Gruppo Gamma

In 1860, a guy named Giovanni Panerai opened a watch store on the streets of Florence. His grandson made some of the first wristwatches in Italy. His great-grandson made the wristwatches used by the Italian combat divers – frogmen – during WWII.

After the war, the former frogmen kept wearing them. They wore them them as a mark of their service – and because they were really good watches. Because of this the Panerai became associated with pride and quality. And also with grey-haired Riviera types, which was the ideal man-type until America invented The Usher. So people began crying for their own Panerai, and forty years later, the company resumed production.

Now a Panerai costs about ten thousand dollars. Because that’s how fucking watches work.

But any student of economics knows that this is a monopoly crying out to be undercut. And that’s also how watches work – for every real Rolex there are three fake ones, and for every fake Rolex there are ten legit watches made by other manufacturers that just haaappen to look 90-95% the same. It’s actually really shocking that this never happened to Panerai. So guess where this story is going.

About two years ago, this young engineer in Singapore decided he wanted a Panerai. But he didn’t want to spend ten thousand dollars on something he could make out of over-the-counter parts and forty cents worth of stainless steel. LIGHTBULB.GIF. Now he has a small company that make watches in the style of the Regia Marina of WWII: Gruppo Gamma. They only make a few hundred watches a year, and they only cost three hundred bucks each.

I really like the way it looks. But it’s also nice to have a watch that is quality, but not dressy – even in the way that sports watches are now too dressy for many situations.

And also, if I do decide to hike the Appalachian Trail, I think this watch will serve to accompany me. It’s extremely water resistant (50 atmospheres) and super luminescent for night-viewing. And since it’s an automatic I’m guessing that 12 hours a day of walking will keep it charged.

I feel a little bad that now I basically have a Knockoff Panerai instead of a Panerai. But I have to keep telling myself that LITERALLY THE ONLY DIFFERENCE IS MONEY. And there might be times in this world where you want to have something solely and entirely because it costs a lot of money. And most people will tell you that watches are like this. But I think I’d rather be the sort of person who chooses a watch because it will tell good time in the situations it’s put into. It’s not even just about quality or not being a douche with money. if I go into a boardroom, I might feel confident if I’m wearing a ten thousand dollar watch. But I’ll feel more confident if I’m wearing the watch that came with me over two thousand miles of trail.


~ by davekov on 6 January 2017.

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