Tonight on the way home, as I was pondering what to write for this issue, my eye was caught by the watch on my neighbor’s wrist. In Hong Kong it’s not unusual to notice unusual things about one’s fellow passengers, as we are often packed like sardines in a can into the cars during rush hour. A serious downside to Hong Kong’s otherwise excellent transport system.
Anyway, of course I was not intentionally gazing at my neighbor’s wrist, but it just happened to be at eye level as he grasped the handle overhead, so I couldn’t help but notice that he was wearing what looked like a very expensive Bvlgari watch. I couldn’t tell whether it was real or a fake.
I was surprised to find that I expected to find a very attractive person at the other end of this wrist, and almost without thinking managed to steal a surreptitious glance at his face. And I was thoroughly disappointed.
Clothes, it seems, or watches, do not make the man. What with all the glossy advertisements and intimations of glamour and wealth, I realized that I had been duped into believing that the brand could really lend an air of sophistication, class and—ultimately—value, to the person wearing it.
Of course this is what the advertisers want us to think, I suppose, that because we own something that is valuable (at least in terms of money), we will ourselves become worthy of being noticed and looked at, that somehow our identity will change and become more permanent and intrinsically worthwhile. A lie that I know to be untrue when it is exposed, and yet still too often fall prey to, both in how I see myself and others. (Though I have to say I haven’t ever bought an accessory as expensive as a Bvlgari watch – something like a whopping USD$2000 on average. Aiyaah.)
While I was perusing the internet in search of an example of a Bvlgari ad to illustrate my point, I was very pleasantly surprised to discover this ad for Omega watches:
I genuinely laughed out loud. Initially I wasn’t sure whether this was a legitimate ad or a still shot from O Brother, Where Art Thou? Surely there is a touch of irony in George’s expression, though why the advertisers decided to run it is beyond me. At any rate, I am happy to hope that at least some celebrities have a bit of self-awareness.