Disclaimer: Putting on the battle armor today. A big and bold watch for a not insignificant negotiation.
This is the eighteenth 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 1, part 2, part 3, part 4 , part 5, part 6, part 7, part 8, part 9, part 10, part 11, part 12, part 13, part 14, part 15, part 16, and part 17.
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.
We are going into our 1000th consecutive day of rain here in Northern California (more or less) and I can't tell you just how sick of it I am. Give me all the Vitamin D you can muster. Praise the sun!
As every watch nerd knows, you definitely need 200M of WR to deal with all the rain we've been having lately, so it is perhaps obvious then that this is a dive watch heavy edition (with a few vintage choices sprinkled in by some brave and foolhardy souls).
Cartier Must de Cartier 21
Seen on the wrist of a friend, a lady who went to business school with my wife. I asked her about her watch and she mentioned that it was a gift from her parents after graduating from high school and getting a full academic scholarship to the University of Florida. That would put the watch at north of 20 years old, which is about 10 years longer than I've owned any watches in my collection. It might even be a vintage piece, a depressing thought for something created in the 90s.
I've lampooned this watch a little bit before when I talked about the Omega Constellation and the engraved Roman numerals on the bezel but somehow I don't really mind it in this application. I suspect that's because it lacks the framing tabs at 3 and 9 of the Omega so it looks far more cohesive as a design. Also, the gold painted numerals offer some nice contrast so it even satisfies a bit of a legibility standard.
I don't know how I feel about this watch. It doesn't offend me but it also makes me wonder if the time telling function is just superfluous. Would this be just as attractive as a two tone bracelet? I couldn't even tell if it was running.
But that's just old school Cartier at its best. The watch is a design object first and a time telling device second. And perhaps that's just a concession to the quiet truth of luxury watch ownership, that these time telling devices are actually fashion items first.
Omega Seamaster DeVille (maybe a cal 285)
Seen at my second favorite bagel shop in the Bay Area on the wrist of a gentleman who wore it on what I can only describe as a herringbone tweed strap.
I am what you would call vintage curious. I browse vintage listings on ebay. I read extensively on vintage watches, particularly old Omegas, Universal Geneves, and Girard Perrageauxs. And I tune into every post by both @Aurelian and @Porthole describing all the ways buying a vintage watch can blow up in your face.
My own, limited experiences with vintage confirm this. I have been bamboozled by fakes, frankens, and nonfunctioning watches of all sorts. It drives one to despair.
But still, when I see a gorgeous Seamaster DeVille no date with a creamy tropic dial, I do feel a lot of untoward feelings about how pretty it is.
And so, being the odd sociable introvert that I am, I complimented the watch and the strap (it's an awesome combination) and wondered how he came about such a pretty specimen.
He regaled me with the great adventure of buying this watch off of eBay from a buyer in Mexico, it being non-functional and then going through the process of tracking down a watch maker who 1)had access to reasonably authentic parts, 2) had time to do it. Fortunately, he found one, at a reasonable price who could do it in a month.
And then after receiving it, breaking the watch winding function almost immediately. So back to the watchmaker for another three weeks.
And even after finding that watch maker, realizing that the winding function didn't work and then sending it back for another month. And then, suddenly realizing that condensation was beginning to show up inside the crystal, likely because of all the rain we've been having for the past few weeks. And, so again, back to the watchmaker for water testing and resealing.
But it was all worth it! Because, finally, after four months, it was finished and functional and ready for its first real trip, a short journey to the bagel shop for lunch where your intrepid correspondent noticed it and complimented it.
I don't think I have ever loved a watch as much as this man loved his watch. Or it could have been Stockholm syndrome.
Both sound about right.
Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean (first generation)
From a Seamaster of one type to another. Seen at the library, in the kids section on the wrist of an associated adult. I did try to make conversation but was aggressively shushed by a librarian to which I took great insult. Don't people know how important this forum post is? 😂
I think this might be my favorite era of Omega dive watches. I intend no insult to the exceptionally well spec'd and value packed ceramic Seamaster Professionals and Planet Oceans of today. Those are truly great watches, worthy of the brand and line names they carry
Yet, I reserve my love for the pre ceramic models, most notably the Omega Seamaster 2254 and the first generation Seamaster Planet Ocean. The 2254 is the older feeling watch with the sword hands and scalloped bezel while the PO feels more modern and aggressive with the grippier bezel and double anchor hands. They're both lovely watches and I switch between the one I like more day by day.
At first glance, the PO can come off as a bit humorless (it's the very trope of a black dial diver) but the pop of orange on the seconds hand injects needed personality into it. The black aluminum bezel is a little subdued but the big silver inner ring makes it a much more stated presence. The numerals have a bit of the sandwich style to them and the sum of all the parts is that it's a just a big, good looking dive watch.
The movement is even pretty darned good, being the first generation of coaxial escapement built on the modified ETA 2892.
