The Watch Snob Says Take Your Time
Watch Snob Says Slow Down You Have Time
The AskMen Acquire team thoroughly researches & reviews the best gear, services and staples for life.
Slow Down You Got Plenty Of Time
Dear Watch Snob,
First off, thank you for your column. It is truly something I look forward to during the week. I’m a 26 year old in high tech sales and I have a problem buying, trading and selling watches on fairly regular basis, due to mainly getting bored with the same watch. With the exception of a Rolex Yachtmaster 16622 (graduation gift) and my vintage Vacheron Constantin ref. 4726 (my grandfather’s watch), I have gone through countless other Rolexes, Breguets, IWCs, and Omegas. That was until I began wearing Jaeger LeCoultre. In the past I owned a few variants of the Master Compressor Chronographs and currently have a Master Compressor GMT Q1738171, which I rather like and is useful for when I travel.
The one watch that I sold and that I truly miss, is a Master Chronograph (Q1538470, with a black dial). This watch was much more refined in my mind than the Compressor Chronos and I dearly want it back. I have the opportunity to buy it back, but I wanted to see what you thought. Is this a watch worth reacquiring? Or I should I hold off and wait for another desire, a Reverso? Thank you for your wisdom!
I can certainly understand why you’d want the Master Chronograph back. It is a beautiful watch, and the kind of chronograph that so many companies seem to struggle to make – classic clarity of execution and unobtrusively good quality construction. The urge to clutter up what could be a very nice simple chronograph with unnecessary design flourishes seems to be irresistible to many companies nowadays – oh, certainly there are some nice reproductions of attractive vintage models out there (usually too thick, and often in too large a diameter but at least they are trying, which is a start). But making a truly modern design – especially of a dress chronograph, which this arguably is – that can stand on its own two feet as a design, and that doesn’t have that one extra detail that messes it up, seems to be a challenge many brands have failed to meet.
With respect to reacquiring the watch, I would say in this case, yes. At 26 you have the means and the energy to be exposed to many watches; good for you, however you are also not really giving yourself any time to find out what it is like to experience the watches you have owned. As a matter of refining your tastes, and getting to know your own mind a bit better, I would strongly suggest slackening your pace of acquisition; you are like a fellow trying to get to know great Burgundy by swallowing as many cups of wine as he can. What you’re doing is a form of gluttony, in other words, and like all forms of gluttony it can be entertaining in a temporary fashion, but like all forms of gluttony, if indulged in for its own sake, it will lead to a coarsening of taste.
Soft Around The Edges
I really like the tonneau design. Neither round, nor rectangular. They are present in majority of Richard Mille’s watches but they are way out of my budget ($20,000), and quite overpriced in my opinion. Other usual suspects would include Franck Muller and Hublot, but from what I gather both are mostly an assembly line with basic movements, and not watchmaking innovators. Other vintage pieces from other brands are generally available in not so daily wear condition. Can you suggest me few options with some haute horlogerie significance?
The word “tonneau” refers to a watch with a barrel-shaped case, and the design originated with Cartier, in 1906 I believe. As such it was one of the very first watch designs specifically intended as a wristwatch (most early wristwatches, from the late 19th century are essentially repurposed pocket watches, often in cuplike leather holders). It is a most elegant and original design – or at least it was in 1906; the design has been used by myriad brands over the years but not always to the fine effect achieved by Cartier.
Cartier does have what amount to tonneau watches in its current collection; I would look at the Tortue simple men’s watches, and also the Drive de Cartier, especially the extra flat model. From other brands, Vacheron has its Malte collection – like everything from Vacheron, lovely watches although a bit expensive for what they are (like everything from Vacheron these days). I would also look at a Breguet. Their Heritage collection is all tonneau cases, and though it may be a bit small for some fellows I have always felt that the ref. 8806, with its moonphase display, is a lovely watch (and to repeat the sad refrain, expensive for what it is … nice watch though).
The Other Engagement Watch (Not A Rolex)
Hi Watch Snob,
Looking for some advice and who better to turn to than yourself!
Unconventionally I am breaking female stereotype and planning on proposing to my boyfriend in the coming months – not with a ring but with a watch. He has a thing for Bell and Ross watches, possibly to do with his love for flying, namely paragliding. However after reading your article and finding out that they don’t actually make the automatic movement I was a little put off. Can you suggest any alternative brands that would be an excellent choice? He’s not much of a Rolex/Tag man, he’s an action adventure kinda guy. I am looking at around 5000 Euro / $5800 budget.
Any help would be massively appreciated! I really want this to be one of the most special things I can do for him!
Well, ordinarily I’d strongly suggest Rolex; an Oyster Perpetual is as solid a piece of watchmaking as you can ask for at that price, and moreover it holds its value well (nothing to sneeze at in this uncertain world). It seems probable however that you already know this, to some extent, and that you also know that Rolex makes pretty much everything in-house, and have decided you’d rather spend your money elsewhere. Besides, if your young man prefers not to wear a Rolex, there is not much point in suggesting you get him one.
For a fellow who loves flying and aviation, one very obvious choice is the Omega Speedmaster Professional; the prices have gone up a bit over the last few years (what hasn’t) but it is still a watch that can be had new for less than six thousand dollars, and a better example of the art of the mid-century sports chronograph, you would be hard pressed to find. If he already knows watches a bit, I think there is an excellent chance it would please him and if he does not, I think he would find it to be, as so many of us have, one of those watches that becomes more and more of a joy to wear, the more you know about its history.
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