Watches are the very iconic representation of how limited one’s lifespan truly is, yet since their creation, in the 16th century their beauty, luxury, and function has amazed the world to look past the infernal reminder of the inevitable passing of time, and instead to glorify this wondrous creation for centuries. The fascination with the varying mechanics, the elaborate designs and decorations, and speculations of value have caused watches to be the subject matter across multiple genres. One can notice several examples of timepiece themed subject matter across Literature, Cinema, Art and Music to name a few.
In Literature and all of the other genres, most items have a symbolic meaning; they signify something deeper than the author, director, the artist wants you to know without having to tell the reader directly. Wristwatches signify the way a character experiences or feel about time. It also indicates a level of wealth and serves as a reminder of likely unpleasant events occurring later in the day.
Important and well-recognized pieces of literature where watches played a significant role in the plotline of the story include To Kill a Mockingbird, Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan, and The Count of the Monte Cristo. The watches were the very crux of these stories and necessary for the plot and character development of the entire works.
In Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird, there are three specific occasions when a watch has specific symbolic representation and is necessary for plat and character development. The first occurrence is when Jem and Scout find a pocket watch that symbolizes time passing in the book and the loss of the children’s innocence. The second significant moment is when Atticus gives Jem his pocket This watch. This is a “coming of age” moment, and yet the watch is broken so it further represents time standing still and trying to hold on to one’s youth and innocence, which we know does not happen. The third symbolic representation of a wristwatch is the one Boo Radley left as a present for Jem and Scout in the tree; it is a representation of kinship, friendship and ultimately allowing the reader to see Boo as a good person despite his cruel upbringing. This watch symbolizes for Boo that time can heal deep wounds. These symbolic representations are necessary, and Harper Lee’s bestseller would not have been the same had she not understood the nuances of the proper significance watch symbolism has in literature.
Lewis Carrol’s funny white rabbit is one of the most memorable characters in Alice in Wonderland. Yet, his character would be utterly flawed without his ever-present pocket watch as he ran frantically crying, “I’m late, “I’m Late, for a very important date.” We obviously understand the symbolism of this watch represents the impending date with the Red Queen, but it also illuminates his level of status within her court as to be able to afford such a luxury item.
The name Captain James T. Hook wouldn’t be quite so ironic had the villain of James Barrie’s Peter Pan hadn’t lost his hand and replaced it with a golden hook. As you may remember, the Captain was holding his gold pocket watch when the crocodile jumped from the waters and chomped down on his hand, devouring hand and watch together. Now the tick-tock heard through-out the book is a fearful, constant reminder to Hook that the crocodile is coming back to finish off the job. The clock symbolizing Captain Hook’s looming hour of demise.
So many of today’s feature films have watches in them where they represent a significant passing of time or an enormous quantity of luxury, but still, they play a significant role to the movie’s theme or main character’s role.
007 just wouldn’t be James Bond without his lineup of famous and glamorous watches known for making headlines in Dr. No, From Russia with Love, Goldfinger, Thunderball, and the list continues.
How would Marty McFly ever get Back to the Future without the town’s square clock tower or his time tracking DeLorean? He’s also caught checking his own wristwatch several times throughout the film to make sure he gets things done correctly in the past.
Other cinema hits that needed watch symbolism include Predator, Batman Begins, Men in Black Apollo 13, Pulp Fiction.It’s astonishing to see how influential watches truly have become.
The art world has also been influenced by timepieces and their symbolism. Certainly, anything that has captured the fascination of the entire world for centuries would also have captured the fascination of artists too, because what is art if not the imitation of life. And watches are symbolic of the passage of life and the opulence of wealth during that life.
Perhaps the most recognizable piece of watch-themed artwork is Salvador Dali’s “Persistence of Memory”, which depicts several melting faces of clocks. Its dramatic and haunting beauty reminds us that time is forever melting away.
One of the earliest capturing of a timepiece is found in “Portrait of Mary Edwards” 1742, by artist Hogarth. This ladies portrait has her showing her-gold chatelaine and watches hanging from her waist, an obvious display of the lady’s wealth and position of the time period.
Certainly not to the appreciation of watches in this genre because of classics like Lightnin’ Hopkins “Just a Wristwatch on my Arm” which debuted in 1973 and taking the Country and Blues world by storm, but never before have wristwatches been as trendy as they are currently in the R&B world knocking out explosive singles about every kind of luxury watch on the market. The symbolism and recognition that rap stars are trying to express are they have made enough money they can afford any kind of watch that they want. Rap stars known for sending out this message in the lyrics of their songs include Cardi B., Young Thug, Future, Jay Z, and Kayne West.
This image keeps the stigma of watches being one of the most expensive and luxury accessories available, which is the same as it was when they were first invented. Clearly. watches have not lowered their station over the centuries. With the design of the wooden watch, a new symbolic trend is happening. If you’ve read our past blogs, you know what good things owning a Seventh Watch wooden watch says about you.