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Li Wang

Zodiac

Zodiac Sea Wolf collaboration with Topper and Kiss (that’s right, the band)

Eric Singer is the drummer for Kiss. He’s also a watch collector. Burlingame, California-based Topper Jewelers tapped him to help design new takes on a heritage dive watch, the Zodiac Sea Wolf, originally born in 1953.

We’ll start with the most vital stats for most people. This Topper Edition Series II,  recently unveiled at an event at Topper, comes in at 40mm x 11mm (20mm lug width) and will be available in a limited edition of 80 pieces for $1,495. Pre-order here, with expected release in spring 2019.

The depth rating is the solid 200m and its movement is Zodiac’s STP3-13-3, which is similar to a COSC certified ETA 2824. All the bracelets feature an expanding clasp and we are partial to the Jubilee-style version featured on the rally bezel variants, which helps distinguish it from the sea of oyster-style diver bracelets.

We applaud Topper for continuing to collaborate with cool brands to deliver takes on standard models that don’t stray too far from the originals. For example, their version of the Oris Sixty-Five diver simple omitted the date complication and added a red-tipped seconds hand and lume triangle on the bezel. The Topper take on the Nomos Glashütte Tangente 38 used a subtle shade of blue (instead of black) on the dial markers.

This new variation on the Sea Wolf continues this theme. The style is ideal for heritage divers who love a bit of funk in their wrist wear. If you are drawn to vintage Jenny divers, the Doxa look, or Seiko rally divers from the 1960s, this iteration of the Sea Wolf would add some nice variety to your dive watch collection. The specs are strong at this price and the colorful rally style bezel insert models provide a strong dose of visual interest.

Our friends at Worn & Wound published a very nice comprehensive article on vintage Sea Wolfs and you can see this new series’ esthetic evolution from the original (with its triangle markers at 12, 3, 6, and 9) in the W&W photo below:

Omega

The Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean 42mm in titanium: A nimble big watch

At a recent watch gathering I was able to try on the Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean, rated to 600m and with Omega’s proprietary co-axial movement and Liquid Metal finishing. What struck me was how light the titanium watch felt on the wrist, making a large imprint watch very comfortable on. Having been an owner of the Tudor Pelagos (one of my favorite modern divers), the Planet Ocean felt much lighter.

That said, “feeling light” can be considered a plus or minus. Some folks like their watch to feel a bit hefty. Too light and the watch feels cheap, according to the heavier is better crowd. If you’ve ever tried on the titanium Seiko “Shogun” SBDC029, it’s so light you forget that you’re wearing a watch.

Back to the Planet Ocean: In spite of the light weight, there is absolutely no absence of the feel of quality. I realize that’s a feeling that’s hard to quantify, but the case size, feel on the wrist and dial details (that Omega blue!) gives this watch a major presence. Of course the Omega retails for over $8,000 while the aforementioned Seiko costs less than $1,000, so the comparison must be scaled accordingly. The grade 5 titanium PO when compared to the Pelagos (which retails for just less than $4,000) is also much more scratch resistant, according to its owner. The shade of blue is deep and rich and orange accents (on the tip of the seconds hand and “Seamaster” writing) add up to a very restrained look for such a big watch.

Big showpiece

One very positive attribute of this Omega is that you are getting a very noticeably expensive watch to wear. Let’s face it, when you are balling in this price range, you are after a certain recognition. This PO delivers on that front and even people who don’t know watches will likely know that you are wearing a pricier watch.

I’ve also had the opportunity to try on a Grand Seiko SBGA031 titanium diver. This Spring Drive movement model is also very light and comfortable, but the big downfall (or advantage) is very limited brand recognition.

Even for a showpiece, the PO is very tastefully executed. It’s become a classic Omega design and has a very distinct esthetic that screams professional diver and professional executive at the same time.

Oris Tudor

Would you wear a smaller dive watch?

During the recent Wind Up Watch Fair I stopped by the Oris booth to try on their 36mm version of the Aquis Date dive watch. It looked small on the wrist, but it felt very comfortable and it could be a look that I’d get used to. The 36mm size is more commonly associated with watches such as the classic Datejust and works really well with more traditional business attire.

