Mother's Day: Wise words from women in the watch community about motherhood
7 women on what it means to be a mother, and how watches play a small part
By: Charlie Dunne, with Various Contributors
Based on the fact you’re reading this newsletter, it is evident that you’re among those who share an inexplicable passion for timepieces. And as much as I’d like to find some clever link between watches and Mother’s Day, the two are just incomparable. The passion we all collectively share for watches couldn’t hold a candle to the love from a committed mother on her worst day.
I’ve been fortunate to experience immeasurable love and support from my own parents. In more recent years, I’ve begun to admire this same parental commitment from my sister, friends, and colleagues. It is truly a beautiful and moving thing to witness. As far as myself, I can’t personally speak from the perspective of a mother. Luckily, we’ve been generously blessed with the opportunity to hear from our friends in the watch community.
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Debby Duchsneau is a watch enthusiast from New England. Although she’s always worn a watch, only recently did she develop a serious obsession. She started out with Timex, then graduated to the finer things in life, such as the open caseback on her Swatch Sistem51 (a gift from a watch collector years back). Her coronation as the #MicroBrandQueen recently came from the collector community due to her unrivaled passion for watch brands bringing serious value beyond their MSRP. After a few minutes of chatting timepieces with Debby, it should be quite evident as to why she is considered one of the most beloved watch influencers in the scene. Here’s Debby:
“My mom always wore a watch. She had a watch with a cool complication that looked like a Spirograph drawing that rotated on the dial. She had a pendant watch that she loved. I don’t remember much about my first watch. It was probably a Timex. Wearing a watch seemed like a rite of passage. I know that my first watch was a significant and valued possession because I remember panicking and crying when I accidentally wore it into the bathtub. Life has its phases, some marked by what we wear on our wrists...childhood, teen and young adult Timex watches...adulthood and motherhood with blinged out Fossil watches.
I’m now the mother of two adult daughters. They wear watches too. About a year ago, when I transitioned from a wearer of watches to a collector of watches, I wondered what my daughters would make of my new obsession. Would they find it extravagant? Would they think it was silly? Last summer, my older daughter and I planned a day of shopping. I told her I wanted to stop at a jewelry store to look at a watch. She was so excited for me when I purchased my Oris Aquis Clean Ocean. We met her sister for an outdoor dinner at a restaurant. I had brought two watches for them to wear, and we took a group wrist shot for my Instagram page. The fun we shared as we posed the photo and then posted it was something I’ll long remember fondly.
A friend of mine told me a couple of years ago, ‘Be prepared to love your grandchildren as much as you love your children.’ I have a nearly two year old grandson, and his brother will be arriving any day now. This year, I gave my grandson a Flik Flak because he loved to look at my watches. He’d look at his empty wrist if I said, ‘What time is it?’ I often think of those wise words my friend shared when I’m holding my grandson or singing to him, playing with him, comforting him, or watching him sleeping while wearing his watch.
I had a wonderful mother and I’d like to think that legacy has lived on through my mothering. Watching my daughter be an amazing mother is one of my greatest joys these days. I think the biggest compliment I give her is that she’s a great mom and that if my mother could see her, she would think so too. Being a mom is not fun and easy each and every day. Some days are overwhelmingly difficult. I recently sent my daughter this post I saw on Instagram: “being a mom is so wild cause you really just wake up everyday and do the damn thing, regardless of how you feel. you just do it and that’s super impressive. I’m proud of us.”
Stephanie Bednarek Orton
Stephanie is a watch fanatic and the woman behind #SheReviewsWatches. Along with her husband Arthur, she hosts the live show ‘Call the A.D.’, where the two discuss all aspects of watch collecting. You can stream their episodes on Scottish Watches Live YouTube Channel. In the spirit of a true watch collector, she is setting her expected firstborn up with not only fantastic options for her tiny wrist, but also mixing in some watch literature to help her enjoy the family passion.
“The little girl who will make me a Mom was supposed to arrive May 4th. I expected to be spending this Sunday, my first Mother’s Day, adjusting to life as a family of three. Turns out my daughter has other plans and seems content staying put for a few more days.
