When I first started kayaking, I went and got myself the nicest waterproof watch I could afford. It looked very waterproof. That is to say, it was all intrepid and had an utterly useless bezel. I didn’t like the band, so I swapped that out for a Shark Leash- one of those nylon and velcro things suited for playing in whitewater. I’m tellin’ ya, my wrist was very stylish.

Then I smashed the watch on a rock.

No problem. I bought the no-fault warranty when I go the watch. Ha! The store took the watch and sent it away to where watches rehab. I hoped they would simply repair it and send it back to me. The case was now nicely worn- scuffed, scratched, even scarred in one place. Intrepid.

They sent back a new one, though, and I had to start all over. Thankfully, though, I’m a clumsy paddler and I smacked it on rocks and scraped it on stones and dragged it (and me) along the bottoms of rivers.

My buddy Mike is a far more practical and shrewd person. He would hold up his wrist, and say, “Timex. $11.” If his watches got mangled, who cared? Not him. If you were in Target or Walmart on a lucky day when things were on sale, you could get a waterproof Ironman Timex that lit up when you pushed a button for pretty much ten bucks on the nose. Might at well buy a case of them while you’re at it.

What’d I do instead? I stared wearing my watch with the face on the INSIDE of my wrist to preserve the cool looking (cool in this case meaning heavy, clunky, metallic, fat, and still with that inexplicable bezel.)

By wearing it on the inside of my wrist, I figure I extended that thing’s lifespan by a good two years- that’s how long it took me to do something so ungraceful that I hit the inside of my wrist on a gorge wall or a rock or who-knows-what.

So that’s the advice I have for whitewater enthusiasts who’re tired of buying up nice-ish watches and coddling them. Wear ’em on the inside of your wrist and paddle better than I do.

Me? I started buying Timex ten-dollar wonders.