Watch Me

Editor’s Note:  Here’s the start of the watch discussion, expecting many comments and subsequent posts to follow.

I know, Timex.  Everyone knows Timex.  Here’s my Timex.

Weekend watch for the summer. Again, everyone here knows Timex.  Times is the quintessential Ivy brand. All the boxes are checked. Historic. Iconic. Classic look. Value. Durability. All boxes checked. The problem with writing about Timex is that there is nothing new under the sun to say. But I present mine here to (1) establish Ivy-Watch cred, (2) nod to the Gods, and (3) mention it in case there IS something under the sun to talk about with Timex and I am missing it.  Oh wait, there is one thing to say.  Timex is certainly in the discussion for most enduring Ivy brand of all time.  And you can buy it in a pharmacy.

You can tell this has taken the licking.  It is about 20 years old.  Here is why I don’t wear it in the winter.  It is smaller in terms of face – the website says 38mm which must be true but it wears smaller than that for sure.  The website also says that you can engrave it.  That would make an excellent gift.  Though, this is a Timex Weekender as well:

$75 on their site. I wear an earring (daughter story, told it here already but will retell upon request) and play out on weekends. My hair is a little too long, and I make my living in part by combining Ivy with Creative. This watch is so far afield though that I cannot. Who are you giving this watch to? My 14 year old daughter? She doesn’t wear a watch, and if she did, she cannot, I am reasonably certain, tell analog time. This brand mistake, whether it is Timex or Brooks or whomever, makes me crazy. Do not update classics to inflate sales. Classics by definition are really, really hard to successfully update. Instead, sell a traditional lifestyle to people, and more people will buy traditional watches.

 

This is probably the best looking watch I own.  It is from the late 80’s maybe early 90’s:

A number of things to note here. First, this watch is 30 years old, at the time I bought it I am guessing it was maybe $200? I don’t know. I would show you shots from the website, or even from other people with this watch, except there are none of either. It has a mineral crystal which at the time may have been a bigger deal but now is right in the middle lane in terms of quality. It is quartz, same as the Timex, this is the third band, and I am wearing it today.

So this is definitely my suit watch.  I wore it when I got married, AND when I got divorced.  Both were formal occasions.  The mineral crystal is what really gives away the mid-level quality, you catch this watch at the wrong angle and you can tell you are not wearing a Cartier.  BUT.  The design of the face is so on point, the hands and second hand are both blue (I will work on a better picture) and remember, amortize this watch out over 30 years and we are at about $6.50 a year – and now it has so much sentimental value that I am truly thinking of getting a sapphire crystal in it.  If you know where this can be done, my email is HERE. Or just write me.  It is always good to put my email up.  This is the one job where getting emails from people is enjoyable.  When I started this gig I got a few notes about being alone in being funny about Ivy – NOT SO MUCH.  The emails I get are way funner than the emails I write.

Those two watches are quartz.  Let’s dig into automatic watches for a minute.  Here are the automatic watches I have owned:

This is the Omega Seamaster Chronograph, Automatic. Yes, you do not need to wind it ever. Automatic watches are wound from the kinetics of your simple arm movements. Which sounds like a great deal, but it is based on the premise that you can actually move your arm. This is the Shaquille O’Neal of tasteful watches – at 41.5mm in diameter and 16.8mm in height, this watch is huge but because it is tasteful it gets away with its size. But when you base a watch’s winding on arm movement, best you can actually move your arm. Without hurting someone.

 

There is a picture of me on New Year’s at an Undisclosed Location with this watch on and I am with a lady, and the watch is probably bigger than the lady.  I traded it in after that picture for this watch:

If I get three comments asking what this watch is I will write a whole post about it, but I imagine you already know.

I didn’t get this watch for the same reason most guys get this watch.  I got it because I saw a picture of James Hewitt, yes, that James Hewitt, Prince Harry’s father (I mean come on.  And this is no disparagement at all.  I am A HUGE Prince Harry fan, much to a lot of chagrin everywhere.   I think he is brave for his public facing stance on mental health, and I think he is brave for moving his family.  But I also think James Hewitt was his father) with the watch on in Town And Country.  And Diana or not, the man looked so good in it.

Speaking of people whose paternity is not absolute, Ronan Farrow had the best line when asked about whether Frank Sinatra was his father.  He said, “Isn’t Frank Sinatra everybody’s father?”

There were other watches along the way, but those are the headliners, and the Rolex got me right up to where I started getting sick.  There was a summer there where I had to sell my watches and my car.  We got through, but suffice to say that resale on a Rolex is not as advertised.

