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David Duchovny and one special watch
Watch Stories

David Duchovny and one special watch

Friday, 09 February 2018
By Frank Rousseau
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Frank Rousseau

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7 min read

As The X-Files enters its eleventh series, we catch up with David Duchovny – aka FBI Special Agent Fox Mulder – between cases. He looks back at his childhood, when every penny had to be spent wisely, and remembers his very first glow-in-the-dark watch. The truth is out there!

Do you remember your first ever watch?

I certainly do! Back then, a watch wasn’t as commonplace as it is today. By that I don’t mean luxury watches that go on through generations and gain in value. Those are works of art, and certain command extraordinary prices. You only need sit in on an auction to see that the most beautiful and rare can cost as much as an apartment. The watch I’m talking about came at a reasonable price, and even then it wasn’t something everyone could afford. I imagine my parents had to make a small financial sacrifice in order to buy it. In the late 1960s, you were given a watch to mark an important occasion. You didn’t just walk into a shop saying, “Hey, maybe I’ll buy a watch!”. This was something you’d think about first. It was rarely an impulse buy.

Do you remember the brand?

No, but I do remember the occasion. My parents gave it to me for my tenth birthday. It came in a leatherette box with a black velvet interior, and there were several straps that you could switch around. But the thing that most fascinated me was that the hands glowed in the dark. I used to wake up during the night so I could watch them move around the dial. It was like early science fiction, and me, I thought I was James Bond!

I imagine it meant a lot to you...

Absolutely. A ten-year-old, in my day at least, had no notion of the value or the price of things. I grew up in a family that found it hard to make ends meet. Money was always the topic of conversation over dinner, because we never had enough! My mother was born in Scotland during the Depression years. Nothing mattered more to her than having a roof over your head and food on the table.

The whole point of a watch is to be on time, yet I remember reading somewhere that you're often late!

Objectively, I couldn’t see myself going in to the office every day. That’s not the kind of life I wanted. Nor did I aspire to becoming a suit-and-tie man. That actually bugs me when I play Fox Mulder in The X-Files. When he puts on his white shirt and black tie, boy does he get on my nerves! I hate it when people are constantly checking their watch too, and even more so when they’re with someone. It gives the impression you’re a drag and the other person is wondering how they can cut short the conversation.

I imagine your bank account must have benefited from The X-Files' success. What were the first things you splashed out on?

Loads of sneakers. I’ve always dressed casually and there was no reason why that should change. I love the beach. I love running or walking on sand. To be honest, I’ve never been good at spending for spending’s sake. It makes me nervous, especially when there’s a hefty price tag attached. Of course there are exceptions. For example, one day I went out and bought a good dive watch with a Swiss movement. I didn’t buy it to show others I’d moved up the social ladder. I just wanted a reliable watch that wouldn’t let me down after a couple of swims in the ocean.

If you hadn't become an actor, what profession would you have chosen?

I’d have been a teacher. I graduated in English literature from Princeton University, not with the idea of making my living as a writer, but to teach. Some of my students have done well, and I’m proud of that. Then again, there were always a couple of idiots in the bunch who would sit down in class and plug in their Walkman. How in the world do you expect them to concentrate on an analysis of Saint-John Perse? If they’d been constantly looking at their watch, I wouldn’t have put up with that either. You could say my lessons were pretty dull!

If you had to name one particularly gory scene from The X-Files, which would it be?

I can’t decide between the one where a toad jumps out of a corpse’s rotting flesh, the one that shows a guy devouring someone’s liver, or the one where another guy survives by sucking the fat out of an obese woman!

You played a writer in Californication. Which writer, one who's no longer with us, would you have liked to spend a couple of hours with?

Definitely Richard Yates. He’s the author of Revolutionary Road, one of the most moving books I’ve read these past couple of years. He builds up his characters in the most intelligent way. Yates was a manic-depressive who knew how to get inside his protagonists’ minds. His life was like a novel in itself. He was a disruptive genius who ended up teaching writing at Alabama University. He died penniless. For ages, he’d been promising his fans one last novel. After he died, they spent days searching his ramshackle home, until one of his students finally found the manuscript. When you have someone of that calibre as a teacher, no way are you tempted to look at your watch!

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