Gosh, I've told my watch stories so often . . .
. . . that everyone must be tired of them.
The best of them, though, pale in significance to the friendships we've made on this site. I treasure each and every one of the friends found here, and sure the same goes for all of us.
One happens to be an infrequent poster now, but many years ago he was our bon vivant. Not only knowledgeable (as most of us are) and disarmingly personable (again, as most here are), but a raconteur of the first water.
Any thread he engaged in was, well, engaging. And we became fast friends early on. Oh, there may have been a few hiccups along the way, not to mention a disagreement or two, but true friendship withstands trivial matters.
Last year, I heard from our Australian friend after a vacation in Tasmania. His tour guide had shown him ancient trees that produced wood of enduring quality, used in times past for boat-building. His comment? "I wonder what Art's cue-maker could do with this stuff!"
Earlier this year, I let him know my cue-maker was thinking about retiring, and that if he wanted a cue made from Tasmanian wood, now would be the time to get the project going.
"Ok," said he, so he found a lumber merchant in Tasmania that specialized in exotic timbers, and had pieces of huon (aka Tasmanian pine) and Tasmanian blackwood enough for two cues air-freighted to my doorstep. (The shipment probably set him back more than the wood itself!)
Bob, my cue-maker extraordinaire, looked the timbers over and said, "Hmmm, we have the makings of a Merlin one-piece cue of the dark stuff with the lighter stuff on the forearm and butt." And so the project began. Fortunately, the timbers were already seasoned, so curing time was less than expected.
Then, our Australian friend mused, "Could we dress the cues in Tasmanian gemstone?" We considered opal, but weren't sure if it could be worked into trim rings. Then we stumbled on dundasite and zaratite, rocks found in Tasmania that could potentially be turned on a lathe. So he secured samples of both.
After a few phone calls, I was led to the geology department of the University of California at Santa Barbara, which has a specialist on staff capable of turning rocks into any shape imaginable. And months later, we have our first zaratite rings, two of which will dress each handle, and one on each purpleheart shaft.
[huon left, Tasmanian blackwood right, separated by a zaratite ring]
I relay this story not to tell the tale of the cue, but for the bond it signifies. We've never met in real life, but I count pplater as a true friend.
And all on account, not of watches, but this community.