Once I was out of my car, I followed still more hand-written signs to an area behind the home. There stood a large barn with twin wings of stables on either side. The barn's heavy-looking doors had been moved aside on their well-oiled tracks and there was one last cardboard sign, a three by five foot affair tacked onto the righthand door that read 'In Here', followed by a large, badly-drawn arrow that pointed into the shadows that lay between the two open doors.
There were a lot of very nice items, all with equally "nice" prices, so it didn't look like I was going to be there very long. I was getting ready to go back to my car when I spied a good-sized cardboard box sitting atop a rickety old card table in a dusty back corner of the room. The same person who'd written all the ubiquitous cardboard signs had spelled out 'Bargain Box' in bold, tall letters on one bowed-out side of the box. I shrugged my shoulders, thought why the heck not? and walked over to it. The contents didn't offer me much hope - a layer of faded paperback books, each with a small piece of tan masking tape that was marked with a price and stuck to the front cover; a few old decks of playing cards, and a dozen or so worn and dirty presentation boxes from a variety of watch companies, ranging from Rolex to Timex. These I eagerly grabbed and opened, only to be increasingly disappointed when each one turned out to be empty. Then I came across a fairly small white box constructed of thin, glossy cardboard. Its dusty top was stamped with "Ed Hardy Watches" in gold foil. Above this was another of those small, oddly-shaped pieces of masking tape, this one marked $10. I picked the piece up and immediately realized that there was some sort of item inside, probably another empty box, I thought.
Here's what it was:
I'd seen a few Ed Hardy watch boxes in my time - my twin nephews (age 12) and their older sister (age 14) loved the brand, and I'd bought a few as gifts for them - but this particular box was a far cry from the usual plastic-over-cardboard I was used to. I didn't know if it was real rosewood, but it looked and felt like a quality piece of work, especially with its piano-style brass hinge. I was wondering which kid to give the box to when I opened it and saw this:
I quickly paid my ten bucks and got the heck out of there before they had a chance to recognize their major pricing error and call me back into the barn to negotiate for a higher price. When I got home, I took a closer look at this strange find.
The three rows of white stones on the bezel didn't have that overly bright look that Swarovski or other similar crystals usually have, but they were too bright to be white spinel or some other semi-precious gem. The same is true of the smaller white stones set into Hardy's initials (DEH) on the very large, solid endlinks on either side of the case. The black stones on the pave dial looked exactly like the black diamonds that grace the dial of my gunmetal colored Renato Beast with its signature gold accents:
The screw-down caseback is highly polished and has no engraving or markings of any kind, an unusual feature on any watch, let alone this particular timepiece. The only other thing of note was that it needed a new battery, so I took it to my Jeweler and his part-time Watchmaker.
Both gentlemen agreed that it was a very unusual watch, and both were eager to have a closer look. Here's what they came up with:
The stones, both black and white, are genuine diamonds. While he did not grade them, the Jeweler stated that they were "of high quality." His estimate of the total carat weight of all of the diamonds is around 2.5 to 2.8 cttw.
The Watchmaker opened the caseback and found that the movement is an ETA 976.001 quartz, part of a series made in large numbers by the renowned Swiss manufacturer.
The entire case, as well as the top and sides of the bracelet, are plated in rhodium, which accounts for its very polished appearance. The underside of the bracelet reveals that it is made of high quality stainless steel, most likely 316L.
The case measures 44mm, the bracelet width is 30mm, and the pre-sized weight of the watch is 247 grams.
The bracelet features a hidden, snap-shut dual-deployant clasp.
Both gentlemen surmised that this particular watch - of much higher quality than the standard Ed Hardy fare - might be a from a limited production of 'presentation watches' which would normally be given to senior corporate officers or prospective high-dollar clients. The unmarked, highly-polished caseback is used to facilitate easy engraving, thus personalizing each watch for subsequent gifting. They placed a rough value of from $500 to $550 on mine, depending on the health of the economy and the overall percentage of really weird watch collectors out there...okay, I added that last little bit in an effort to make you smile - and perhaps even chuckle - if you're predisposed to do so.
I honestly don't know if their theory is correct, but I certainly can't come up with a better explanation for the existance of this strange-but-kind-of-cool watch. I can tell you that it's very comfortable and feels light on the wrist, despite its nearly 250-gram weight. And, depending on your personal tastes, it's not too hard on the eyes.
This is certainly the best ten-dollar watch I've ever purchased and, all kidding aside, I genuinely like it. As someone who really loves La$ Vega$, the 'card-shark' motif on the dial appeals to my would-be 'high-roller' side ( ), and it's no secret that I lykes me bling-bling ( ), harr. So, at the risk of drawing the ire of some of my uber-WIS friends here, it's a keeper for me...I won't go to Vega$ without it!
Looks like 'the Old Man' was right yet again.
As always, many thanks for looking...