On wrist, it's a decent wearer (48mm lug to lug mitigates the size of the 42mm diameter and for a 600m diver just 14mm tall) and the bracelet is among the most comfortable Omega bracelets out there. You hear that Omega? Go back a generation, the bracelets are better!
It's even a deal used! I'm seeing nearly flawless versions online for $3k or less.
If it's not there already, this has future classic written all over it.
Marathon GSAR on bracelet in the Standard black dial
If you ever feel the need for a workout, try taking your 5 and 2 year old to the ice skating rink. It's like Keystone Cops except less humor and more gut wrenching fear that your child is going to give themselves a concussion on a block of ice.
In a world where I find near all black dial dive watches fairly anonymous, this watch feels like an attention getter. Not in the way of Seiko with case shape or color but instead due to the very sunken in dial, stark white printed numerals on the face, very grippy bezel, and the tritium tubes on the hands.
It's a watch that says without irony "I'm a tactical watch!" And that's fair enough, it manages the look really well with no small amount of real history behind it (founded in 1941!)
I think this is one of those quietly handsome watches that you (and by you I mean me) never really think about because there's virtually no chance you'll encounter it in an authorized dealer and also rarely on watch social media. I am not even fully convinced that Marathon understands that they are a watch brand beloved by enthusiasts.
**Beginneth Aside** I am reminded of an experience with a Marathon Navigator and, upon measuring the lugs, realizing that they were 19.5mm wide. Marathon cares not for your stock NATO straps! Don't worry though, if you're using this watch as intended, it's not going to survive long enough to worry about a cosmetic strap change. **Endeth Aside**
Normally this is the point where I'd complain about the GSAR's 14mm height but I am quietly wondering if my prior insistence on slim dive watches has been the source of all my dive watch troubles.
I've been wearing a drunkenly purchased San Martin diver that measures 14mm ish high and I've been pleasantly surprised that I have enjoyed having such a tall and bulky watch on the wrist. Maybe that's just how dive watches are supposed to be.
San Martin SN007- V4 (NWA!)
Purchased on a somewhat intoxicated New Years Eve by lobbing an insultingly low offer to a seller for a used version . Also potentially the responsibility of @the.watch.idiot whose wonderful videos on it definitely influenced the impulse purchase.
Yes, it's a dive watch. Yes, it's an homage (maybe even a clomage) of the original Seiko 62mas (and I guess more recently the SLA017). But it puts a stupid grin on my face when I look at it so I think I can give it a pass.
This is the second San Martin I've owned (the prior being the excellent 62mas Chronograph. Clearly I've got the 62mas on the brain) and San Martin continues to excel in the ways that matter: QC and executing on a simple design brief.
The case shape is very simple but well finished with a nice circular brush along the top and a high polish across the midcase. Zaratsu it is not, but it's well done.
The bezel is exceptional, especially for the price. It is far superior to any Seiko bezel I've ever owned, and there's some Tudor quality clickiness there which is absurd. I'm not even sure I believe myself when I say it.
Everything aligns (are you paying attention Seiko?) and the applied hour markers and logo are bright and clean to the eye. The lume is great and continues to blaze through the night. I even love the rectangular bar hands.
And the dial! I'm a sucker for a good sunburst dial and this is an exceptionally well done one in the cool anthracite grey.
The design of the midcase hides the bulk really well and it wears very closely to the roughly 40mm watch it is.
That said, I do have some complaints.
There's that same old confused San Martin branding. I don't mind the hexagonal logo but the weird digital currency S on the crown is just an odd choice overall. The shark in the case back is nicely done but also a bit childish.
The AR is fine but could use a couple more coats.
The ceramic bezel has some very small visual flaws (nothing worth making a stink over given the price) but it's there.
The bracelet is...not my thing. The quality is high but it's not the best design. The edges are sharp and the rounded side links and diamond cut center links feel like a design mistake. It doesn't integrate with the case well (not that anyone figured out how to do a bracelet with the skindiver style case well) and with a bracelet on, it is a heavy wear.
It's okay though, take all the money you've saved, take that and buy a good waffle strap to complete the old school Seiko look. I've personally been wearing this on my Artem Sailcloth and really enjoying the look.
A note on homages/clomages. People often forget that the original 62mas case was largely just a skindiver case, most of which were modeled off the original dive watch, the fifty fathoms. So if you'd like, all I am doing is taking an homage of an homage and making it instead an homage of the original by slapping a nice sailcloth on it (the fifty fathoms being famous for coming on sailcloths). That's called cutting out the middleman!
It is watches like this that convince me that we are at the precipice of a major revolution in watch making and buying. All San Martin needs to do is hire a couple of designers and invest a bit in a social marketing campaign. I think they could make a run at being the next Seiko.
I wouldn't celebrate yet. I've been known to buy a watch, wear it for few months and then immediately flip it when I come to my senses and realize that I don't actually like it. And given that its a dive watch, odds are stacked against it.
So, you may see this up for a charitable auction at some point in the coming months. But then again, you might not!
I am very much enjoying my time with this watch.
What cool watches did you see this week?