I Arrive Precisely When I Intend To

I’d bet you never thought you’d see a quote from Lord of the Rings on the P&P, but I promise it will make sense in a moment.

The full quote is: “A wizard is never late, Frodo Baggins. Nor is he early. He arrives precisely when he means to.”

-J. R. R. Tolkien

But why would this quote matter to a bunch of western aficionados? Well, other than that it’s actually a wonderful story, it’s the first thing I think of when I think of time. Gandolf may never have used a watch, but I can practically see him pointing to his wrist and smirking at Frodo as he makes his humorous quip. Or, maybe my imagination just gets the better of me sometimes.

I got to thinking about time pieces (and how fast time flies) when walking with my youngest son down our long driveway a week ago. We were talking about his affection for watches and how he needed a new band, then he asked me a question, one that sent me down a rabbit hole or two.

“Mom, why do they call watches, watches and why is it different from clocks?”

The answer may seem obvious. I mean, it would make sense that there should be a different name for a clock you wear and one that sits there, right?  Well, yes and no. Here’s where the word nerd in me gets giddy (I’ve always loved vocabulary). The word clock (older than watch) is derived from the word cloche, meaning bell in French. It is meant to be large, public, and above all, it’s supposed to make noise denoting the passage of seconds, minutes, and especially hours. A watch is meant to be personal, i.e. watched. Interesting, huh?

But all of that is from the 1500’s which is great, but not ‘western’ history, right?

And we’re all about the western history here.

Interestingly, as I was researching the why and how of clocks/watches, I found that they were much the same from the 1500s up until the mid 1800s when they became vastly more precise.

Can you guess why?

The answer is, the railroad. The railroad was, above all, a money making venture and they needed to have precise timing for trains to leave and arrive because the next train’s arrival was dependent on those before it being on time. A late train was a danger to other trains.

So, the time piece that was already incredibly accurate considering the age of the technology, became so metered, examined, and parsed as to be considered “perfect”.

While the very first clocks were created for religious reasons to keep track of prayer times, standardization came with the railroad. Small, portable watches became commonplace around the time of the industrial revolution, when the railroad was in its hay day. Interesting that the watch (whether it is a pocket watch, a chain necklace, a pin on a coat, or later in the 18C on a leather band, watches are in almost every western I read. And now you know why.

I have a collection I just released. The whole series revolves around the town of Redemption Bluff and the outlaws who find their way there looking for a fresh start. From the beginning, the townspeople want the railroad to come through so the town doesn’t dry up like so many other little towns.

I’ll offer a free ebook copy of The Redemption Bluff Collection to one commenter below.

Have you ever had a favorite watch? I still have mine although I haven’t worn it in many years. One of the very first gifts my husband gave me (before he was my husband) was a delicate Black Hills Gold watch.

Author | Website | + posts

Where western meets happily ever after.

Kari writes swoony heroes and places that become characters with detail and heart.

Her favorite place to write about is the place her heart lives, (even if she doesn't) South Dakota.

Kari loves reading, listening to contemporary Christian music, singing when no one's listening, and curling up near the wood stove when winter hits. She makes her home in central Minnesota, land of frigid toes and mosquitoes the size of compact cars, with her husband of over twenty years. They have two daughters, two sons, one cat, and one hungry wood stove.

48 thoughts on “I Arrive Precisely When I Intend To”

  1. I had a favorite years ago that I lost in the Black Forest in Germany. It must have just fallen off my wrist somehow without me knowing it as I hiked a trail.

  2. I had an Omega watch which was given to me by my parents. I had my dad take it to the jeweler’s shop since it was losing time. He came back with a brand new watch, but I was sad that he had traded my old watch.

    • It’s funny, but my second favorite watch was given to me by my parents for my 17th birthday. It was a Loony Tunes watch. It looked very dressy until you actually looked at the face of it.

    • I stopped wearing a watch when I stayed at home with my kids (time goes fast enough). I got a fitbit with Christmas money a year ago and I’ve worn it ever since. It was money well-spent.

