Watches in the Wild (Fall Blues, Volume 7)

Disclaimer: Watch of the week for me, the Grand Seiko SBGA429.  I love so much about this understated watch with the bright green lacquer seconds hand.  It's just like me, basic with a very minor twist.

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

 Past posts in this series have been hashtagged to #watchesinthewild and you can click through for part 1part 2part 3, part 4 , part 5, and part 6.

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.

Fall weather has finally arrived here in Northern California.  Sweaters and long sleeves are replacing short sleeves meaning that watch spotting is becoming ever more difficult.  I think, sometimes of hanging it up for the autumn and winter and returning when short sleeves reign again.

J/K, I wouldn't leave you hanging like that!  The weather may change, but the search for watches continues.  Long sleeves are no deterrent for your faithful correspondent..

In many respects, I think fall is a time for people to start dressing a little formally.  And where formality goes, interesting wrist watches follow.  Below are some of my finds this week.

Ballon Bleu de Cartier two tone rose gold with Diamond Dial ( ref. WE902031) 
 

Cartier Ballon Bleu Midsize 36 Steel Rose Gold Diamond Ladies Watch WE902031 SwissWatchExpo

Seen at dropoff for my kid's preschool on the wrist of one of the moms.  I think it was a 36mm version given the size on the lady's wrist.

On a Hodinkee podcast, I once heard that the Ballon Bleu is such an iconic model for Cartier that, by itself, it would be the fourth or fifth largest watch brand in the world.  I have never confirmed this fact but I certainly believe it.  The Ballon Bleu has never been a watch for enthusiasts (particularly male ones) and it takes some searching to find information on the movement.  Spec monster this is not.  Rather, it is a watch for people who like the aesthetics, art, and history of Cartier.

Of course, being the sort of oddball collector that I am, I actually owned a steel 36mm time only version of this watch.  It is a truly superior contemporary dress watch that wears comfortably on virtually any wrist.  The guilloche dial is beautiful and understated in the metal and the blued hands are flawless.  I even love the hooded crown .  It looked great both on my wrist and my wife's.  @Deeperblue, should you ever decide to move off of your tanks, the Ballon Bleus should call your name. 

The jeweled versions are a little more feminine, but serve largely the same purpose.  They're slim, elegant and beautifully constructed.  What they are not is flexible.  I found the Ballon Bleu looked great with a suit and strange with jeans.  In my younger days, when I was a regular suit wearer, this was perfect.  These days my workplace and my attire is more casual and the Ballon Bleu simply never found the wrist time it did in the past.

What did I do with mine?  It was gifted to my father, a man who still wears a full suit every day.  It looks fabulous on his wrist as well.

I do enjoy visiting this watch every time I see my parents.  At some point, it likely will rejoin my collection.

Tag Heuer S/EL Professional Quartz

Tag Heuer WG 1113 Professional Men's Watch

Seen at a grocery store.  I mean who could miss this bracelet?  Asked and confirmed that it was a quartz and was given as a graduation present from college (the gentleman seemed like he was in his late 40s, so that tracks).

Other would be able to write volumes on this watch but I do remember some very posh kids at my high school wearing these. 

I have such mixed feelings about the Link style bracelets.  From my limited wearing time with them, they are VERY comfortable.  But  they remind me a little too much of men's tennis or cuban link bracelets, a very specific fashion choice that can work for other people but probably not me.  I find their shapes unsettlingly organic.  FWIW, it looked good on the gentleman in question.

I have not personally experienced any significant quality lapses in my limited exposure to the TAG Heuer S/EL Professionals, but rumors of their indifferent quality control and poor construction are rampant.  I would love for others to weigh in here because my knowledge is limited.

They are very much of an era for me.

Rolex Datejust Champagne dial (probably a 16233)
 

Rolex Datejust 16233 Champagne Dial Mens Watch Box & Papers

Rolex GMT Master Batgirl (ref 126710)

Rolex Batman vs Rolex Batgirl Nickname Guide | Bob's Watches

A pair of Rolexes seen in the wrists of two business suit clad gentlemen wrists at a restaurant in SF.  I, of course, was in jeans and a scrubby sweater (wearing my Daytona).  I definitely got a weird side eye from them for that pairing so no conversation was had.   Just some quick takes because the last thing the watch world needs is even more ink spilled on Rolex.

