Watches in the Wild (These are the Days of Our Lives, Volume 26)

Disclaimer: A work watch for the work day

This is the twenty sixth 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 17part 18part 19part 20part 21part 22part 23, part 24, and part 25.

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.

This is the fourth and final edition of Watches in the Wild: London Edition.  I have to admit, I'm jonesing for another visit, not just for the watches but also to see friends and loved ones again.  It had been too long and will be too long the next time I go. @Deeperblue, @Porthole, @Chunghauphoto , and UK friends, pints on me the next time I'm there.

I think second only to my love of watch spotting is a deep and abiding love of people watching.  I could spin some nonsense about practicing mindfulness (and it does do a good job of getting me off my phone) but honestly, I find listening to how people talk to each other and describe themselves in public far more interesting than most podcasts.  In a conversation, I can hear hope, desire, ambition, and desperation all in a beautiful mishmash that any urban anthropologist would eat up.

And while I've never really seen a strong pattern between types of watches worn and characters of conversations had, speculating is fun and, besides, overhearing a funny conversation with fascinating people and interesting watches is my idea of a great day.

Compounding all of this is the fact that Central London is ground zero for fascinating people watching.  I'm not sure what it is but I do wonder if it's that blend of finance, fashion, luxury, entertainment, and media that is the perfect petri dish for peculiar people who desperately want to talk about themselves.  These are some of those stories.

But first a couple of quick hits of interesting watches without the interesting people watching associated with them

Citizen Ray Mears

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Spotted while walking across Oxford Circus.  I've covered the watch before and I don't have a ton of extra thoughts on it.  No conversation.

Rolex sea dweller 126000

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Seen in line while boarding my plane on the wrist of a Spanish man (at least that was the passport, language, and accent) in a dark suit.  Big, thick Submariner look alike with red text and a helium escape valve.  Couldn't miss it.  

The last time I encountered this watch was on my vacation to Maui in Volume 13, with the gentleman who insisted very strongly that his sea dweller was in fact a submariner.  That conversation will never leave me.

There was no such damning conversation here but if I were to speculate about it and him, It felt like a new watch to me.  He kept on adjusting it on his wrist like he hadn't gotten the fit quite right yet.

Happens to the best of us.

Panerai submersible PAM683

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Seen in the British Airways lounge at Heathrow.  No conversation as I was very interested in finding some water and a restroom.

The Submersible is simultaneously the looniest watch that Panerais makes and also the most sensible.  I'll never be able to mentally reconcile the look of a rotating ceramic steel bezel on a Panerai style case.  But at the same time, the PAM683 is rationally sized 42mm x 13.5mm x 51mm, while giving up none of the ruggedness that I think is so integral to Panerai's heritage.

The Submersible, unlike the Luminor Due, is a true blue sport watch (an ISO rated diver even) with 300m of water resistance, an almost completely brushed finish, and a clean and contrasting dial.

Despite my prejudices against Panerai, I feel like this is the combination of things that Panerai ought to be.  It's stylish and unique but also deeply and unabashed rugged, worthy of a watch issued to the Regia Marina.

Orient Star Elegant 

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Seen at the Celine boutique in Selfridges on the wrist of a gentleman waiting there.  No conversation.

I've highlighted an Orient Star watch here before, the Green Bay Packers themed Orient Star Diver, but this is a bit of a different beast, more of an Breguet Classique homage with the patterned inner dial, outer Roman numerals, and classic Breguet hands.

I don't mind homages generally speaking (quoteth the prophet @Edge168n, "Obsession with originality is a blight on our hobby") and am a great fan of Orient Star.  They are not without their faults but generally I think they do really high quality things for not a ton of money.

And yet this is clearly one of those watches that I struggle with.  I think it probably just comes down to how incredibly dated the design feels to me.  Even on a Breguet, the old pocketwatch on a strap look does little to animate my desire or imagination.  Likewise, this watch, notable as it is for my having seen it, does not move me much.

And some longer stories....

GO Panomatic Lunar (white)

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Spotted at a pretty decent noodle place in the City on the wrist of a gentleman.  I admittedly did not seek out conversation with him, so fascinated was I with the conversation he was having with his tablemate who was wearing a Hublot Classic Fusion Chronograph.  Come on, London, I proudly defend Hublot a lot but three Hublot Classic Fusion chronographs in like 4 days is a lot of Hublot chronographs.

