The Wall Street Journal makes me look like a tool
|Sep 3||Public post|| 3|
WSJ: Your Watch Says More About You Than You Think
Last week, the Wall Street Journal published an article with the premise that “Your Watch Says More About You Than You Think”. Prominently featured is a certain 27-year old attorney from Chicago. The article begins:
AN OLD WORKPLACE adage says you shouldn’t wear a watch that’s fancier than your boss’s. For Tony Traina, 27, an associate lawyer in Chicago, however, it would have been difficult to find a more casual timepiece than the $399 Apple Watches his firm’s higher-ups tend to favor. He didn’t bother. As a watch-lover, he ignored protocol, showing up at work in a $1,500 mechanical watch by German brand Nomos Glashütte. But it barely went noticed.
Perhaps I’m being self conscious, but I’m pretty sure I come off like a raging douche bag here. “Guy shows up to his fancy new job with a fancy new watch, then cries to the WSJ when no one notices” — it’s not exactly a made-for-Disney fairy tale. On a surface level, it bothers me most that my watch is the only one for which the author explicitly lists a price, right there in the first paragraph. Not to mention the fact that I bought the watch pre-owned at a fraction of the price. So fuck me.
But that’s all beside the point. The entire article is written from the perspective of how your co-workers, or your boss, view your mechanical timepiece. I disagree entirely with that premise. I buy watches not to “flex”, but to feel a connection to people, places, or events that are meaningful to me. I bought a Nomos for my wedding because I love the brand’s minimalist aesthetic and commitment to independent German design, engineering and manufacturing. And now, when I look at the watch, it reminds me of my wedding day. I got into vintage primarily for the stories behind the references, brands, or people that wore those watches.
And I don’t care that no one has noticed my little watch. In fact, that’s exactly the point; I don’t want anyone to notice. I wear watches for me, not anyone else. It’s almost akin to the reason people get tattoos — to symbolize something permanent about their identity or who they are.
Bottom line, I think the author of this article had a headline and perspective in mind when he started writing, then cherry-picked a few quotes from me and the others quoted to back up his narrative.
Rolex, Naomi Osaka, and the Oscars of Watches
Consumer reviews site Trustpilot released a study of brand personality, ranking Rolex the most reputable brand globally and in the U.K. Campbell Soup claimed the top spot in the U.S., where Rolex ranked 18th. The study looked at five brand traits: Openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and emotional range. Rolex shined in “openness”, for its propensity for risk taking, likely due to its sponsorship of and association with athletes. It’s also important to point out that topping this list doesn’t necessarily mean sales; Campbell Soup, for example, has seen declining sales in 8 of its past 10 fiscal years.
The 2018 U.S. Women’s Open champion, Naomi Osaka, is wearing a titanium Citizen Eco-Drive throughout this year’s U.S. Open. It’s the perfect watch for a tennis player like Osaka, and it’s nice to see Citizen put one of its headline ambassadors in a technical, unisex watch that anyone can wear. And, it’s completely different from the the typical Audemars Piguet choices of the 2018 runner up, Serena Williams. Both Osaka’s and Williams’ wrist choices are substantially better than whatever Nadal decides to put on his wrist.
The 2019 Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève (GPHG) published its list of “pre-selected” watches for the forthcoming GPHG, which takes place in November 2019. There are 6 watches for each of the 14 categories, so a lot of photos to go through. Some takeaways:
I’m excited about the new “Iconic” category, which is designed to emphasize watches from a brand's, well, iconic collection. This year, for example, pits a Royal Oak, Hamilton Intra-Matic, TAG Heuer Monaco, Zenith El Primero, and a couple other icons against each other.
The Audemars Piguet Code 11.59 is on the short list in two categories. I love that the GPHG is trolling the general public.
The “Challenge” category is always one to watch, featuring watches with an MSRP under CHF 4,000. This year, the Tudor Black Bay P01, Seiko Presage, and Ming’s latest efforts all feature.
