When my dad died this past summer he left behind a beautiful and varied vintage watch collection. Over the decades of his adult life he amassed 47 watches; some are pocket watches while most are wristwatches from luxury brands such as Rolex, IWC, and Vacheron Constantin. He was enamored by their hidden world of moving parts and exquisite craftsmanship.
As I examine and handle each one, I, too, have become fascinated by the world of watches. I get a kick out of seeing the second hand spring back to life and I’m mysteriously comforted by the quiet tick of the steady mechanical heartbeat. Out of all this beauty, however, only one watch has truly captured my imagination. It is a gold Accutron Bulova wristwatch with the following engraving on its back:
NOV 1ST 1925 - JULY 1ST 1967
WITH SINCERE APPRECIATION FOR LOYAL SERVICE
NEWBERGER + COMPANY
Who was Morris Oser?
What did he do for the Newberger + Company during those 42 years of service?
What did the company do for that matter?
And, most importantly, did Morris feel giving all those years of his life was worth it?
This watch is an artifact of a dying era. A time when an employee (typically a man) went off to start a career at one company and stayed there until he retired. Job hopping, taking a year off to travel the world, quitting a job to pursue one’s passion was nearly unheard of. When Morris began work at Newberger + Company on Nov 1, 1925 he very likely hoped it would be for the long-term and—in return for his time and loyalty—likely expected the company to take care of him.
We don’t live in that paternalistic work world anymore. Through the dissolution of pension funds, massive company layoffs and your everyday department downsizing, companies have made it clear (despite their messages that claim otherwise) that we are now the only ones responsible for our careers and ultimately our lives. This is a huge responsibility, but one that comes with an implied freedom.
Perhaps during those 42 years Morris suppressed a nagging feeling that he could do more with his life than what he was doing, but the world around him certainly didn’t make it easy to act on his hunch. The Great Depression, World War II and society’s views of a career that dissented from the norm was far from encouraging.
This watch and its mystifying history remind me that we live in an age of unprecedented opportunity and freedom. I feel grateful just to be able to share these words with you wherever you may be in the world on this virtual platform. And as I stop to admire the watch’s beauty and think about my career and life, I hope to never squander the freedom I have to carve out my own path.
My name is Viola Minicozzi and I’m a HR professional looking to land my dream job in Phoenix, AZ. From December 1, 2015 through March 1, 2016, I’ve committed to blogging everyday on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter about my progress and a host of other career related topics along the way.
Join me on the journey. #90DaysToMyDreamJob
Viola. Vi. Vivi.