I am not a woman who grew up dreaming of being a Mother one day. My husband, Arthur and I came to the decision to start a family gradually. Now that our baby girl’s arrival is imminent, we are beyond excited and can’t wait to see her sweet face for the first time. Our family is graced with loving, strong women. I hope to be able to emulate the examples they have set and we can raise our daughter in the same vein our Mothers raised us – with compassion, unwavering support, and encouragement to follow our dreams.
On a lighter note, Arthur and I enjoy watches as a shared hobby — collecting, opining, theorizing, obsessing, and everything else that comes with the territory. Not soon after learning I was pregnant, we were already discussing what watch should mark the occasion of the birth of our first child. We spent more time on this topic than things most typical parents research in the early days of pregnancy, which has backfired as we still don’t have a name picked out. We thought briefly about buying his and hers IWC pilot watches, as suggested by a friend, since we will become “co-pilots” on this parenting adventure. Ultimately, we settled on buying one watch now, that would be worn over the years, and eventually passed on as a birthday gift when our child is old enough to enjoy and appreciate a luxury timepiece.
Now, what watch? We were fortunate enough to learn early in my pregnancy that we were having a baby girl. I wanted to pick the perfect watch that would be something I would enjoy now and be able to wear regularly as a new parent. I bond with watches by creating memories while wearing them, so a safe queen didn’t seem like the right approach. I also wanted to choose a watch that would not feel dated in 15-20 years and something that even a non-watch enthusiast would enjoy wearing on a daily basis, in the event she doesn’t share her parents’ interest in this silly hobby. The final choice: a 36mm Rolex Oyster Perpetual in candy pink. To me, 36mm is the perfect size, regardless of how trends seem to ping pong between women wearing larger or smaller watches. The candy pink dial is just the touch of whimsy and girliness that I couldn’t resist. After all, if we’re not having some fun with our watches, what’s the point?
I had of course hoped to have the candy pink Oyster Perpetual prior to baby girl’s arrival, but despite our AD’s best efforts, Rolex’s sport models can not be summoned quickly. We will patiently spend our time on the waitlist, just as we patiently await our daughter’s arrival.
Ming Liu is the watch and jewelry editor for The Glossary Magazine, in addition to being the author of Our Man in China. Ming’s writing can be read on several outlets as she is a contributor at publications such as Financial Times, NY Times, CNN Style, Vogue, Vanity Fair, How to Spend It, Tatler and more.
“Before I had children, I had a very different perspective on time. It was very linear and quite manageable. Many parents may relate to the quote ‘the days are long, but the years are short.’
As a journalist who writes about watches, and what time means, I’ve always managed deadlines and worked under pressure. Upon having children I’ve realized how little control of time one has. Naturally things will unexpectedly come up or there are interruptions. It forces you to really grab time where you can.
I became very conscious of time once I became a mother. I would see my children change so fast before my eyes. We think ‘I can’t believe my child is a year old. They’re so much bigger than they were just the other day.’ In those moments in between, say when your child is having a tantrum, a minute can seem as if it is lasting for an eternity. Ironically, the other part of me really wants them to stay young and preserve all that time in which they are growing up so fast.
The experiential moments of motherhood are truly a luxury. I cherish each moment, whether it be during a vacation, or the downtime moments of peace and tranquility as a family. The small moments.”
Victoria Gomelsky is editor-in-chief of JCK, a New York City-based jewelry trade publication founded in 1869. She is also a contributor to the International NY Times. Victoria specializes in writing about watches, jewelry, and the occasional essay. While she specializes in jewelry and watch writing, her greatest love has always been travel — 60 countries and counting. Her work has been featured in Robb Report, AFAR, WSJ Magazine, the Hollywood Reporter, Escape, The Sun, and more.
“My son, Niko, is two and a half years old. He has no need for timekeeping but whenever the glint of metal on my left wrist catches his eye, he looks at me and says, ‘Mommy watch.’ I can’t help but smile. Since 2000, I’ve made a living writing about timepieces. Oh, if he only knew what watch geekery awaits him!
Niko was just five months old when he had his first encounter with haute horlogerie. It was the spring of 2019 and I was still on maternity leave from my job as editor-in-chief of JCK, a 150-year-old jewelry trade publication. The publicist for Breguet — a friendly foodie from Queens named Liliana — had come to L.A., and invited us to meet her at the brand’s boutique in Beverly Hills.
