Oh the stories a watch could tell. 

Alexander City resident Mason Marvel now has a TAG Heuer watch in his possession. Mason did not purchase the TAG Heuer watch he now has that is valued by many for its quality but this particular watch connects three generations of Marvels, family trips to the Coosa River and a fun time in Biloxi, Mississippi covering a decade of family history and lore. This watch was lost by Mason’s father 14 years ago on a kayaking trip down the Coosa River. Just a few weeks ago, the watch was returned to the Marvel family during a trip down the Coosa River. The watch belonged to Marvel’s father Jimmy and before that it belonged to Mason’s brother. 

For the last decade, Chris Carter of Coosa River Adventures has hung onto the watch after finding it near Moccasin Gap on the Coosa River. It was Carter who returned the watch to Mason on the Coosa on a Sunday afternoon last month after hearing a story from Mason just hours earlier about how his father lost a watch many years ago.

“We all got to share in a God moment,” Mason said of the return of the watch. “(Carter) listened to his heart and let the music play.”

Mason said his father lost the watch after tipping over his kayak on his first trip down the Coosa on a Sunday.

“His arm caught on a rock underwater,” Mason said. “It broke the band and the watch was gone.”

Mason said his father returned to the Coosa the following week to search for the watch to no avail. His father was soon diagnosed with cancer and trips down the river were not possible – so were searches for the watch. Jimmy Marvel passed away three years ago and never saw the watch again.

Carter is a frequent paddler on the Coosa and provides kayaks to many guests through his business Coosa River Adventures in Wetumpka. Carter frequently finds items lost by paddlers — mainly shoes, clothing, cans and the occasional fishing rod. He takes the items and displays on them on trees at his business in hopes the owners will claim their lost items. If they go unclaimed, the shoes end up in what Carter calls his “Sandalier.” 

One day Carter was on the river recovering items from the river bottom.

“I’m color-blind and kept coming up with beer cans that day,” Carter said. “My buddy and I spotted a fishing rod near Moccasin Gap and both of us went after it. I got a little winded and started to climb up a rock. I came eye-to-eye with it as I came out of the water. I thought it was a beer can but quickly discovered it was a watch. I rubbed the face and saw a ‘T’ and thought it was a Timex.”

Carter said his buddy cleaned the algae from the watch and said it was a TAG Heuer. Carter stored it until his wife pulled it out to get the band fixed for Carter to wear to a city council meeting. It was put away for years until a couple weeks ago.

Carter heard Mason’s story while waiting to shuttle kayakers to Jordan Dam for a float down the Coosa River.

“(Carter) gives this warning about not taking valuables on the trip,” Mason said. “He tells everyone about finding things. While we were waiting for the next group to show up, I shared with Chris the tale of my father’s watch. I asked him, ‘Have you ever found a TAG Heuer?’ You could just see the look in his eyes.”

Mason went on to float the Coosa River with his son and stepson, the children’s first trips down the river just like Mason’s father when he lost the watch. It was on the river Carter reunited Mason with his father’s watch.

“We had stopped on a rock to rest,” Mason said. “We were relaxing and fishing when Chris and his wife come up the river in their boat and said they had something for him. They pulled out the watch. It was a very, very sweet surprise. We got to smile about it, cry about it.”

Carter wore the watch only once when he was on the Wetumpka City Council then put it away as he hasn’t kept time since retiring from the military. Carter heard Mason’s story earlier that Sunday morning and decided it was time to reunite the watch with its rightful family.

“To be able to reunite the family with something that had more history than just me finding it in the river; that’s going to mean a lot to that family,” Carter said. “I didn’t have a need for it and was happy to return it.”

0911 Watch 2.jpg

Cliff Williams / The Outlook Chris Carter, owner of Coosa River Adventures speaks on the phone as Sprite hangs out.

The watch actually has even more history as the watch belonged to Mason’s brother before his father acquired it.

“My brother made a successful trip to Biloxi,” Mason said. “He won some money and the watch was his purchase to remember the trip.”

Mason said his brother kept the watch for a couple years before he saw something their father said he wanted.

“My father and brother traded,” Mason said. “My dad gave him some guns and cash. My dad didn’t wear it much but thought since it was a dive watch, he would be safe to bring it on a kayak trip.”

Mason said his brother later purchased another TAG Heurer watch his brother again traded to his father for guns and cash. After their died, the watch went to Mason’s brother.

Mason said the stories surrounding the watch have been shared amongst family over the last couple weeks.

“The watch has a more interesting story than anyone who has it owned it,” Mason said. “I’ve showed it off to family. It was definitely a gift to us all.”

Mason explained he is not much of a watch wearer but will take care of this prized possession and hopes to pass it on to his son someday.

“I’m happy to have it,” Mason said. “I miss my dad. If he would have tried to give it to me when he was living, I would have never thought that much about it. Now I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I have been able to visit with my father again.”

Cliff Williams is a staff writer for Tallapoosa Publishers.

Staff Writer

Cliff Williams is a staff writer for Tallapoosa Publishers.