A question of quality

I bought a new watch a little while ago. Nothing too expensive, just a nice-looking watch from a well-known high street retailer. I liked the watch because it had a little dial telling me what day it is. And given that I can rarely, if ever, remember what day it is, this seemed like a useful feature.

The lady in the shop set the watch to the correct time, but when I got home I noticed that the day-dial was set to Tuesday, when today was Saturday. I pulled the winder out half way, like the instructions told me, and turned it to move the dial around to the correct day. It was then that I noticed that, rather than cycling around all the days of the week, the dial skipped from Tuesday direct to Friday. I tried again and the same thing happened.


Tick tock (Source: Pen Waggener / Flickr)

Now, a shorter week may sound appealing, but I was kind of hoping to get a watch that worked properly. So I took it back to a more local branch of the shop where I’d bought it and explained what the problem was. To their credit, they offered straight away to exchange it. Unfortunately, they didn’t have the same model in stock, but they did have a very similar one that I also liked, so I swapped it for that.

The sales assistant took the watch over to their ‘repair’s desk for the person there to take a couple of links out of the strap so that it fit my wrist. At this point, the lady at the repairs desk noticed that the watch wasn’t ticking. My heart sank. It turned out that the watch had been on display in the shop for some time, though, and it was just that the battery had run out. So the lady put in a new battery and we were all set. Me and my watch, ready to face the world.

Six weeks on, however, and we’ve had to go back to the shop. I still like my watch, but it keeps stopping. I look to see what the time is and find that it’s currently three hours ago. So I tap the watch gently and it starts ticking again. After this had happened seven or eight times, it slowly dawned on me that this was not a desirable feature, so off we went into town.

Because I’ve had the watch longer than four weeks, I can’t exchange it. So the shop has had to send it back to the manufacturer to see what they can do about it. Not the best of starts for my watch. And not really what I’d expect from a popular high street name. Particularly as the watch has their own brand name on the back.

This little tale got me thinking about quality. Call me a Luddite, but when I buy something I really do expect it to work. I can appreciate that manufacturers try hard to keep costs down for their customers, but when this means that the things they sell us no longer work, then surely that’s a bit of a problem.

I’m not saying that everything needs to be hand crafted by a Tibetan master. But I do think that we should all take pride in what we do and strive to do it well, whether that’s writing blog posts, playing the piano or making watches. Because when we stop caring about what we do, then in a tiny way we stop caring about ourselves, too.

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