When Niko and I arrived, she escorted us to a desk and handed me a new Classique model bearing a Grand Feu enamel dial in a rich, navy blue hue. With the little guy on my lap, I snapped a photo looking down at the classic round timepiece, framed between my left hand and his pudgy little right one. It was, I’d hoped, the start of a horological love affair.
I am determined to teach my son the importance of valuing time — in part, because I got such a late start with him. Niko arrived both right on schedule (at 4:20 a.m. on a balmy L.A. day in late November) and rather late: I was 45 years old when he was born, the long hoped-for result of a Hail Mary IVF cycle on the heels of five years of (failed) fertility treatments.
Now that he’s here, I spend inordinate amounts of time plotting the watches I will give him for his milestone birthdays. When he turns five, he’ll get a Swatch. On his tenth birthday, he might graduate to a Shinola. He’ll be 18 before his father and I will give him his first mechanical watch, perhaps a Seiko, maybe even an Omega.
If there’s one thing I want these gifts to convey, it’s the importance of keeping track of time — and the historic, handsome and occasionally far-out wristwatches that will serve as constant, and classy, reminders.”
Christine Wind is behind the lens as the photographer for Wind Vintage. Her eye for detail translates into a remarkable talent for capturing every vivid detail one could wish for just shy of physically holding the timepiece. Whether showcasing the beauty behind honest wear and aging versus the immaculately preserved, or the subtle details from a sharp chamfered lug to crisp hallmarks, Christine manages to highlight each feature that watch lovers admire.
“The best piece of advice I read when I was combing through parenting books while expecting our first baby was: “The greatest gift you can give your kids is a peaceful and happy home.” For me, peaceful has become the new perfect. I aim for this type of peace in all we do, and even in the watches I typically wear.
Being a mom of three young kids means that I am often around water whether bathing kids or at the beach or pool. As a result, I want to wear watches with bracelets that are water resistant, durable, and automatic. The two watches I typically wear are a Rolex “Polar” Explorer II reference 16570 and a Rolex non-luminous “Wide Boy” Day-Date reference 1803.
Fortunately, I also get to borrow other vintage pieces in Eric’s inventory for special events and I always know what we have as I take the photos for Eric!”
Neha S. Bajpai
Neha S. Bajpai is a journalist based out of Hong Kong and currently works with Revolution as Editor-At-Large (Asia) and Managing Editor (Online). She has been writing on luxury and lifestyle for 15 years and on watches for 12 years. She launched the Indian edition of WatchTime in 2012, where she worked as the founding editor and led the company’s foray into the digital space. A compulsive wanderer, Neha loves globetrotting, reading, and watching rom-coms in her downtime.
‘My Son’s Second Mother’
For the longest time in my life I struggled to find a meaning in the glory of ‘motherhood’. Why was it the ultimate goal for most women around me? Why did some of my friends feel entitled soon after scoring this title and how did their worlds revolve around this one achievement?
I was never prepared to lose myself and my hard-earned independence. I was living a dream life — a jet-setter, an achiever, who was always setting out for new milestones at work. I didn’t want to ‘lose’ myself to motherhood, which almost threatened to be ‘otherhood’ with the kind of expectations people had come to build up around mothering. I dreaded the sleepless nights and relentless caring for a tiny being who would ultimately become an extension of my personality.
All this and more changed when I had my son at the age of 34. With all my fears and apprehensions intact, I held the cuddliest baby in my arms and hoped to give him my best. But not without the unconditional love and support of his ‘second mother’/my husband.
My son’s dad reversed the traditional roles in parenthood and helped me embrace this new chapter in our nine-year-old marriage with an unassuming ease.
Yes, I did have the sleepless nights but he was always by my side to rock the baby back to sleep. He perfected the art of swaddling, diapering, butt-wiping and the toughest of them all—getting the brat to burp after those tiring two-hourly feeds.
Right through those tormenting episodes of baby fevers and rashes, my husband and I ‘mothered’ our baby together. Much like my pregnancy, my maternity leave was punctuated with a hectic work schedule—interviews, stories, magazine production work and more. And all through, I had my husband and our biggest support system—his parents and mine—always ready to share the responsibilities at home.
