Walter White (Bryan Cranston) notably left his watch on a payphone at a New Mexico gas station in the Breaking Bad series finale, and there were a few explanations for his action. After five mind-bending seasons, the AMC crime drama came to an end in September 2013. Following months of hiding out in New Hampshire, Walt decided to make amends with his predicament by tying up loose ends before his eventual demise. Since his cancer had returned, the once reigning drug kingpin had a short window to say his final goodbyes in the only way he knew how.
“Felina,” the 62nd overall Breaking Bad episode, followed Walt as he traveled back to Albuquerque, New Mexico as he settled his affairs. Before setting up his family financially, the expert chemist decided to coerce his former colleagues from Grey Matter, Elliot and Gretchen Schwartz, to use his profits to set up a trust fund for Walt Jr. (or Flynn at that point). While driving through the desert, Walt stopped at a gas station to fuel up, but he also used the payphone to pose as a New York Times journalist to find the Schwartz family’s new address. The ploy worked, and before he continued on his journey, Walt took off his expensive Tag Heuer Monaco wristwatch and left it on the top of the payphone. The specific watch was the one that his former partner, Jesse Pinkman, gave Walt on his 51st birthday in early season 5.
Series creator Vince Gilligan discussed many aspects of the finale, including the mystery behind Walt’s watch, on Talking Bad (via AMC), the aftershow that aired following the end of “Felina.” When asked about Walt’s action, Gilligan explained that it had to do with the show’s continuity. In the flash-forward seen in the season 5 premiere episode, Walt was eating breakfast at Denny’s, and he wasn’t wearing the watch. Seeing as the payphone scene would have taken place before he ate at Denny’s, Gilligan needed to explain why the watch would have disappeared. There were also more symbolic explanations as to why the central figure decided to discard the timepiece.
Walt Already Knew He Was Running Out Of Time In His Life
Walt was heading back to Albuquerque knowing full well that he wouldn’t be alive much longer. Not only was his cancer getting worse, but he planned a dangerous attack on Jack Welker’s neo-Nazi compound. Despite being equipped with a high-powered weapon, Walt was aware that he could have been killed in the event. Even if Walt did make it out of the compound alive, he was a wanted man, and there was a chance he would be forced to take his own life before the authorities finally caught up to Heisenberg. With his life nearing the end, Walt didn’t have much use for a watch any longer since time wasn’t important.
Aside from not needing the watch, Walt felt the need to get rid of it purely based on who gave it to him. By the end of Breaking Bad, Jesse was an enemy rather than an ally. By leaving behind the gift his former partner once gave him as a nice gesture, Walt was cutting ties with Jesse once and for all. In the end, Walt freed Jesse from the compound, allowing him a new chance at freedom, but most of the damage between the two men was already done.