Watch Snob Scolds Three Readers Who Don’t Trust Their Own Tastes
Watch Snob on Imperialist Watches, Why First Loves Matter and the GMT Master
Recently I traded my JLC Reverso Ultrathin Duo in steel for a rose gold Parmigiani Toric (not the current version, but the previous iteration from the 2000s — the same as the 36mm Memory Time, but in 40mm). I am now doubting if I have made the right decision and I need your advice.
The Reverso was a fine watch, but it was a choice of the mind, not heart. I read many endorsements of the Reverso, but for me that watch was boring. It was too minimalistic and too austere. The associations with British polo players did not add to its value, but reduced it: I don’t think that imperialism is a good thing. Moreover, I felt that JLC as a brand was too much of an underdog — making movements for brands of higher stature (stronger brand) was too similar to my own situation of a salaried employer toiling my soul off to enrich my asset-owning bosses and getting paid relative peanuts for the value I created.
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So when I saw the Toric it promised me a different life — the life of a creative independent, who was perhaps also underpaid (Parmigiani’s value retention is poor), but was free nonetheless. The Toric design was inspired, reminding both of classical architecture and the wildly creative models from Patek and Audemars from the 1950-60s (the high point of design). The finishing of the watch seems of very high level and the warm rose gold color gives more comfort that the austerity and coldness of the Reverso’s steel.
Could you please comment? Have I made a good trade, horologically speaking?
This is an exceedingly poignant missive; you seem to feel that you have made a change in your professional life which, for you, had some profound spiritual ramifications as well. It is an interesting conundrum, this one of whether one’s pay is fair for the labor; there are of course obvious examples of the less fortunate exploited by those more fortunate or powerful (often the same thing, which is the wicked way of the world) but in many cases the matter is less black and white.
Those who own or have begun companies may feel with some justice that as without them the firm would not exist in the first place, they are rightly entitled as founders and owners to the lion’s share of the spoils. Those who labor, may likewise feel with some justice, that they are compelled by circumstances beyond their control, to do so for a pittance. It would seem if I read you aright that you have decided to make your own fortune for which I can commend you but if you were rewarded well enough by your employers to afford Jaeger perhaps you were not so badly off after all (Jaeger-LeCoultre is hardly a bread-and-water diet).
In any case, I can’t think why you wouldn’t feel you have made a good trade. The Toric has the better-finished movement, it is a design classic in its own right and does not have the ghost of the Raj clinging to its skirts. You flat-out assert that you prefer it to the Reverso, which is the only standard that matters; this is not a situation where you made an uninformed decision, and are in danger of finding out something down the road that will make you regret the watch. Enjoy it, and the heady wine of freedom, seasoned with the appetite sharpening savour of (relative) poverty.
Who’s Wearing Your Watch?
I have been searching for a gentleman’s wristwatch. I was not looking for a dive watch, pilot’s watch, dress watch or any other ‘_____ watch’. I was searching simply for “a watch about which someone actually appeared to give a damn,” to quote an old column of yours. I also wanted this watch to be sized like a gentleman’s wristwatch of days gone by, which is to say somewhere between 33mm and 36mm across and up to 10mm or so thick.
My search led me to a plethora of great watches that nearly fit the terms of my search, but didn’t quite make it in one category or another. In the end, I found only one watch currently produced that fit my (admittedly ambitious) criteria: the Rolex Oyster Perpetual 34mm.
I do adore this watch, but I do not wish to face the disgusted glances from strangers and the constant ribbing from friends and family that I will inevitably receive for buying and wearing a Rolex. I have never wanted a watch of mine to function as an egregious display of wealth, so I have avoided ‘the crown’ for years. Does the Snob know of any watches that both fit the terms of my search and do not bear the cursed crown?
You aver that you “adore” the Oyster Perpetual, why should you give a damn about what others think, if you have searched high and low and have lit upon a watch that fits you to a T and about which no one who actually knows anything about watches, will see as having been a regrettable decision. Come now, good sir. You must take yourself in hand here. It is not your friends and family who will be wearing that watch; it is you, and if you allow yourself to be browbeaten into buying something you don’t actually love, just to satisfy other people’s tastes and views, you will richly deserve the miserable dissatisfaction that will dog you every time you put the watch on.