The datejust is lovely.  I think this is a five digit reference, given the more delicate case and sunburst gold dial. I am on record as being greatly in love with this era of Rolex watches, where the movements are sturdy and modern while the design cues are more vintage.  They remind me of my father (and father-in-law) and the watches they wore for many years.

The Batgirl, while over hyped, is a lovely watch that takes some of the sporty edge off the GMT Master design.  I go back and forth as to whether I like this or the oyster linked Batman more among the modern Rolex GMTs.  Maybe I just like the color blue and am feeling its absence in my current collection.
 

Tudor BB36 two-tone, grey dial (ref M79643)

Review: Tudor Black Bay S&G - Now with In-House Movements (Hands-On)

Seen on the wrist of an older gentleman while walking around a path on a lake.  Notable because of the big snowflake hands and circular lume plops.  Not much conversation on this one (it was a brisk walk) but I offered "Nice Tudor"and he gave me the nod back and said "Nice Grand Seiko."  I feel like I have made a new friend.

I have profiled the BB36 before in a prior watches in the wild (black dial, oyster link bracelet) but the two tone version is a beautiful example of how the same style of watch can look radically different with a few stylistic tweaks.

I used to think the BB 32/36/41 series was Tudor's Explorer replacement.  As I encounter  more specimens in the wild, I don't think that's quite correct. Increasingly, I think the 32/36/42 is very much so the Datejust/OP analogue because of the jubilee bracelet options.

In many respects, I think of the two tone BB36 as a the younger cousin of the classic two tone Datejust.  The lack of date and cyclops on the Tudor are a wonderful design improvement but I infinitely prefer the sleeker look of the stick markers and hands on the Rolex.

I do wonder about Tudor's choice of using the snowflake hand set on this GADA watch.  On a diver, the choice is super defensible.  The excess lume from the big surface area is of functional importance.  On a GADA watch, it feels superfluous. 

I would have loved to see this two tone version with the handset from the Royal.  I think it could have been fire.

Seiko 5 "Seiko Datejust"" SNXJ94 

WTS] Seiko SNXJ94 | WatchCharts

One last Datejust analogue.  Seen on the wrist of a gentleman who runs our local indoor pool.  He definitely was not interested in conversation even after I offered "cool watch."

That's okay.  Maybe his watch signifies.him being too cool for school.

I am not one to get hung up on the originality of watch design.  I think it's just a circle of sorrow that results in you realizing that the microbrand homage (say a First Pitzmann) of your watch (say a Dornbluth and Sohn 99.1) is actually an homage of a much older watch (say a Breguet Classique or, more.likely, some nameless pocket watch maker) which your watch may also be an homage of.

To this, I say "Eh." Originality is overrated, execution (particularly at the price) is what really matters.  I think this Seiko Datejust is a pretty wonderful example of that.

I think this is, in part, why Seiko homages are so beloved rather than scorned (Seikonaut, Fifty Five Fathoms, Seiko Tank among others).  For the price (true not MSRP), you get something that mimics some of the look and feeling by a company that has a heck of a history of its own. 

If I had more of a gold watch mindset, I'd happily own this or any of the dozens of variants.

Hamilton Khaki Pilot Pioneer Automatic Chronograph (ref. H76416135)

Hamilton Khaki Aviation Men's Black Watch with Silver Stainless Steel Band  - H76416135 for sale online | eBay

A Hammy, now we're talking!  Seen at a nice restaurant on the wrist of a gentleman with his wife.  No conversation, he seemed to be very deeply in thought and it did not feel correct to intrude.

Evidently a design born out of 1970s pilot chronographs, I remember once evaluating buying this or a vintage manual wind CWC chronograph that looked awfully similar (I bought neither, realizing that the military aesthetic appeals to me more on a theoretical level than in actuality).  

Still, this is a wonderful watch in most regards.  The movement is an ever reliable version of the legendary Valjoux 7750 and it rides tall and proud on the wrist at nearly 15mm.  That said the proportions otherwise are nearly ideal at 40mm x 47mm.

The watch comes on either a bracelet or NATO.  The bracelet  is strictly okay.  It's a pretty standard twin trigger clasp but with very few micro adjusts.  For a watch this heavy, micro adjusts are deeply important to long term wearing comfort.