Anyway, this is a gorgeous watch and the two lunch buddies were investment bankers!  I hear the song of my people!

I've overheard so many banker type conversations that they all blend together for me but this one was unique.

First, they openly were discussing a live M&A deal that hadn't been announced yet in a London financial center restaurant.  If you're going to leak a bid attempt early with material nonpublic information, you're going to invite hedge fund managers like me to jump in and try to drive up the price.  Being the law abiding sort that I am, I put the companies on a no trade list....but if I were their boss, I'd probably fire them immediately for being morons.

Second, it wasn't clear that they even had anything to do with the deal.  As far as I could tell, these were two middle managers based in the Channel Islands overseeing some tax shelter, chatting about a deal that someone in London was trying to structure through their jurisdiction that they just happened to see paperwork on.  So not only are they talking out of turn, they're screwing up someone else's hard work.

I did see the deal show up the next day in a "sources say" on Sky News so who needs a source for a front page article when you've got these Einsteins chattering loudly after the first glass of wine?

At any rate, the Panomatic Lunar is probably the most interesting watch that I can think of that I also have no interest in owning.  This is not a shortcoming of quality.

Having handled this at an AD, I know it is exceptional on wrist.  Some might consider it a little large for a dressier style but being of the slightly larger wristed sort it fits me like a glove.  I much prefer the blue or green to the white.

But it must be said, I'm only tepid on moon phases and I'm frankly not certain how I feel about the slightly off kilter small seconds.  I don't think this is a watch for me.  But I love the idea of this watch and the thought that someone out there saw it and HAD to have it (yes, @AllTheWatches and @MarkHackman , I see you there. Both of you clearly made the right choice with green).

IWC big pilot (46mm)

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Seen on the at most 6 inch wrist of a gentleman at the local coffee shop before our flight out of Heathrow.

While sitting to a simple breakfast, we overheard the conversation between two women starting a micro influencer talent agency and a gentleman, who I gather worked for a CAA/WME-IMG style talent agency.  There were references to Ari Emmanuel and Michael Ovitz and some other hard hitting entertainment types.

I literally heard the phrases 

"We are near a deal with Kendall Jenner."

"I'll mention it to Jay Z the next time I see him"

"We should discuss it at my place on South Beach when you're next in the Colonies."

lol.

Flex culture isn't just for watch people it seems.  It was all a delicious blend of peacocking, puffed out chests, allusions to powerful friends, and romanticization of big plays being made.

As for the watch itself, I actually have pretty solid hands on experience with it.  I wore a friend's version for a day or two.  As with most things, I have many opinions.

I often complain here about how large watches are but I want everyone to understand that this is generally a matter of less than a millimeter.  Even the watches I think are a bit too big (a 44mm Breitling Navitimer for example) are still pretty decent on wrist.  I (along with every watch dork out there) am just persnickety.

But the Big Pilot is genuinely too f*cking large.  It's 46mm x 15.5mm x 57mm.  This is what a 57mm lug to lug looks on my 7.25 inch (18.5cm) wrist.  

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Like, this form factor was meant to be worn over bomber jackets for maximum visibility during night time AND I GET IT.  But unless you're Tyson Fury, having the big pilot on bare wrist feels like having an ankle bracelet tracker or a hockey puck on the wrist.  (Editors note: Having just looked this up, Tyson Fury wears 40mm Day Dates and 42mm sky dwellers.  Even the Gypsy King wears normally sized watches.)

I think IWC has done a marvelous job with its collection in recent years, sizing things down and focusing on awesome watch nerd creature comforts like tool-less micro adjust and push button link removal, while still focusing on the classic shape and dial profile.  But the Big Pilot, more than any other watch in the IWC catalogue, feels like an anachronism.  It is a watch designed for a time and a wearing use case that literally doesn't exist any more.

Anyway, I do dearly hope that some of the claims both sides were making were true (if only for my amusement).  But experience suggests to me that this is likely a case of all hat and no cattle.

https://youtu.be/uR7x3z-kIW0 

JLC Reverso

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Seen on a Valentine's day dinner.