As we climbed back, I made a moralistic revision to my watch wearing in terms of what I was willing to wear on my wrist versus what I feel compelled to donate to my non-profit.  Thus, a ceiling was born, and a problem created.  My self-imposed budget did not allow for the quality and aesthetic that I wanted.  Until one day.  Meet the twins.

Hello, ladies.

 

The watch on the right is a Citizen Professional Diver – and my go to watch for the summer.  When we were digging back out the first credit card my family got was for Macy’s, and I saw this watch and was gifted it.  It is a watch we couldn’t afford then, which makes it even more valuable now.  It is huge, ugly, and perfect.  But unless you spend your summers in the water like I do, it is probably a bridge too far.

In which case, let me introduce you to my every day watch, the Citizen Brycen.  Here is a better picture, but read the caption:

The Citizen Brycen. The VERY FIRST thing you want to do after you buy this watch is to get rid of the band, and I don’t mean swap it out I mean destroy it. Get a leather one like mine, or a NATO one for the summer (I have that as well, will show it to you in June) and take the original band, which I am certain is an Inside Citizen Joke and destroy it before it’s poor quality and even poorer design infect something else you own.

 

The watch sells for $280 on the Citizen web site.  It has a sapphire crystal so it plays in the major leagues, it is Eco-Drive so I (and you if you buy one) never have to worry about winding or batteries or anything) and you can wear this watch with everything except your formal wear.  Eco-Drive is amazing, the sun powers the watch, it is accurate within like a minute a year, and it operates flawlessly.

At any rate, I know watches are a big discussion item, I thought I would just get us started here.

Have a great weekend – JB

 

 

 

 

 

 

34 Comments on "Watch Me"

  1. That GMT would sell at a VERY handsome profit today. Not a “watch guy” per se, but I really enjoy them. My current rotation is a JLC Reverso, gifted to me by my wife on our wedding day, a Tag Heuer diving watch, given to me by my parents many moons ago on my 18th birthday, a Rolex Oyster Precision which belonged to my grandfather, and both a “standard” Tudor Black Bay and the newer Black Bay GMT. Though I have gone back and forth with a number of watches and brands (Rolex and IWC) for new watches, I keep going back to the first three due to sentiment. I will say that both Black Bays are perfect for travel and recreation, and that keeps them in the rotation even though they are essentially the same watch.

    I much prefer a watch with a story behind it, and still have my first watch, a manual wind model where snoopy chases a tennis ball (seconds) with his tennis racket (minute hand).

  2. Tudor Black Bay, Rolex DJ, Glycine Airman, Longines Spirit, Monta GMT, Monta Triumph, Seiko Prospex, couple of Seiko 5s, GShock, and some quartz watches, I finally applied the brakes this year. It can be addictive.

  3. Jason R. Ward | January 7, 2022 at 7:42 pm |

    One of the other groups on this platform I belong to is a watch group. During the pandemic/ lockdown of 2020, I started buying watches. After purchasing way too many, I’ve settled on about 12 that I wear. I found your comment about the size of the Omega interesting. The trend right now is towards larger timepieces, and many in the group I belong to would find 41mm the minimum acceptable size. (I’m not one of those.) I too wear a Timex weekender as a summer weekend watch, but as I am a teacher that weekend lasts for eight weeks. I have been waiting for someone to break open the conversation about what watches qualify as “Ivy”.

  4. When Was in graduate school in the 70s I wore a
    Timex as my every day watch- I still have a circa 1963
    Omega Seamaster De Ville in 18 k gold which I wore, and
    still take out for “special occasions”. The ad series “takes
    a licking but keeps on ticking” was then current. I had removed
    my Timex and put it the breast pocket of a Westen Shirt
    with snaps, to do something around the house or work
    on my car. I then threw the dirty shirt into the wash. In the
    meantime I looked “high and low” for the watch which i assume
    had been misplaced. When the wash was done I took the shirt out
    of the machine, felt the pocket… and the watch!. It was ticking and
    the time was correct.

  5. Charlottesville | January 7, 2022 at 9:39 pm |

    I have 4 Hamiltons (the brand my father wore when I was a kid), a recent stainless steel Timex “Indiglo” that is good for checking the time when awakening in the dark and not wanting to turn on the light, a 40-year old brushed steel LL Bean camping watch with a nylon band that is still functioning quite well, and a wind-up steel Wittnauer military watch that dates from sometime long ago and is also still ticking along strongly. My favorite is a rectangular Hamilton with a curved gold case that I believe dates from around 1950.

    I really do enjoy mechanical watches, but all four but of mine are quartz. Some old, some gold, all but the Bean on leather straps, and none especially expensive as watches go (maybe $300 or so at the high end when I bought them; the Timex around $20 on sale about 2 years ago). As gratuitous advice (is there any other kind on the internet?), I add that crocodile and alligator are fine for dress watch bands if you feel flush, but I also recommend Hadley Roma oil-tanned leather bands, which are hard wearing and inexpensive.

    I wish I could have bought my father-in-law’s Omega but when he died his son sold it to a second-hand dealer before I found out that he didn’t want it. I don’t really need another watch, of course, but it would have been nice to keep it in the family.

  6. Dutch Uncle | January 8, 2022 at 12:15 am |

    Fully agree that classics should not be updated; in fact,
    isn’t “updated classic” an oxymoron?
    I’m old enough to feel uncomfortable sayıng “quartz” watch; I still say “battery-powered”. Am I alone?
    I Guess I also say “wind-up” watch,rather than “mechanical”.
    Just re-read this and wondered why anyone should care about my personal preferences. Then, thought this might sound familiar to some other old-timers.

  7. For the office and dress? I rotate between two Seiko 5 automatics and a Timex Easy Reader. All three have silver cases with either black or white dials; no numerals on the Seiko 5s. Dark leather bands on the Seiko 5s with nylon pass-through straps in olive, dark gray, and black for the Easy Reader. Watches worn in the office are classic, small (40mm) and bolder compared to their office counterparts. I like value in my watches with all but a couple selling new for around $100 or less.

  8. The problem with the Weekender is that while it keeps on ticking, it does so loudly enough to be heard across the room. I just upgraded to a Vaer S3.

  9. Richard Clark | January 8, 2022 at 9:01 am |

    Thanks for shining some light on affordable watches. A generation ago, men like my father and his friends and my bosses and mentors seemed to be happy and successful owning one or two watches prized for their dependability and cherisef the personal history behind them. Watches received as gifts—graduation, wedding, milestone, or retirement gifts—from loved ones. Watches worn in battle, found in pawn shops, or passed down from dads, uncles, and big brothers. Now if I could just find the perfect strap for my old Timex!

  10. – Seiko stainless steel quartz on a stainless link bracelet (quickie interwebs search reveals a model no. SGG713P1?) for the office and ‘nicer’ occasions; gift from the ex; retails about $350 as I recall.

    – Timex Weekender (identical to John’s in the first pic); came on a nice khaki nylon band that makes it look like a ‘field watch’; gift from the 12yo daughter, who now wants me to change the band as often as possible (which I will do); prob $40.

    – FitBit Blaze ‘smartwatch’, which has a rubber strap for the gym, but I also found a nice after-market stainless link bracelet for, so I can wear it to the office; watch retails for about $150.

  11. My apologies for the post – somehow the part right before my last sentence was removed when posting and the rest turned out as gibberish…

  12. whiskeydent | January 8, 2022 at 11:25 am |

    I usually wear my Timex Weekender (NATO band) and occasionally my dad’s Rolex Submariner. The latter is about 40 years old and badly in need of its third overhaul. I can’t believe a new one costs more than $11K and can’t imagine why anyone would spend that much money on a watch. That’s almost $200 a minute!

  13. The Citizen Eco-Drive Divers. I have two, keeping one as a backup.
    I wear with the NATO type watch bands.
    Superior solar power technology. Extremely durable. Great for scuba diving, surfing or when worn with navy blazer.

    Cartier Tank Watch for black tie events.

  14. “suffice to say that resale on a Rolex is not as advertised.”

    True enough. That said, yes to:

    Rolex 1016 Explorer
    Rolex 5500/5504 (Explorer Dial)
    Rolex 14270 (early on, tritium — it mellows)

    All understated. Modest, even. 36mm classics.

    Plus, some of the coolest men (ever) wore the 1016.

  15. * 5500 is the old 34mm Air King with Explorer dial.

  16. * Black/grey (“Bond”) NATO Strap optional but maybe preferred

  17. Thanks for writing another great piece, sure to get a lively discussion going.

    I currently own two watches—a Stainless Steel Submariner I bought new in 1994, and a Chronoswiss Regulator that I bought used in 2019 after having visited their shop in Lucerne, where you can observe craftspeople making and repairing the watches. I have recently fallen back in love with ribbon watchbands, and a 20mm wide band fits both watches. These are widely available for nearly nothing from multiple vendors on eBay, and I have never been disappointed with any that I have bought.

