As mentioned in the comments section of the last post, “Preppy Chic,” watch discussions are always worth preserving. This post ran 10 years ago and was picked up by several other websites. The Sartego watches have since been discontinued and will prove difficult though perhaps not impossible to find. At the bottom of the post you’ll find a new suggestion for 2021.
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Watches stir up all kinds of heated reactions. Whereas bow ties are something a guy can take it or leave it, watches are seen by many as more than just a style choice but a sign of success and status. In this sense, watches have more in common with cars than clothing.
So if you’re the kind of guy who can afford a costly watch that will inform everyone who notices it of your purchase power, you needn’t read any further. Likewise, if you’re the herd-mentality type who wears a Timex Easy Reader on a striped band to signal your membership in the Trad Club, this may not be the watch for you, either.
But several of you wanted to know what watches I’ve included in some of the outfits I’ve posted recently, so here it is: The brand is called Sartego.
It’s a bit presumptuous of me to say I’m “introducing” the brand to the style blogosphere, but I’d never heard of it before and suspect most of you haven’t either. Here’s how I found it.
While on assignment for The Rake with the perennially sockless FE Castleberry in tow, I went to visit Alan Flusser. Towards the end of our meeting I asked if the elegant tank-style watch he was wearing was Cartier. Flusser chuckled and said it was a $125 Seiko that he liked so much he owns three of them.
Now I’d already been feeling that while the sporty, traditional, cool and even retro-eccentric sides of my personality were being properly vented via my clothing, my sense of elegance was a little bottled up as of late. In addition, I’ve never been a watch guy: I’ve owned a Dunhill watch and several Dunhill pipes and I miss the pipes more. I’d been getting by on a 1929 Bulova with a brown leather band that I appreciated for its age, though it lacked a certain visual boldness. I also had an unusual vintage Timex with roman numerals on a black band as my dressier watch, but it too lacked a certain striking simplicity that I admire.
Inspired by Flusser I scoured the web looking for the Seiko. I found one that may have been it, but on closer inspection I wasn’t crazy about it. (As an aside, a guy with a house in the Hamptons wearing an inexpensive watch sends a very different message than that sent by a guy who rents in Queens, but that’s another story.)
During the search I stumbled across the Sartego pictured above. I immediately liked it for several reasons: the hands with circles on the ends (someone help me with terminology here), the roman numerals, simple white face, and even the typeface of the logo.
Best of all, the watch is just $70 on Amazon (you can also find it on eBay and through Google Shopping). I also scooped up the tank-styled one pictured at right.
Now here’s the story on the brand. According to its website, Sartego was founded in 1875 in Spain by Sarrano Telo Gomez, whose nickname was Sartego and who learned watchmaking in Switzerland. As you can tell by the website, the brand today makes fashion watches cranked out by some timepiece conglomerate. The movements are Japanese quartz and there is obviously no connection to the original family or factory.
But I found it amusing that the watch has “sart” in its name and its semblance to the world “sartorial,” which is based on the Latin word for tailor. Maybe it will become the official watch for clotheshorses who spend all their money on double monks and Drakes ties and have nothing left over for a timepiece.
But I’m probably overestimating my influence.
For me the watches fit the bill of telling the time in a stylish way from a brand no one has heard of — all at minimal cost. They have two critical flaws, however, that you will need to address.
First, the factory watch band is terrible, so throw it out. I got two alligator bands from Central Watch: a black one for the round watch and a brown one for the tank-style. (The bands ended up costing more than the watches.)
Next, the watches come with an ugly chrome finish which you will need to remove with fine sandpaper. Use a tiny piece and sand each section of the cases down to a dull brushed-metal appearance. The watches will be significantly more handsome as a result, and I can’t imagine anyone would possibly say, even on close inspection, “Hey, did you sandpaper your watch?”
Unless, of course, they too have seen this blog post. — CHRISTIAN CHENSVOLD
And now an alternative: Dutch fashion watch Wortelboer, on sale for $72: