Disclaimer: Watch of the week for me pictured above, my Rolex Daytona 116503. I have warmed to this watch over the years, as my opinion on two tone has changed. It one of the finest and best sized automatic chronographs that I know of.
This is the ninth in a semi-regular digest of cool watches I happened to see this week.
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.
A somewhat longer update this week as I am almost certain to not post next week due to the Thanksgiving holiday stateside.
Someone complimented me on my watch! In person! And no, it never happens. My watch wearing is for me of course but it's always nice to be appreciated.
In honor of someone complimenting my Rolex (may he and his line be blessed forever), we are going to do an all Rolex all the time post. I mean, who could get sick of hearing me talk about Rolex? 😂😂😂
(Do you see me @watchdawg ? This is what you've made me!)
I only kid of course. I have seen my fair share of Rolexes this week, but really only one of them was particularly noteworthy. Frankly, other watches of all types captured my imagination this week.
Below is a selection of the best.
Rolex Daytona (ref 116500)
Rolex Datejust Blue with Fluted Bezel (ref 126334)
Rolex Explorer (ref 214270)
Rolex Submariner, Ceramic (I couldn't be bothered to figure out the generation).
Rolex Submariner, Two Tone, Aluminum Bezel "Bluesy" (ref 16613)
I am mostly fine with all these watches but the only watch that would count as notable to me would be the Bluesy, seen while walking around the same lake that I saw the Tudor BB365 two tone walking around in Volume 7. It is not a place nor an activity where I would typically expect to see gold watches, so the fact that I have seen two feels noteworthy.
It's interesting to me that I have such a soft spot for two tone (and Rolex two tone specifically). I don't wear any gold at all in my day to day life. My wedding ring is silver tone and I do not wear any bracelets, necklaces, or anything of that sort. And yet, I do love the way that properly executed two tone looks like (like Cartier Trinity rings, Bulgari Serpenti Tubogas watches, and Rolex two tone). Maybe it's just the 80s baby in me.
It's clear that the rest of the world does not agree with me as two tone versions of popular Rolex models invariably trade at a discount to their all steel counterparts. That's a shame, because two tone injects some needed personality into most Rolex sports models.
Now admittedly, a two tone Submariner is a stretch. Submariners are real deal tool watches (versus datejusts, Daytonas, and GMT Masters). You're supposed to take them into more harried situations. So I could see how people would not be fully on board with a softer metal on their rough and tough tool diver.
But the Bluesy is so gosh darned handsome. The sunburst blue dial is beautiful in the daylight and the aluminum bezel is absolutely gorgeous. It makes me think of summer days spent on the water and the sun warming my skin.
I complemented the watch and he gave me a big grin, but no conversation. Still, I am pretty sure I made his day.
Tissot PRS 516 Quartz Chronograph
Seen at a fundraiser on the wrist of a medical professional I had a drink with. I spent 20 minutes chatting with him trying to figure out what watch it was (damn you suit jackets) and eventually just gave in and asked him.
He related a lovely story about how he purchased it because he was looking for a reasonable, good looking Swiss watch and this popped up. So he got it and never thought about it again. Were it only so easy.
I have talked in the first Watches in the Wild about my enjoyment of the Tissot PRS 516 series and this is no exception. It's a little large for me (42mm) but the bracelet is solid and, as you no doubt know, I have a great weakness for an appropriately priced quartz chronograph.
I am not certain where I picked up my love of chronographs, though it probably has something to do with my first luxury watch purchase (a Cartier Roadster Chronograph XL story detailed here). Generally speaking however, I feel like a stop watch is probably the most fundamentally important complication beyond telling the time itself. Time elapsed is probably the thing I measure the most in my day to day life in varied applications ranging from cooking to exercise to commuting to the office.
The Tissot is an example par excellence of the sort of chronograph past me would have happily owned in volume. I only really have one quibble. I genuinely don't like the 2-6-10 dial layout. It looks entirely too much like a surprised face for me.
