Watches in the Wild (Borrowed Time, Volume 35)

Disclaimer: Battle armor for morning meetings.

This is the thirty fifth in a semi-regular digest of cool watches I happened to see this week.

Past posts in this series have been hashtagged to #watchesinthewild.

As always, my general policy is that I never ask for wrist shots (because approaching strangers and distant acquaintances to talk about watches is already weird enough) so all pictures below are sourced from the internet. People are mostly cool, I try not to annoy them.

So, I have a confession to make.  I definitely did not expect to get to thirty five of these columns.  Eight months of this stuff is a lot of months.  The reasons for this belief in the failure state are four fold.

1. I wasn't entirely certain that WatchCrunch would survive as a social network. Nascent social media tends to have a pretty short shelf life (Go @Max and @WatchCrunch for creating a surprisingly nice place to chat watches).

2. I figured I'd get bored of writing them.  There are only many ways someone can talk about how a watch dial plays with the light.

3. Barring the above, I figured I'd just run out of watches that I recognized.  @HotWatchChick69 has suggested, on occasion, that I only see watches because I live in the Bay Area (I do but I'm not certain this is amazingly relevant San Diego man) and work in private equity (I don't actually but the confusion is understandable).  But even if these were true, I figure I'd just be talking about Rolexes all the time.  Which would be dull as dirt.

4. Finally, I figured everyone would just get tired of them and I don't know that I'd keep on writing just to keep on writing.  That you all keep on reading is both pleasant and baffling.

So, um, thanks?  It's been an honor and a pleasure connecting with so many of you in the comments (and even some of you in person).  To a person, you've been lovely.   I'd like to even think it's been a quiet encouragement to many of you to seek out in person connections with other watch nerds.  We gotta stick together.

At any rate, I continue it be surprised by all the random stuff I see out there.  This is a particularly varied bunch: luxury and affordable, Swiss and Japanese, conglomerate and independent.  They were also spotted in incredibly varied environments from office buildings to children's museums to Chinese restaurants on the water.

I hope you enjoy.

Grand Seiko SBGN021

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Seen on the wrist of a gentleman in a suit while rushing to a meeting.  No conversation but I wish I had had the time.

I was unreasonably happy to see this watch in person and in the wild.  

I absolutely adore the look of this watch and feel of this watch.  The last time I  had this one the wrist, I marveled at sunray lines shooting out of the center of the dial and how comfortable the case felt on wrist.  It's a boxy, short lugged piece with a shape that looks like it was cut from crystal, rather than steel.  Unlike most quartzes, it's not a particularly thin watch, but it's a true blue sports watch with 200m of WR and a ton of built-in shock resistance.  It is deeply comfortable on wrist.

And then there's the 9F quartz movement. I have never hidden my appreciation for Grand Seiko Quartz despite my general prejudice against quartz and ticking seconds hands.  But 9F ain't no mass produced quartz.

There's the typical stuff.  It's hand made by two master craftsman.  Grand Seiko grows its own quartz crystals and it is accurate to 10 seconds a year.  You might never need to set this watch more than once in its entire life.  

But there's more to it.  Typical quartz watches have lighter minute and hour hands than comparable automatics.  This is because automatics are able to generate higher torque than quartz movements.  Grand Seiko installed a dual motor system so that the second hand actually ticks twice per second, creating the necessary torque to turn heavier hands while not expending meaningfully more energy.  They even noticed that most quartz seconds hands seem to bounce around after each tick and installed a hairspring to dampen that bounce.  Each second hand stops dead still after each tick.  All that plus an instantaneous date change at midnight and a jumping local hour hand are just fun watch nerd easter eggs.

If it isn't clear by now, I love this watch.  It's wonderfully rugged yet wonderfully refined and the movement might be the best mass produced quartz movement in history.  

Glycine Combat Sub

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Seen at the Lawrence Hall of Science under magnification on the high powered microscope screen.  I offered that that was one way of getting a macro shot of a watch and the gentleman in question laughed.

I'll break my usual rule of not photographing people's watches just this once because it was already on the big screen!  If you're on here and offended, I'll take it down, but I was tickled by it.  A watch nerd knows his own and you were a great sport.

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The Combat Sub is one of those watches that has something for everyone.  If you're looking for something reminiscent of a Submariner, you've got it.  If you're looking for something that looks different, you have it too.

