A story about trying to find a watch in Mexico, or a preliminary post to my review of ‘The Blue-ocean Strategy’

Audio recording of ‘A story about trying to find a watch in Mexico, or a preliminary post to my review of ‘The Blue-ocean Strategy”

In preparing for travelling outside my home country I made the decision to not bring any jewelry with me. This seemed like a safer alternative to potentially leaving my jewelry in one of the places we were staying or potentially getting mugged. Now that it has almost been a month being away from home, I have never once found my self in the presence of someone who would mug me. Ain’t paranoia a funny thing?


Without any of my jewelry on hand for this trip I have been travelling without the use of a watch. Yes, I know that my smart phone has the time on it.  But there is something very useful to having a watch, much in the same way that working from paper is very useful too. Your brain works differently with physical environments than with virtual ones.

So as I was going about Mexico’s many markets, of which most of them sell what I call “The Stuff” (I’ll cover this later), I had been looking for a vendor who sold watches (rolejeria).  And when I asked people where to find watches for sale, I would look at their wrists to see if they wore a watch. Most, if not almost all, of the people that I came in contact with did not wear a watch on their wrist. To me, I thought this was interesting.

The thought here went something like this. In a place where the weather is nearly always the same, the waves come in and the waves roll out, the tourists fly in and the tourists fly out, and the shop doors have to be opened at some point and then closed later on too, what use is there in knowing what time it is?

I experienced this most when I was in Mexico City (CDMX), but the same kind of sentiment was seen all over Mexico. Not  considering the corporate businesses (OXXO, Soriana, or Government buildings), it seemed like vendors would arrive at work when ever they felt like it, work for as long as they felt like, and would do business only with those that they liked by charging high prices to the unsavory and low prices to those they preferred. And still, nearly no one that I encountered wore a wrist watch. I imagine that this is true back home as well, but it had never been so apparant to me until travelling out of country.

But finally I found someone who sold watches and was open in Cancun. The rolejeria was in a market where every other vendor sold the same t-shirts, dresses, hari braiding, leatherware, novelties, tequilla, and tourist packages (“The Stuff”). Every single vendor in cancun seems to sell the same as the next one, with very little variety, and so when we found the rolejeria, I was taken aback.

He was a nice man who was working on repairing a watch and on the walls of his shop were framed, hand-drawn pictures of his grand-children. He seemed tired of the heat, tired of his work, and tired all the vendors around his shop hawking the customers of the market. So when I asked him for a watch to buy, he seemed disinterested in helping a customer who would probably think his wares were crap because they were “The Stuff”.

To my furthered surprise, he had a watch face that I didn’t mind and so I offered to buy it as long as he had a band to fit the face. He offered me plastic bands and leather ones for the stainless steel face, to which he was surprised that I would want a metal one. My guess is that he sees so many people wearing plastic or leather watches with HUGE watch faces that he didn’t expect that a customer would want a simple watch with a simple metal band.

The watch cost me 650 MXN, or 32.50 USD. I didn’t even try to haggle with the guy, even though he expected me to. And while it isn’t the most beautiful watch I own, or the most expensive, the vendor who helped me into the watch was joyous that he made a sale and helped me into a watch. I was pretty stoked too – I was glad to see that my purchase was so appreciated, albeit honored, and my search for a watch was over. But there was something special that I was going to tell you, my gentle readers, a lesson in this that I have been dying to tell you.

Never succomb to the temptation to sell “The Stuff” like everyone else. What’s more, strive to help your visitors into what they want and not “The Stuff”. They are trying to find you, they want what you have worked so diligently to labor over, they want you to make it custom for them, and they will pay whatever price you charge because they know you will charge fairly. Lastly, treat each sale with the gratitude that comes from receiving a fine gift from a friend or family member, and you will be be immortalized in the eyes of your customers.