  18. Philly Trad | January 8, 2022 at 3:02 pm |

    Timex 20401.
    Cartier Tank.

    No more, no less.

  19. I only have one watch, as no other is needed. The thinnest water-resistant watch in the world. Singularly unique, sculptured in design, hand-crafted in Switzerland, and water resistant to three atmospheres.

    https://hodinkee.imgix.net/uploads/block/inline_image/content_image/8773/_img.png

  20. @AndrewK247 -if you ever sell it, remember, in Philadelphia it’s worth fifty bucks!

    I have been an obsessive watch collector for about 18 years, Patek Philippe, Rolex (vintage and modern) and independent brands… the world is crazy now, I am a net seller vs. buyer at this time.

  21. I got my first watch at age 8, a Timex. It is apparently the only one in known history that kept stopping, no matter what. Yes, I kept it wound with a little kid’s pride of ownership, but after about 2-3 hours…dead, again.

  22. I like watches well enough, but I haven’t worn one in years. I’m a musician and struggle with wrist tendinitis. I found watches to aggravate that. I use my phone instead.

  23. My only watch is a Timex I got on sale for $35. That said, if I were a watch guy, I’d echo Philly Trad and definitely get a Cartier tank watch for the more high-falutin’ shindigs. The tank watch has an elegant, classic design that has never stopped looking good.

  24. Craig Sevde | January 9, 2022 at 1:28 pm |

    Timex – Nato band. Keep it simple.

  25. For travelers in the days before ATMs and electronic banking a Rolex was the best travel insurance. It had a value everywhere in the world and could be sold or traded
    to cover just about any emergency. Many stranded adventurers got a ticket back home thanks to their Rolex.

  26. NaturalShoulder | January 10, 2022 at 2:48 am |

    I have not been much of a watch aficionado. I have the ubiquitous Times which I wear with different NATO straps. My wife bought me a Shinola Runwell automatic several years ago as she knows my fondness for Made in America products. I recently picked up a Vaer S3 which I enjoy. I still remember the Cartier tank watch which my mentor worn years ago and how elegant it looked and hav e thought of picking one up, The other high end watch of interest is a Rolex Explorer but, in both case, the price tag gives me pause.

  27. What I like about the Timex watch in the top photo.
    1. Black arabic numerals on white face- very readable at a glance.
    2. It has 60 degree markings.
    3. All the numerals are right-side up.
    4. It has 24-hour markings for those who find that useful.
    5. One could put different bands on it pretty easily, for various occasions.
    6. The blue second-hand is cool.
    7. It appears to be stainless steel. Neutral color, not useless bling.

  28. Thanks for this post– especially the life story behind it. For those of us with more than a passing interest in watches, whether it be for the mechanical engineering, the aesthetics, or the life moments that they sometimes mark, your journey rings familiar. I too rock the weekender, as well as a few more of the usual WIS (i.e. “watch idiot savant”) suspects, and have fun thinking and talking about them. Stories like yours remind me that I’m not alone.

  29. JB’s Coach watch in the post is elegant and beautiful, a really nice countetpart/counterpoint to the Timex.

  30. John Burton | January 10, 2022 at 5:47 pm |

    Oh man, thank you! I thought, for real, that I was the only person in the world who liked that watch. – JB

  31. John Burton | January 10, 2022 at 6:56 pm |

    Definitely not alone. Watches are a thing. – JB

  32. CanadianTrad | January 10, 2022 at 8:41 pm |

    I have a Vaer, like Art and NaturalShoulder. It’s not expensive, but has a sapphire crystal, a screw down crown, and doesn’t make a sound. The lume is a bit disappointing, though.

  33. As far as Ivy, I settled on the Rolex DJ and Longines Spirit. But, alas I live in south Fl so dive watches are de rigeur, a la the Tudor BB and Seiko Prospex. I usually save the GMTs for travel so not much these days. I can go from 34mm for a dress watch to 41 for water activities though. My rule of thumb is buy what you like and always within budget.

  34. Parnis- GMT Automatic $100 NATO Band
    Timex- Explorer Quartz $40 NATO band
    Seiko5- Auto Field watch NATO band
    Seiko5- Auto Dress
    These watches are switched out everyday.

    I refuse to wear my Rolex watches anymore – WAY TOO RISKY.

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