Saturday, August 18, 2018

The Luch Slow Watch

I want to recommend a watch that costs less that $50, has a movement of unknown pedigree, isn’t made in a country that’s known for watches (it’s from Belarus), looks a bit odd, and will never increase in value.

That watch is the Luch one-hand watch.

A one-hand watch, also called a slow watch, is a watch with one hand that’s neither an hour nor a minute hand, but a little of each. It tells time through a single hand that points to the spot on the dial that shows both the hour and the minute. Telling the time on a one-hand may be disconcerting at first, but you get the hang it quickly. The time that’s being displayed in the photo below is 9:35:

Slow watches are refreshing and fun.
The large lines between the hour indicators show 15 minute intervals, and the smaller lines show five minute intervals.That’s all there is to telling the time with the Luch slow watch.

The Belarus Luch—whatever the movement is—is refreshingly accurate for such an inexpensive watch. The Luch has a copper shield above the movement, giving it a reasonable amount of resistance to magnetism.

The Luch comes in a variety of styles and colors, and you can find it on Amazon and eBay. Some of the models have a partially clear caseback. The flat crystal is pleasantly non-reflective.

The watch arrives with a drab, vanilla strap, but don’t let that stop you from being creative with straps. After all, this is no ordinary watch.

One-hand watches are a link to the past. Early pocket watches in the sixteenth century, and the tower clocks that preceded them, had only one hand. They are creatures of beauty.

Most watches are about knowing the time as exactly as possible. (how many threads are there on watch forums about watch accuracy?) But a slow watch offers perspective on time. It’s not about precision; it’s about making time move at a place that’s in harmony with the calmness you want to feel, and should feel.

I don't want to get all philosophical, because you’re here to read about watches and not relive your eleventh grade philosophy class, but trust me on this: If you make a slow watch your only timepiece for a few days—and for $45 what do you have to lose?—you’ll feel more in control of time, rather than the other way around. When you wear this watch while you're waiting at the doctor's office or standing in line at the DMV wondering when your turn is going to come, time seems to flow at a more tranquil pace. You’re less bothered, less impatient.

It’s not easy to read the exact minute on a slow watch, which is part of the point. And although it’s easy to learn to read a one-hand watch, it takes a second or two longer to decipher what time the watch is displaying than with a traditional watch. A quick glance won’t work. You have to spend more time looking at a slow watch. Who doesn’t want to look at their watch longer?

The MeisterSinger Lunascope is a
stunning watch. It's about $3,400.
Other companies make one-hand watches, but most are more expensive and larger, or use a quartz movement. But who am I to stop you from buying an even better one-hand watch, such as the MeisterSinger Lunascope moonphase?

Some reviewers say that one-hand watches are more minimalist than two-hand watches, but I disagree. Because they sport 144 five minute markers, the dials, clever and aesthetically pleasing as they are, look busy. The absence of a hand does not automatically make a watch minimalist.

Circling back to where this review began. I don’t care if your usual wrist fare is a gold Patek or a vintage Daytona. Your owe yourself to try something decisively different and which touches your subconscious in unexpected ways. Give the Luch a whirl. You only have $45 to lose.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

How to Insult a Watch Collector

Watch collectors are a tough crowd. We're thick-skinned like a Casio G-Shock and as tough as a Rolex Sea-Dweller Deepsea. We can take any punishment the world delivers to us even better than a Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Compressor Extreme LAB 2.

Who am I kidding? Watch enthusiasts aren’t strong at all. We wander through a melancholy fog every day because nobody notices our watches. We're hurt because not a soul asks us, "What time is it?" We're heartbroken when the birthday present from our twelve-year-old is a handmade paper owl, fashioned out of paper and love, rather than a Patek bought with allowance money. We’re devastated when somebody else in our office wears the same watch, but it’s the solid gold version.

If you really want to do damage to a watch collector's fragile ego, deploy one of the insults in this article They’ll sting, bite and turn the most hardened watch collector into a bowl of disassembled watch parts. One insult might be all it takes to rip us apart from watch collecting and hurl us to a new hobby, like collecting baseball bats. But just remember, if you insult a watch collector, your watch geek friend might never tell you the time again.

Good thing you're wearing a long-sleeve shirt with that watch.

You don't need a safe for that watch because nobody would want to steal it.

Your watch is off by 5 seconds.

"Your watch is inside out."
My boss, my cousin, and my cubicle colleague all have the exact same Submariner as you.

My bike cost more than your watch.

Your watch makes your face look big, and not in a good way.

Did your watch go to Freddy Krueger School of Beauty?

I got the same Rolex for $100 during my trip to China. Here—take a look!

Collecting watches is a shallow hobby.

That watch is awfully small. Is it a girl’s watch?

You're wearing a watch? What's the matter, you can't figure out how to use your phone?

Have you thought about replacing the sapphire crystal with lucite? Some scratches will add character to your watch.

But you're not a diver.

But you're not a pilot.

Oh, I'm sorry. I thought that was a Invicitia. But I see now that's it's a real Rolex.

You bought a watch winder? Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!

The vintage watch makes your wrist look fat.

Your watch looks just like my Stuhrling Original.

Your watch has a nice personality.

Your watch is so big it needs its own zip code.

I like your smartwatch's face! Oh, it's not a smartwatch?

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Royal Oak Or Nautilus? There Is A Cheaper Option, the Omega Constellation

by Frankie Gaffney

The Rolex Datejust is probably the most recognizable luxury watch of all time. But as soon as someone gets interested in watches in a serious way, their eyes are usually turned by one of two lesser-known icons: the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak, or the Patek Philippe Nautilus. This is a function of the insatiability of our desires, always wanting something more and more unobtainable. And with prices starting at upwards of 10 and 20 grand respectively – for the most basic steel models – the Royal Oak and Nautilus are most definitely unobtainable for all but the wealthy.

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak
But there’s more to the enduring status of these watches than the branding and hefty price tag. Both are fixed-bezel sports-watches with integrated bracelets, textured dials, generous lume, a contrast of brushed and polished surfaces, superb in-house movements – and both have unique and instantly recognizable case and bracelet shapes. It is no coincidence both were designed by Gerald Genta.

It’s the rare combination of extremely high quality and practicality afforded by these features that lends these watches much of their desirability. The designs and construction are sturdy. They are waterproof (crucially that includes the bracelet, as dress-watches usually come on leather straps), they can take a knock, they have enough lume to be seen in the dark, and they are certainly not delicate in structure or appearance, like say, a Calatrava. Yet they remain elegant, wearing as well with a suit as with a tracksuit. Indeed, they have been described as bracelets which happen to have watches attached. And of course, given their distinctiveness, anyone “in-the-know” will recognize them as expensive status symbols.

But it is this price-tag which puts them out of the reach of most. So are there any cheaper alternatives? The most obvious contender is the Maurice Lacroix Aikon. It ticks many of the same boxes, and can be had for under $1000 (if you know where to look). But it falls short. I’d argue the design is derivative – both the bracelet and dial are a little too close to the Royal Oak for comfort. Unsurprisingly at this price-point, the movement is a third party Sellita. There is an open caseback, but little worth seeing. This all means that while the Aikon is excellent value, it has none of the cachet of the watches from which it takes its design cues.

Friday, July 27, 2018

TRIWA Watch Made from Metal from Destroyed Firearms

Watch cases come in various flavors: steel, titanium, ceramics, aluminum, white gold, yellow gold, pink gold, platinum, silver, plastic, rubber, palladium, bronze, and even wood. Case materials have different properties: Some are hypoallergenic like palladium, some super light like titanium, and some nearly indestructible, like the urethane resin that Casio G-Shocks are made from.

TRIWA: three hands, date display, punched
dial indices, automatic movement
Some case materials are wildly more expensive than others: The same Grand Seiko costs $5,700 in steel (SBGW253), $17,200 in yellow gold (SBGW252), and $30,600 in platinum (SBGW251) for instance.

TRIWA, a Kickstarter project, is making watches out of an altogether novel material: destroyed illegal firearms. TRIWA, a Swedish watchmaker, calls this material “Humanium Metal.” The company describes the metal this way:

Humanium Metal by IM is an award winning material made from destructed illegal firearms and melted into a usable metal. The metal is crafted out of something that used to be a destructive force, now turned into something good. The sales from Humanium Metal generate financial resources used to rebuild conflict torn societies and support victims of armed violence. 

Few people can spot whether a watch is made from steel, silver, white gold, or platinum. Even when you’re studying a watch, it’s difficult to know what the material is. For all practical purposes, unless the watch owner’s wearing a button that says, “My watch is made of platinum,” nobody except for that watch wearer knows.

Saturday, July 21, 2018

The Camouflage Watch

Watch collectors are familiar with the concept of a beater watch, a watch that’s nicked and dented, scuffed and scraped, and which you don't mind getting messed up even more. Beaters are meant to be worn while rock climbing, cleaning the garage, or moving into a new apartment.

Even to a watch collector, this $100 Chinese watch
looks like it might be more than the sum of its parts.
A camouflage watch is a watch that looks good, but
didn't cost much, and that you won't shed a tear over
if it meets an untimely demise. 
Beaters don't always start out as beaters. In fact, they usually don't. A beater could once have been a Rolex Submariner that glistened in the sunlight or a Panerai that smiled every time it peeked out from under your sleeve. But an unfortunate close encounter with a brick wall or iron skillet turned that watch into a beater. The term, "beater," is an emotional cheat, a way of saying, "My beautiful Speedmaster has started a new life, and I'm happy for it."

The camouflage watch, by contrast, is a watch you’ve never especially cared about about. It’s different from a beater. A camouflage watch is a handsome, inexpensive watch that to the untrained eye (non-watch collectors) looks like an expensive watch. A camouflage watch appears too fancy, complicated, rare, high-art—an engineering feat but didn't really cost all that much. Because you didn’t put your credit card company on high alert when you bought your camouflage watch, you won't shed a tear if the watch gets broken, scarred or stolen.

Camouflage watches are expendable.

While a beater may have once been a multi-thousand dollar watch, a camouflage watch never costs more than dinner out for four. (Not all beaters were Rolexes; some people buy watches like Casio G-Shocks to be their beaters, but these watches look like what they are —  inexpensive and sturdy.)

Monday, July 16, 2018

Tokyo Watch Hospital

Tokyo is one of the world's best wristwatch cities, with some of the most dazzling watch shops, including ones at Ginza with glass elevators that double as watch galleries.

Tokyo even has watch hospitals, like this one at Yurakucho Station. Open until 9 p.m, too!

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Three Shops Selling the Identical Used Watch

Credor Spring Drive Moonphase:
Stunning no matter how it's sold.
This is interesting. These three online shops are selling the identical Credor Spring Drive Moonphase watch. The exact same. The scratches on the watch are identical.

Here are the links to the watches: (¥ 498,000) This watch is also available on eBay. (¥ 353,580) ( ¥ 590,444)

 (The prices are in yen; for a rough conversion to dollars, just cut the last two digits.)

The price difference from the most to least expensive is 236,864 yen, about $2,100 —  for the same watch. Notably, none of these stores are watch shops.

Credor is Seiko’s high-end line, even higher than their Grand Seiko division. My favorite Credor is the Eichi II, which weighs in at $50,000, and is worth every dollar. Unadorned and elegant through design and simplicity, the Eichi, also a spring drive, is grace and polish personified in a watch. But I digress. We’re talking about the Credor Moonphase here. It’s life was brief, and can be found in the used market for about $4,500, give or take a thousand.

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Watch Size Rules

Last week Congress passed a law requiring all wristwatch reviews to delineate a watch's diameter and lug-to-lug distance in the article's first paragraph.

The bill was supported by the vast majority of watch collectors, but opposed by several watch manufacturers, including Panerai, IWC, and Hublot. The bill, The Truth in Time Act, was also condemned by the ACLU, which said, "This law is a clear infringement on the First Amendment rights of watchmakers and watch journalists." The ACLU also said the law is fundamentally flawed because it doesn't address a watch’s thickness, how tightly integrated the lugs are, or if the case is curved in sync with the wearer’s wrist.

Most watch buyers support the legislation.

"I often have to scan an article three or four times to find that information," said Roger Lewis, a watch collector from Bangor, Maine, who owns seven Rolexes. "I have no intention of reading a full watch review if the watch is too big or too small or the lugs are too enormous for my wrist. Having that information up front let's me know if I should even bother reading the review. I mostly want to see the pictures in reviews, anyway."

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Jaeger-LeCoultre Vintage Memovox: The Nearly Perfect Couple's Watch

What's a watch collector to get his or her significant other? Another necklace? A new leather cover for the car's steering wheel? A wallet? A third cat?

Of course not. A watch is the perfect gift for anyone, anytime, and the only better gift than a watch you can bestow upon your significant other is a couple's watch. Giving a watch as a birthday, anniversary or other present is wonderful, but getting the two of you matching watches is wondrous. When you're apart and look at your watch, you'll smile, knowing that your lover or spouse has the same testament to affection around their wrist.
A pair of 1960's Jaeger-LeCoultre Memovoxes

While finding a couple's watch isn't difficult, finding the right one is. It's easy to slip into a Rolex shop and wind up with matching Datejusts weighing in at his and hers sizes. In the Omega, Cartier, and Grand Seiko realms you'll find his and hers watches, too. Even Daniel Wellington has couples watches—and judging from the under 30-year-old wrists I see, they're popular.

But think outside the authorized dealer box and consider matching (or nearly matching) vintage watches. In particular, what about a pair of vintage Jaeger-LeCoultre Memovox? The Memovox was one of the most important watches of the 1950's and 1960's. Handsome, with touches of Art Deco from preceding decades, the Memovox's look is, well, timeless. JLC's Memovox is an alarm watch, because the in the 50's and 60's, alarms were more important complications than moonphases and jumping second hands. There were no phone alarms in those distant decades, and even electric alarm clocks were a relative scarcity. People were probably as sleep deprived in the 1950’s and 1960’s as they are today, and without an alarm half the population would be fired for chronic lateness.

But even in 2018, alarm watches are fun-functional: Sometimes you want a backup alarm; sometimes it's just more convenient to set your watch's alarm. (And sometimes you can surreptitiously set your watch's alarm to go off mid-meeting, followed by, "Sorry. I need to go.")

If you search the usual places, such as Chrono24 and vintage watch shops, you'll find Jaeger-LeCoultre Memovoxes in 33 mm and 37 mm sizes, just about perfect for his and hers watches.

Prices for vintage Memovoxes range from about $1,500 to $9,000. Here's a feather in the vintage watch cap: Vintage watches rarely go down in value, while a new Rolex or Omega is going to lost some 20 percent of its value the moment you walk out of the watch shop.

Vintage watches as couple’s watches are more interesting, thoughtful and rare than buying contemporary his and hers watches, too. Next time you’re thinking about a present, you know where to look.