Time is relative. We base how our day will go from the moment we set our alarm to the moment we shut our eyes for sleep. Personally I perceive time as a means to be in the moment, whether it’s as fleeting as saying hello to my friend at the mall or as long as waiting for my mother to come home from Japan many years after. It is a basic need, that people may or may not appreciate, but somehow dictates our lives.
Some time ago I met this guy named James Arco during our football summer league in Ateneo. He came off a little brash, as I was judging him to how he was playing. He was a character on the pitch : fast, running around people and not scared to come up to your face when a foul is involved. Later on I realized I was quick to judge. Too quick.
During breaks I would see James just hanging out, checking on his phone and chatting with our teammates. But what really caught my eye was the watch he had on. Sure, everyone had one but his was made of wood. I told myself “ oh here we go, another cool kid “. I was interested though, so I struck a conversation with him. I came up to him during a break in between our games and asked where he got his timepiece. To my surprise he was emphatic enough to explain he co- owned the watch brand and how he is promoting it to his peers.
His brand of watches is called LVL7, where he and six other college friends came together to think of a way to bring back the importance of time. James says their inspiration comes from a mix of fashion and environmental sense, and a drive for high quality and originality.
May sound like a sales pitch but I found it very rare that there is a brand that thinks of the integrity of its products and of social responsibility rather than instant increased sales.
A little further with our conversation I found out that the wooden timepieces are sustainable. Showing the watch he had on his wrist he described that the wood used is recycled, from discarded and scrap materials.
He adds that all their watches are equipped with hardened, mineral glass. My mind was blown right there because the one he was sporting that day seemed too well made, the likes of those famous brands you see at high-end malls and establishments.
We had a bit more time before the next game so I asked James how LVL7 as a brand. He told me in perspective that time is a form of perception.
It really depends on what it is to the person. This can be reflected on the watch, he said. It can symbolize or reflect different things or it could simply mean nothing. It’s up to whoever wears the watch how he or she wants to wear or give meaning to it.
The brand does not like to restrict an individual from doing what you want, James added.
Being a little bit quirky I could not stop myself to ask him if owning a LVL7 watch “ leveled up “ anybody’s personality. I can’t help but vividly remember what he said to me. James said he didn’t think so. Some see watches as status symbol, especially when you have a P1,000,000 Rolex around your wrist.
In the case of LVL7 watches, it’s more on really showing your individuality.
But if you want to level up your life with a LVL7 watch, go ahead. Again, whatever floats your boat, he said to end our talk. Funny enough, after that chit-chat I became a bit closer to James. We’d hang out after games and share a few drinks. It’s been a couple of years and still, we are team mates and drinking buddies at times. It just really stuck to me how that wooden watch of his changed how I saw him and how we related to each other after. Time does indeed fly fast.
I am a big fan of people who truly know who they are. In this case James did not only prove to me that he knew how to be himself, but he practiced what he preached. Strong on the outside during games but laid back and cool off the pitch. He is a great representation of his brand. The watch is proud of its simple make and the impeccable quality derived from scraps we tend to shove on the side.
Sure, people might see him or the watch he wears as too “ hipster “, trying hard to be cool. Then again what is being hip ? Isn’t it doing something that sparks the interest of other people? I think how James shows off himself and his watch is how should be, a reminder that we should still keep the basics like knowing the time, knowing what makes you who you are and not forget our part in taking care of Mother Nature. Too cool for school I guess…