A friend of mine gave me a real treasure: a November 1970 copy of House Beautiful magazine. The articles themselves are a treat to read, but the advertisements in the back are wonderful in themselves. You may see quite a few future columns based on the contents of that magazine.
There were no less than THREE ads for the subject of today’s column: wrist watch clip-on calendars.
Let’s face it. Nowadays, we’re spoiled, wristwatch-wise. For less than fifty bucks, you can get yourself a name-brand quartz timepiece that will be accurate to within a few seconds a month. It will have the day, date, and possibly the moon phase emblazoned on its face.
But go back to 1970, and your options on an affordable watch were much more limited.
Both of my brothers were in the military, and while stationed in southeast Asia, had access to Seiko chronographs at much lower cost than in the States. So they and my father always had big self-winding watches that featured all kinds of nifty extras. My father was a private pilot, and he showed me how to use the tachymeter to time how fast we were traveling as we passed section roads exactly a mile apart.
But I was just a kid. So my watches were much more humble Timex wind-up versions. You were expected to pop off the back cover and adjust them to be as accurate as possible. The best you could hope for was perhaps three minutes variation in a day.
And of course, such an inexpensive timekeeper would not have a calendar. So if you wanted to know what day it was, your options were to either send $1.79 (plus 15 cents postage) to Anthony Enterprises in San Francisco, or, more likely, to accept a free set from an advertiser.
After that, a quick sideways look at your wristband would reveal the date. And all you had to do was remember to put a new one on each month. And also score a fresh set for the upcoming year. And they drove women wild.
Nah, I’m just making that last part up.