Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The Watch Watch.

Lately I’ve become somewhat infatuated with watches. This sounds somewhat ridiculous because until 6 months ago I never even wore watches on any sort of consistent basis. I have discovered at this point that’s for two main reasons: 1. The only watch I had at that time, although I like it, has a bracelet that pinches hairs on my wrist when I wear it, so it’s sort of an annoying experience to wear it. 2. Said watch is a pretty good watch, but it’s not a watch that I love. Those who know me know I’m the type of guy who’s really passionate about things. I am typically borderline obsessive (see: cars), passionately negative (see: most top-40), or purposefully indifferent. So you can imagine that in the case of a watch, or “man jewelry” as some on the internet would say, I’m not likely to wear it often unless I’m really into it.

My wedding band is red gold. Somehow, months ago, I became someone fixated on the idea of getting a watch that matched my wedding band, so I began eyeballing red/rose gold watches (brief editorial note: gold is “yellow.” There are variations including red/pink/rose which have varying degrees of silver and copper mixed in which give the gold a general copper-color hue, which I love. I have discovered that although my wedding band is called red gold, most of the time this color is referred to as “rose” gold, although it means the same thing). I shortly discovered that watches made with solid rose gold are hellishly expensive. However, on Overstock.com, I discovered a wide variety of watches that are rose-gold plated. After a couple months of deliberation, I wound up purchasing a skeleton watch by Stuhrling with automatic movement, rose-gold plating, and a black leather strap. And I must say, the watch has exceeded my expectations and I actually like it quite a bit. I’ll get to the gripes in a moment, but I wear it every day, unless I’m wearing one of the other watches I bought – a Fossil with a brown strap to match brown shoes or a white Casio G-Shock to accompany gym clothes. The gist, though, is that I now wear a watch all the time.

Here’s the thing about the Stuhrling, which I wear the majority of the time: for starters, the watch was well worth the price for the materials and craftsmanship. In other words, the watch was on the order of $150 and it has real gold plating, self-winding movement, etc. That’s not a lot of money for a lot of functionality. As far as materials are concerned, though, the crystal isn’t of supremely high quality, unsurprisingly. In almost any light condition I can detect imperfections in the crystal, which amount to “cloudy lines” here and there, which are annoying. For the movement, I was actually shocked and surprised to see the second hand “swoop” through the dial Rolex-style when I first fired it up, as opposed to “ticking.” However, the pendulum on the back of the case, which is behind the kinetic powering of the watch, apparently doesn’t do a well enough job of powering the watch under normal wear. In practice, I actually have to physically wind the watch on a daily basis using the knob on the right of the case, until I see the wound spring in the skeletal movement get tight enough to know the watch will be okay for the rest of the day. This problem isn’t the end of the world by any means, but it’s a gentle reminder that my watch isn’t exactly the highest quality piece.

Regardless, I’m still a big fan of my Stuhrling and can without hesitation say that based on my experience, I’d recommend this brand (from Overstock) to anyone looking for a well-presented, perfectly functional watch that looks great. On the same token, I’ve become incredibly intrigued by the concept of watch craftsmanship, movement, and rarity. It’s fascinating to me, for example, that many watches like Rolex, Omega, Hublot, Tag, etc. simply do not lose much value over their life span. Plus, if you never want to get your money out of it, at some point in your life you can pass the piece down as a family heirloom, and it carries the sentimental value. A messageboard I often frequent had a heated debate about whether a watch is worth more than $500, the conceptual argument being that watch movements are mostly similar, and otherwise you’re just paying for name and/or materials (gold, platinum, etc.). Ultimately, there is no argument to be had here since value is in the eye of the beholder and if a watch sells for $20,000, it’s because the purchaser simply valued the materials and craftsmanship of that piece at that price; it’s really no different than those that spend excessive amounts of money on Lamborghinis, diamonds, speed boats, etc.

So, I’m thinking about buying a Patek Phillipe because they are only $20,000 and I think that it would be a good investment for…admit it, I had you going there for a second!

Seriously, though, clearly I don’t have the money for something like that nor do I personally value one watch for that much money, especially since I’m obsessive about matching and could probably never pull off just one. However, I have become intrigued enough by the craftsmanship and materials to start watching the prices on some watches that have solid red/rose gold in their construction, and hopefully I’ll be able to save up and pick up one such example in a year or so. I figure that if I’m still this interested by the time I’ve saved up the money, the purchase will make sense and it will have been well-thought out.

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