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FWIW, I think of the Combat Sub as a field watch crossed with a dive watch, with the 24 hour time on the inside track.  I infinitely prefer the versions with the straight (non-Mercedes/lollipop hands).  They are good looking in that military kind of way, fitting for the brand's history (as the better known Glycine Airman was issued in the US Air Force and was on two of the Gemini spaceflight missions in low earth orbit).

As for me, whenever I see the name Glycine, I get flashbacks to my organic chemistry days (which pre date my watch nut days) when the chemical glycine (perhaps better known as amino-acetic acid) was used as a food additive, added to saccharine to counteract the former's bitter aftertaste.  It's mostly used as an animal feed these days and, I believe, was once part of the ingredients list for that great American invention, Sweet n Low.

Which I suppose is rather fitting, given Glycine's Invicta parentage and its discount driven pricing strategy of high MSRPs and deep discounts.  I'm honestly not that fussed by the way that Invicta has played this out...by and large, they are attractive and well designed watches and I haven't heard of too many serious QC related snafus (the lume is a bit sloppy in the macro shot above, but that's not really the sort of thing that bugs me when it's on wrist....or I'd never own a Seiko ever.)

It's a fun watch!

IWC Pilots Chronograph 41

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Seen at the park while on a play date.  It could be the IWC with the in-house movement or the IWC Spitfire Le Petit Prince.  I didn't quite get a close enough look at the subdials to make a definitive determination but I think the size was on the smaller side.

I continue to have trouble distinguishing between IWC models so without the benefit of a conversation I'm generally left guessing.  This is compounded by the fact that there are at least 60 separate models of pilot watches in current production, a bewilderingly large amount for a rather basic flieger look.  

This does not, however, mean that I don't think they're worth buying.  Indeed, I think anyone who argues that you're not giving up anything to a Laco or a Stowa or a Damasko or an Archimede flieger should really strive to spend some time with a Mark XVIII or Mark XX on wrist.  Watch nerds can get bogged down in the mechanics of specs and occasionally forget that finishing, balance, and case design can add to watch value too.  On this, IWC scores top marks.  

It is beautifully finished, excellently balanced on both bracelet and strap (essential given it's over 14mm tall), beautifully proportioned and has a class leading bracelet (hilariously named the EasX-CHANGE System) with the push button micro adjust and contrasting finishing.  Oh and a nicely decorated, inhouse column wheel chronograph movement, the IWC 69385, complete with a open caseback to see it.  For those that might critique the value proposition of IWC, this (at $7200) stands as an excellent counterpoint.  

I think the real question is...do you like fliegers enough to want to spend the incremental money to get those refinements?  

I'm on the fence myself, but I'll applaud you if you are that person.

Black Bay Bronze

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Seen at a conference.  Brief conversation but it didn't seem like he was much of a watch guy, he didn't seem to know that bronze patinated.  Obligatory reference to @thekris on bronze watches.

You know....I think this might be my favorite black bay.  It's weird to say.  I think bronze, by and large, is an inferior metal to make a watch case (particularly a dive watch case) out of.  I don't think patina, by and large, is desirable.  

In most other respects, it is a completely normal 39mm BB58 (with all the pluses and minuses of it).  It is well sized and superbly comfortable on wrist and the T-fit micro adjust is always welcome.  But again, largely bog standard.

Yet, I can't help but enjoy the warmth of this metal, the slightly offbeat applied 3-6-9 markers and everything silly about an obsolete metal in a modern watch.

I had a notion the other day when walking through an art museum and realizing that Rodin cast his sculptures in bronze and those, by and large, have moved past green towards a beautiful enameled black brown color. 

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Could that be how these watches will look in 30 years if well kept?  That would be cool as heck and so much better than the bright green colors that a lot of folks get when they shortcut the process. 

I feel like I need to see examples of well kept and well aged bronze watches.  I'm super curious if it ages that way.

Chrono Swiss regulator Tourbillion 

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Seen on the wrist of a business acquaintance during a dimsum lunch.  No, I wasn't able to actually identify this one by sight, are you nuts?  I asked about it and he mentioned that it was a chrono24 purchase, but not much beyond that.  I will only say, the juxtaposition of this watch and a very down home dimsum restaurant was very amusing to me.

I don't know much about Chronoswiss aside from the very broad outlines.  It was founded in the  early 80s by Gerd Rudiger Lang, a Heuer watch maker.  Lang was a savvy businessman and bought tons of surplus watches and movements from watch companies weakened by the quartz crisis for repackaging into new watches and rode the initial wave out of the quartz crisis with a series of chronographs and regulators. Since that  time, despite having a reasonably enthusiastic collector following, the brand has fallen into relative obscurity.  