Seiko Introduces Its First Presage with a Spring Drive Movement. For the first time, Seiko has brought its signature Spring Drive movement to the moderately priced Seiko line, topping off its efforts with black and white enamel dial options.
A Modern Heuer and “Neo-Vintage” Patek
I loved this watch when it was released in December of 2018 and all 500 pieces sold through pretty quickly at TAG Heuer boutiques. It’s a collaborative effort between Heuer and Hiroji Fushiwara’s Fragment Design, and originally retailed at $8,100. Fushiwara’s inspiration for this limited edition model was the Carrera Reference 2447NT, introduced in 1968. This reference, notable for its tachymeter printed on a bright white outer ring, is among the rarest of vintage Carreras, with the price tag to match. So, it was exciting to see such a faithful modern execution of it, with some of the street wear flair that only a guy like Fushiwara can bring.
Sotheby’s Online Auction has perhaps the first example of this watch up for auction this month, placing the estimate at CHF 3,000 to 5,000. So, it looks like the market thinks these watches haven’t held their retail value. Listen, a “limited edition” of 500 pieces is a lot for a Heuer with this price tag, so that’s not terribly surprising. For reference, the extremely successful Hodinkee x TAG Heuer limited edition Skipper had a production run of just 125 pieces, priced at $5,900.
The Fragment Design Carrera wasn’t appealing to me at $8,100 (mainly because I didn’t think it’d hold that value), but becomes a much more interesting proposition under $5,000. We’ll see where it ends up. We’ll have more on the Sotheby’s Online Auction lots soon. Estimate: CHF 3,000 to 5,000.
Patek introduced the Reference 5070G in 1998 as the brand’s first non-perpetual chronograph in over 40 years (following on the long-discontinued vintage Reference 1463). It’s a “simple” two-register, manually-wound chronograph powered by Patek’s caliber CH 27-70, which is based on the Lemania 2310.
Patek limited production of the 5070 to just 250 pieces per metal each year (yellow gold, rose gold, white gold, and platinum); the white gold was produced from 2002 to 2008, meaning just 1500 examples of the 5070 in white gold exist.
It’s a big watch with a 42mm white gold case (compared to 39mm for the Reference 5170, which features a fully in-house movement), so be prepared to go bold with this one, but it’s a worthy addition to any collection. The 5070 features a clean silvered dial and tachymeter on the outer ring. A seller on Chronotrader is offering a nice example from 2005. Asking price is €54,600, or best offer.
A month back, I featured a similar Gallet Multichron 12 with a white dial in good overall condition. This time around, it’s a deliciously chocolately version of the Multichron 12. Like the other version, this one has the Excelsior Park caliber 40 inside; these Gallets can also be found with a Valjoux 72 movement, though that’s more rare. The dial on this example is beautiful and the case looks to be in fine condition as well. Gallet is technically the world’s oldest timepiece maker, with a history dating back to Humbertus Gallet, a Geneva-based clockmaker who began operations in 1466. I’m a big fan of the Gallet Flying Officer, commissioned by the U.S. government during World War II, and Gallets’ mid-century chronographs, like the one here, are a worthy continuation of this legacy. Those Watch Guys are asking $6,270 for this example.
Ticks & Tocks
🎸 Keith Richard’s watches. 🧐Is being a watch collector still fun? ✍️ Fratello goes deep on how traditional watch brands can find modern consumers. 🗓 The new H. Moser Perpetual Calendar. ✝️ A Q&A with Noah’s Brendon Babenzien. 🌎 Hodinkee goes hands-on with the new Monta Atlas GMT. 🏚 The CB2 x GQ Collection is here. 🚴♀️ The Peloton IPO: Not another fitness fad? 📧 A stinging critique of newsletter company Air Mail.
In Chicago: Oak & Oscar is hosting an evening with vintage expert Eric Wind this week.
Thanks for reading!
Meme of the Week:
@brodinkee. I was in London this week and this was basically my experience at every boutique I walked in…