  3. My first watch when I was just learning to tell time in school, was a Cinderella watch from my mom. It is a keepsake.

  4. I haven’t worn a watch in years. However, I have the watch I bought for my Daddy years ago. I can’t get rid of it, even though he had stopped wearing it. After he passed, I had the band changed so that I could wear it, even the face of the watch covers my wrist when I wore it. I would wear it in the Florida winter, when the heat wouldn’t cause a rash under it. It was one of the first things I bought him when I started working.

  5. welcome today. what a wonderful post. I love your sons question. very good. I got a gold filigree watch on my 16th birthday. It still works all these years later. I got a fun winnie the pooh watch on Disneyworlds 25th anniversary. and my daughter gave me a precious moments watch. Yes I love watches. especially fun ones.

    • I used to love to wear them, but when I stayed at home to raise my children, for some reason my watches went by the wayside. It really took me a while to get used to wearing one again when I got my Fitbit. But I remember so many of them being a part of my growing up and early work life (and college life, since that was pre-cellphone).

    • Isn’t it interesting how the gift of a watch often marks a special occasion? It was rare that I bought one because I needed one. I’d been given one as a gift whenever the need arose.

  6. I haven’t worn a watch since I broke my wrist in 2001. Whatever watch I worn before that never kept time well (something in my system affected the timing) plus I could not wear a metal watch band (allergic to nickel). I didn’t miss wearing a watch.

    • I’d bet not! Good thing everything keeps time for us nowadays. You must have a heartbeat that counteracts the quarts timing of a watch. I’ve heard of others with that issue, and winding a watch everyday isn’t much fun (especially if you forget).

  7. I carry a replica of a 1944 Ritrino self winding watch that has an opening back where I carry a picture of my wife. I’ve attached it to a clip to hook on the pencil slot of my shirts. I can tell you what time it is faster than you can get your phone out. Took several years to find but it is the only watch I’ll carry. The “D” of C.D. Hersh

  8. I have several special watches. My Cinderella watch I got in 1st grade. Unfortunately, she doesn’t run now and the repairman couldn’t fix her.

    I have an Invictus watch I won. It has a heart on the face–my symbol. Unfortunately, it stopped working during the pandemic, and a new battery wasn’t the fix. I don’t know that it’s worth sending in to repair because it has to be sent to them. I had nicknamed it my Fergie watch. When I won, the post had a photo with the Duchess wearing a matching watch.

    My alumni watch from my university. I wear it daily. The face is goldtone and it is embossed, like a coin, with a building on campus called Old College. It has a leather band which has been replaced many times, but I need a leather band because of metal allergies.

    • Such fun stories. I also have old watches in my jewelry box that might need to be fixed but I can’t stand the thought of losing them if they wouldn’t get returned. I’d rather have them with me, not working, than to lose them completely. I have trouble with metal, but not if it’s loose. And it took me a long time to get used to the Fitbit plastic band. I still get rashes from it in the heat.

  9. Good morning Kari, wow, this is so very interesting, thank you so much for sharing this info with us, I really learned alot! Your son sure is a smart little guy, good for him and good that he has such a good mama that finds answers for him by researching . I don’t actually even own a watch, when I was in my teens my parents bought me a couple of watches for my bdays and I always ended up loosing them. I do have a pocket watch with a train on it that I had gotten for one of my dads birthdays and I kept it, it doesn’t run anymore, but I kept it after he passed. He loved pocket watches and he also loved trains. Have a great week and stay safe. Thank you so much, this was a very good post.

    • Thank you! I’m glad you enjoyed it. My sweet little guy sure keeps me on my toes. Kids help keep things in perspective. I’m so glad you have that pocket watch. What a great memory of your father.

    • Other than my Fitbit that I honestly wear for reasons other than telling time, I haven’t worn a watch in 12 years. So, I totally understand. Thanks for commenting!

  10. I was an RN in the Newborn Nursery. My favorite watch was a Timex, which had a face with a Minnie Mouse Nurse. I wore that watch until they decided that due to infection control issues, we were to no longer wear any jewelry or watches.