Since I started collecting watches, I know of them only as a maker of rather large (44mm if I recall) fabulously colored chronographs and regulator watches, with funky dials and tons of skeletonization.  Exceptional, horologically interesting watches...that make Richard Mille look restrained.

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It was with that context in mind that I formed my first opinions on this watch.  It is deeply classical from an aesthetics perspective, so classical that I thought it was a breguet of some sort at first.  The guilloche work is beautiful and intricate and the bezel's coin edge is lovely in execution..  The size is a pleasing 38mm and it sits under 11mm in height.  

With the pocketwatch case and beefy onion crown, it feels almost steampunk in aesthetic, the sort of watch that a well to do gentleman might wear while climbing into his coal powered mecha for his afternoon fox hunt.  I can't think of another watch like it.

I wish I knew more about this watch because I doubt I'll see one ever again.

What cool watches did you see this week?

I found out an acquaintance of mine is a watch nerd, and he showed me what he was wearing: a homemade watch with a movement from a pocket watch, a metal dial, and a wood and bronze case.

TimeIsOnMySide

I found out an acquaintance of mine is a watch nerd, and he showed me what he was wearing: a homemade watch with a movement from a pocket watch, a metal dial, and a wood and bronze case.

That's a level of enthusiasm I can only aspire to! I'm always super impressed with modders and makers.

As a man cursed with serious sausage fingers, I tend to leave well enough alone.

Lovely spot and hope you can get a picture of it up at some point!

Great stuff, and as usual I can't imagine how you do it.

As for bronze, I'm happy to be a champion for it and I think you nailed what's so great about it. It's got a warmth that steel and titanium can't match. There's just something about that warmth and luster that is appealing to me. I will say that some watches do this better than others, and the BB isn't a favorite of mine. I really like it as a watch, even in bronze, but I think the alloy is disappointing. You can really see the (I think) aluminum they mixed in, and not in a good way. It takes away some of the aforementioned warmth. That said, I may still get a BB58 in bronze, it's pretty great. But the metal itself could have been done better, although that would have led to more patina which I guess they didn't want.

Behold warmth...

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thekris

Great stuff, and as usual I can't imagine how you do it.

As for bronze, I'm happy to be a champion for it and I think you nailed what's so great about it. It's got a warmth that steel and titanium can't match. There's just something about that warmth and luster that is appealing to me. I will say that some watches do this better than others, and the BB isn't a favorite of mine. I really like it as a watch, even in bronze, but I think the alloy is disappointing. You can really see the (I think) aluminum they mixed in, and not in a good way. It takes away some of the aforementioned warmth. That said, I may still get a BB58 in bronze, it's pretty great. But the metal itself could have been done better, although that would have led to more patina which I guess they didn't want.

Behold warmth...

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I know shockingly little about metallurgy (especially for a watch enthusiast) so I will defer to you on the metal contents. I would say that your Oris is very coppery which I rather like more than the dusky tone of the BB58 bronze. I should experiment with this more at some point. Very curious on the aging properties of different metal contents.

Edge168n

I know shockingly little about metallurgy (especially for a watch enthusiast) so I will defer to you on the metal contents. I would say that your Oris is very coppery which I rather like more than the dusky tone of the BB58 bronze. I should experiment with this more at some point. Very curious on the aging properties of different metal contents.

I don't know much about metallurgy either, I just remember Tudor saying they'd used aluminum in their alloy to help stave off patina. From what I've seen it works, their watches show little patina, but they tend to be lighter in color and a bit brownish. As you point out, my watch does look coppery, and on the rare occasions I've cleaned it with more than water, it's looked almost pink in certain light. As I'm not a hater of patina, I think adding aluminum was a mistake, but I see how most people don't want signs of aging on their $5000 watch.

When I read your posts, I get educated about watches and I am energized by your sense your wonder and curiosity about watches. You show an appreciation for expensive watches, but not because of their price but because of the craftsmanship and technique that was applied. I don't appreciate watches the same way, but I enjoy listening to someone who does.

Also, you talk about watches as if we are having a conversation not a lecture - which makes it interesting to read. This is an imperfect analogy, but the only way I can approach your level of observation in describing an object is if I had to describe someone's sandwich: Today I spotted I man in a light blue hoodie eating a whole wheat sandwich in Dolores Park. The bread was from Acme Bread company - their seminola is immediately recognizeable. The cheese was likely a Havarti, though many would mistake it as Swiss. The pastrami glistened in the sun and was moist and spreckled with pepper. ...

who wouldn't want to read that :)

Saw TWO watches on the wrist of a 10 year-old kid, and even talked to him about his watches!