I resumed work and started to travel again, leaving a part of me behind with my six-month-old. Every time I stepped out of home, I would feel a bit anxious but the fact that his ‘second mother’ was always around, filling in for me, never paused my professional life.
My son is almost four-years-old now and his doting father continues to surprise me with this amazing partnership that we have struck as Veer’s parents. So this Mother’s Day, this is a little love note for the man who changed the meaning of motherhood for me and also to little Veer, who has brought the much-needed balance in my life. I couldn’t have asked for more!”
Barbara Palumbo is an editorial writer, public speaker, and podcaster with twenty-five years of experience in the watch and jewelry industries. She is a ‘20/'21 GPHG Academy member and is the voice behind WhatsOnHerWrist; an editorial watch blog and Instagram channel known for its soul, humor, and Philly vibe. She is also a contributor to various watch and lifestyle publications such as Revolution, Modern Luxury, InStore, Upscale Living, and more.
“Up until the moment I watched my son exit my body three weeks before his due date (all 8 lbs. 6 oz. of him, by the way), I doubted whether I’d be a good mother. I’d killed every houseplant I had prior to that moment and honestly, was an absolute nervous wreck that I’d forget a feeding or not know how the car seat worked. I consider myself to be a relatively confident individual, but the idea of motherhood scared the crap out of me. Then, just sixteen weeks after Roman was born, my world changed drastically.
On September 16, 2006, while walking into a crowded Lenox Mall in Atlanta on a Saturday morning, my relatively newborn baby had a seizure. A seizure that – for a brief moment – took him from us.
The powers that be put an anesthesiologist named ‘Tom’ in the right place at the right time. Tom –who’d just walked out of a Banana Republic with his wife and two children – revived my son minutes before the ambulance arrived. For the next several years, what I originally thought was hard as a new mother (the feedings, the diapers, the bath times) became second nature, and hooking my baby boy up to a pulse oximeter machine for every nap or sleep time, travelling everywhere with oxygen tanks, and only sleeping every other night because that was the nighttime shift I shared with my husband, became my new normal. But through it all, I never not wore a watch, because what every parent of a child with epilepsy knows, is that timing seizures is extraordinarily important. Two minutes. That’s the mark when things can change. They can’t go past two minutes.
Flash forward to fifteen years later, and my now teenage son is healthy and seizure free. He’s a bright, empathetic high schooler with a gorgeous smile and a heart of gold. He’s also a smartass who is funny as shit and with whom I love to watch the movie ‘Clue’. He has no memories of his days and nights in the hospital or his rides in the ambulances or his weeping mother curled up to sleep beside him in his crib because she feared he’d have another episode. I’m happy he has no memories of those moments. I’m glad he’ll never know what his little body went through the first three years of his life. But he’s grown to know how important time is, and how valuable time together is. At fifteen, he owns three G-Shocks and one Bulova, and continues to raid my collection when I let him. But I don’t mind. In fact, I quite love it. I’m just happy he’s here with me. I’m happy we have this time together. Whatever watches he wants of mine, he can have. (That is, until his younger sister starts gaining an interest.)”
[Note: also check out Barbara’s It’s time to call your mother (and gift her a watch).]
No mother’s story is the same and not every day is an easy one (even if they are able to remain poised). In addition to the priceless moments of warmth, there can be overwhelming moments of self-doubt, frustration, and/or sadness. There is no guide to being a mother, and yet many constantly strive to improve.
The spectrum of mothers is far too diverse to break down in a succinct manner. They can be stay-at-home mothers, breadwinner mothers, or single mothers. They come in different styles: birth mothers, adoptive mothers, stepmothers, grandmothers, aunts, or sisters. We know them as friends, neighbors, teachers, co-workers, or perhaps a wife, partner, baby mama, etc.
If you were fortunate to have an incredible mother (or mothers) in your life, you likely can attribute some of your own best characteristics to them. With only one single day, it would be impossible to highlight all that they do in this world. Perhaps as an alternative, we can strive to frequently acknowledge, champion, and support each mother that inspires us to be a better person. After all, they are always striving to do their best each day.
To my mother Shelly, my stepmother Denise, my sister Pippa, my aunt Scarlett, and all the rockstar mothers. - Charlie Dunne
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