No man needs one. They usually cost the downpayment of a house and yet men can’t get enough of them.
As a young boy, my parents often found it necessary to drag me down London for a spot of shopping which usually culminated in me either spending the whole day sitting on a multitude of different chairs or sitting on chairs in a multitude of different positions. To pass the time, I ended up window shopping and taking in the many items London had to offer.
London Old Bond Street
One store, Watches of Switzerland on Old Bond Street always intrigued as it always used to make me think “what kind of person pays so much for something that only tells the time?” Ok sure, some are beautiful, but there are many cheaper ways to look beautiful AND tell the time! It just seemed so nonsensical.
Rolex Watch Window
Well, ironically it has taken time for me to appreciate horology (no pun intended). A wristwatch isn’t just a device to tell the time – it is much more than that. It’s a unique blend of personal expression, history, engineering and art, all of which which sits nicely on your wrist. Watches are the male version of jewellery: A Rolex or a Jaeger LeCoultre, whether it’s gold, platinum or stainless steel, is always socially acceptable no matter the occasion.
David Beckham with a Rolex Gold Day Date
And despite their size, some watches even have a hint of sport, danger and adventure about them. In the 1960s for example, the Omega Speedmaster Professional was worn by Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong as man ventured into space for the first time on an expedition to the moon. What man wouldn’t want to have a little part of that – even if the closest he got to the moon was, well, never?
Buzz Aldrin and his Omega Speedmaster Professional “Moonwatch”
Some would say that a car fulfils the exact same purpose but I would disagree with that viewpoint. Don’t get me wrong, I love cars too but they have a major disadvantage compared to the wristwatch: they spend a lot of time parked rather than being displayed where you can see them. A watch is a Porsche or Aston Martin that you can take to meetings – and it doesn’t harm the planet either.
In 2011, the year after I was married, my father-in-law took his Rolex Datejust straight off his wrist and passed it to me. The watch had never once left his wrist since 1983, the year it was bought, so it was of great honour for me to receive this to safeguard it.
My father in law’s Rolex Datejust
The actual watch isn’t all that expensive, perhaps around the £2000 region but is one of the most important pieces in my possession. The watch experienced his ups and downs, witnessed the birth of his son and daughters and in my eyes, is an embodiment of who he is and how he has lived his life. Whenever I wear it, it brings these emotions to the surface and reminds me that no matter how hard I find life can get, my father-in-law managed okay.
On close examination, the watch is no less than a masterpiece, which sits beautifully on the wrist. Measuring 36mm across, one could argue that its dimensions are perfectly suited for a gentleman’s wrist. The bezelled dial glistens as it catches the light at different angles and reflects it beautifully to catch the eye but not for too long and the linen textured dial, which is no longer available in today’s production looks so elegant. The watch is perfect to wear everyday, discrete casually but also holds up effortlessly in more formal attire.
Then there’s the engineering behind it. The internal workings of a fine mechanical wristwatch are an art form unto themselves, and unlike the latest tech gadgets, can be serviced, maintained. The technology aspect is, of course, crucial for men as we are intrinsically nerdy; we love nothing more than an item that not only looks good but has functions and a construction that will have taken a lot of craftsmen a lot of time.
Watch movements can be pieces of engineering beauty
Few owners of Rolex wristwatches actually know that Oyster Perpetual written on the dial, refers to the fact that the watch is waterproof and is self winding (automatic). Even fewer know that the first Oyster Rolex in 1926 was the first mass produced wristwatch to be waterproof and that the Datejust was introduced by Rolex as the first watch ever to not only tell the time but also have an automatically changing date mechanism (complication). That sounds like nothing now, but remember there were no electronics during the time when these timepieces were being produced. The Datejust was and is still seen as an engineering feat and formed the basis for success of the brand that is widely celebrated today as Rolex.
Rolex Datejust showing “Certified Chronometer”
Men see watches the same way women see shoes. It’s what we do. But it’s also about simple pleasures. I own five watches – an Omega Seamaster Professional, a vintage 1980s Rolex Datejust, a modern Datejust, a Omega Speedmaster Professional and a Rolex Explorer – and I enjoy them all equally. It isn’t necessarily about the price: President Obama sports a timepiece costing no more than £260 and he is the leader of the free world, while Diego della Valle, the billionaire owner of the Tod’s fashion empire, always sports a humble but perfectly designed Swatch.
President Obama and his Jorg Gray 6500 Series
So there you have it, a small insight of what makes a wristwatch more than a wristwatch for so many and if you found it interesting I would be grateful if yoyou could follow and share my blog, Geneva Stripes to appreciate the fine intricacies of what makes this a very special hobby of mine.