Your Watch Choice Revealed

Watch choice - sleeve

A heavy snowstorm and icy conditions has put Texas in another lockdown. The road outside my house is impassible. The Electric Reliability Council of Texas has instituted rolling blackouts. My housing development will run out of propane today (Monday) and thus heat, with no chance of a refill until Wednesday at the earliest. What does this have to do with watch choice? . . .

Those of us who enjoy watches are obsessed with time. Why wouldn’t we be? It’s the one resource we use without any chance of a refill. How we use our limited time determines our fate, and the fate of those who depend on us. Our watches are an attempt to control time. To own it. It’s an ultimately fruitless pursuit, but one which we can’t afford to ignore.

Negative events – and the prospect of negative events – make us more aware of our mortality. COVID-19, extreme weather, illness, accidents, death – they all remind us that the clock is ticking. They change the meaning of time.

Snow way - watch choice

Sitting here, knowing that my heat is about to disappear and the power suddenly cease (shutting down this computer at any moment), I’m far more cognizant of time passing than normal. My watch is more important, and I view it differently.

Before the storm, my watch was a work of functional art to be admired, analyzed and reviewed. Now it’s a silent rebuke, reminding me that I only have so much time before I must start the fire, protect my dog and hope I have enough heat until the truck arrives.

I’ve spent some of my time wondering what our watch choice reveals about our relationship to time. Here’s my best guess.

Minimalist Watches

watch choice - Grand Seiko

People who wear a minimalist timepiece are especially time obsessed. We’re always glancing at our watch. That’s why we value at-a-glance-ability surtout.

A desire to be efficient? Certainly. A subconscious recognition that we’re in a constant race against time (i.e. the Grim Reaper)? That too.

Day-Date Watches

Rolex Day-Date

Watch enthusiasts who add a day-date complication to an otherwise minimalist timepiece are even more concerned about the passage of time.

Attuned to daily, weekly and monthly routines, schedules and plans, they see time management as both a short and a long-term goal. They want to know where they are in the grand scheme of things. Their watch choice keeps them focused on what lies ahead. They know that time waits for no one.

GMT Watches

Watch choice - OMEGA-Seamaster-300M-GMT-Great-White

People who wear a watch with a second time zone divide into two groups (with overlap): those who travel and those with friends and/or family in a different time zone. You could say that a GMT watch is a purely practical matter, especially for time-zone hopping business folk.

But it’s also true that GMT watch wearers are tuned into the fact that time is relative. That other people are experiencing time differently. This understanding provides a small measure of liberation from the in-your-face tyranny of time.

Traditional Chronographs/Vintage Watches

Norqain Freedom 60 Chronograph money shot

Most people who wear a traditional chronograph never use the stopwatch. The events that once justified the complication – motor racing, track and field, scuba, exercise – are now measured by more robust, accurate and efficient digital timers.

People who wear a trad chrono join vintage watch wearers in their desire to connect with the past – to assure themselves that their life is part of a larger story. They take comfort in the continuity of the human experience, whether it’s achievement (timed by a chrono) or style (expressed by an older design) or family tradition.

Dive Watches

Bell & Ross glow-in-the-day watch

Most people who wear a dive watch never dive. If they do, they wear a dive computer.  The obvious reason to wear a dive watch: they’re rugged timepieces that evoke the thrill of underwater exploration.

They reveal the wearer’s desire to live an active, adventurous life (whether they do or not). To find and savor those human interactions and events that put them “in the zone,” so they can stand outside of time and experience the sheer joy of being alive

Tourbillon/Minute Repeater Watches

Watch choice - tourbillon

People whose watch choice turns to the tourbillon and other expensive complications (e.g. minute repeaters) aren’t all about bragging rights. They revel in the childlike wonder of seeing/hearing a mechanical object that’s both complex and playful.

They know the tourbillon serves no practical purpose (especially when compared to a quartz movement). Like the dive watch, wearing a watch with the spinny thing or bells reflects a desire to escape the humdrum grind of passing time. To make fun of it.