#1 - Freestyle - Not sure which one - but largely black, like this one...

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#2 - Non-functioning Apple Watch - On the same wrist, as a fashion statement, he also had an inert Apple Watch, so just a shiny black rectangle, but it was on a cool Freestyle band!

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Kid also had HUGE glasses that engulfed his face...

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And, he was wearing a suit that was too big for him! All in all, the kid was an incredible fashion icon!

We were at Junior Achievement Biz Town. They literally built up an entire space in a giant building where kids can cosplay working boring adult jobs.

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My 9 year-old is taking a class at the Homeschool Education Center, called "Biz Town" where the course covers all the basics around free enterprise and commerce, etc., etc. It's AMAZING. Like, weirdly, they celebrate capitalism and commerce! In an educational setting, no less!!!

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At the end of the term, everyone goes on a field trip to Biz Town, where some kids are bankers, others work at Cox, some work at the radio station, etc., etc. What an amazing program for kids! Then again, I guess it's only because it's through a homeschool program. Otherwise, you know, what I've typically found is a celebration / indoctrination of this...

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My kid was a veterinarian. She wasn't that thrilled. She's always asking, "How do I get a job in Big Tech?" I replied the first time she asked, "Why do you want to work in Big Tech?" She said, "Because you do. And you get paid a lot for doing nothing." Smart kid.

Anyway, the boy in question had 2 watches on one wrist and he looked AWESOME! But, then again, I realize that he's a homeschool weirdo, being raised to have weird beliefs like "celebrating capitalism," and I'm a weirdo who appreciates his love of watches, and I'm raising a weirdo 9 year-old daughter via homeschooling, and training my daughter to eventually fight the good fight against the One World Lizard People Government.

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Homeschool weirdo or not, in my weirdo opinion, he had great taste in watches!

bigwrist415

When I read your posts, I get educated about watches and I am energized by your sense your wonder and curiosity about watches. You show an appreciation for expensive watches, but not because of their price but because of the craftsmanship and technique that was applied. I don't appreciate watches the same way, but I enjoy listening to someone who does.

Also, you talk about watches as if we are having a conversation not a lecture - which makes it interesting to read. This is an imperfect analogy, but the only way I can approach your level of observation in describing an object is if I had to describe someone's sandwich: Today I spotted I man in a light blue hoodie eating a whole wheat sandwich in Dolores Park. The bread was from Acme Bread company - their seminola is immediately recognizeable. The cheese was likely a Havarti, though many would mistake it as Swiss. The pastrami glistened in the sun and was moist and spreckled with pepper. ...

who wouldn't want to read that :)

Everyone knows that Acme's whole wheat is inferior to the alternatives. Stick with the white baguettes and rolls my man! 馃槈

Also, you talk about watches as if we are having a conversation not a lecture - which makes it interesting to read.

This is merely a conceit to me not knowing anything.

I think what is amazing about watches is just how vast the world actually is and how many nooks and crannies there are to dig into.

Like, it's a delirious cocktail of economics, politics, history, psychology, sociology and human observation.

And while I like the pricey stuff as much as the next guy, so much of my interest in these tiny automatons is in how much cheaper and better they've gotten over the years due to materials science and manufacturing improvements. Like in that way a Parmigiani Fleurier is super cool but a Seiko 5 GMT is revolutionary.

HotWatchChick69

Saw TWO watches on the wrist of a 10 year-old kid, and even talked to him about his watches!

#1 - Freestyle - Not sure which one - but largely black, like this one...

Image

#2 - Non-functioning Apple Watch - On the same wrist, as a fashion statement, he also had an inert Apple Watch, so just a shiny black rectangle, but it was on a cool Freestyle band!

Image

Kid also had HUGE glasses that engulfed his face...

Image

And, he was wearing a suit that was too big for him! All in all, the kid was an incredible fashion icon!

We were at Junior Achievement Biz Town. They literally built up an entire space in a giant building where kids can cosplay working boring adult jobs.

Image

My 9 year-old is taking a class at the Homeschool Education Center, called "Biz Town" where the course covers all the basics around free enterprise and commerce, etc., etc. It's AMAZING. Like, weirdly, they celebrate capitalism and commerce! In an educational setting, no less!!!

