As a young man I spent the summer of 1982 in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, working to build and run a photo lab. The manager and my boss wore the coolest watch I'd ever seen. After we got the lab up and running, we'd have to go into the darkroom to load film, and the thing glowed in the dark like a xmas tree. I finally asked him about the watch, and he told me it was a Rolex Submariner. I'd read lots of spy novels and had often read about Rolex oysters, and Submariners in the books, but had never seen one in real life. My Bosses name was Richard Best, and like me he was a photographer, which is why he hired me, he was impressed with my work. He told me he had spent a great deal time sailing, and had bought the watch because he was a diver. We spent the spring building the lab, and through the summer running it. Unbeknownst to me Richard had suffered for years with manic depression. All the while through the spring and summer as we worked nearly non-stop, his girlfriend had felt abandoned and had decided to break up with him. He came by the lab picked up some vacuum cleaner hose and duct tape and told the receptionist he was going to end it all. I frantically searched all of the places I knew he loved around the Jackson area, to no avail. They found him the next morning deep in Yellowstone park. He'd taken his own life. I was devastated, disillusioned and lost for some time after. I ended up leaving Jackson Hole, and taking a job in Lewiston, Idaho later that fall. In January of 1983 a customer came into the photo lab I was managing wearing a submariner like Richard Best's. We struck up a conversation on his watch. He was a tub boat captain and worked the Snake and Columbia rivers between Lewiston, Idaho, and Portland, Oregon. Every time I saw him I complimented him on his watch. One day he came in and mentioned he was thinking of trading it in on a new Sub. He told me he would sell it to me for what the AD would give him for trade-in. That was $500, in 1983 dollars. I didn't make much money in those days, that amount was more than I made per paycheck. I bit the bullet scraped my savings together, took a draw at work and plunked down the $500. I showed my Dad the conservative rancher my new watch, he thought I'd lost my mind. I didn't care if I had lost my mind, I loved that watch. I wore that watch through thick and thin for the next 20 years. Through girlfriends, and fishing expeditions to Kamchatka, Russia, and British Columbia. I got married in that watch, saw the birth of my first child in that watch. Then times got tight for my business in 2003. I did some research in ebay and discovered that my watch was a reference 1680, and had the desirable red lettering on the dial. I wore the watch for 20 years and didn't know the model number. It had increased in value significantly from the $500 I had paid for it. My wife and I talked it over and she told me that if we sold it, I could by a brand new one to replace it when times were better. So I sold it. Missed it immediately. When my second child was born my wife bought me a new Seadweller. It wasn't the same for me. I missed the plastic top hat crystal and the date bubble. Soon I became interested in vintage Rolex, and have owned many Red Subs and 1680's, 5513'3 and more. But I still miss my Red Sub. I think about Richard best, and of all the crazy living I did growing up, and the one that got away.
Me in the spring of 1983:
Me on the Dean River, BC in 1985:
A few of the watches I've owned since 2006: