Disclaimer: Picture is the watch I wore most this week and is entirely for the engagement.
This is the third in what I hope is a semi regular digest of cool watches I happened to see this week.
First watches in the wild is here.
Second is here
Going forward I've started organizing all future post this underneath #watchesinthewild, so I won't need to backlink nearly as much.
As always, 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 was one of the great watch watching weeks for me in recent memory. Your intrepid correspondent (think of me as a broke man's @celinesimon with 70% of the journalistic integrity) was out and about this week. I identified many watches and was baffled by many more.
Of relevance to you aspiring (shameless) wrist starers. Should anyone find themselves in San Francisco in need of an excellent meal and some high quality watch spotting, I suggest staking out an outdoor table at one of the restaurants lining the Ferry Terminal boardwalk. Senor Sisig and Hog Island Oyster are particular favorites.
I doubt you'll be disappointed.
Seamaster 300 Heritage - the 2021 model
On the wrist of a lady at the playground looking after her daughter. Not much of a story behind it but she did appreciate me noticing. She loved how rugged and vintage it was and said that it was a gift from her partner.
This Omega certainly would qualify as rugged. While I mostly agree with @robwei about being over retrodivers, I think the Omega's heritage seamaster collection is radically underrated, overshadowed by the excellent seamaster 300m and the less expensive reviewer darling tudor bb58.
The new model has a fantastic sandwich dial, a la panerai, and a brushed center link going down the bracelet. There are fantastic quality of life things as well, such as a push button tool-less micro adjust.
I think whether it is too large for you is an eye of the beholder thing. The lady's wrist was smaller than mine, but she wore it brilliantly, tight and above the knuckle. For someone like me who wears their watches below the knuckle, it feels like a gigantic watch.
It's too bad too, because It's an absolute stunner, one that absolutely destroys competition in the vintage diver bracket.
On the wrist of a dear friend I met for lunch.
This is without a doubt the classiest digital watch I've ever seen.
Digital casios are a major blind spot for me as a collector. While I have learned a little bit about Oceanus and Edifice out of idle curiosity, my knowledge of digital casios is pretty much limited to some g shocks and the Casio Royale.
So when I think of Casio digital, I think plastic/resin. I think big and bulky. I think about watches that can go into war zones and be run over by semi trucks
And yet that's not really representative is it? A lot of digital casios are on metal straps and skew more dress than sport.
This is a beautiful example of that. The gold painted stainless steel means it's fundamentally hardy but quartz miniaturization means you can stuff huge amoints of functionality (Alarm, chronograph, perpetual calendar) into ever tinier watches (25mm). Importantly, the price ($30) is right. Slim, elegant and functional.
There's something magical about this watch that is more than the sum of its considerable parts.
@tesseraic questioned in a recent post where all the premium digital micro brand watches were. I think she's onto something.
IWC Mark XVIII Le Petit Prince edition on bracelet
Seen on the wrist of someone walking down the boardwalk next to the SF Ferry Terminal.
Being the resident watch guy in most of my circles of acquaintances is like being a cross between a court jester and a therapist. You get made fun of mercilessly when someone realizes just how much money you spend on watches.
But whenever someone wants a Rolex for a retirement or a birthday, it immediately becomes your problem to fix. As much as I like my AD and he likes me, I rarely (read never) am able to conjure up an Submariner or Explorer on demand.
Still, I have had some success with redirection over the years, specifically away from the Explorer 1 to a black dial watch I believe is largely superior, the IWC Mark XVIII on steel bracelet. It is, without question, the watch that I love the most that I don't own (yet).
Why I believe it is superior to the Explorer 1.
1. Legibility, look at those hands and numerals!
2. Push button micro adjust
3. Better size (40mm vs 36mm) and thinner (11mm vs 11.5m)
4. Better dial proportions than the 39mm explorer 1.
5. Engineers bracelet over oyster bracelet. That's just class.
6. No screws, push button link removal
7. Color matched date wheel. Functionality plus aesthetics!
8. Oh and about 3k cheaper. And you can buy it. And walk out of the shop with it. On the same day!
I have only two minor complaints. First is the relatively long lugs (49mm by my count). I am on the record as a hater of long lugs relative to dial size and the mark xviii counts. Except that amazing micro adjust means that you can get a perfect fit every time so no slipping and sliding.
Second, is the relatively slim power reserve (40 hrs). This is barely problematic. If you wear this as your primary watch, you're Gucci. If you have more than 3-4 watches, even a 70+ hour power reserve will run down. Setting watches is half the fun of owning a mechanical. If you don't want to set your watch, buy a solar atomic.
The Le Petit prince model ups the ante with a striking sunburst blue dial (though you lose the color matched date wheel). It and the standard black dial are phenomenal one watch collections, infinitely flexible and endlessly classic. The Mark XVIII will look up-to-date 100 years from now.
As I write this, I am looking at eBay Listings, debating if I can add one without my wife noticing.
Rolex GMT Master II 16750 "Pepsi" on Oyster bracelet
On the wrist off my father in law.
