Monday, September 7, 2015

Step Out of Your Watch Comfort Zone

Try something different.

That’s something that everyone should do with movies, desserts, beers, vacation spots, teas, book genres, games, and restaurants.
The Aark Collective Neon Black, $379, may look nothing like
your Zenith, which is exactly the reason to wear one.
Photo from Aark Collective.

Nobody’s life has been enriched by just reading the same kind of book, a mystery novel for instance, and only that kind of book. Nobody has fully explored their sense of taste by sticking to pasta at every meal. Nobody has become enlightened by vacationing in the same place over and over again.

Trying something different is important with watches, as well. But way too often you hear watch collectors say things like, “I wear only dress watches,” “Diver watches are the only kind of watches that I like,” or “All of my watches are Breitlings.”

How limiting, how sad.

It’s fine to like a particular brand or genre of watch. It’s great to have a favorite. It’s fun to specialize, to know all that there is to know about Seikos, Rolexes, Omegas, or some other brand. But just because you wear a wool suit to work every day, doesn’t mean that you have to own or wear only dress watches.

Let’s take the wool-suit-to-work thought for a moment and digest that a little more. Watch collectors often say that 1) they don’t care if anyone else notices their watch and 2) nobody notices their watch, anyway. If that’s true—if that’s even 5 percent true—then why in the world would you feel that you must wear a slim, gold dress watch under your shirt sleeve every day? Who’s going to notice? Who’s going to care, other than you?

And what if you did wear a Seiko Monster or Mr Jones Sun and Moon watch instead of a Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Control or Piaget Altiplano? What do you have to worry about? Would you lose your job? Lose a client? Somebody might think less of you? Not a chance.

Even James Bond didn’t wear the same watch all the time. On Bond’s wrist you’ll see a Rolex Submariner in Dr. No., a Breitling Top Time in Thunderball, an Omega Seamaster Professional Co-axial in the 2006 version of Casino Royale, a Seiko memory calendar watch in Moonraker, and a Seiko H357 analog watch with digital display in For Your Eyes Only. If different watches are good enough for James Bond, then they’re good enough for you.

A SevenFriday P-1. Once upon a time, wearing a Panerai
was stepping outside of your comfort zone. Photo from
Of course, owning a watch that breaks from your regular pattern doesn’t mean that you have to wear that watch in places where you don’t think it’s appropriate. I was just explaining that unlike drinking with friends until 2 AM and going to work the following morning, wearing a watch that you think isn’t right for work is actually fine for work.

Buy something different and wear it when you want.

Never mind the fact that you’ll learn about different watches when you buy something different. Never mind that you’ll appreciate watches in general more when you wear something different. Never mind that you’ll like your favorite watch kind more by wearing something different. The main reasons to step out of your watch comfort zone is that a different watch will enlighten you, enchant you, and entertain you. Simply put, wearing a watch that breaks your rather rigid mold is fun.

How do you do this? There are so many different kinds of watches that you can wear, so how do you choose something that’s completely different, especially because there’s going to be this natural tendency to gravitate back to the watch style or brand you like?

Go vintage. If your watches are mostly modern, find a watch that was made over a quarter-century ago.

Choose a watch with a different color. If your watches are mostly white-faced with gold hands, then think green, orange, or blue.

Make a short list of companies that make watches different from yours and buy your next watch from that list.

Think country. Do you have only Swiss watches? Then look at Japan, the US, or England.

Buy a watch in a very different price range. If your watches usually cost $1,000, buy a watch for $200. If you’re a $10,000 watch person, then also buy a watch for $200. By restricting the price, you’re going to have to buy something different.

Don’t limit yourself to mechanical watches. Sure, watch movements are important—they’re everything—but if you’re willing to take a chance with quartz, you will find all sorts of new watch vistas open up in front of you.

Think museum. What museum would that different watch fit into? A classical art museum? A museum of modern art? A museum that specializes in things surreal?

Look at watches around you. The next time you’re anywhere, put away your phone and see what other people are wearing, especially people who are dressed entirely differently from you.

Surprise yourself with a new watch that’s just not the same old stuff. Just like that first time you ate a hot dog with mustard instead of ketchup, went camping, read a scary novel while all alone, or ended up on a television channel you’d never spent more than a passing second on before, you might actually like what you get.

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