Luxury watches are a pretty crazy obsession. For those of us who love, drool over, and get worked up about all things horological, the thought of wearing a watch which doesn’t have provenance, pedigree, panache, or any other associated superlatives (and those are all purely subjective)—is about as appealing as eating wheat bran washed down with a cup of hose water. Sure, you can do it, but it’s not much fun. Similarly, you can get by with just about any watch that tells time, but it’s really a nice thing to be able to bond with a watch which can take the rigors of the daily shuffle, while still being an object that gives you that sense of calm and I cringe to say it-wellness? – every time you glance at it.
Levity aside, what I’m really speaking about is the day-to-day watch, sometimes referred to as “a beater”. While the term might sound a bit harsh, it is really meant with great respect—this is the one watch you can always have on you, regardless of what you are doing. Such a watch should be able to get really wet, gain character through each scrape and scratch, and should be pretty sturdy-it’s movement, while of course being mechanical, must also be durable. Most importantly, you should love to look at it, as it is something you will wear a lot and share a significant amount of your life with.
In my own case, I have long turned to some form of steel Rolex Oyster Perpetual for this niche; with their highly water-resistant characteristics and massively built, easily serviceable manufacture movements, these sports watch classics have performed very well, and still do. I’ve swam in rivers and the ocean, hiked, skated and ran with them on, fallen on them, shot heavily recoiling firearms and more, and they have remained perfectly precise. While I greatly respect their utterly reliable performance, they somewhat lack the intangible appeal of the exotic which makes fine watches so tantalizing: it seems as if everyone has a Rolex these days, and despite my considerable admiration for the brand’s rich history and achievements, the 5-point crown lately skates perilously close to being a cliche luxury item. While I don’t plan on getting rid of either of the two I alternate between, I have been thinking of watches which might fulfill the same mission, yet fly better beneath the radar. Anyone who has read my previous entries, knows of my love for the AP Royal Oak 15300; unfortunately, while I do wear that watch a great deal, it is not, nor can it ever be, a true “beater” to me—it is too pretty, and ruining its flawlessly finished metal surfaces would all but amount to a crime; servicing costs are frighteningly prohibitive, too. The bottom line is, that while I adore it, it’s kind of like dating a pageant queen: I can’t swim, shoot, hike, camp, or do any of the other active things I like to do when wearing it, which sadly removes it from the possibility of being a true grit companion watch.
So, lately I’ve been mulling over what watch WOULD be good for the luxury beater. Excellent choices that spring to mind include the Girard-Perregaux Sea-Hawk II and Sea Hawk II Pro. Water resistant to 300 meters, and a whopping 3000 meters, respectively, these two rugged sport watches combine a distinctly elegant look, with a manufacture-made movement; they even feature a nice complication to boot—the power reserve indication. Another candidate might be the new Corum Admiral’s Cup Competition; it is extremely water resistant, stylishly casual, and tough, on a great looking rubber strap with the coolest looking tang buckle I’ve ever seen. Audemars Piguet’s glandular Royal Oak – the Offshore – would be a fantastic choice too, but again, I don’t know that I have the heart to take life out on its characteristic flawless finish. Too, that is one expensive mother to be risking in the field–and that’s not even considering the 1K plus tariff for a movement overhaul and service. Then there is Kobold, an unquestioningly durable watch (pick any model in the Soarway lineup) which is certainly very exclusive in its production and visibility, and, as if that weren’t enough—headed by one of the nicest guys in the business.
As tasty as these and many other choices are, I think that an IWC will shortly join my honored league of companion watches; I’ve been thinking about getting one for quite awhile. I admire many of the selections in their lineup, and appreciate the clean, minimalist, masculine ethic embodied in the brand–in everything from the classic Pilot watches, to the Aquatimer . These watches appeal to me for the same reason I have always been drawn to some of the historically important Rolex models—but with the advantage of freedom from the weird hype that often surrounds that most famous of brands. That’s why I think my next watch will be the IWC Ingenieur Automatic . It boasts a great historical lineage, impressive technical specifications, and an IWC manufacture movement built expressly for hard use. Sounds like a home run for me—massively built inside and out, and highly resistant to water and shocks, I am confident this piece will be a fantastic partner that I don’t have to baby. At the same time, and of significance to me at this fork in the road—I know it’s something that won’t be on every other arm.
I guess you could say I have a sentimental place in my heart for the “daily beaters” – the watches that go with me through life, when the others stay locked up for safekeeping, and the last watch (or watches) I would ever give up. We all should have at least one luxury watch that we aren’t hesitant to wear at any time. You don’t have to rely on a Casio G-Shock or the Timex Triathlon: put on a real watch-a mechanical watch-and celebrate each scratch and ding. The only danger is, you just might become so attached to this watch, that your other more pampered watches begin to lose wrist time!