My father in law is one of those people who has a quietly excellent watch collection that he never wears. In no particular order of quality, he has a:
1. Cartier Tank Americaine in White Gold - one of the finest and most unique looking dress watches in the Cartier catalogue and a wonderful tribute to the legendary Tank Cintree
2. Rolex Datejust two tone with linen dial - one of the great GADA watches.
And perhaps most temptingly of all
3. Rolex GMT Master II 16750, purchased years ago for just a couple thousand dollars - the greatest version of Rolex's greatest watch.
And what does he wear? A freaking Apple watch! Some people....
I'm not kidding when I say that this era of Rolex GMTs is my favorite. These watches are neo vintage rolex at its best. The movement is fundamentally modern and exceptional reliable with none of the temperamental nature of older watches. But they still keep the older look, with the beautifully aging aluminum bezels that retain their brightness even 30 years after the fact. I infinitely prefer them to the newer ceramic bezels that simply look too candy like for my tastes.
This is one of the great watches and he has a nearly flawless version with lume that's just beginning to turn creamy.
Rolex GMT Master II 116710 "Black on Black" on Oyster bracelet
Seen outside a coffee shop in SF Financial District.
One of my favorite Rolex references followed by one of my least. I want to apologize in advance to all Crunchers who own and love this watch but I am convinced that this reference of the GMT Master is the most boring watch that Rolex has ever made.
At first glance, it's easy to mistake for a submariner.....except there are simply too many numbers on the bezel. The font is way way too large relative to how many numbers there are on a GMT bezel. The black bezel on black dial is paired with the bizarre and low visibility green GMT hand and ugly green dial text (Slytherin colors if I ever saw them). It lacks the utility and attractiveness of a bi color bezel and is entirely too shiny for my tastes. I find the case too fat.
It has all the worst traits of modern Rolex GMTs (cluttered bezel, low visibility hands) and the modern Sub (boring colors, black on black anyone?) with none of the upsides (beautiful, playful GMT colors and the clean classicism of the submariner).
Rolex made the right choice here by putting this reference out of its misery.
I am being overly harsh of course. There is much to like as well. Better movement, better bracelet. I just wish they'd put more personality into it.
Panerai Luminor Carbotech
Seen on a long, dimly lit elevator ride on the way to a meeting. I actually had to look this watch up because I'd never seen anything like it before.
Some watches are quiet, receding affairs that don't call attention to themselves. Some are extroverted, demanding attention to be paid. Panerais are streakers in the town square. Even at a glance, there's just no mistaking the Luminor what with the squarish stance, short stubby lugs, crazy lumed sandwich dial, and over the top locking crown guard.
This one, in particular, was blacked out (not unusual) but sported electric blue stick hands and Arabic numerals that I'd never seen before on any model of Panerai. It was giant on the wrist, stunning and unmistakable.
I was wearing my two tone Daytona that day, a watch that shouts more than whispers, and I felt it get drowned out by the booming Panerai next to me.
I suddenly realized that I had been staring at his wrist for probably an overly long time and had the sinking feeling he was staring right back at me. But when I looked up to offer a sheepish apology, he wasn't glaring at me in annoyance, fear or anger. Indeed, he wasn't looking at me at all. Well, not my face anyway.
You see, I shared an elevator with a fellow wrist starer, who seemed just as intent on figuring out what my watch was as I was his. I've never felt so validated in my entire life.
With just a couple floors left, I asked him what his watch was and he asked me what mine was and just like that, I was at my destination. We gave each other the nod, one shameless wrist starer to another and then off. I've had multi-decade long friendships built on thinner foundations.
At any rate, Panerais are one of those watches that I like to look at but never really have any desire to wear. I think they're like Ed Hardy T-shirts. You either don't really get them or they are, like, the only thing you can wear. Sadly, I am an unwashed non-Paneriste and any Panerai I've ever tried looks comical on my wrist.
Anonymous elevator person, if you happen to be on WatchCrunch, your watch is cool as hell. It has a serious cyberpunk vibe due to the electric blue hands and blacked out case and dial. I imagine if Johnny Silverhand were into watches instead of anti-corporate anarchy, he'd wear one of these.
Invicta Pro-Diver 37156
On the wrist of a cashier at Senor Sisig (best Cali-Filipino food in the Bay) in San Francisco.
I am going to make a very charged statement. I think more watch enthusiasts have Invicta to thank for starting their watch enthusiasm than Rolex. It's high time we showed our appreciation.
My first automatic watch was an Invicta pro diver not dissimilar to the one pictured above. I fell in love with automatic watches because of the open caseback with a bright yellow rotor.
Invicta isn't faultless of course. Their pricing strategy is bizarre, the sizing can be a crap shoot, and there is no doubt that the watch is stamped out en masse with little originality in design or manufacturing.
But for the price you actually pay ($50ish dollars for a quartz, $75ish for an automatic) for a competent Japanese movement with some rather good design (if purloined from Rolex), I think we can cut them some slack. It is watch as tool, rather than watch as decoration. What could be more pure than that?
And you know what? This one looked good and I complimented it. The lady in question apologetically said it wasn't a Rolex (clearly having been asked the question before).
I told her, that that didn't make it any less cool. I got the broadest grin I've seen in a while out of that.
This interaction represents everything I love about watch collecting and watch spotting in the wild. It's not about price or provenance. It's about what the watch means to you.
I'll endure a hundred awkward conversations if I can make someone's day like that. Because it made my day too.
What cool watches did you see this week?
By day, investor and father. By night, Seiko nut