Within the wristwatch-wearing community – those who wear timepieces, not computers – there is a term which describes the watch (or watches) you someday hope to own. These watches, often expensive and/or rare, are called “grails.”
A few watches immediately come to mind when we think of “grails.”
- Rolex Submariner ($15,000 avg.)
- Omega Speedmaster ($5,000 avg.)
- The Grand Seiko “Snowflake” ($6k-$7k avg.)
- Rolex Datejust ($6k – $15k and more…a lot more)
- Tudor Black Bay 58 ($4,000 avg.)
Grail watches, depending on a person’s dreams and aspirations, vary greatly. However, what is typically the same is that they are difficult to obtain and often prohibitively expensive. And we’re not even talking about upper-end luxury watches that can cost over $100,000.
But not all grails are expensive. Some are simply rare. For example, those who collect Timex watches have different models they would love to obtain. My first Timex grail was a 1967 Marlin “dot-dash.” I picked one up for $67 off eBay, but only after I lost a bid on another a few weeks before. Other collectors dream of that perfect vintage Timex dive watch.
Just recently I was thrilled to obtain a grail. For months I had been going to farmer’s markets and posting paintings online, all to generate enough money to buy a Seiko SRPE 55. When the last painting sold brought in what I needed, online shopping I a-went! Like a Knight of the Round Table with a key to the gate, I charged the virtual castle and captured the Japanese-made legend.
But let me point out a few things before you think I spent ten thousand dollars on something. First, the watch I bought, the Seiko SRPE 55, cost me less than $200. It could have cost me $275+, but I shopped around and got the best deal. Also, every dime I spent on the purchase of this watch was earned from selling my paintings, prints, and an old Timex or two.
One reason I wanted this watch was because how similar it was to the Tudor Heritage Black Bay 41 and 36, watches costing around $3,000. The Tudor could be considered a true grail watch for me, but I can’t justify spending that much. Therefore, when I saw the striking similarity between the Seiko and the Tudor, my decision was made. And, I didn’t have to save for 10 years to make the purchase!
Are there any other grails I want to buy one day? Honestly, not at this time (no pun intended, but it works).
Right now, my main goal is to finish my doctoral assignments, prepare sermons, visit people, and be a husband, dad, grandfather, and son. As I find old Timex pieces to add to my collection, I will take them home, clean them up, and work on my watch servicing skills. But what I am not going to do is dream about a watch that could pay for a trip to the Holy Land!
That brings me to my final though about grails: Do people ever think about the futility of what they are seeking?
From where to the term “grail” originate? Well, it comes from the word used to describe the cup from which Jesus shared the wine with His disciples at the Last Supper. That cup is often referred to as the “Holy Grail.”
You’ve probably seen other things besides watches referred to as the “holy grail” of one thing or another. It’s a term meant to describe something as the ultimate, most-elusive prize to be had. This stems all the way back to when legends described the cup Jesus used as one made of gold, encrusted with precious stones, and even capable of mystical powers.
But what was the “holy grail”? Would it not have been a simple cup made of wood, stone, or clay? Most certainly it was simple, lacked ornamentation, and had no other significance other than that it was handled by the Word made flesh, the Creator of time.
What made the grail “holy” was that was set apart unto a holy work. Other than that, it was humble. A humble grail.
So, that brings me back full circle to watches. Why do we have “grail” watches? In reality, just like the elusive Holy Grail of old, how many fortunes are lost in pursuit of something glittery, shiny, hand (of man) crafted, with no inherent power other than the ability to do what it was designed to do?
It seems very ironic to me that we want those glittery cups and not the humble one. We lust after the opulence of the Tudors and scoff at the utilitarian simplicity and dependability of the lowly Timex.
Even more ironic is that the very “grail” for which the Indian Jones’ of the world search is the very same cup (metaphorically speaking) that Jesus asked, “If it be Thy will, let this cup pass from me.” He knew what it was going to cost Him, but He wasn’t purchasing it for Himself; it was meant to be a gift for those who could NEVER afford to purchase it.
Therefore, what makes the grail precious? It’s monetary value? The gold and jewels? The intricate, fine-crafted details? Or could you be satisfied with something simple?
To be honest, the most precious watches in my collection, those for which no price could buy them away from me, are those which my wife and daughters gave me as gifts. They are irreplaceable, even if they only cost $20.
I’m wearing a $30 Timex MK1 Steel on a canvas strap now, and I really like this watch! But I’m going to swap it out for my new Seiko before I leave the house.
I wonder what Jesus would wear.
Your thoughts and comments mean a lot to me, so let me know what you think 😊
Have a blessed day and start to your week.