With the recent hubbub about the Apple Watch (which we’d have named the iChrono, if only we were asked) the discussion of watches and their contribution to style has reignited. While many people have gone the way of technology and no longer wear watches, instead using their phones to constantly check the time, traditional watches still enjoy a hard-core following. Those who favour the watch would no sooner leave the house without a watch on than most would leave without their pants on. You’re naked without it.
There are dozens of watch makers who still enjoy a steady stream of orders, regardless of the popularity of smartphones. The prices on watches range immensely. You can pick one up at your local department store for $9.99 or you can get one from a dedicated watch dealer for more than you’d pay for a Ferrari. But why? Why have watches retained their popularity? Who still wears them and should you be wearing one?
There are, in our opinion, three reasons to have not one, but rather a range of watches in your wardrobe. These reasons are, in no particular order:
- They remind of us a simpler time;
- They are a subtle, but powerful statement about success; and
- They’re beautiful expressions of style.
Before the dawn of PDAs and cell phones, there were, essentially, two ways to determine the time. One was to casually slide your sleeve up and glance at your watch. The other method involved some math and judging the sun’s height and distance based on a fixed point. That was it. Simple. Civilized. It didn’t matter what you were doing, you had a watch on. At the beach? A watch would be tucked into your shoe. At a board meeting that’s running late? Businessmen would be wearing their sleeves out due to the friction of pushing them up to check the time every 5 seconds.
Watches are, in essence, jewelry for men. Mr. T wore lots of jewelry and I’m sure that had he been in a board meeting or say, at the opera, nobody would have mentioned that he was a bit… garish. I’d pity the fool that did. For men, jewelry is best understated and minimal. A watch is an affectation that says “I’m doing well. So well, in fact, that I have enough disposable income to buy this beautiful, but essentially out-dated timepiece that just barely shows under my sleeve”. For the low price of about $215,000 you can pick up a Split Seconds Patek Philippe Reference 1436 By Tiffany & Co. if you’re looking for a classic watch on a low budget. If your hedge fund has just scored a major win, you may be in the market for a Patek Philippe Ref 5016P which will run you about $760,000. These watches are beautiful, made of precious minerals (the P in the Ref 5016P stands for platinum) and timeless. Watch aficionados will immediately be able to spot that you’re sporting and think “Yes, he’s doing very well indeed”.
But what if you’re just looking for a watch that says “I’m not a millionaire, but I do like a bit of simplicity and style”? There are many options for you for a reasonable price. You’re just going to need to do some research and be very careful about what you buy.
Quality is paramount when selecting a watch. The Swiss have been doing it right for hundreds of years by using the finest materials and craftsmen to turn out watches. China and India on the other hand are rather recent entries to the watch scene and tend to use cheaper materials and stamp their watches out on a conveyor belt. If you’re looking for quality, check the brand and the type of movement. Quartz movement is nice, but mechanical or automatic movement is much more precise and technical in its design.
If you’re just starting out in horology, you can get a variety of stylish and durable watches for under $200.
Cardinal Men’s Full Figure Dial Watch – $69.95
I have this watch. It was a gift from my wife for one of our anniversaries. It’s simple, but elegant. The face isn’t too busy or taken up with a giant Mickey Mouse or an NHL logo. You can set the date as well, so long as you only need the day numeric. If you don’t know what month you’re in, you’re on your own. I’ve dropped this watch on just about every rough surface I’ve come across over the past few years and, aside from a small chip on the face, it’s still ticking along nicely.
Caravelle New York Men’s Rectangular Watch – $75.00
This watch is slightly more hip than a traditional circular-faced watch. The face reminds me of the clock in the 2012 Chrysler 300S. It’s quiet and understated but it still says “I’ve got style and I know how to express it”.
Timex Men’s Two-tone Watch – $99.99
I have this one as well. Again, it was a gift and I’ve had it for going on 20 years and it’s still ticking (well, it would be if I replaced the battery). The combination of gold and stainless steel has a bit of an ostentatious look to it, but, when properly paired with a crisp white shirt and a brown or grey suit it’s a perfect fit.
Relic Men’s Allen Watch – $115.00
Another rectangular face, this time with a black stainless steel strap and case. The blue face with its stark roman numerals announces to anyone who sees it that not only are you stylish, but that you can also count to at least 12 in roman numerals. Perhaps I’m drawn to this watch because I’m reminded of Bond’s watch in Goldeneye. As a style inspiration, you could do much worse than Bond.
Danish Design Unisex square watch – $136.00
It doesn’t get much more minimalist than this watch. Pair it with a fitted shirt, skinny tie and a classic slim-fit suit and you have recaptured the 1950s style ideal.
SIMON CHANG Men’s Leather Band Watch – $194.99
Finishing off our list of stylish watches for under $200 is the Simon Chang. Made of polished stainless steel with the day numeric located next to the 3 o’clock mark and featuring roman numerals, this watch is understated style at its best. It’s also water-resistant, which is nice when you’re sitting at the beach or fishing into the cooler for a cold beverage at the company picnic.
After you’ve built up you collection a bit and have a watch to match your attire and attitude, you’re ready to start putting away the pennies for something a bit more expensive. These watches though, will see you through until you reach the point in your career in which you’d need (and be able to afford) a more expensive timepiece.