We love dive watches, of course, and our own Oceanking is sized at 40.7mm wide and 11.9mm thick, which we think is the ideal size for most men. The standard bearer, of course, is the Rolex Submariner, which comes in right at that 40mm mark, even in its modern ceramic bezel incarnation.

But to go down 4mm in case size for a dive watch is pretty drastic, but it’s nice to see more available in a smaller size, which is great for women and men who want to wear a dive watch in dressier situations. The size is very sleek and discrete, which sometimes is a necessity in settings where flashy jewelry may not be a good look. Even the aluminum bezel Submariners have a lot of wrist presence and shiny bits to be quite noticeable.

Tudor 75090

This mid-sized Tudor Sub features a 35mm case and wears small. No longer in production this 1990s model has a matte back dial and tritium lume plots. These can be found for sale at a relatively lower cost due the its 39mm brother being more popular. If you love the classic diver look and have a smaller wrist, this one could satisfy your needs for an excellent everyday wearer.

Oris Aquis Date 36mm

The Aquis Date is one of the most practical sport watches within an lineup. While still maintaining a relatively conservative design, it possesses its own look thanks to Oris’ smart design team. The proprietary bracelet interface works really well and it’s a solid piece for the price. For some time, this watch was only offered in a 43mm size and now comes in and 40mm and 36mm sizes too. As seen below, it works really well for smaller wrists.

Rolex Yachtmaster 37

The Yachtmaster line is under appreciated and overlooked by many due to the resounding popularity of the Submariner, GMT Master and Daytona models. The Yachtmaster comes in a 37mm size and the Everose Gold ref. 268655 is stunning, especially under natural lighting conditions. This particular watch is perfect for the guy or gal who wants to rock a more refined sport watch look.

Tudor Black Bay 36

With the release of the Black Bay 58 (in 39mm) the popular modern Tudor dive watch line listened to consumers who demanded something smaller than the 41mm original. But those with smaller wrists shouldn’t forget the Black Bay 36, which could be a nice substitute for those who wanted a now discontinued 36mm Rolex Explorer I. We know the many watches thrown into the Go Anywhere Do Anything category, but the Black Bay 36 pretty much nails that definition with flying colors.

My Collection

Wrist time: How to determine when to consolidate your watch collection

After a recent Instagram message exchange with a fellow watch guy, inevitably we get to the point where there’s a declaration of “Yeah, I need to sell some watches because some aren’t getting any wrist time.”

If you are saying that in your head, it’s time to make that hard edit but also understand that trying out different watches is part of the journey. Also recognize that your potential cast-offs will be another collector’s treasure, at least for the initial period of discovery.

Watch size, features, looks, wearability, value are just some of the qualities one can use to determine if a particular watch is a keeper vs. one that could be expendable. When making these cuts, be sure to use your heart and not your head. Watch collecting is already an irrational hobby, so most often snap judgements of the gut will go a long way. What watches do you naturally gravitate towards? Do certain attributes make you happy every time you strap it on? Here are some considerations:

  1. Wearability: Does the watch feel like an extension of your body or does it feel forced? Case size alone won’t be the only factor. How does it feel on? Do the lugs hug your wrist? Do the proportions suit your body type (honestly)? Look at the watch on in front of a full-length mirror (privately, of course).
  2. Features: I love the sandwich dial (cut-out markers on top of a disc of lume) on my PAM112. Does a watch have certain characteristics that make you smile? It could be a super comfortable bracelet or the smooth crown action. Everyone has their thing in watch collecting.
  3. Like or loooooove? You do know the answer. If you like something vs. love it is not hard to determine. Does the watch make you feel like a million bucks or do you merely wear it because it hasn’t gotten much wrist time? Make that hard cut,.
  4. Personal style: Are you preppie, a punk, a cubicle jockey? Watches should be an expression of your personal style in a natural watch. Some great watches are very versatile and adapt well to range of styles. Again, be true to yourself and get rid of any watches that feel forced.
  5. Role within a collection: As much as I like the Planet Ocean series, I know if I got one I’d prefer my Submariner when I want to wear a dive watch. So it’s relatively easy to ward off that itch to add a PO to my collection. Of course, some guys will rotate between dive watches and are comfortable with one that has a blue dial, has a titanium case and a larger size as well as a smaller, black dial diver. I personally like to have a diver, a weekend casual watch and dressier watch for my life. But do decide to trim if you feel there is overlap in categories.
  6. Throw out any rules: Ralph Lauren’s personal collection consists mostly of Panerai and Cartier watches that are pretty similar. He likes what he likes. Like what you like too. Just be honest with yourself. Sell or trade any watches that you don’t love and add watches you do love. Have fun.

