Six Watches & The People Who Have Bought Them For Me

Carl Anka
8 min readFeb 20, 2017
Photo via Ken Lawrence on Unsplash

“Buying gifts for men is easy. You either get them LEGO, booze or socks. Failing that, just get them a bigger watch than the one they’re currently wearing.”

I’ve worn a watch since the age of nine, wearing the Casio “Terrorist Watch” F-91W to my first day of new school in year five. A watch is the last thing I put on before I leave the house, and it’s one of the most important. I’m typically always 15 minutes late to every social meeting, but I feel naked and nervous without something on my wrist to tell the time. Maybe it’s the thought of many tiny pieces working together in harmony to pull off a task, maybe I hate the look of my bare wrists, maybe it’s the fact I once got put in detention for looking at the clock behind me in class and internalised a need to never be caught short, but I need to wear a watch.

(Also, there was a time where wearing a crappy watch in East London was a good way to ward off muggers. Think of a would-be mugger coming up and asking you for the time. If you’re not wearing a watch, what do you consult? You phone. Wearing a watch meant you kept your shit locked at all times.)

Photo via Ken Lawrence on Unsplash

Eventually I went from a kid who wore a watch, to a person who was known for the watches he wore. The watch I wear can change depending on what I’m wearing, who I’m with and what I want. More than a device to tell time, it’s my anchor in the world and a quick signpost to my mental state.

So throughout my life, a number of people have got me watches, to help me figure things out. Because when you buy someone a watch, you’re adding just a little bit of structure to their lives. A little “here, you got this”, “you will be ok” and “stunt on them haters when they see you looking at this”.

Here are some watches I wear and the stories behind them.

My Fitbit

Who got it for me: Some friendly PRs did.

Why I wear it: So I walk instead of taking the bus.

How many minutes fast is it?: None, this one is accurate. (Nearly all of my watches are set a few minutes fast, in an effort to get me to turn up on time for places. It only really works when I’m running for trains.)

What’s the story: A FitBit isn’t *just* a watch, but it does tell time. The main reason I got a fitness tracker was to log my sleep — I was coming up for probation at an old job and I wanted to give them statistical proof that they were working me too hard and I deserved a raise. They agreed, and they found the data that when I have less than five hours sleep I start fights with everyone interesting. I did not get that raise.

My Fossil

Who got it for me: My friend Umer.

Why I wear it: This is my default watch. I wear it when I am ok. Or when I want to appear flashy, but understand I may be drinking later.

How many minutes fast is it?: More than 10, but less than 15 minutes. The “you vaguely need to leave the house now” setting.

What’s the story: The first proper decent watch I got given was from my friend Umer when I was in the first year of University. I was going through my “who am I? I miss my support network” phase of adult life when this package arrived for me from London with a note that I was due to do great things.

Fossil watches are great because they cost around £100 but to the untrained eye they look like they could cost three times more. They’re also heavy enough that you can put it around your hand and look all hard if things go south. I wear this most days so people know me as a Watch Person.

My Yellow Nixon

Who got it for me: My friend Ollie.

Why I wear it: I’m trying to distract you from something.

How many minutes fast is it?: I have no idea. This has a really minimal watch face — no numbers, the big dot tells the hour while the small dot tells the minute. I think it is about four minutes fast. It may be entirely accurate.

What’s the story: Do you have a friend you deliberately keep around because you know they’ll indulge your bad instincts? A mate that serves as a catalyst on a night out and goes “there was a card minimum so here are shots to go with your beer”? From second year of University those friends for me were Barry and Ollie. We’d go drinking on a Tuesday night to an indie club, wake up on the late Wednesday afternoon and watch Entourage and laugh. When we had money, we’d go to Wagamamas and pull dumb faces as we rinsed them for free green tea, (ask me to say ‘green tea’ and I’ll that weird action Ross does in Friends with his fists to flip people off. Weird injoke. I’m not swearing at you.)

At one of these Wagamama’s meets I told Ollie that I wanted something really badly but couldn’t go for it now. That night we went out and while drunkenly pissing I told him I was still thinking about something from earlier. Thinking I was talking about a girl, he told me “if you’re thinking this much about something you should just go for it”.