My wife and I, on our last evening in London, went to a lovely meal at. Michelin starred restaurant in Farringdon.  I'm not a star chaser by any means but I do love good food and so we were quite excited.

The staff was wonderfully courteous and the food was excellent.  But by and large the best part of my night was the top tier people watching at our table.

There were the lovely older English couples who shared desserts and glasses of wine.  There were the Instagram foodies who insisted on taking pictures of every dish and vlogging their comments through the meal.  There was a younger couple speaking in a language I could not identify (perhaps Arabic?) who did not seem to like each other very much.  There was even a group of banker lads on tour.

https://youtu.be/YE1eRktpT90 

But by far the best people watching was of another young couple seated a couple of tables away.  Based on the language (Mandarin), the accent (high Beijing) and their age (early 20s), they were mainland Chinese students from families of considerable affluence.  Certainly not unusual in London but there's more.

In addition to the Reverso, he wore trainers and jeans, she wore a Chanel short suit (on a 0 degree C, 32 degree F evening). And the first thing they did was disappear into the bathroom together.  This is unusual of course but I was once in my 20s and had enough ideas over potential activities.

But later my wife whispers to me "look at her bag." It was an Hermes Birkin bag, of course, the purse equivalent of a Rolex Submariner (Big grey market markup.  Deeply versatile across situations. Remarkably difficult to get while also being entirely too ubiquitous.).  This wasn't unusual.

But as she dawdled over her meal, she reached into the bag, pulled out a bottle of pills and crammed a couple down with fizzy water without looking at them.  And then proceeded to do so again, every 30 minutes until we left.  It was all very surreal.

My Mandarin is incredibly rusty so I couldn't truly understand what they were talking about.  But I have so many questions that will never get answered.

I mean, look, the Reverso is a great watch.  The flipping action is as wonderfully fidget spinnery as it gets.  I do think it gets a little too much love above and beyond the rest of JLC's amazing catalogue.  Frankly, it's not even my favorite dress watch that they make (Master Ultra Thin for the win!).  

That said, I could never criticize the choice.  It is among the most classic of classic watches.  It looks great with a suit or, as it happens, with jeans and trainers.

But, come on, how do you beat a story like that?

What cool watches did you see this week?

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Excellent as always. The overheard discussion blowing through (what I hope) was an NDA in public makes me sad this still happens in the industry. Seriously, it is literally the exact example I just sat through during my CE. I too would be looking to fire them on the spot, even if we happen to share the same watch, but negative points for going with the white dial.

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AllTheWatches

Excellent as always. The overheard discussion blowing through (what I hope) was an NDA in public makes me sad this still happens in the industry. Seriously, it is literally the exact example I just sat through during my CE. I too would be looking to fire them on the spot, even if we happen to share the same watch, but negative points for going with the white dial.

Totally. I too remember my CFA training. What's worse, it wasn't even their stupid deal. They were, at the very most, tangential to the actual things happening. But they happened to see something cross their desk and had to spill it. It's unethical AND bad manners.

The white Panomatic is about as flat a dial as I've ever seen GO ever make. I can't explain it. It did so little for me (while at the same time being such a cool watch!).

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I have to agree on the dial. Arguably one of the most dramatic contrasts for a single model. I could have purchased the white for a couple grand less than the green, and still had no interest.

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AllTheWatches

I have to agree on the dial. Arguably one of the most dramatic contrasts for a single model. I could have purchased the white for a couple grand less than the green, and still had no interest.

That's how you identify a real deal watch collector!

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Great post as always!

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Shahid

Great post as always!

Thanks! Always enjoy writing them!

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Thanks for sharing your observations!

I’ve never noticed as many Hublots as you! I never tire of seeing Reversos even on the wrists of pill-popping tourists!

Definitely hit us when you’re next in town and we’ll go for that drink!

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Great stories and thought as always. While I don't share your familiarity with London, my wife and I have been a few times and it really DOES make for great people watching.

This week: Omega SMP 300m White dial on rubber

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Seen on 2 different work colleagues at 2 different facilities on 2 separate weekends. While I would personally swing for the blue or newer green dial versions, there is something special about the white dial on black rubber that just works in almost all settings.

