I watching Hodinkee’s video recap of SIHH 2019, I was struck by a comment Jack Forster made about his dislike for the bandwagon criticism of certain watch models that were announced at the trade show. His argument was that we should respect the craftsmanship and artistry that goes into watchmaking and watch design even if the result is perceived as a “miss.”
I have been around the watch industry for several years now, as a hobbyist and working as watch writer, and I have, time and time again, witnessed an opinion that cements itself as “fact” when watch enthusiasts (mostly online) declare that a certain watch or design element is wrong. These declarations make it seem as if one is a lesser watch collector if he or she disagrees with the popularized sentiment.
As always, I defer to the notion that knowing one’s personal style is the best style. While collective consensus will happen in any hobby, I agree that the negative takes hurt us as community. We become elitists and stop the industry from growing and make it not as fun for newbies to get into watches. At some point, we all didn’t know much about watches, so let’s just take a moment and appreciate what sparked our initial interest in watches.
One example of the negative effect of group think is the idea that Tag Heuer watches are inferior to other brands that compete in that category. There’s a perception that this brand is too big for its own good, it spends too much money on sponsors and at one point used a Seiko movement it tried to pass off as its own. At the end of the day, many people’s “first nice watch” is a Tag Heuer, oftentimes purchased at a department store.
My first nicer automatic watch was a Tag Heuer Calibre 5. At 39mm with a ETA-clone, date complication, black dial and just enough lume, this Tag served me very well. It was my only watch, pretty scratched up from wearing it every day, and it really did go as well with jeans and a T-shirt or for a job interview. It was a watch that was appropriate for my career level at the time. It was also a gift from my in-laws. I cherished wearing that watch and thought it was cool that I should wear it every day to keep it running.
Objectively, the Calibre 5 is what we watch collectors would deem a perfect everyday wearer. Yes, it does not have the cache of Heuer-only marking. It’s a totally a basic watch that’s pretty common and understated. But this Tag Heuer is no less of a watch than, say, an ETA Tudor Black Bay, which has been embraced by a lot of watch guys as an affordable alternative to a Rolex Submariner.
My daily wear is 14060M Submariner, which may be the most unoriginal choice possible. A black Sub is cliche for dudes who don’t know what to get when they are getting their first Rolex. That said, I arrived upon this choice because it fits my personal style. I feel most in my own skin when wearing classics: Air Force 1s, L.L. Bean duck boots, Ralph Lauren polos. I’m happy that when I wear this watch, it feels like an extension of my personality. I could’ve easily caved to the groupthink concept that a black Submariner is too much of a mainstream choice for a real watch guy, but every time I snap close the clasp I get that giddy feeling we all strive for.
Don’t be a snob
I urge you to not look down on anyone’s watch choice. Celebrate that they are wearing a watch. I used to think that Apple Watch owners were truly missing out. But I’ve never tried an Apple Watch and surely the functionality must be pretty cool. Be open-minded. Express why you way love an automatic watch.
Set and wind your wife’s watch every time despite your temptation to want them to learn how to do it themselves.