The what is pretty simple. I bought a beautiful two tone Breitling for my wife, the first Breitling either of us has ever owned.
But as with most things, the what isn't particularly interesting. The why and the how, that's where things heat up.
It probably should go without saying, but I've bought a lot of watches in my life. Not as many as some here, but a number that is in the high dozens or (God forbid) the low hundreds.
I've bought pricey watches and cheap watches. I've bought Japanese, German, Swiss, American, Chinese. I do not discriminate. I've bought from boutiques, ADs, and grey marketeers alike (with positive and negative experiences across all of them).
I even think I'm pretty good at buying them for gifts. A couple years ago, I bought my wife a Tank Solo in Small, with a black strap for autumn and winter and an orange strap for spring and summer. It has not left her wrist in three years, so I think I did pretty good.
Anyway, a couple months ago, I asked for your collective help in figuring out watch I could purchase for my wife . My criteria.
- Strap monster
- 35mm or smaller
- No diamonds.
- Two tone - Yellow gold preferred but cool with rose gold too.
- Dial colors okay
Preferably under $6000.
And, man did you guys deliver!. All of your advice was wise and extraordinarily helpful (special shout out to @TonyXXX, @flo_of_time, @Velomax, and @MegaBob for answering the prompt very well and very specifically).
But because I am an idiot, I promptly decided to ignore your excellent advice and start just buying watches that I thought might work. This has been, shall we say, a journey.
I feel like it's important to describe who I am trying to buy for. Among her many extraordinary qualities (beauty, brains, and attitude in abundance) is a single flaw; my wife cares exceptionally little for watches. She wears one, she wants it to look good and has little time (pun intended) for the vagaries of complication, water resistance, etc.
In many respects, I admire the hell out of this. It is the attitude of someone who literally has a million better things to do than think about these tiny mechanical objects on our wrists.
Still, I nurse this beautiful little hope that I might find a watch that would fit exactly what she wants and needs, thereby causing her to fall in love with watch collecting as much as I do.
Because, you know, that's totally how that works.
Anyway, the prompt was simple. She has two dress watches already and I wanted to get her a classy sportswatch. Easy right?
Like any responsible human being, I went to a couple of ADs to look at things and promptly found a number of them backordered and thought "You know what? I'm a smart and good-looking watch buying individual. Surely I can find something on the vast store shelf that is the internet that my wife will like."
Let's start simple! A Tissot PRX. Already a watch geek classic and, particularly in the beautiful light blue. Stylish, clean and well proportioned. I even managed to negotiate a nice discount from a grey market seller. How could you go wrong?
I gave it to her two weeks ago.....and she immediately hated it. While she enjoyed the look, she felt the integrated bracelet made the watch feel chunky on her wrist, despite the 35mm diameter. Also, she felt the light blue was entirely too look specific....she wanted something in a far more neutral tone.
Lesson learned: integrated bracelets wear big. She prefers neutral colors. Return label printed and shipped back.
Not one to be deterred, I decided to go with a microbrand this time around, Abingdon Watch and specifically, their Elise GMT.
Cards completely on the table, I absolutely love this watch. It feels exceptionally solid for a quartz, with a very pleasant weightiness. The finish is great in person. Also, hello, GMT complication in a sub 12mm case!
Turns out, she doesn't care about GMTs either. More specifically, the compressor style case simply didn't appeal to her (and she felt it hit her wrist a little oddly) and more pressingly was out of proportion given the 33mm diameter and 12mm height.
Another lesson learned: just because it looks slim to me, doesn't mean it's slim for her. Also, sometimes folks don't care about complications (.....heathens). Return label printed and shipped back.
And then just a couple of weeks ago, the circumstances got thrown for a loop.
You see, because she is the wonderful, accomplished person that she is, she was just promoted to the C-suite of her company (long overdue I might add). An awesome boss lady deserves an awesome boss lady watch.
So now the pressure is really on. Not from her, mind you, she's pretty much convinced that my scrounging around the internet for a watch is lunacy and would be more than satisfied with a card or a nice dinner or a couple hours away from the children. All the pressure is from me, because now the watch is a MILESTONE WATCH, with all of the great weight that that means to a watch nerd.
And you know what? What better to celebrate milestones than Grand Seiko? Zaratsu polishing, High Accuracy Quartz, classic Grand Seiko case design. How could I possibly go wrong?
Armed with this confidence, I picked up an in stock STGF359 from my friendly AD and rushed it home to get her inevitable approval.
And she said, "It looks too much like your watch (SBGA429 Soko Shadow)." Crushed again.
By this time, I had become a bit gun shy. The clerk at the local FedEx had become a sympathetic and familiar face, openly wondering why all these companies couldn't get my order right. I didn't have to heart to tell him the truth.
Dear reader, you have to understand. I am very rarely hesitant about buying watches. I buy first, think later. I spend far more time backwards rationalizing my watch purchases than actually considering them in the first place. That I would even consider stopping or slowing suggests just how lost I felt. We are talking about a serious case of the watch buying yips.
Anyway, in this moment of despair I revisited the old thread and, to hedge my bets, showed her a picture of it just to be certain.
The winner and recipient of my undying thanks is @Pete_NSOW for absolutely nailing the prompt and providing the ultimate watch suggestion.
Pictured straight from the dealer (via a grey marketeer and eBay) is a brand new Breitling Chronomat 32 in Rose gold and Steel, priced at 36% below MSRP. Giving up a two year Breitling warranty doesn't feel like too much of an impact for the level of discount.
She's too modest for a wrist shot, so you get my too large-in-comparison wrist instead.
This watch is honestly gorgeous. The champagne sunburst dial is classy, the crenellated rose gold bezel is interesting without being loud, and the rouleaux bracelet is straight out of the high 80s. I think this is a watch design that will age well over time, largely because of the simplicity of the dial and, contrary to almost every other Breitling I've ever seen, it is quietly elegant. It even matches her jewelry!
Also, thermo compensated super quartz (15 seconds of variation a year) and no crazy chronograph functions so I can't imagine there being too many mechanical glitches along the way.
I still hate their marketing but I really really like this watch. I think this one is a keeper (and thank God too, I don't think I could have dealt with another round of these shenanigans).
And that, folks, is how you go crazy trying to buy a watch.
And, no she doesn't love watches anymore than she did. But she's pretty happy with me.
I'll take it.