Still, I long for the simplicity of watch buying where I could say "Cool, I like that watch" and never think about it again.
Omega Constellation Two Tone white dial 36mm
Seen on the wrist of a rather large man unloading boxes in a hardware store. I think the universe is beginning to hint to me I have to buy a smaller watch (don't look so smug @OscarKlosoff).
The modern Omega Constellation is one of those watches that I simply fail to understand why it never became a runaway classic. Given everyone's mania for integrated bracelet watches over the past couple of years, I honestly would expected an integrated design from a Maison as storied as Omega would be an immediate hit. Instead, it's relegated to the back catalog, playing third string to the Seamasters and speedmasters.
It's too bad because, in many respects, it's a rather beautiful watch. I love the raised and framed bezel and lumed dauphin hands. The shell like bracelet is exceptionally well made and comfortable on the wrist. I especially love the text of Constellation on the dial and the applied star. The movement is the exceptional Master Coaxial Chronometer Caliber 8800 .
If I were to complain about one thing, it would be the engraved Roman numerals on the bezel which remind me too much of old Must de Cartiers. I find they detract from the beautiful simplicity and symmetry of the watch and dial. Slap a clean bezel on there and I think it would be an intimidatingly good watch.
I wish I saw more of these out there.
Timex Q GMT
On the wrist of a watch friend who works in multiple timezones and wanted a low maintenance and accurate travel watch.
One of my big complaints about fashion watches is that even when they ape good design, they often don't know why things make good design. I related the story in the comments of the last Watches in the Wild to @Aurelian and @TalkingDugong about complimenting someone on their Nixon and actually thinking it made a pretty decent dress watch....if it wasn't wildly out of proportion (being a 43mm behemoth). It's this lack of understanding results in odd design choices when avoiding strictly copying existing designs.
Timex, on the other hand, is what happens when you hire a watch nerd with a sense of history to spearhead your design efforts. I have to believe it's been a team effort, but Giorgio Galli (Timex head of design) has really ushered in a golden age for Timex watch designs ranging from the retro awesome Marlins (of which I have bought and gifted multiple) to the field chic Weekenders and Expeditions to the toolish Waterbury Automatics.
I think the Q Timex GMT is the culmination of these efforts.
Is it an homage? Of course it is, in the truest sense of an homage. It looks a bit like something we all know, but it is also very evidently not trying to be that thing either. No one would mistake the Timex Pepsi GMT for a Rolex Pepsi but it's a beautiful amuse bouche of good design and high complication.
Said watch friend has some real deal luxury timepieces (not the least a Batman) so he's the last one that would be fooled by it, but he said that in many ways, he enjoyed the Timex more than the Rolex, not the least because of the 1)warm acrylic crystal and 2) the superior (in his view) size at 38mm. To him, it's the perfect travel watch. Reliable quartz, GMT function, easy to replace. I can't say I don't agree with him.
It's even a strap monster, though I have no idea what the lug widths are. He wore it brilliantly on a NATO.
And the piece de resistance, Timex actively fights flippers by producing more and more of them on a timescale that isn't geologic. Take that MoonSwatch!
It's a good watch at a super fair price with very few hoops to jump through. It's a sad world we live in that this even counts as notable.
Hey everyone, be more like Timex!
Omega Aqua Terra on Black Rubber (I'm honestly not going to bother with modern Omega references)
Seen at a 100 days celebration (for a newborn baby). I am somewhat ashamed 1) that it took me as long as it did to identify this watch and 2) I didn't just ask the wearer. In all fairness, I did have my kids with me, both of whom are at the age where their sole intent is hurling themselves off of tall objects.