I think if I were a larger wristed man, the height might not bug me as much.  Chalk this one up to the cool watch but not for my wrist category.

IWC Top Gun Pilots Chronograph 41 Ceratanium

Hands-On - IWC Pilot Chronograph 41 TOP GUN Ceratanium IW388106

Seen on the wrist of a male model (yes, I know you're reading this, you lurker you) at a garden party.  Interestingly enough, not related to the new movie but a relatively continuous series of watches produced by IWC since 2007.  I know them primarily as Top Gun branded versions of existing IWC pilots watches, occasionally with interesting materials.

In this case it's Ceratanium (a portmanteau of ceramic and titanium), which is a very precisely kilned Titanium (sort of like Citizen's super titanium).  Light, super scratch resistant and very durable.  Also very dark.  I think this is what I like most about this aesthetic.

I'm not much of a "tacti-cool" guy so a lot of my attitude towards black watches are along the lines of "I wish it was a little lighter colored" or "some steel or gold might be nice" I think this IWC does it really well from the slightly faded dial to the slate grey case.  

It gives the watch a nice flexibility.  The tool watch vibes are strong of course but I imagine this would not look out of place in most work functions or even a wedding.  I do think it rides very tall (sadly the fate of any 7750 based chronograph) but it is very nice to look at overall.

Victorinox Maverick diver 

Victorinox Swiss Army Maverick-Why do I love this watch so much? - YouTube

Worn on the wrist of an orthopedic surgeon acquaintance.

I know little about this watch, save what I've seen on the Victorinox website.  It's pretty attractive as dive-style watches go (I partiuclarly love the royal blue dial) and I like the flat tipped hands. and the hints of explorer on the dial.  The height is excellent at 11mm.  That said, 100M in WR is a little chintzy for a diver style and 43mm in diameter on a 51mm lug to lug is big for me.  It is understandable that I would overlook this piece.

The far more interesting story is the wearer.  Said gentleman is well versed in watches.  I know only a little of his collection but I'm pretty sure that there are some pretty tasty pieces in there (I am aware of a Chopard Alpine Eagle and a Cartier Basculante.  Given our conversations, I am very certain there are others).  A quartz Victorinox from Amazon isn't exactly the watch I would have had in mind for him.

When I asked him about it, he smiled and said he originally bought it as a simple quartz beater to wear during surgery days but now he enjoys how much it pisses off his watch snob golf buddies.  He's pretty certain it gives him a stroke or two of advantage versus his regular crew, so he makes sure to wear it every time he tees off.

And you know what....that's a collector who gets it.  

What cool watches did you see this week?

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https://www.watchcrunch.com/Edge168n/posts/buy-a-watch-save-the-world-the-edge168n-homage-part-3-of-3-17664 

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I was hosting Japenese visitors for work this week and the Soko was my watch of choice for the meeting. Excellent taste sir. 

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AllTheWatches

I was hosting Japenese visitors for work this week and the Soko was my watch of choice for the meeting. Excellent taste sir. 

I adore the Soko. It's probably the most versatile watch that I own and the one I remain most mystified has not caught the attention of the broader watch community.

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LOL'ed at the surgeon wearing a quartz Victorinox to piss off his watch snobs golf buddies 

Anything goes in golf, eh? 😂

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TalkingDugong

LOL'ed at the surgeon wearing a quartz Victorinox to piss off his watch snobs golf buddies 

Anything goes in golf, eh? 😂

In golf, ANYTHING goes.

As a class, orthopedic surgeons are the most hyper over competitive people I've ever met in my life and this was pretty much exactly what I expected from him.

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Great research and stories, thanks!

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Always enjoy these reviews. I also love a Batman GMT and I think it’s the deep shade of blue that’s used. Great thoughts as always. Love the surgeon Victorinox story too. Sounds like a fun guy with my sense of humor. 

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valleykilmers

Always enjoy these reviews. I also love a Batman GMT and I think it’s the deep shade of blue that’s used. Great thoughts as always. Love the surgeon Victorinox story too. Sounds like a fun guy with my sense of humor. 

I agree with you.  It's a beautiful watch I've never been able to get over the finish line with.  Perhaps I never will and that's okay.