Gear wallets

Wallets: The other man accessory that matters

During this past weekend’s Worn & Wound Wind Up Watch Fair, held at Chelsea Market in Manhattan, I had a chance to catch up with Worn & Wound c0-founder Blake Malin as he refueled with some espresso. Of course, we talked about what was on his wrist (a Damasko DC56 chronograph), the state of his current collection, and, of course, his wallet, which he pulled out at the cash register.

I immediately noticed his well-worn wallet and asked, “Is that one of yours?”

Blake’s wallet was indeed the Monk Made x Worn & Wound Wallet, a full-sized bi-fold with eight slots. We joked about needing a big Constanza-sized wallet to carry various credit cards and blood donor ID cards (which aren’t even needed at the blood donation center). What struck me was how personal Blake’s wallet choice was and how many of the watch collectors I speak with also value a solid wallet. One that lasts, looks good and expresses one’s personality and personal style.

Photo by Worn & Wound

This wallet uses natural vegetable-tanned lining from Wickett & Craig and Italian Shell Cordovan as its main ingredient. Wallets made with this level of care and material quality will last longer and shell cordovan is especially known to take on wear marks unique to the owner’s personal handling tendencies.

I have been using a Jack Spade wallet I got on sale about a year ago that was feeling quite inferior as I looked down at its fraying edges. I’m in the market for something better and was inspired by being surrounded by so many dudes with cool watches and wallets this weekend.

The luxury wallet

There are some men who really enjoy a true luxury wallet. Everest and Monta founder has waxed poetic on the virtues of Goyard, the Parisian luxury house with exclusivity and signature prints.

Photo by Grailed.com

Another favorite is the classic by Louis Vuitton, which holds similar attributes to wearing a Rolex—offering a certain level of brand recognition and quality.

Even if you would rather put your money towards the next watch on your wish list, there are more affordable options that offer high quality and distinct style.

The next tier

Comme Des Garcons luxury group wallet

This Japanese brand’s more affordable “luxury group” line is an excellent way to tap into the playful designs CDG lovers gravitate towards.

Photo by Dover Street

The makers of our favorite premium sneakers, Common Projects, also makes wallets and they are as low-key as their shoe designs. These are perfect for the guy who isn’t showy but knows and appreciates quality.

The rugged wallet

If you are looking for a wallet that is more like the version by Worn & Wound and your personal style is more Red Wing boots, selvedge denim and flannels, check out the leather goods by Billykirk. It’s handmade from high-quality leather and it’s meant to last a long time.

Ralph Lauren

The Ralph Lauren Polo Bear Watches

Ralph Lauren is a American style master. He’s what other fashion designers hope aspire to as far a commercial and design success. His watch offerings aren’t too shabby either for a category that many watch enthusiasts shun, the fashion watch. RL partnered with Richemont in 2008 to bring forth a line of watches that are well-respected by even the most haughty horological snobs. As for Mr. Lauren himself, he’s a fan of Panerai and Cartier, as documented in his 2015 interview with Hodinkee.

But the reason we are talking about Ralph Lauren watches is because for his company’s 50th anniversary, they are releasing a line of watches featuring their Polo Bear character, which has adorned the brand’s wool sweaters and other pieces for decades.

Ralph Lauren

The new line will retail for $2,000, with 42mm case, hand-painted dial and Swiss automatic movement. In terms of watch collecting, how many of would spend this much for a silly watch? It’s such a ridiculous offering, but it works in its audacity. Check out the strap variations. Put us down for the Preppy Bear version!