Tenzin Gyatso, 14th Dalai Lama & Horology

Home, 2007-11-22


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Dalai Lama

The Nobel Peace Prize laureate is also said to particularly enjoy fixing clocks. [Jonathan Brown, The Independent (London), Mar 10, 2005]

... [Dalai Lama] put a box in my hands. Inside was a gold Patek Philippe watch, which showed the phases of the moon and the days of the week. "Well, Roosevelt certainly had nice taste," I said. "How old were you when you received this gift from President Roosevelt?" I asked. "I was seven or eight," he said. [The Story of Tibet: Conversations with the Dalai Lama, Grove Press, 2007]

I spoke to you by telephone and gleaned the information that your watch is a vintage model. I then spoke to a former editor of Patek Philippe magazine. He told me that because vintage Patek Philippes have increased in value by 110 times in the last 50 years, while vintage Jaguars have only increased by 44 times, your watch is an investment worth preserving. If you cannot afford the £1,690 yourself, it would be well worth borrowing it to pay for the repair. "There is no cheap way of doing it," he tells me. "It is like trying to get a Fabergé egg repaired by a non-specialist." This former editor also supplied the interesting nugget that the Dalai Lama is the only non-specialist known to be able to repair his own Patek Philippe watch. [Mary Killen, spectator.co.uk, Wednesday, 9th August 2006, http://www.spectator.co.uk/search/author/page_7/24480/dear-mary.thtml]

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Some of Dalai Lama's watchmaker's tools

"For example, I have always enjoyed repairing watches. But I can remember a number of occasions as a boy when, completely losing my patience with those tiny, intricate parts, I picked up the mechanism and smashed it down on the table. Of course, later I felt very sorry and ashamed of my behavior--especially when, as on one occasion, I had to return the watch to its owner in a condition worse than it was before!" [Dalai Lama, Ethics for the new millennium]