Power reserve indicator? No thanks. I cycle through a lot of watches. If I leave a watch for a while and it’s out of power, I wind it, set it and wear it. If it’s a mechanical watch that has some power remaining, I wind it full. As I wrote in Your Watch’s “Power Reserve” Explained, some people don’t enjoy setting a dead watch – especially if it has a date window. But the only way I can see how that would matter is . . .
If you consider a topped-up power reserve indicator (PRI) a reassuring indication that you’re still alive (i.e. ambulatory). More realistically, if you wear a casual watch on the weekend and return to your business/dress watch on Monday and don’t want to have to set it.
If that isn’t the dictionary definition of a first-world problem, it should be. Especially now that Coronageddon has made the weekend watch transfer power problem (WWTPP) a thing of the past, as the Monday to Friday 9 to 5 grind goes the way of the mood ring.
And yet watchmakers keep cranking out timepieces sporting a power reserve indicator.
For the vast majority, incorporating this minimally useful gauge into a dial design is a challenge too far. Grand Seiko is the worst offender.
I really want a Grand Seiko Spring Drive – the only watch with a second hand that literally sweeps around the dial (other than obsolete Accutrons and their latter day Spaceview 2020). But I can’t abide the little PRI triangle inflicted on all but GS’s more expensive Spring Drive models. I have to pay MORE for less? Geddowdaheah.
Grand Seiko is the most persistent and pervasive power reserve indicator provider (it’s their signature move). But even exclusive and artful watchmakers fall prey to PRI-tis. To wit: the NOMOS Lambda.
While I appreciate the engineering chops required to manufacture a timepiece with an 84 hour power reserve, the Lambda’s 297-degree PRI dial flex is inescapably ill-advised.
In this upmarket aesthetic affront NOMOS is not alone. Jaeger-leCoultre has also screwed the proverbial pooch by making a feature out of a bug. Or is that a bug out of a feature? More than once.
I’m not saying watchmakers can’t incorporate a power reserve indicator without messing up a dial. The A. Lange & Sohne 1815 above is far from entirely objectionable. IWC’s elegant Portugieser Automatic shares the same layout, with the same relatively inoffensive result.
But no matter how you slice it, a dial-mounted power reserve indicator is still horological tits on a bull. Which may be why A. Lange & Sohne abandoned the PRI for their current 1815.
To avoid eternal design damnation, some watchmakers disguise their power reserve indicator. The Draken Peregrine‘s logo is an excellent example of a hide-in-plain-sight PRI.
Some brands cater to stoppedwatchaphobics by putting the power reserve indicator on the back of a watch (Breguet Classique 5907 above). Right answer, if an answer be needed. Which it isn’t.
Don’t get me wrong. If you like your PRI you can keep your PRI. How many people with watches equipped with a helium escape valve dive deep enough where it would perform any useful function? A PRI is way more practical that (as is just about every other watch complication).
Just remember that the dial-mounted power reserve indicator is a needless affectation – and enjoy. God willing, I’ll never be in a position where I have that option.