Abandon Hope All Ye Who Enter Here

“Lasciate ogni speranza, o voi che entrate..”
is the original Italian text of this piece’s namesake and the ominous inscription that greeted those who passed through the gates of hell in Dante’s masterpiece: ”Inferno”.

These words came to mind while lining up for passport control at Linate Airport in Milan yesterday evening. The next words I thought of were ”..benefits of a classical education.” as said by the villain Hans Gruber masterfully played by Alan Rickman in the cult classic ”Die Hard”.


Oh if only we could solve today’s coronavirus crisis with a ”yippie-ki-yay motherfucker” and a raised middle finger.


My wife and I left for London on February 28th, the outbreak in Italy wasn’t too bad at the time and there were no specific travel restrictions, so we decided to leave. I mean, how bad can it get? As it happens, very bad. The crisis had escalated to a point where from a few hundred cases the number had jumped to nearly 10k in just 10 days.

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Our flight was scheduled to fly back on the 9th of March, but in the afternoon of the 8th I received the text message I had feared from the moment the whole of Lombardy had been placed in quarantine


(Bad) Luck would have it neither my travel arranger nor Alitalia were reachable for alternative travel plans. To add to the confusion the flight was still indicated as on schedule on the Alitalia website, the app and the Heathrow airport website.

A backup plan was needed, so I bought a ticket from Easyjet, that was allegedly still flying into Milan. Unfortunately, dear EasyJet kept cancelling the flight prompting me for three times to pick a different slot or get a refund. How did we get back home? On the afternoon of the 9th I received a call from an unknown number: it was Alitalia informing me that my cancelled flight had been re-instated.  Thank goodness…. it was the last flight out of London to Milan. From that day on  RyanAir, British Airways and EasyJet ceased most all operations to Italy.

So you may ask: where’s the watch content? I had decided since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis to wear just one watch: it needed to be precise, reliable, robust, and good looking. There’s only one watch in my collection that ticks all four boxes: The Grand Seiko SBGN005 quartz GMT.


This watch will be my companion for the upcoming weeks, I can depend on it being bang on every time, as long as the battery lasts, and beautiful to behold.

I hope to be able to update you every now and then with a short story about watches and life in lockdown in Italy. Until then stay tuned and take care.