Watch Snob Uncovers Why Erotic Complications Are So Unstimulating

Watch Snob on Sex, Steel and the Moonphase

Watch Snob Looks Into Why Switzerland Is the Least Sexy Country in Europe

Erotic What Now? 


In a previous column, you discussed erotic watches and answered a question about the Perrelet Erotic watch. I am interested in your thoughts on erotic repeaters and strikers. These watches generally use automatons for their complication. These would include the erotic hour strikers from Ulysee Nardin and the Piece Unique Erotic Minute repeaters from Blancpain. In particular, the Blancpain seems quite captivating, offering an elegant dial with an intriguing case back.

Your take would be most interesting.

To be utterly unsparingly honest, erotic watches both fascinate and repel me. They are certainly and undeniably part of the history of Swiss watchmaking and they reflect all sorts of things — Calvinism, I suppose, and the deep discomfort which human sexuality produces in religiously repressive cultures, and the desire no matter the circumstances, to maintain some sense of connection to the deep and powerful current of sensuality upon which the propagation of the human species depends. So all that is perfectly all right. 

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The problem is that the Swiss are generally absolutely terrible at making anything sexy; they can be relied upon to botch it. The French and the Italians excel at it; the English are nearly as bad as the Swiss; the Germans seem to be unable to make anything sexy without also making it menacing; about the Japanese collective expressions of the erotic, the less said the better. But the Swiss, among the civilized nations of the world, take second place to no one in making the immersion of the human psyche into the realm of Dionysious, stupefyingly banal and dull. 

The result is that so-called erotic complications are generally about as erotic as a highway accident. They are generally extremely inartistic — the gleeful salaciousness of erotic art and writing at its best, is absent and in its place we generally have figures which look as if they are victims of some sort of paralytic rictus, pumping in and out of some orifice or other with about as much enthusiasm for the task at hand as a group of prisoners picking up trash along a motorway. Blancpain is a bit better than most in this respect, I will allow, but even there I would prefer to get simple fine watchmaking from the Swiss, and leave sexy to the people who are good at it.


Looking for a Steel


I’m a huge fan of yours and have been following your column from Madrid for sometime. I have a modest watch collection that includes an Omega Speedmaster, which I wear on a leather strap and use daily, together with a Breitling Seawolf (gifted for my 18th) which I now rarely use.

I am looking for an elegant steel watch and have been thinking of buying a second hand Audemars Piguet 14790ST. Truth be told, I have been in love with Royal Oaks for some time, and now that I can finally afford one, albeit second hand, I am very tempted to buy it. What are your thoughts on particular Royal Oak? Is is worth buying in terms of movement or should I wait, save up a bit more and buy a newer 37mm version (15450ST.OO.1256ST.020)?

This is an interesting problem. The 14790ST has a perfectly nice movement in it — a self winding caliber from Jaeger-LeCoultre which is not only an objectively worthwhile movement, but also a representative of a long-standing relationship between the two firms. The 15450ST.OO.1256ST uses the Audemars Piguet in-house caliber 3120, which debuted to much fanfare in 2003 and which I have heard, over the years, praised by watchmakers as one of the best high-end automatic movements being made in Switzerland today. 

The difference between the two watches cosmetically is not great — diameters are 36mm and 37mm, for the older and newer watches respectively — so unless that minute difference is meaningful to you (and it might be) it boils down to whether you would prefer a slightly older watch with a heritage movement that symbolizes a long-standing relationship between two of the great houses of the Vallée de Joux, or a watch with a movement that represents an historic moment for Audemars Piguet, in terms of its production of its own, in-house self winding movement.

In this case, I would tend to prefer the former — it is probably letting yourself in for some service costs sooner than if you had the more modern movement, but it has a certain old-school charm to it which is perhaps less present in the newer watch (those models for all their glitter and iconic design, have always struck me as a bit too chilly for their own good).

If you are really going to buy a modern, current production Audemars Piguet watch based on the movement, I feel the thing to do is just to hold out for a Jumbo, which has the caliber 2121 — a truly refined movement, and one with more elegance than either the JLC caliber, or the in-house caliber 2120. This is letting yourself in for a considerably greater expense but of the three, it is in my view the most attractive option overall. 


Unmitigated Moonphase


I’ve been an avid reader of your column for a long time and I’d appreciate your advice for my next purchase.

I’ve always appreciated fine watch making and there’s always been 2 brands on my bucket list — A Lange & Sohne and Patek Phillipe. For my next and hopefully not last acquisition, I’m hoping to get a fine timepiece, which I’d hopefully be able to pass on my future kids one day, assuming they’re worthy.

I’ve a daily beater — JLC Master Compressor Chrono which I’ve been wearing for the past 15 years and I hope to get something for special occasions before I settle down (the future missus isn’t a fan of finer timepieces, so I’d better sneak in one first!).

The watches I’m currently considering are as follows.
Patek 5146G
Patek 5712/1A
Lange Saxonia Annual Calendar
Lange 1 Moonphase

The Lange 1 is an iconic symbol and easily recognisable but the dial feels simple in comparison to the other 2 models. At that price range, it doesn’t really justify the cost for the simple complication. I really like the date and pusher on the Saxonia but again it’s not as iconic, at least in my opinion, as the Lange 1. I’m also a big fan of the engraving for Lange although the 3/4 plate which covers most of that beautiful movement, albeit for functional reasons.

On the other hand, there’s the 5146G with the more traditional look. Being a successor to the original annual calendar, the 5035, there’s a lot of heritage to that watch, although I do feel the finishing is lacking in comparison to the Lange. The Nautilus 5712/1A is the other iconic model from Patek which is a classic Genta design and I trust I’d appreciate wearing that even at finer events, if I do manage to source one.

Well, well sir, an interesting quartet of watches, I must allow. Two annual calendars and two complicated watches with date and phase of the moon. These are all in their own way quite respectable, though I think that your assessment of the deficiencies of the Patek, in terms of finish, with respect to the Lange is accurate; Patek does not devote quite the energy to this aspect of watchmaking as Lange, and the two Pateks, I have to be honest, seem a bit lacking to me in terms of finesse. The annual calendar in some contexts, might be a praiseworthy alternative to a perpetual but especially from Patek Philippe, I have never quite been able to see the annual calendar as anything other than a bit of an also-ran; they do such nice perpetuals and have been doing them for so long.

What I think is most interesting about all your choices, however, is that they all show the moonphase. The fact that this is the one common element seems to me to be trying to tell you something — you want a fine watch from a manufacturer with a good name, and with a high level of craft, yes; but there is a streak of romance in your constitution as I see it, and therefore I think you would find the most pure expression of the moonphase, the most satisfying watch.

In this respect the Lange simply outclasses the other choices. The annual calendar, for you, seems rather a distraction. The Lange 1 is as meritorious a watch in terms of horological legitimacy, and its place in horological history, as you could wish and for some reason, their moonphase watches exude a sense of poetry which can sometimes be absent in their other timepieces. I feel that while it is a very striking watch at first glance, you would find it even more appealing as time goes by, and you assess whether your child or children are worthy!

Send the Watch Snob your questions at editorial@askmen.com or ask a question on Instagram with the #watchsnob hashtag.

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