I always appreciate collectors who understand the proper amount of seriousness to attribute to this silly hobby of ours.

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Edge168n

I adore the Soko. It's probably the most versatile watch that I own and the one I remain most mystified has not caught the attention of the broader watch community.

It is a nicely kept secret. Whenever someone sees it they fall for it.

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I'm kind of disappointed you haven't caught me in SF yet to be honest, my highest honor will be when you feature my daily wear on here.

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I don't know much about the TAG S/EL other than ever since I a guy I was interning for wear it, it's been my favourite TAG Heuer design. But I must be alone with this one, watches with these organic shapes don't seem popular these days ... 😔 sharp angles everywhere. 

Now design and aesthetics is a subjective thing but those rounded curves on my Ebels make them incredibly comfortable, so (objectively?) from a functional/wearing comfort perspective it's certainly not all that bad.

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Dingus

I'm kind of disappointed you haven't caught me in SF yet to be honest, my highest honor will be when you feature my daily wear on here.

Soon!  It's just serendipity that gets watches on here.  There are only 8 million people in the area.  We will tick each one off eventually.

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MegaBob

I don't know much about the TAG S/EL other than ever since I a guy I was interning for wear it, it's been my favourite TAG Heuer design. But I must be alone with this one, watches with these organic shapes don't seem popular these days ... 😔 sharp angles everywhere. 

Now design and aesthetics is a subjective thing but those rounded curves on my Ebels make them incredibly comfortable, so (objectively?) from a functional/wearing comfort perspective it's certainly not all that bad.

I love your watch collection but we will have to disagree.  No watch should be described as sinuous and yet....TAG.  I think the fact that the bracelet looks like snakes or worms just  really turns me off.

I love the Ebel  armadillo style bracelets.  There's a way for things to look organic without them looking like they're moving.

I will agree that it is extremely comfortable.

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Thank you for taking the time to do another installment!

Your watch spotting chronicles have certainly made me more mindful of watches I see on a day to day basis, but my recognition rate is still pitifully low. I think one issue is that I mostly see generic Citizens, so picking out an exact model is tricky.

I agree about the Ballon Bleu being a beauty, and I can definitely see myself in the market for one one day.  

So many choices...

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...and then this stunner...

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Deeperblue

Thank you for taking the time to do another installment!

Your watch spotting chronicles have certainly made me more mindful of watches I see on a day to day basis, but my recognition rate is still pitifully low. I think one issue is that I mostly see generic Citizens, so picking out an exact model is tricky.

I agree about the Ballon Bleu being a beauty, and I can definitely see myself in the market for one one day.  

So many choices...

Image
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...and then this stunner...

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One of my regrets is getting a stainless steel version of the Balloon Bleu rather than the gold and brown leather.  It really amps the dressiness of it. Though given the price differential, I am certain I could not have afforded it, so perhaps it is just as well.

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Ran into two Rollies in the wild this weekend. Sorry, I don't know how to tell a Datejust from an OP Date. First was just some unnoteworthy guy that happened to have a black-dialed steel, er, one of those. 

The second was odder, as I'd been working with this retiree for two days and noticed nothing, and he's sitting next to me and asks "How does a chronograph watch know if the month has 31 days?" I'm like, what, it's 31 days and you have to manually adjust on shorter months. I start prattling on about "unless it's a perpetual calendar, but those are expensive..." and he says "well it's a Rolex." What? And it is. He hands it over and it's clearly a smaller 32-34mm one with folded links, so circa 70s? Date magnifier, COSC, and a bracelet like I've never seen before, but really nice and thin. I asked, and he claimed it was original. Who knows?

Anyway, he starts going on about some uncle's watch, a drawer find, that was a 40's 24k gold Rolex and how he sent it for service and Rolex wanted to buy it from him for $24K but, bless his heart, he wanted to keep it in the family. I stopped and guessed that his sons would be either of zero interest (I don't wear watches!) or be really into it. Turns out I was right on both counts. One son had no interest and said sell it, the other knew enough to appreciate it.

Oh, some younger guy had a little silver digital that I thought was a Casio A168, but the bracelet looked off. It was a Timex (T80?), but that bracelet is still not matching anything I see online. And some guy in a fitness band but nobody cares about that.