Image

At the end of the term, everyone goes on a field trip to Biz Town, where some kids are bankers, others work at Cox, some work at the radio station, etc., etc. What an amazing program for kids! Then again, I guess it's only because it's through a homeschool program. Otherwise, you know, what I've typically found is a celebration / indoctrination of this...

Image

My kid was a veterinarian. She wasn't that thrilled. She's always asking, "How do I get a job in Big Tech?" I replied the first time she asked, "Why do you want to work in Big Tech?" She said, "Because you do. And you get paid a lot for doing nothing." Smart kid.

Anyway, the boy in question had 2 watches on one wrist and he looked AWESOME! But, then again, I realize that he's a homeschool weirdo, being raised to have weird beliefs like "celebrating capitalism," and I'm a weirdo who appreciates his love of watches, and I'm raising a weirdo 9 year-old daughter via homeschooling, and training my daughter to eventually fight the good fight against the One World Lizard People Government.

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Homeschool weirdo or not, in my weirdo opinion, he had great taste in watches!

Your sense of humor never fails to get a rise out of me. Then again, I make it a habit of going to the Berkshire meeting annually, which is basically this except for adults so maybe I'm all for the Woodstock of capitalism stuff.

The next watch I get my kid is probably a freestyle shark mini. It seems like the G-Shock for kids equivalent I've been searching for.

The reason WatchCrunch is still here is because of people like yourself producing fun content Edge!

As always, thank you for taking the time to write this. 馃檹

My favourite bits of these are always the descriptions of the people wearing these watches and where you saw them. The human element of this hobby is the fun bit to me and I love the insight into what type of person chooses which type of watch.

Just today I say a lady wearing exactly this...

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I actually commented on it because she had a robin tattoo on the inside of her wrist and mentioned how it was nice it matched her watch.

She said she got the tattoo in memory of her late parents and someone got the the watch as a gift.

I thought that was sweet.

@Edge168n I identified a watch in public. I IDENTIFIED A WATCH ON A WRIST WITHOUT THE OWNER GETTING A RESTRAINING ORDER!!!

At happy hour with my wife鈥檚 company, and I see one of the owners wearing what is clearly a very used Seiko (probably) samurai. This is a guy with plenty of money, but I don鈥檛 know him well enough to tell if he鈥檚 got expensive watches. That said, he鈥檚 a former military pilot and I thought the worn Seiko was a great fit. I didn鈥檛 talk to him about the watch, I was too busy being amazed that I鈥檇 identified it. Don鈥檛 know the exact model, but I think it was a Samurai. Looked like this but on that weird rubber strap Seiko does and plenty of wear.

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Deeperblue

The reason WatchCrunch is still here is because of people like yourself producing fun content Edge!

As always, thank you for taking the time to write this. 馃檹

My favourite bits of these are always the descriptions of the people wearing these watches and where you saw them. The human element of this hobby is the fun bit to me and I love the insight into what type of person chooses which type of watch.

Just today I say a lady wearing exactly this...

Image

I actually commented on it because she had a robin tattoo on the inside of her wrist and mentioned how it was nice it matched her watch.

She said she got the tattoo in memory of her late parents and someone got the the watch as a gift.

I thought that was sweet.

That's a lovely story and I kinda love the name of that watch brand.

I agree, the people are the most interesting aspect of this hobby by a wide margin. I just love getting to know the person behind the watch.

thekris

@Edge168n I identified a watch in public. I IDENTIFIED A WATCH ON A WRIST WITHOUT THE OWNER GETTING A RESTRAINING ORDER!!!

At happy hour with my wife鈥檚 company, and I see one of the owners wearing what is clearly a very used Seiko (probably) samurai. This is a guy with plenty of money, but I don鈥檛 know him well enough to tell if he鈥檚 got expensive watches. That said, he鈥檚 a former military pilot and I thought the worn Seiko was a great fit. I didn鈥檛 talk to him about the watch, I was too busy being amazed that I鈥檇 identified it. Don鈥檛 know the exact model, but I think it was a Samurai. Looked like this but on that weird rubber strap Seiko does and plenty of wear.

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Hah! Who's the watch Terminator now?

I feel like I'm basically a memetic plague at this point. Eventually people just start recognizing watches and don't know why.

An excellent spot! Sounds like you should make a new friend.

OMG! That Chronoswiss Tourbillon brings back memories. When we lunched the brand in my store some 20 plus years ago. The sales rep let me wear one for the week. It was on a bright red strap, long befor Kevin Olery was a thing! Man I miss those days!