A Moment in Time - The Watches of September 11

Image Credit The Rolex Magazine

Watches - they truly are more than just a device for telling the time. For many of us we have put an emotional connection to our watches that we will never forget. They capture our memories, both good and bad, and store them for an eternity. Some watches capture more than that - some tell stories of horrors and resilience that we can never imagine.  Among the countless artifacts housed within the National September 11 Memorial & Museum are watches that bear witness to the passage of time during one of the darkest days in modern history. These timepieces, discovered amid the rubble and wreckage of Ground Zero, tell stories of resilience, heroism, and the enduring power of human memory.

Todd Beamer’s Rolex Datejust Turn-O-Graph

On United Airlines Flight 93, Todd Beamer found himself in a dire situation, facing terrorists who had hijacked the plane. Beamer and fellow passengers mounted a courageous attempt to regain control of the aircraft. His Rolex, a blend of gold and steel, bore witness to the critical moments when they decided to act. While they couldn't prevent the plane from crashing, their bravery saved countless lives on the ground. Beamer's Rolex, discovered amidst the wreckage, now symbolizes the heroism displayed on that ill-fated flight. His mangled Rolex sits on display at the Museum alongside one of his business cards discovered in the wreckage - the date window still displaying the eleventh.

Todd Beamer's Rolex at the 9/11 Museum

Image Source New York Times

Tom Canavan’s Quartz Watch

As a securities specialist, Tom Canavan had already survived one incident at the World Trade Center - the 1993 bombing. When he felt the building shake from his office at the 47th floor he immediately knew something was wrong and ordered his co-workers to evacuate the building down the stairwell. As he made it down to the plaza seemingly to safety, the South Tower had collapsed, burying him under 30 feet of rubble. He later described the feeling as being in the eye of a hurricane. His battered watch, covered in ash and stained with the remnants of his dried blood, sits on display at the World Trade Center Museum with the date frozen on the 11th and the time unchanged since it quit working at 8:49 (three minutes after Flight II hit his tower). Years later, after surviving that day, he is still very involved in the 9/11 community. 

Thomas Canavan's Watch at the 9/11 Museum

Image Source National September 11 Memorial & Museum

The Watches of First Responders

The 9/11 Museum is home to an array of watches worn by the courageous first responders who rushed into the World Trade Center towers to rescue those trapped within. These timepieces, bearing the names and badges of their owners, serve as poignant reminders of the sacrifices made that day. The watches, often found in a state of disrepair, reveal the grueling conditions these heroes faced as they worked tirelessly to save lives. They are symbols of unwavering dedication to duty and the incredible acts of bravery that unfolded amidst the chaos.

The 9/11 Museum also houses a Timex Expedition worn by a firefighter during the rescue efforts. This modest but sturdy timepiece survived the dust and debris that engulfed Ground Zero. It represents the resilience and camaraderie of those who worked tirelessly to search for survivors and recover the remains of the fallen. This firefighter's Timex Expedition serves as a symbol of unity and determination in the face of overwhelming adversity.

The watches found at the 9/11 Museum are more than mere timekeeping devices; they are living artifacts that bear witness to the events of September 11, 2001. They tell stories of courage, sacrifice, and the enduring power of the human spirit. These timepieces, worn by first responders and survivors alike, have become symbols of hope and resilience, reminding us that even in the darkest of times, there are acts of heroism and unity that shine brightly.

Image Source National September 11 Memorial & Museum

As we take a moment to remember that fateful day and the global impact it has had on so many lives, we are reminded to never forget the stories of those who perished and those who rose to the occasion with unwavering courage. If you find yourself in New York City, I highly recommend a trip to the Museum. In a hobby that gets us caught up in the first world problems of long wait lists and discontinuations, a visit here reminds you what this hobby really is all about - time. And how we spend it.

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