The Daily

The Universal Watch


My father prepared clients for deposition with me. Getting ready for a deposition in a serious personal injury case is no small feat. The prospect of being under oath is something any person would take seriously. But when the subject is painful and embarrassing, as serious health problems often are, it can shake even the strongest characters. This is especially true when the financial stakes are high and the lawyers on the other side doing the questioning are unpredictable, smart and sometimes hostile.

We did our best to make sure that our clients were confident and comfortable. So we often prepared our clients together. One of my father’s favorite tips with talkative types would be a bit about time. He’d say,

“Some people. You ask them the time and before they give it to you, they have to tell you about their watch. Instead of giving you the time – they say ‘Before I tell you the time, let me tell you about my watch. It’s Swiss. The Swiss only care about two things – chocolate and watches. They have these tiny little instruments and telescopic glasses. They slave over the tiny mechanisms making sure that every point of contact is precise, every movement sure and swift. They spend hours sweating the details to make sure that each time piece is a precise instrument. Each one takes months of painstaking and backbreaking attention to detail … What was the question?’ 

The point was … well, you probably get the point.

My father wore a Universal watch that his Father gave him. It has our initials etched on the back. After my Father died, I found the watch among his things. I learned after that Universal Genève is a Swiss company whose watches have in-house movements – highly regarded by experts in the industry. Along with neighboring Geneva companies (like Audemars Piguet, Girard-Perregaux, Patek Philippe and Rolex), Universal is “internationally regarded for its style of craftsmanship.”

When I brought the watch home, it didn’t tell time. I took it in for repair. My timepiece guy, Benny, is a stickler – bent on a methodical, detailed approach that might seem old-fashioned – but he knows what he’s doing. He held on to the watch a long time – something like six months. I went in to ask him what was going on and he looked at me with earnestness and pain. “What do you know about that watch?”, he said. Not much, I told him. Only that it was the only thing my Dad talked about that came from his Father. Benny was upset because somebody had repaired the watch without using original parts – he seemed to take it personally. I told him that it was alright. He held on to the watch a long while longer. I think he made up reasons while looking for original parts. That’s how serious experts operate. I got the watch back in good repair, satisfied that Benny took it personally and went the extra mile to make sure the job was done right.

The lawyers in my family have operated like Benny for 3 generations now – more than 100 years all totaled. It matters first and always that we know what is right and how to expertly handle your case so that you don’t ever have to wonder if any parts are left out… you know you will receive the best care the first time.