    • Aw, I’m sorry that they wouldn’t let you wear it anymore. 🙁 I’ve always known nurses to wear watches for taking BP, but I suppose they have machines that do that now. It’s unfortunate though.

  11. Oh, gosh, I remember Black Hills Gold! I used to work in a jewelry store, and we sold tons of it! I wonder if it’s still available?!?

    Fun blog, Kari!

    • Yes, Black Hills Gold is still mined in the Dakota’s, particularly in and around the Black Hills. Mt Rushmore and Rapid City areas. They are timeless.

    • Thank you, Pam! I love my Black Hills Gold. I have quite a bit of it. The Blacks Hills are one of my favorite places to go (and why I often write about SD). Black Hills Gold is still a pretty big business in little (and not so little) shops all over the Hills.

  12. I have a watch which is very dainty which sports a tri-color band in a ‘v’ design all the way around the wrist. It is decorated with 8 diamond on the face of the watch. It was created by Andre’ Cheval. I no longer wear it as it had some work done on the band and I do not want to lose it. It is very precious to me as my husband gifted it to me many years ago.

    • I totally understand. The battery ran dead on my Black Hills watch years ago and the band is cracked (leather). I would be so afraid to wear it and lose it now.

  13. I am a watch fanatic! I always have been a collector of watches. I have probably right now, after having giving away most, about 25 watches. Here’s the kicker, though. I have so much electricity in my body, that a new battery will only last about a month, maybe two, on the average. Those batteries have really gotten expensive, too! So, I’ll take 3-4 watches to the jewelry shop and get new batteries installed, after I make sure the batteries are up to snuff, lol, and I merrily go on my way. Then, for a month or two, I can pick and choose from these few or several, depending on how much I felt like spending, watches I want to wear and pair up with my outfits. I have the most beautiful locket necklace watch, but the back has come loose (probably because I’ve had to have the battery changed so often!) and that makes me sad, because it belonged to my sweet Mama. My Daddy bought me a locket necklace watch, too, but I do not know where it disappeared to! After you marry and have 3 little girls who like to wear your jewelry, sometimes you just can’t say WHAT happened to some of your RING watches, etc!! Lol Anyway, I learned when I was just a young thing, that my Daddy could not wear a nice, expensive watch! Mama tried every brand possible for his birthday and their anniversaries and they would always quit working. Finally, she went down to the store and bought him the cheapest Timex watch she could find, that didn’t LOOK too cheap, and he wore it to work for years!! Well, I always was my Daddy’s little girl!

  14. Thank you for an interesting post. I never really thought about the watch/clock question. The explanation makes good sense. I had heard the information about the railroads being responsible for standardizing time.
    My favorite watch is the first one I got. My grandmother gave me a lovely little Bulova wristwatch for my graduation from high school. That was in 1964. I still have it and it still works. I do not wear it often. The numbers on the face are a bit hard to see with my older eyes.

  15. Yes, I have a few watches that I enjoy wearing. The batteries have worn out. I have been laxed in having them replaced. Thank you so much for sharing. God bless you.

  16. I had a watch I really loved. And somewhere in one of my boxes I still have it. It was a pendant watch that was triangle shaped and silver, white, and gold colored. I wore it for years until wrist watches seemed better for me.

  17. I don’t wear one now, but i have my grandmothers, and i just love it. I haven’t seen one like, its so delicate and unique. Its a wind up one, no batteries. It has rhinestones around it and part of it is in a leaf design.

  18. I have always worn a watch since high school. Back then, brightly colored watches or white ones were all the rage. I didn’t want a dainty “old lady” watch lol. These days, I wear a trusty Timex that has a light because I wear glasses and can’t see what time it is unless I put on my glasses. This way, when I turn on the watch light, I can see the time.

  19. My favorite watch is the diamond watch I inherited when my Mom passed away. I don’t wear a watch as I change gloves often and have many times taken something off of my wrist. I got tired of searching in the trash. Lol

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