I am a former Aqua Terra owner (which sounds a bit like saying I used to be married) and ended up trading it for my current bae, the Grand Seiko SBGA429 Soko Shadow. This sounds like a dig at the AT, but I promise it isn't. I frankly couldn't ever get a good fit on the Aqua Terra bracelet, which is incredibly frustrating given that I genuinely liked the watch. If I were to do anything differently, I'd probably abandon my foolish insistence on having a bracelet for everything and instead buy the AT on the amazing rubber strap and deployment clasp.
I think I'm on the record as claiming that the Omega Aqua Terra is probably the best first luxury watch anyone can get. Fun, functional, rugged and elegant. I love those curved lyre lugs and the broad arrow minute hand. The teal pattern dial and polished hour markers play with the light like crazy.
The movement is such a flex. Coaxial escapement and an independent jumping hour hand (who needs your stinking flyer GMTs!). I frankly think this is a broadly superior watch to the Datejust it competes with. The OEM rubber strap might be my favorite rubber strap of any watch out there, not the least because it has all the inherent sportiness of a rubber strap and the classy work appropriateness of something in the leather range.
I often look enviously at WatchCrunchers who own versions of this watch (including but not limited to @PeterKotsa, @BigIona, and @woodcut) and wonder if I just made a mistake getting rid of it. It is honestly only a matter of time before I take another shot at this one.
Oak and Oscar Humboldt 12 Hour
Seen on the wrist of a distant acquaintance. Over the years, I've developed a bit of a methodology for figuring out whether I'm talking to a watch enthusiast or someone who simply wears watches.
Are they wearing a Rolex? 1/4 chance they're a real deal enthusiast.
How about a Halios? Only a watch obsessed nutjob would wait in line, me included. But sometimes also flippers. Probably 2/3.
But I've found that 100% of the people that I talk to who wear a watch with is a 12 hour bezel are watch nerds in some shape or form. Here's my reasoning.
To the normal person, a 12 hour bezel is an absurdity. You already have hour markers, why do you need another set? Who uses the bezel anyway?
To the watch nut, 12 hour bezel means budget GMT! Our wallets can't withstand value of that magnitude! (Literally the words of my acquaintance)
At any rate, the Oak and Oscar Humboldt 12 hour is an interesting little watch ( as well as official watch of the US Men's Olympic Curling Team).
I like the blue grey sandwich dial with the inner recessed ring and the pop of orange in the seconds hands. I like the 12 hour bezel. I even like the dress diver case profile (*gasp*). I don't know specifically that this watch is for me but I do appreciate the care that Oak and Oscar put into this and all their watches.
In my mind, they are much like Monta, Orion, Halios, or the upper tier of Zelos. Their offering is significantly above the normal pricing range for microbrands but their quality is also a tier above in terms of finishing, design, and personality.
I think this is where the real interesting microbrand innovation is going to happen. Using off the shelf type movements (suitably modified or regulated), and then pushing the design envelope to create something that no major brand would contemplate while still offering comparable luxury quality to major brands.
Watches like the Humboldt 12 hour give me a ton of hope for the future of microbrand watch competition.
Jaz Alarm Clock ( circa 1950s or 1960s)
And finally, something a little different. Seen at a friend's home who kindly allowed me to take a picture. This is an actual 60s vintage alarm clock, purchased in a second hand store in Paris.
Jaz was a French clock and watch maker that was once the largest in France. Like many casualties of the quartz crisis, it was eventually sold (along with Yema and Framelec) to Seiko France as a sub-line under Lorus where I assume it still exists somewhere in that conglomerate.
This is a seriously cool mechanically winding clock. There's a bit of Junghans Meister Driver in it with the blocky text of the numeral markers and the hour and minute hands.
And this is rare for me but I even love the little bird logo (ostensibly introduced in 1941 as a symbol of the French Resistance against Nazi occupation during WW2).
Altogether, this is a cool little fragment of horological history and a reminder of how wide and deep this hobby actually is.
I'm inspired to go search out some pre-Seiko Jaz watches.
Have a wonderful Thanksgiving everyone!
What cool watches did you see this week?