There used to be a watchmaker's on the corner of the street where I lived...

The local boys used to poke their heads around the door to watch the hunchback hiding behind the counter with a massive magnifying glass on his right eye. He would throw them out, uttering an ancient curse as he lectured a lady for showering with her watch on. There is no doubt that he was a bad tempered, sinister-looking man, but everyone, even people from outside the neighbourhood, would take him their broken watches, some of which hadn't worked for years and he would get them going again.

One day I poked my head around the watchmaker's table. I was just eight years old and had received my first watch as a gift. I was determined to wear it to school so that I could show it off to my classmates. Some of them even had the same watch. And now, at last, I had one, too! Unfortunately, a few days later I fell over while I was playing and my watch shattered into little pieces. I wandered the streets looking for a shop where I could buy a watch just the same, even though I didn't have the money to pay for it. Then I remembered the watchmaker and I thought that maybe, just maybe he could fix it.

When the watchmaker heard the bell on the door ring, he shouted a few expletives at me while twisting around like a gargoyle:

“Get lost, if you don't want the devil to drag you out of here!”

I plucked up my courage and approached the counter. He stared at me through his left eye; the right, enormous behind the magnifying glass, never moved from the watch he was fixing, and asked me if I had come to look at his hump. Surprised, I shook my head and showed him the watch I was carrying in my pocket.

The watchmaker took the watch in his grotesque hands and placed it delicately on a mat. He turned it over a few times and then took it to pieces like a surgeon to see what state the mechanism was in before removing the broken pieces. Then he opened a drawer in the counter and started taking out tiny parts. He explained the history of each little component while he asked me to choose between the hands of an aviator watch and a racing watch, between the face of a small pocket watch and one that had once belonged to a distant relative of his.

I was amazed to see how his nimble hands were able to handle a tiny screwdriver to undo screws the size of a pinhead. Surprisingly, his hands were as quick and agile as those of a magician. When he had finished inserting the parts, one by one, the watchmaker told me that now was the moment of truth. And I held the watch up to my ear: A soft tick-tock told me that it was telling the time again. Then he put it onto the mat again and asked me what I thought of the result. I didn't know what to say. This watch was not like my friends' watches.

“You see”

he said staring at me with his deformed eye,

“now, this watch is not only different but it is also unique and special. And do you know why? Because you helped to create it”.

I've had a lot of watches in my life because I have always been fascinated by those extraordinary machines that can trap time, but I learned from that watchmaker that exclusivity does not always cost more; it comes from being unique and personal.

This is the philosophy behind UNITY...

In a world where everything seems to come as standard, we can still build our own time.