Watchwearing

Over the last several months I have attempted to grow more conscious of how I dress. This does not just mean “dress better,” but indicates a striving for something as simple as awareness – which, nerd that I am, I’ve never had.

One motive force, here, is my desire to zero out variables in the ol’ unemployment equation. So I have been paying especial attention to how I present myself for interviews – my business dress – The Armor. This means suits, shoes, ties, the trim of my beard – the matching of things – cut and fit and color. It also means a wristwatch.

I’ve never worn a watch. It seemed anachronistic. But now that my cell phone has grown to the size of a walrus it is convenient to have another way to check the time. And yet even anachronism should yield to improvements in my deportment. Non-horological concerns. (The achronic?)

So I set about to learn a thing or two about wristwatches. And I did – wasn’t hard. Then I set myself to appreciating their variety. Which coincided well with having my ACL replaced. A week narcotized on the couch is a great time to look at pictures of watches.

But what is suitable to wear to an interview? There is the dress watch, but this is a business establishment, not Royal Ascot. There is the sport watch, but I am not James Bond, and I would not want to be confused with one of those ubiquitous cocksections who imagines themselves to be. There are Conversation Pieces but – well, perhaps having striven my whole life to be Interesting, it is time that I admire the virtues of the boring.

And there is the greater issue of balance. It is inappropriate to wear a ten dollar watch when you ask for a job that pays a hundred thousand dollars a year. It is equally inappropriate to wear a watch that costs that whole year’s salary. You must match the one to the other.

This was driven home to me in an interview I had in late October. I wore my grandfather’s steel Omega, which is a simple and unprepossessing thing that did not cost much by the standards of 1972 and would fetch less on eBay now. Vide:

omgenssdat

(A simple Omega on a bracelet. 1967. Keeps great time.)

But this was an interview for an entry-level position at the local branch of a bulge-bracket firm, where (I later discovered) the attorneys wore polos and jeans. By the end of the interview, that plain stainless band had grown into a strand of sapphires. Perhaps it did not broadcast that my ambitions were inappropriate for the position – but it probably reinforced those facts when they became apparent in the interview – and it certainly did nothing to counteract them – 0 for 3.

Right after that, I went out and spent $30 on a Timex. Which the next time I interview at a place where I need to hide my ambitions, or even my abilities, I shall wear. See e.g.

oqrdksn

(Timex Highlander. Quartz. In retrospect, closer to a pilot’s watch than are many modern fleigers. 39mm.)

But it is very pleasant to dream about other watches. Particularly as I have just come off aforesaid opiate-laced and internet-facilitated binge of watch-admiring. Here, then, is a gallery of those watches that I think are especially pretty. And some free-floating commentary.

  1. IWC – Mark XVIII Pilot’s Watch

Cost: $3200.

 

iwc-xviii

IWC stands for International Watch Company. They were founded by an Englishman to supply cheap watches to Birmingham, back when Switzerland neither dominated the market nor tended to produce a quality product. Their reduction to an acronym, and addition of the town of origin, are probably to counteract the blandness and the non-Swissness of the name.

IWC was one of the companies which supplied pilot’s watches to the Luftwaffe during the Second World War. They have continued to produce this watch, with a few small improvements over the years. The result is a study in functional elegance. The numbers are large and legible. The hands are large, clear, and glow in the dark. The date is present, but no other complications. The power reserve is comfortably in excess of a day and a night. The crystal is synthetic sapphire, the strongest and most resistant to scratches, and is anti-glare coated on both sides. It is water resistant to 150 feet, altitude resistant including to drops in air pressure, and is lined with a soft iron core to prevent magnetic interference. Finally, it is elegant in its simplicity – could easily be worn with a suit, and with just about anything else as well.

 

2. Rolex – Explorer II

Cost: $6750

rolex-explorerii

I must say that the better part of my antipathy towards the Rolex derives from its ubiquity. Rolex makes almost a million watches a year – almost two orders of magnitude more than some of the boutiques. Since the 1920s they have spent lugubrious amounts on advertising. They are the dream watch of someone who puts their James Bond DVDs on a bookshelf. They are the most expensive thing you can purchase at a mall.

But their fame is not undeserved. Rolex makes an exceptionally good watch. They keep very accurate time and require minimal upkeep or repairs. Their design is simple and straightforward – even in ever-so-slightly outré designed like the Explorer II. They can also be worn with just about anything, from Bahama shorts to a boardroom – the stainless steel and white dial matching well to suits of white, black, and grey. This watch has a two-day reserve, particularly luminous hands, and a 24-hour hand to mark a second time zone. It is notably water- and shock-proof. Also, how goddam well-balanced the design.

 

3. Junghans – Max Bill chronoscope

Cost: $1500

junghans-maxbill2

The ultimate Bauhaus watch. Its elegance derives from minimalism. The bezel is nothing but a frame to the face. It has less going on in a chronograph than do most watches that simply show the time. It is one of the few watches that is modern without being complicated – making it not just modern but Modernist. And yet it is a bit stiff, moreso even than many dress-watches; like Modernism, it declares itself to exist at right angles to tradition, and yet carries the same principles to a different aesthetic. I cannot imagine it being worn with a suit, let alone Black Tie; more with a grey turtleneck and rimless glasses, by the professor who once dedicated a journal article to their Moleskine.