I woke up the next day with my wallet open and no recollection of ordering the watch. I really couldn’t afford it at the time, but it looked nice and I always have a nice story when someone points it out.

If a child ever point it out, I tell them it isn’t a watch, but rather a radar for Dragon Balls. I don’t know why I’m a compulsive liar.

My Two Facer

Who got it for me: My Dad.

Why I wear it: When I’m trying to be him.

How many minutes fast is it?: It wasn’t.

What’s the story: When I was a kid, I was fascinated by my Dad’s pockets. He’d come home at the end of the day, empty all manner of detritus onto his desk in his study, take off his watch and let me play with his weird adult trinkets. Swiss army knives, Marlboro lighters (my Dad never smoked, but used to light his boss’ cigarettes) and McDonald’s napkins (my Dad always taught me to take extra napkins, you never know when you might get caught short on the loo or spill something).

Like many an immigrant Dad, my father has a thing for watches. Big fat faced chronographs to show himself off as a man of wealth and fine taste. He had digital watches, automatic watches and ones given to him my older relatives that I wasn’t allowed to touch.

The hobbies of the father eventually passed onto the son. By my teen years, in the weeks coming up to my birthday, I’d start angling for him to hand me down one of the watches he used to wear. Sometimes he’d buy me my own Casio. Sometimes he’d get me something gold and shiny so I could be like him. Sometimes he’d get me nothing.

When I was 22, I took my dad to meet an ex-girlfriend for the first time. Meeting my Dad is weird, he’s the penultimate boss you face when you’re trying to “get me”. Depending on what who you are or what he wants from you, he will introduce himself differently — Manny to white people he wants to be friendly with, Chief to friends of mine he disapproves of.

In between the dinner (where he very clearly checked out the waitresses), I noticed my Dad’s watch. I said it was good, but the clock has stopped.

He paused. Looked at me. Took the watch off his wrist and went “It’s yours if you can replace the battery. Happy Birthday or Merry Christmas”.

The Dr. Janus watch was special because if you hit the timer, you could flip the face. I probably wore it on four occasions, before in late 2014, a week before Christmas, someone broke into my house a week and stole thousands of pounds worth of stuff, including this watch. I’m still not really over it, but someone tried getting me a similar watch.

Which brings us too…

My Automatic

Who got it for me: The aforementioned ex-girlfriend.

Why I wear it: I want something.

How many minutes fast is it?: Two minutes fast. Enough so I can just get in time for a train departure.

What’s the story: How do you replace a one off watch that was given to you by a stern parent? You don’t, but an ex girlfriend had a go and got me this watch to try and make up for it. The special gimmick on this one is how the battery is powered by the moment of my wrist. As long as I move around a bit, it will never die.

Unfortunately, being a watch slightly fancier than my usuals, it normally lives in storage, so I always have to wind it up when I want to wear it. Which is normally when I’m on a date, or meeting a work superior. If you see me wearing this, it means I want something — probably your admiration and attention.

My Disney

Who got it for me: I did.

Why I wear it: To remind myself not to take things so seriously.

How many minutes fast is it?: Seven minutes.

What’s the story: Yes, I legitimately took sartorial advice from a Dan Brown book, (I will never stop laughing at Brown just calling Robert Langdon handsome, rather than describing why he is). I got this watch for myself in 2013 right after I graduated and when I was interning at a photo company. I was all screwed up in the head and wondering if I was ever gonna get somewhere and my mum got me a book called “Quiet” (my mum has also got be a book called “Wait”, while my Dad has got me a book called “Thinking, Fast and Slow” — my parents like to roast me through self help books).

It’s a simple watch that works in polite society, while also being comfortable when hanging out. I like to wear it more, but it’s something I have to be a good mood to pull off. For a watch that has a children’s character on the front, I often don’t feel like I’m old enough or comfortable enough in myself to wear it.

One day.

I’m going to keep doing these blogs on a weekly basis in an effort to kind my writing pen sharp while I look for a job. If you like my writing and would like to hire me, I can be found at

If you like my writing and want to pick my brains about something else, including what you’d like me to write next, hit me up on Twitter — @Ankaman616



Carl Anka

I just write about things I’m curious about and upload it when you’re not looking.