San Francisco and Epilogue
Part VII

by foie gras

The last long flight of my journey took me from Zurich to San Francisco on a

Swissair MD11.

Seating accommodations, service, and food were all fine in the business class compartment, if not quite up to the standards set by Singapore Airlines on my earlier flights. I was eagerly awaiting my arrival, as a hastily scheduled business trip in the U.S. was unexpectedly allowing Feder Haus to join me during my San Francisco visit.

After meeting Feder in the Airport and transferring to our hotel north of San Francisco in Marin County, Feder and I had a brief drink before retiring to our rooms. Unfortunately, the libation available was a bottle of Swiss Kirsch I’d purchased in the Zurich Duty Free shop for later use in making fondue. There is a viler drink than Kirsch, of that I am certain; I’ve just never experienced it. I’d suggest a couple of additional uses for Kirsch; as a thinner for shellac, and possibly for cleaning disassembled watch movements.

The next morning, Feder and I took off for the wine country north of San Francisco. The first day we visited 3 Napa Valley wineries suggested by our mutual friend Michael Friedberg. First we went to Rombauer Vineyards, where we were attended to by the son of the founder, K.R. Rombauer makes a wide variety of wines, my personal favorite of which is their excellent Chardonnay. Next was Jarvis, a space age underground winery that needs to be seen to be believed; this spare-no-expense place bore more resemblance to a ride at Disneyland than any other winery I’ve ever visited. Our final stop was at Shramsberg, famous producer of California sparkling wines. Our lunch and dinner that day, both at places I suggested, were somewhat disappointing.

On our second day, we drove north into Sonoma County, and visited

Fisher Vineyards.

Here Pete is seen demonstrating his wine tasting skills on a barrel sample with the wine maker at Fisher.

After our visit to Fisher, we drove south to San Rafael, home of Richard Paige’s new watch store, which we had arranged to visit in the early afternoon. First, we ate lunch at “Royal Thai,” one of the best Thigh restaurants I’ve ever enjoyed eating in. Pete deemed the food edible, which, from him, if you know Feder, is quite a compliment for Asian food produced outside of Asia. After spending 3 weeks in Asia, I’ve come to the conclusion that I prefer a more westernized presentation of Asian food, as long as it is skillfully prepared!

After lunch we waddled over to Rafael Jewelers to meet Richard. At first it looked like Rafael Jewelers had been bombed, but then we realized the place was being remodeled to accommodate the new lines Richard is bringing to his old friend Tony’s store! No picture could do the place justice on the day we visited. The store has a considerable amount of space, and after the remodel is completed I’m certain it will be a showcase for the fine brands they carry.

Richard took us to his house up on a hill with quite remarkable views. While there we had the opportunity to meet

his lovely family

and also got a tour of the house. Notice the computer in the first picture, permanently set on Timezone.

After our visit with Richard, Feder and I drove to Bezerkely, home of the Great One, Walt O. We discussed all manner of things, and then made our way to a local restaurant where if memory serves, we ate a couple of varieties of Pasta, accompanied by a wine I’ve already forgotten. Then we returned to Walt’s, had a spot of “American Armagnac,” said our good-byes and returned to our hotel.

The next morning, Pete and I returned to Berkeley for a full-day visit to Walt’s Watch Parlor. Here,

Walt is seen

examining a watch movement under his 35X microscope.

Walt and Pete are seen

discussing something or other.

I was having a problem with one of my watches, and Walt put it under the scope and showed me how he takes the pictures he uses in his outstanding articles on TZ.

After lunch, we went to Oakland to visit Frei and Borel, Walt’s favorite watch and Jewelry suppliers. Not coincidentally, Walt’s upcoming watch school will use movements and tools supplied by Frei and Borel. This store is amazing and well worth a look if you are ever in the area. Any watch aficionado could spend several days walking down the aisles and looking at the merchandise. We didn’t even make it to the “graveyard,” whatever that is

(ask Walt or Bob Frei.)

Walt spends a lot of time

on Timezone.

Those of us with watch-related problems or concerns are glad he does!!

In the early evening,

Walt, me, Pete, and Richard

went to a trendy new Italian restaurant in Berkeley, Mazzini Trattoria, run by the Alice Waters Mafia from Chez Panisse. The food was very satisfactory and reasonably priced; the only minor annoyance was the fake Italian being spoken repeatedly by the fake Italian serving staff. Oh well, can’t have everything.

Pete and I returned with Walt to his house, and spent another 3 or 4 hours talking about and adjusting watches. We just couldn’t bear for the evening to end. But end it must, and we said our farewells, then drove back to our hotel around 2 AM.

After about 2 hours of sleep, the alarm clock went off, which was my cue to join Feder in the breakfast room. After eating and getting our stuff together, we proceeded to the airport, said goodbye, and went our own separate ways, me to Idaho, and Pete to Singapore.

I upgraded my Delta coach ticket home to first class, and on the jet flight sat next to a 23-year old guy who turned out to be the son of a famous software developer. The flight took off at 10:30 am, and during the 1 ½ hours of the flight, this guy drank 4 bloody Mary’s. In his inebriated state, he told me a bit about himself, including the fact his net worth was $980,000,000 USD, and he was very bored. I suggested he needed something to become passionate about. I didn’t think watches were the ticket for him, but used my interest in these contraptions and Timezone as an example of the value of hobbies. Believe it or not, I felt sorry for the guy. Money does not buy happiness.

After more than a month on the road, to say I was delighted to get


would be an understatement. Just 5 days before the beginning of the ski season, Sun Valley was starting to look awfully nice!!! Of course,


was glad to see me, and as soon as she got her first gourmet meal of leftovers, she knew her master had returned!!


I had a wonderful trip, and counting those Tzers I met at the Basel Fair in April, I’ve personally met about 25 active participants in TZ this year. All of my encounters were pleasant, and there isn’t a single person I met who I regret having encountered. There is no reason why anyone else cannot do what I have done; make friends on Timezone, arrange to meet them, and then go through the mechanics of accomplishing that goal.

Perhaps the major reason why my trip went so smoothly is that with very few exceptions I had gotten to know the people I was going to meet over many months on TZ and via private e-mails. Although some offered accommodations for my visit, I chose not to accept any of these invitations, feeling it would be an imposition. Certainly, were I to return to any of these places, I’d be more apt to accept such invitations, but for a first visit I think I made the right decision.

Should you choose to travel on a round the world ticket, investigate business class. A typical round the world economy class ticket runs around $2500 USD, and in business class such tickets run $4200 to $5200 USD. Hence, the premium for elite class travel is less on a round the world ticket than on regular point to point itineraries. Also, consider the airlines on which you will travel. Generally, round the world fares are set up with a combination of several airlines. I’ve made no secret of my affection for Singapore Airlines, probably the best of the long-haul international carriers. The food and wines are only a little bit better than other fine carriers, like Swissair, but the service and seating are in a league of their own. In fact, I enjoyed Singapore airlines so much that I acquired several mementos of my travels on SIA, including this

phone (with flashing cockpit light on incoming calls),

and alarm clock, fashioned like a cockpit instrument.

I wish you all Happy Trails, and see you on Timezone!!