 

4. Hamilton – American Classic, black dial

Cost: $700hamilton-american-classic-automatic-black-dial-men_s-watch-h40505731

The Hamilton Watch Company made timepieces for railroad conductors. The name is forever associated with accuracy and with America. Which is why, thirty years after they went bankrupt, the name was bought out by the Swatch Group.

And let us not disdain it for its lack of pedigree. Nor the ubiquity of its movements – the Swiss ETA group manufactures movements for millions of Swiss watches a year, across dozens of houses. This is a perfectly fine watch on the inside. And on the outside is it clean and symmetrical, almost deco. But it is just a bit too flashy. The contrast between the gloss black and the radial gold is just a bit too sharp. This is a watch designed, not for dress, but for fashion – and as such is not appropriate in business, and is probably not appropriate at anything which is not a party sponsored by Ketel One.

 

5. Vacheron Constantin – Malte, black dial

Cost: $20,000.

vacheron-constantin

It is instructive to compare the previous watch to this one. The matte finish transforms the watch from the childish to the luxurious. It is still a bit flash, but of a sort that says dashing as opposed to dapper. This is the watch equivalent of how you want to look when you wear a tuxedo. With white gold on a black face it is even more formal; with yellow gold on a white face, it could be worn to an audience with the Queen. It is also made by Vacheron-Constantin, who along with Patek Philippe is one of the two truly great watchmakers in the world. This watch is handmade, from handmade components, made in-house, and designed to last for generations. And it better, at this price.

 

6. IWC – Da Vinci

Cost: $4,000

iwc-davinci

This watch appears to have been conceived when a Malte and a Max Bill got drunk at an eiswein tasting, went back to the chalet, and did some fuckin’. It has a mere-mortal quality with the Vacheron very specifically does not have, and yet a suaveness which say that there will be dancing to live jazz after dinner, rather than quietly listening to old Miles Davis LPs in someone’s faculty housing. And yet it would be a difficult watch to wear to work, or really anywhere that is not Manhattan. Maybe Chicago? Maybe in 1923.

 

7. Patek Philippe – Calatrava

Cost: $23,700.

patek

This is another fusion of the ancienne et la moderne. The traditional Calatrava is white-faced with thin hour markings, the classic dress watch. This particular Calatrava is practically Googie in comparison. It manages to retain the hauteur of Patek while still having a bit of modernism. Modernism, but not simplicity – less deco than nouveau. This is a marvelous watch, seamlessly blending class with chic, and as such it could be worn to the opera and nowhere else.

 

8. Audemars Piguet – Royal Oak 41mm Perpetual Calendar, Rose Gold, Blue Dial

Cost: $84,000.audemars-royaloak

Audemars Piguet is often classed with Patek and Vacheron as an ultraluxury wristwatch, the best of the best. Their position is somewhat weakened by their tendency to cover their shit in diamonds and sell it to NBA stars. Likewise, their release of twenty thousand dollar quartzes. However, their flagship Royal Oak, with its hard-angle bezel and visible screws, remains an icon of watchmaking. In steel, with a black face, no Rolex has ever been so masculine. In yellow gold, with a blue face, it achieves an almost incomprehensible fusion of strength and the lapidary. Here is pictured the Perpetual Calendar, which tells the time, the day of the week, the week of the month, the month of the year, the phase of the damned moon, and around the edge the week of the year. Too complicated? Perhaps. But one hundred years ago this would have been a marvel, not of jewelry, but of technology – and there’s something to be said for buying that and strapping it to your wrist.

 

9. Jaeger-Lecoultre – Geophysique Universelle

Cost: $10,400

jaeger-worldtimer

There are several Worldtimer watches. None are perfect. The Vacheron makes one feel like a delegate to Versailles, watching their great Empire sieve away; the Montblanc, like a nervous vampire; the Breitling like an air traffic controller; the Tissot like a wall-clock; the Patek like a really nice wall-clock; the Breguet like an African Explora From Bora Bora Bora. The Jaeger makes one feel like more of a monitor than a traveler, looking down from some kind of polar Fortress of Solitude at all the fun being had in the world – or at least in the northern hemisphere. But at least it allows one to carry a knowledge of the vastness of the globe, right upon one’s little body. Even if that globe is a fucking Mercator projection.

 

10. Omega – Ploprof

Cost: $6,900.

ploprof

There are many ultra diver’s watches. The Rolex Deepsea is rated to 12,800 feet (the human body, not so much). The Plongeur Professional (professional diver) (“plo prof”) is rated to the already incredible 4,000 feet, which would more than allow it to have been worn by the world’s deepest divers on their record-setting dives. This watch has the standout design of being a dial embedded in a piece of metal, looking almost more like a baseplate compass than a wristwatch. But it is unique, and its uniqueness derives from functionality rather than some designer doing a bong rhip and wondering “how can i unique?” Still I would feel silly wearing it when I was not a diver – but then, I feel the same way about people wearing Subbys.

