ground, thirty-seven floors below. He nodded to Angeline.

“Do we —”

“We are the magic,” Samuel repeated. “Just look at the watch when we do it.” Samuel kneeled down, put his hand under Isabel’s chin, and lifted her head so her eyes met his. “Sweet pea. We’re going to do this one thing. We’re going to go to a place where it’s never hot. A place where we can be cool and happy.” Samuel kissed Isabel’s forehead. “All you need to do is look at daddy’s watch and keep looking at it. Okay?”

Isabel touched Samuel’s watch. “It feels like snow.”

“It does. Can you keep looking at it, no matter what?”

“It’s a pretty watch, daddy. I can.”

“Don’t be afraid,” he said. Samuel lifted Isabel to the balcony railing. Angeline climbed onto the railing to Samuel’s left, while he held Isabel’s right hand. He stuck his left arm out, wrist twisted backwards so the Snowflake’s dial faced them. “Everyone look at daddy’s watch. Remember, keep looking, eyes on the snowfield on the dial.” Samuel took a deep breath. The air seared his lungs. “One, two, three!”

They jumped.

A hand reached down and firmly grasped Samuel’s hand. Samuel blinked, then blinked again. Samuel started to stand on his own, but the man attached to the hand that was pulling him up said, “Slow, slow. It’s best you don’t move too fast at first. You’ve got some acclimating to do.” Samuel looked to his left and right. A girl about twelve years old was helping Isabel to her feet, while a woman a little older than Angeline was helping her stand. Snow filled all the space around them. Tall mountains loomed in the distance, also covered in snow. “You made it, partner. Welcome.”

Photo by Stefan Molin
A crunching sound surrounded Samuel as his body displaced the snow. He grabbed a fistful of snow, opened his hand, and let the flakes fall between his fingers. “Where are we?”

“Can’t exactly say for sure. Where are you from?”

“Singapore.”

“Well, you’re not in Singapore anymore. You’re not anywhere on Earth as best we can figure.”

Samuel pointed to the man’s watch. “A Grand Seiko Snowflake?”

The man nodded. “That’s the ticket.”

“Daddy, is this snow?” Isabel plopped down onto the soft ground. She rolled over several times and then said, “Look at me! Look at me!” Isabel laid back, spread her legs and arms, floated over the snow like a manta ray gliding through the ocean, and made a snow angel.


Thanks to Samuel Chan for inspiring the idea for this story.

Thanks to the Grand Seiko Owners Club for the fantastic Snowflake photos. 

And thanks to Ashley Jenkins for her comments on an a draft of The Snowflake. 

If you’re not familiar with the Grand Seiko Snowflake, start here




Thursday, July 25, 2019

More Questions Than Answers

a short story about watches by Bill Adler


Peter Mack considered himself blessed until today. He probably wasn't the luckiest person in the world, but he knew he was an above-average, fortunate guy. He had advanced slowly but reliably at the auto insurance company where he worked, his marriage leaned toward smiles rather than frowns, his circle of friends, though small, was stalwart, and other than minor colds, he'd never been sick.

He didn’t lead the electrifying life of a Jedi Knight, but who needed that?

Seiko World War II Era Military Watch
Today his luck ended when his watch was stolen. Peter had been holding his briefcase in his left hand, and a D'agostino's bag with a half dozen eggs, spring onions, yellow and red baby tomatoes, a green pepper, and Boursin cheese with which to make omelets — tonight's dinner — in his right. A giant fist that felt like it belonged to a hurricane shoved Peter forward. He dropped his bag and briefcase, stumbled, tripped over his briefcase and fell onto the rough New York City pavement. His face skidded, painting the sidewalk red with shredding skin. His glasses snapped into two useless pieces. The only thing that kept him from breaking a rib was his heavy, down coat.

A knee pressed deep into his kidney. “Give it up, man.” The force compressed his lungs. Peter had wondered what it felt like to drown, and now he knew. “I’m taking your watch, man. Just relax and don’t be stupid.” The accent sounded vaguely Boston or Bronx or southern. At the moment, Peter’s brain partially clicked off, and he wasn’t sure of much, other than the five hundred pound knee on his back and his face on the frigid cement.

As Peter lay on the sidewalk like a butterfly in an entomologist's collection, wiry fingers unfastened his watch with great haste. Peter always took his time putting his watch on, savoring how the watch band’s leather landscape, uneven, worn, and rough from decades of wear, felt velvety to his fingertips. He used as much time as he had available in the morning to put on and set his watch. Second only to his wife, this watch was the most beautiful creation in the world.

He never wound his watch when he was wearing it because that might bend the stem. He had a leather valet — one in the bedroom so his watch slept right beside him — and one in the kitchen so he had a safe, dry place for his watch when he washed the dishes. He polished his watch daily with the softest cloth he could fine.

Peter’s dad, Harry, had given him this Seiko when he was small. The Seiko had been his most cherished possession.

~~~~~


Friday, July 19, 2019

Friday, July 12, 2019

The A to Z Watch Collection

Guest column by Robert Blockoff

This is Robert Blockoff’s story.   Some collectors specialize in a particular brand, such as Rolex, Grand Seiko, or H. Moser & Cie. Others have a fondness for dive watches, pilot’s watches, mechanical alarm watches, perpetual calendars, moonphases, or some other complication. Still other collectors go after every watch they can find from a particular country.

Robert’s collection includes a watch from every letter beginning with A and ending with Z. He just recently completed the alphabet. 

Robert is an American watch collector who also collects other objects including fishing rods, reels, creels, old wooden fishing lures and books about fishing that date as far back as the 1600s to the present. He also collects guns, knives, and baseball cards from the 1950s to the late 1970s.

A version of this article first appeared on the forum, WatchUSeek. [insert URL]

It was three or four years ago that I started to catalog all my watches. First it started out as just a random list, but then I decided I needed to start alphabetizing my watches. Alphabetizing my collection meant it was easier to identify and locate certain brands and watches.

As I was alphabetizing, I realized I didn't own watch brands that started with the letters, "Y" or "Z"! Can you imagine? Now, I know there are watch collectors who say this is a ridiculous collection, a silly goal! Some will say, "I'm a one watch guy.” Others can’t imagine owning more than five or, at most, a dozen watches.

Part of Robert Blockoff's A to Z Watch Collectioin

I didn't start out with having one watch from A to Z as my goal when I began collecting watches some forty-five years earlier. In the 1970s you could pick up some nice watches for one hundred to a couple of hundred bucks, and I did! I had the watch collecting bug and I had it bad.