I will tell you bluntly, I have come to know many people in the watch industry over the years and you would absolutely be shocked at how many of them wear a watch made by their company at work, and a Rolex for pleasure the rest of the time.
Of course there are other watches I could recommend, but I would bet you fifty thousand Nivarox balance springs that if I did make such a recommendation, and you follow it, you would still be miserable because the fact of the matter is, it is still just another fellow’s opinion, not yours, and when it comes to spending thousands of dollars on something you are buying for your own pleasure, yours is the only opinion that matters in the end. Screw up your courage; be a man, not a mouse.
Go With Your Gut
As a long time reader of you I found it time to submit my own dilemma seeking your advice. I am in my mid 20’s, graduated from college and am working in my career field, which happens to be Aviation. I am a working pilot and I am relishing in the adventures it brings me. For many years I have been a watch enthusiast, scanning the internet constantly to feed my everlasting addiction to the Swiss mechanical world.
My dilemma is this: I’d like to purchase a watch that represents the work I put in to get myself as far as I have with flying, and to bring this new watch along with me throughout my career. I feel lost when it comes to making this decision, perhaps due to the fact that I have made it such a big deal.
My admiration for the chronograph movement is as high as one can have, not to mention its usability on the flight deck. I should point out that I already have an Omega Speedmaster Professional (145.022-76) which I have worn almost without a break for 4 years. Other watches I have acquired and since sold: Omega Seamaster 300 coaxial and Tudor BB 36. I have looked into many options including: IWC Pilot Chronograph Spitfire (way too thick!), Breitling Chronomat 41 Airborne (too much bling), Rolex Explorer 36mm, Rolex GMT Master and Master II Coke 16710 (nice ones are over $10k) and lastly Zenith el Primero 38mm (not a ‘pilots’ watch).
Obvious choice seems like the GMT but in the back of my mind are a few things; everyone has one, the 16710 are trading for more than ceramic ones retail, it’s not a chronograph and lastly people at work will see “Rolex”. My budget isn’t unlimited but I don’t have a problem with saving up for 10K. What to do?
Sometimes the obvious choice is the watch (or at least the kind of watch) that you should obviously choose. I think at this juncture it is worth considering the type of aviation you do — since you say you are on the flight deck, I assume you are flying something multi-engine in civil aviation (I have never met a military pilot shy about saying he was one) and that you probably cross time zones at least occasionally, in the line of duty. The GMT complication quite literally exists because of your profession; without the advances in aviation and aerial navigation, which took place in the period — oh, let us say, 1925 to the mid-1950s — the GMT watch would probably never have been invented, as the need for one hinges almost entirely on the rapidity with which one can find oneself thousands of miles, and several time zones at least, from one’s point of departure these days.
Now that in mind, there are several options other than a Rolex. Grand Seiko, for instance, makes several GMT watches which will not seem to your friends and colleagues like an exercise in conspicuous consumption, for instance. The Tudor GMT seems to have had some initial teething problems but those appear to have been addressed, and it represents essentially all of the utility of a Rolex GMT Master, at a fraction of the price and again, without the risk of being tarred and feathered by the populace for a plutocrat.
There are GMT chronographs but many (perhaps most, I have not systematically surveyed the offerings) do not offer a jumping independent local time hour hand, which is the salient feature of the Grand Seiko, Rolex and Tudor watches I mention. And as well, they tend to be rather bulkier than not.
I would suggest a simple, true GMT watch as your first foray into the field — while the timing functions of a chronograph are indeed useful, there are few timing situations which cannot reasonably be addressed by a GMT watch. And by the way, if it is a Rolex you want I would suggest just buying one, and to hell with what other people think. It is your watch and your professional brethren have been wearing them everywhere there are airplanes and, moreover, to the Moon and back as well (several Apollo astronauts brought personal GMT Masters with them). Buy what you want, not what you think others will approve of.
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This post was syndicated from askmen.com