Iron Skillet Love,”Patina”, and Emotional Connection

A few years ago we discovered the charm of cooking in an iron skillet, and I wanted to share the following photo of the after-effects of last night’s filet mignon — sautéed garlic and onions left behind.

Iron Skillet after Filet

I love the concept of “seasoning” an iron skillet — the idea that after cleaning it, one should dry it (using heat), and then spray it with an oil (we use olive oil). This of course makes the pan one’s own, which is an almost romantic notion if you love cooking.

This reminds me of the concept of “patina” in the vintage watch world. Over the course of decades, a watch dial will often change color, as can be seen in this comparison of a new Rolex GMT versus an older version.

Rolex GMT with patina vs new

The dial on the right has a brown tint, which watch obsessives refer to as “tropical” (as in “tropical dial”) and this feature actually increases the perceived value of the watch for many enthusiasts.

The mark of time certainly has an effect on the human psyche, especially when the object reflects in physical ways its interaction with the person (such as our iron skillet), and seems to facilitate an emotional attachment.

In recent years, some watch makers have chosen bronze as a metal for the express purpose of allowing a patina to develop in a much shorter time (months versus decades).

Here is a nice shot of Oris watches with some patina on the bronze case on the left.

Oris Bronze

 

Weekly Love Affair.3

Lately I am in love with the Rolex GMT Master II Blue and Black bezel model (known as the “Batman”) and it took years to reach this point.

Rolex Batman

The reason is that my first love is the Rolex Submariner and for a long time I did not see enough difference in these two watches, but I laugh at myself now. Here is the Submariner:

Rolex Submariner

I laugh at myself because my initial reaction (“they are too similar, why would you want both?”) is probably “correct”, but with several more years gestation of a full-on watch obsession, I now appreciate the GMT for its now-clear uniqueness.

I am sure that that the Jedi mind-trick enacted by Rolex on fans of the brand has something to do with this. This mind-trick can be summarized by its two attack vectors:

(1) Unlike other brands, which release a steady stream of new models every year (whole new product lines and bold changes in core lines), Rolex changes very little from year to year.

(2) Unlike other brands, Rolex does not operate with an ethos of maximizing sales and profit, and as a result, it refuses to increase production of its sports watches (those mentioned in this blog post, and a few other models) despite multi-year waiting lists in certain cases.

If I walk into an authorized Rolex dealer this afternoon and ask to try on a Submariner or a Batman, I will be told “sorry, we don’t have any in the store and won’t for a while. Can we show you something else?”

At the same time, the list prices in such dealers stays fixed despite overwhelming, unmet demand.

This dynamic fuels a particularly absurd result: if a person does not want to wait months or years, he can buy the object from someone who already has it, but at a substantial premium to the standard “brand-new” price. Rolex itself should earn this premium, but it does not: when it supplies a watch to its dealer, the sale price is exactly as stated despite the secondary market’s urgent, premium price for the same item.

This year, Rolex announced a new bracelet for the Batman, shown here.

Rolex Batman Jubilee

There are other enhancements inside the movement as well, but as you can see, it’s still the same watch for all intents and purposes.

It has become a running joke that seeing one in the flesh is becoming less and less possible, and so we have the Internet to provide stimulation in the mean time.