I tend to shy away from watches I'm really likely to see on others often but I never get sick of the SMP 300m. I know you're personally averse to the hands but the 90's bracelet is easily swapped for this rubber or a Forstner Bullet or Jubilee (may have helped your AT fit) and it just works. Maybe it's my affinity for divers or overall modern practicality over history, but I really do love the SMP more than the Speedy.

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I spotted one of these at the wine shop. I said "beautiful datejust" and he replied "huh? Oh."

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Chunghauphoto

Thanks for sharing your observations!

I’ve never noticed as many Hublots as you! I never tire of seeing Reversos even on the wrists of pill-popping tourists!

Definitely hit us when you’re next in town and we’ll go for that drink!

Dude, there are so many hublots. I didn't even include the half dozen hublot classic fusion three handers I saw.

Definitely hit us when you’re next in town and we’ll go for that drink!

You're on!

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valleykilmers

Great stories and thought as always. While I don't share your familiarity with London, my wife and I have been a few times and it really DOES make for great people watching.

This week: Omega SMP 300m White dial on rubber

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Seen on 2 different work colleagues at 2 different facilities on 2 separate weekends. While I would personally swing for the blue or newer green dial versions, there is something special about the white dial on black rubber that just works in almost all settings.

I tend to shy away from watches I'm really likely to see on others often but I never get sick of the SMP 300m. I know you're personally averse to the hands but the 90's bracelet is easily swapped for this rubber or a Forstner Bullet or Jubilee (may have helped your AT fit) and it just works. Maybe it's my affinity for divers or overall modern practicality over history, but I really do love the SMP more than the Speedy.

The Great White Ceramic is my favorite of the new generation of Seamaster 300 Ms. It is the only version where I feel that this generation exceeded that of the 2254 vintage (possibly because the laser etched ceramic dial feels just a hint more subtle with the white backdrop). I'll never get over the skeleton hands (just too too much skeleton) but I'd happily suggest this to anyone as a first luxury watch. It's got style, top tier watch tech, awesome brand, great finishing...all that. If I liked divers more, I'd probably own one in spite of my skeleton hand misgivings.

For a chronograph lover, feeling tepid on the Speedmaster is like spitting in the face of the Almighty.....and yet I feel tepid about the Speedmaster (at least the moonwatch). I feel like they've leaned on the nearly identical aesthetic for so long that for something so timeless, it has begun to feel a little dated.

Now the speedy 57s? Chef's kiss. A beautiful evolution.

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Sinnguy

I spotted one of these at the wine shop. I said "beautiful datejust" and he replied "huh? Oh."

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Repeat after me.

Rolexes are for Rich Muggles.

Rolexes are for Rich Muggles.

Rolexes are for Rich Muggles.

😂

P.S. - It is a beautiful datejust! Nice spot!

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Edge168n

Repeat after me.

Rolexes are for Rich Muggles.

Rolexes are for Rich Muggles.

Rolexes are for Rich Muggles.

😂

P.S. - It is a beautiful datejust! Nice spot!

He was not impressed by my blue watch. A Tudor BB58. He's probably never heard of the brand. 😂

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Sinnguy

He was not impressed by my blue watch. A Tudor BB58. He's probably never heard of the brand. 😂

I once complimented a Submariner on someone's wrist and he looked at my JLC and was just so confused by it that he blurted out "Why would anyone buy a not-Rolex?"

Yes, I am recalling that conversation correctly.

"A not-Rolex."

I swear, I try not to believe in stereotypes but sometimes the cliche really fits.

I was in stitches for an hour afterwards after that.

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Edge168n

I once complimented a Submariner on someone's wrist and he looked at my JLC and was just so confused by it that he blurted out "Why would anyone buy a not-Rolex?"

Yes, I am recalling that conversation correctly.

"A not-Rolex."

I swear, I try not to believe in stereotypes but sometimes the cliche really fits.

I was in stitches for an hour afterwards after that.

This could be the next WC troll poll from @Aurelian .

"You just got a $15K bonus from the firm/brokerage. Will you buy:"

A: A Rolex

B: A not-Rolex