“For some people, work is everything,” says Ra. “I like my job, and I took all the right steps to get where I am, but I really just do this to support my family.”
(As an aside, our job is up there on at least one list of The 10 Best Jobs.)
“What would you do if you didn’t have to work?” I ask.
“I’d be a watchmaker.”
“A watchmaker. In what we do, there is no final product. A watch, on the other hand, is mathematical, precise, and real. You make it, and it’s right here. That’s why I like fixing my car, too. You take it apart, you put it together, and it works.”
We show each other our watches. I’ve had mine for more than 10 years, by far longer than any man (Ra chuckles at that), and never had to change battery or wind it up: it’s a Citizen Eco-Drive. Never had to correct it either, apart from changing time zones. Ra has a picture from when he was back in college, long hair, different clothes, different life, the same watch, Swatch Irony.
“My calculus professor had a clock [Ra says ‘watch’, I correct in my head, assuming in Spanish, as in Russian, the word for ‘watch’ and ‘clock’ is the same] he made out of wood and stone. He had to wind it up, but it worked. Maybe I was influenced by that.”
“How do you go about becoming a watchmaker? Would you have a workshop? Do people do that?”
“Oh yeah. But you would study for years. The watches the master watchmakers make though, I don’t even know how much they cost. But then again, people pay lots of money for art, and what do you do with art, just look at it. A watch is useful.”
“It measures our most precious commodity.”
The Gagarin Tourbillon features a 60 second flying orbital tourbillon that rotates counterclockwise around the dial counter in 108 minutes.
“108 minutes! That’s the duration of Gagarin’s flight!” I say.
“Well, he built that in.”
Watch this; it’s beautiful: