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ClearDot.gif (85 bytes) It's Time...
For the Ultimate Birthday Present
PART 1 (OF 2)
The second part of this article will appear in the next issue of psst!

. . . . . .
By Marc Rochkind

Editor's Note: Marc Rochkind is an author and consultant who, among others things, is crazy about home theater and wristwatches. You can find about his book, Home Theater Explained—and even read a big chunk of it online—at
[Recently, a friend asked what I would do if given a large wad o' cash to spend as I saw fit (sadly, the question was entirely rhetorical in nature). Would I take a long cruise, live it up for a few weeks and then return with a warm heart and lots of photos (and great memories)? Or would I opt to invest the money in something of more lasting value like a new luxury car or an
extravagant piece of jewelry that I could keep and enjoy for many years to come? This poser was on my mind when I happened upon Marc Rochkind's web page, wherein he describes how he chose to spend his cash—by treating himself to a particularly timely 50th birthday present. We thought you might fancy hearing the story in his own words. —Pub]

It's my 50th Birthday today (June 12), I'm in New York for a little vacation, and I've decided to buy a nice watch as a gift to myself. I'm not sure I'll succeed, but I'm pretty sure I'll have loads of fun trying. I don't want to get too extreme, so I set a budget of $20,000. No tourbillons, and I'll have to adjust the date at least once a year.

I decide to start with the gift shop in the hotel lobby.

This isn't as dumb as it sounds, because the hotel is the Waldorf-Astoria, and the gift shop is Cellini, probably the premier watch shop in New York. Even if they don't deserve that position, everyone would agree that they have more good watches per square foot than anyone, by a very wide margin. Passing the small shop on my way to breakfast, I'd taken some notes on what I saw in the window: 51 Audemars Piguets, 50 IWCs, 47 JLCs, and 25 (yes, 25) Langes. They have room for all of this, and lots more, by skipping the usual Tag Heuers, Omegas, and Raymond Weills. They don't have Rolex, but that's the only high-end watch I can think of that's missing.

Now, breakfast is over, I've got my umbrella and raincoat, because it's raining outside, and my tools: an eye loupe, a fiberglass caliper, checkbooks, and credit cards. But, I'm not yet ready to hit the streets.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Duoface I head into Cellini a few minutes after 10. Of course, I am met at the door by a young man who asks if he can help me. "I'd like to buy a watch," I respond. He directs me to an intelligent-looking man standing off to the side, where the watches are. Philip introduces himself. I say, "It's my 50th Birthday today, and my project for the day is to buy myself a nice watch." He wishes me a happy birthday.

I'm wearing a JLC Reverso Duoface, and not by accident. I don't want to wear a Rolex, because they're much too common and don't say anything at all about one's taste in watches. I'm also afraid to wear anything even slightly obscure, such as my Zenith, which most salespeople have probably never seen, or my Ventura, which could easily pass for a Swatch. The Reverso is the perfect thing to get noticed by people who judge a man by his watch. Since that's how I'm going to be judged today, I came prepared. Turns out this doesn't matter in Philip's case, as he knows a lot about watches.

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