 

11+12. Ulysse Nardin – Marine Chronometers

Cost: $18,000 for gold, $7,000 for steel.ulyssenardin

It is so lovely, and so gay. It is a fop’s idea of what The Sea once was. If a Royal Oak Offshore is the watch that some douche changes into when he gets behind the helm of his power boat, then this is the watch for the man who has bought a tugboat. Still, purely as an example of design aesthetic, it really is a thing of beauty.

072ad8a5a89adba65aee885884d3eaac99a18e26

Same as above, but I do not want to beat it up and take its lunch money.

 

 

13. Tudor – Heritage Chrono, on nato

Cost: $2,700.

tudor-heritage

Tudor is the second brand of Rolex. But with the success and ubiquity (and relatively low prices) of Daddy, Baby here does not much have a niche. Rather their only standout model is this Heritage Chrono, which from its font to its colors is almost impossibly 1961. This is the watch that would have been given by a German banker to his lover the Italian bomber pilot, worn proudly with a smart uniform and while riding a three-speed along the Riviera. It is, shall we say, a niche occupant – but it represents a very particular place and time, and that is not nothing.

 

14. Kobold – Spirit of America

Cost: $2000.

retina_soa-auto-front1

The SoA is the first watch made entirely in America since the close of the Hamilton Watch Company in the 60s. It is a very well-made watch. The crown is protected and also moved to the left side, to prevent accidental adjustments. The face and hands are luminous. But it is less elegant than a pilot’s watch, the face flashier, the focus not on the time but on the brand. This is a watch for a White House intern, or an engineer in his mid 50s who’s decided to get in shape and have an affair.

 

15. Archimede – 45mm Fleiger

Cost: $655

archimede

 

16. Bell & Ross – Guynemer WWI

The elegant simplicity of a trench-watch, married to the ornate character of a trench-watch. Difficult to say that this aesthetic has not been refined, as into the fleiger & the modern sport.

Cost: $2750

 

bell-ross-guynemer-wwi

 

17. Breguet – Marine Tourbillon

Since the advent of quartz (viz. battery-driven) watches, spending more than $30 on a watch (even an analog-faced watch) has become an exercise in anachronism. In short: if you are buying a ‘spensive watch, you are really only buying it for the bits inside. So it seems reasonable that you would want to know this fact, or even advertise it, by putting said bits on the outside. And, due to the ‘advertise it’ factor, the amount that a watch is ‘skeletonized’ is directly proportional to its price. The black-tie affairs of the elites of this world are adorned with ticking clockwork, beating tourbillons and pulsating gyroscopes – just like your watch!

Or, to put it another way: SIX FIGURE STEAMPUNK.

Cost: $125,000

breguet-marine-tourbillon

18. Breguet – 5327 Perpetual Calendar

I was intrigued by the superabundance of dials. It’s one of the few watches that really looks complicated – but of course, that’s because all other watches strive for elegance, and simplicity.

Cost: $32,000

breguet-perpetual

19. Bremont – ALT1-WT world timer

Bremont specializes in watches for military and related persons, especially military commercial airline pilots. Their watches are extremely well-made, highly durable, and very pretty. The worldtimer dial is activated by the button at 8:00, so you can rotate it to set the GMT-offset of your choosing. Bremont also uses color better than about any other watchmaker, from what I have seen.

Cost: $4,200 grey market

bremont-blue

20. Bremont – Chrono

I want to wear this with tweed.

Cost: $4,000
bremont-green21. Cartier – Drive

The kind of Classical sensibility that one can only associate with the British. This watch begs to be worn on a jaunt up a country road, in a touring car, with the top down. Or at the kind of orgy where people keep their smoking-jackets on.

Cost: $5,000
cartier-driver

22. Cartier – Tank

Basted on the famous Santos-Dumont, the first purpose-built wristwatch. It’s mode is Sophisticated. I think it would be hard to pull off as something more than An Attempt To Be Sophisticated. Still, it is lovely in its simplicity.

Price: $5,000 (for a steel XL)

cartier-tank
23. Frederique Constant – Heartbeat

You see the winding-spring pulsate. A hint of skeletonization; a poor man’s tourbillon; a clear case-back worn upside-down; something to stare at when you’re high.

Cost: $1,200 to $10,000, depending upon variables I cannot quite ascertain.
fred-heartbeat24. Movado – Calendoplan

I am not immune to the charms of Panda-style watches. Nor to the charms of a quartz Daytona.

Cost: $489

movado-definitely-not-daytona

25-27. Patek “Nautilus” – Piaget “Polo” – Audemars “Royal Oak”

Because the luxury brands wanted their own Rolexes.

Cost: $20 to 30 k

patek-nautilus
piaget-polo-s
royal-oak-steel-and-black

28. Timex – Waterbury Chrono, Beige

If my father did not wear this to summer camp in the early 60s, then that is something which badly needs to be rectonned.

Cost: $70
timex-waterbury-chrono

29. Tutima – Saxon One

A watch that makes me want to purchase graphing paper.

Cost: $6500

tutima-saxon-one-chronograph

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~ by davekov on 20 December 2016.

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