Before I jumped into the watch hobby, I had no idea there was such an in-depth world to explore. My exposure to watches was severely limited, and I had only heard of big brands like Omega, Rolex, and Seiko.
Even then, I only knew Omega as the Olympics watch, Rolex as the rich baller’s watch, and Seiko as the huge watch company. I never paid much attention to them and brushed them off as luxury items that were wholly unnecessary.
However, I slowly began to understand the appeal of watch collecting after one of my friends became interested in watches and started sharing his love of them with me. These are pieces of art and engineering that tell a story. Although my watch journey is still in its infancy, I’m excited to see where this hobby will take me.
My Introduction to Watch Collecting
Growing up, I was never exposed to watches. My family was extremely frugal and viewed any type of watch as a superfluous item that held no pragmatic value. I mean, they weren’t completely wrong. Mechanical watches are less precise than their electronic counterparts and are usually more fragile. Modern technology has also allowed timekeeping to become extremely precise with quartz and atomic time.
So what’s the point of these expensive mechanical watches that sometimes can cost as much as a house? For me, it’s about appreciating the romanticism and designs.
My first encounter with mechanical watches isn’t romantic or anything special though. I just saw a watch as a natural part of any modern man’s wardrobe, and acquired an Orient Symphony II through SlickDeals for a reasonable price.
At this point, I had no knowledge of watches at all, I was just drawn towards its dressier design with simple aesthetics. After the purchase, I didn’t think much of it and would just wear it during some more formal occasions. It wasn’t until I read about the history of watches and discovered the community of watch enthusiasts that I came to understand what watches could really mean.
In hindsight, the Orient Symphony II is still a handsome watch but based on my current preferences, it’s a bit too large for my taste at 41mm. You can read my more in-depth review here.
My Current Collection
There’s an eternal debate on which is better: finding the one perfect grail watch, or building an entire collection of more versatile but affordable pieces. I would consider myself in the former category at the moment and don’t expect to see that changing anytime soon. We’ve written a great article on this subject, broken down into two parts (part 1 and part 2).
For me, the appeal of owning just one watch is found in building a stronger bond with that watch every day. A daily watch makes a much better heirloom than one that spent most of its time in a box. When it is eventually passed down, the recipient will also feel a much greater sentimental value associated with the watch and the moments it’s enjoyed. It will truly become your watch, with its own unique story and provenance.
My current daily wearer is the Seiko Cocktail Time, reference SARB065. I was initially drawn to the juxtaposition of its simplicity in all aspects, with the exception of the guilloche pattern found on the dial. The sunburst surface of the dial reflects light in very dynamic ways keeps me in awe when I examine it.
You can find my more in-depth review of the Cocktail Time here.
The Meaning of Watches
I think of a watch as a piece of art that carries a lot of emotional value. It’s a universally recognized item that can potentially mark a significant event in one’s life.
An Omega Speedmaster for getting that promotion at work, a vintage Rolex Datejust passed on from generation to generation, or even just a simple Casio watch to commemorate a graduation. These are all milestones that can be celebrated and immortalized in the form of a watch.
I also love the idea of starting a tradition of passing down my watches as heirlooms. Or just giving a watch as a way of showing my appreciation and gratitude for a special person in my life. I may be over-romanticizing, but I find that this is the best aspect of watches for me. It serves as a reminder of precious memories while it sits on your wrist, looking good.
In the Future
My preferences have changed little as I’ve delved deeper into the watch world. I still prefer dressier watches but I’ve come to understand that there is something to be said about the importance of durability for a daily wearer. However, I’d still like the watch to exude a sense of simplicity and elegance. Based on these constraints, I think my next watch would have to fit the following criteria:
- Simplicity: just three hands, no date complication
- GADA: can be worn on any occasion, durable, and at least 100m water resistant
- Size: 40mm or less to fit my 6.25″ (16cm) wrist
It also probably couldn’t be a dive watch, since I just generally don’t like the aesthetic. I’d also steer away from the Rolex Explorer I. It’s way too overdone as a GADA watch and I don’t like the look of Arabic numerals on dressier watches.
I plan on continuing to wear my SARB065 for a while, but I expect my next watch to be a Rolex or a Grand Seiko. I adore GS dials and the quality of their craftsmanship is truly unparalleled at the price point. As for Rolex, I love their heritage as tool watches and their commitment to the robustness of their timepieces.
At the moment, my favorite Grand Seiko is a piece released late last year as part of their Japan Seasons collection. Paying tribute to the nature of time, GS released four new watches as part of its Heritage collection, each one celebrating a different season.
The watch in question is the SBGA413, released for Spring and dubbed Shunbun: The Vernal Equinox. The pink dial of this model is meant to capture the spirit of the fleeting Sakura blossom season in Japan.
This watch also features Grand Seiko’s signature movement technology, Spring Drive. Though I’m not a huge fan of the placement of the power reserve indicators on the 9R65 caliber, the texture and color of this dial are just too amazing to ignore. The exquisite detail applied when making this watch is clearly evident.
Both of these watches have a rich history associated with them. The Oyster Perpetual is the purest expression of the revolutionary Oyster case introduced in 1926. The Air-King was initially released in the midst of World War II and modern Air-Kings pay tribute to the spirit and tenacity of the British Royal Air Force.
I enjoy the simple aesthetic of these watches and the multiple dial variations available. They aren’t too sterile and tick all the boxes I listed above. If I had to pick just one, I’d probably go for the clean black dial variation of the 114300 with luminous stick markers pictured below.
So which watch will be my next? I’ll have to try them all on before I make such a big decision! While some might find my taste to be a bit basic, I stand by my choices. After all, my watch collection is a reflection of myself. Isn’t that what’s most important?
If you have a story or favorite watch to share, I’d love to hear it. Leave a comment and let’s talk watches!