How I Became A Writer by Michael Clerizo
At the end 2000 I was working for a small, London based branding agency. One day the owner of the agency came to me and said; ‘I am just so happy. I’ve found a new definition for a brand. A brand is a code by which we live our life.’ When I heard those words I knew I had to get out of there.
‘A code by which we live our life!’ The guy had lost it. You live your life by a religious code, a moral code, a philosophical code, even a postcode or zip code but a brand? I knew I was in trouble if I stayed.
Luckily, Mother Nature intervened and a few weeks later some strange and potent virus put me in the hospital. I was there for twelve days in total isolation. One morning I woke up to find myself covered by ice cubes. During the night I developed a fever that went so high I lost consciousness. The doctors decided that the deep freeze was my only hope.
I knew things were serious because of the nurses from the Philippines. Good Catholic girls that they are, they always made the sign of the cross before entering my room.
It took six months for me to recover. I named my condition Russian Novel Syndrome after the many characters in Russian novels that develop fevers requiring lengthy periods of recuperation. Lying around not doing much I started to read everything I could get my hands on. Newspapers, magazines, books on obscure Bolivian artists, anything. I decided I could do better than many of the writers I was reading. That was seventeen years ago. I have been writing ever since.
How I Fell In Love With Watches
A little while after I started writing an editor phoned and asked me if I wanted to do an article about watches. At the time I knew nothing about watches but ignorance never stops freelancers so I said yes. The editor asked for one thousand words on three watch brands. ‘No problem’, I said. Then the editor asked, ‘Which brands would you like to write about?’ That question stumped me. I could no more name three watch brands than reciting War and Peace.
The editor’s call caught me reading a magazine (Well, what do you expect from a freelance writer.) On the back cover of the magazine was a Patek Philippe ad. So, the first brand I volunteered for the article was Patek Philippe. The second brand was easy, Vacheron Constantin because my father had left me a VC watch from the 1940s. Trying to think of a third brand I started stalling saying things like, ‘We have a lot of choices in the watch world’ and ‘Gosh, are you sure three brands will fit in one thousand words?’ Then something a friend had said a few weeks before came back to me, ‘I’ve just bought a Franck Muller Master Banker’. My response, ‘What’s a Franck Muller Master Banker?’ I thought it was some kind of home security system. But, on the phone to the editor that day Franck Muller became my third brand.
When I began researching the article I was struck by the beauty mechanical timepieces. That’s how watches hooked me.
Eventually, I learned that a few watchmakers still worked on their own making watches mostly by hand and in very low volume, sometimes only one or two a year. I have always been fascinated by great craftsmanship and skill so I found these watchmakers and their work mesmerising. Most of these watchmakers are unknown outside of a tiny circle of collectors and aficionados so I made it my mission to bring them to the attention of a wider audience. That is how my first book, Masters Of Contemporary Watchmaking happened.