I Admit . . .

that the cold and worry could be making me a little loopy. I welcome your corrections or additions. Suffice it to say, we all face the same challenge of managing our time to maximize our sense of purpose. To survive. The watch is our friend, our enemy, our advisor and our legacy. SWATCH and smartwatch aside.

20 comments

      1. It’s a G-7800. Fairly rare to find, especially in good shape. I believe it is of 2008 vintage. I found this one (NOS) on Ebay out of Hong Kong.

        It’s a VERY cool watch, with what is considered THE best “module” ever put out by Casio. It’s got many very cool customizable features. I might have to write it up some day.

          1. Yep. Apparently, they didn’t sell that well back then and were quickly discontinued. I bet they’d sell like hotcakes today.

            One example of the customizable functions: You can program the hourly signal (beep / chime) to only sound between certain times on certain days. So, you can program it to beep on the hour between 9a – 5p on weekdays only.

            The alarms can be programmed for weekdays, weekends, or every day.

            You can also program a custom “message” like this:

  1. My quick and dirty alternative:

    Minimalist Watches
    People who wear a minimalist timepiece are boring simpletons.

    Day-Date Watches
    Watch enthusiasts who add a day-date complication to an otherwise minimalist timepiece are delusional dolts who, just as they don’t know what day it is, don’t know where they are.

    GMT Watches
    People who wear a watch with a second time zone are paranoiacs and posers who fantasize they are a double-naught spy.

    Traditional Chronographs/Vintage Watches
    Most people who wear a traditional chronograph indulge in the “mo’ dials is mo’ betta” fallacy. Same goes with buttons.

    Dive Watches
    Most people who wear a dive watch are another example of those who hallucinate they are a double-naught spy. They never move the bezel, lest they forget how to tell how many minutes the big hand is indicating.

    Tourbillon/Minute Repeater Watches
    Rubes whose watch choice turns to the tourbillon and other expensive complications (e.g. minute repeaters) would be fans of Rube Goldberg, if they knew who Rube Goldberg was.

      1. Perpetual Calendar: A watch that will break beyond economic feasibility to repair before it ever needs to be theoretically reset.

    1. While allowing for the minimalist’s clarity of focus and freedom from distraction, I agree. Although as a day/date person, I know where I am because I never go anywhere.

      In terms of absolute necessity I’d resort to a chunky multifunction digital beast too. But they just are too scientific and don’t convey time in a tangible manner, like an hourglass would. It’s always a snapshot on time absent the fluidity.

      It’s odd for me to say that, as I (unpopular opinion alert) prefer the incremental tick of a quartz powered second hand to the continuous shuffle of the spring powered one. The resolution of my mental time comprehension has limits. I don’t acknowledge the existence fractions of a second.

  2. I was about to go nuts on Racer88 until I kept reading. Love it. Everyone should figure out how they view the personality profiles of these different watch owners/wearers. Says more about us than them I think.

  3. As a former resident of Texas, I can assure you this happens about every 7 years (like droughts in California), it eventually warms up, snow is gone, and people forget it until it happens again. Nothing new here really, just a region not used to extreme cold for more than 1 or 2 days. But let’s keep using green energy because that won’t make things worse.

    In these conditions, I assume having something extremely rugged would work, but not sure of a known watch to work under certain temps besides Sinns.

  4. Fortunately my power and natural gas have stayed on/available, but it is interesting to see a state that normally burns natural gas off at the oil well have an extreme shortage.

    Despite a Rolex and Omega my recent go-to has been a no-date Sistem51. It keeps time fairly well, and the only downside is that like the VC featured up top it does not hack. But setting time with a watch that does not hack can be a fun challenge.

  5. You forgot:

    Field Watch. Young, on a budget, and owns two copies of The Preppy Handbook, the paperback and the hardcover in a slipcase.

    Pilot Watch. Older, used to wear field watches, but wears progressive lenses now and wants an easy to read dial.

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