« Open Mike: Why a Watch? | Main | Open Mike (Again): My New Watch (OT) »

Monday, 21 June 2021


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

I wear nice mechanical watches for the same reason I enjoy making photos with a Pentax 67 or a Sinar P. These machines are brilliant representations of industrial craft mixed with a real interest in aesthetic beauty flowing from that craft. I can tell it by how much reward I get from inspecting them closely in addition to using them for their intended purpose.

Yes, it's anachronistic and there is no justification beyond "I wanted them and I had the money." Servicing costs are sobering, to be sure. But that's why I wanted them.

I have an iWatch, if that's what they're called, and given your attitude, they'd be perfect for you. The blood oxygen monitor is a little iffy, though it can be good if you're careful (lots online about this.) The new one is always-on (I don't know about earlier ones) and has a variety of faces you can choose from. It has an App keeps score in pool matches and also your entire match history.* It's water proof and you can swim with it. About a million functions, and all kinds of different watch bands you can choose from online, at extra cost. Probably worth it.

*I'm lying about this.

I have the second most recent Apple Watch. I also have a Citizen Eco-drive somewhere that I like and don't use. I'll save it for Armageddon. I did recently take a sudden overnight trip into rural Minnesota without a charger and my watch gave out sometime during the night. Phone too. Our modern conveniences are just a power outage away from failure. I mostly use the watch for reading text messages, getting calendar notifications, telling time, and setting its handy timer. If I had a Kindle style watch that did those things (with a charge that lasted for weeks) I'd be set.

I cannot stand wearing large clunky watches either. About two years ago I bought a titanium "Danish Design" watch. I just weighed it and it's a whopping 18 grams with the band. The watch face is very similar to a Swiss Rail clock, i.e. modern, clean and clear. Very nice, cost less than $100, and still running fine nearly two years in.

Speaking of the Casio 200M Duro Analog as you picture it in the blog, I own one and at $42 shipped, I considered it to be exactly the watch of my dreams. (When I dream big, I dream Leicas). After a couple of normal battery replacements by a jeweler, at $6 all in, I needed a new watch band. Cheapest I could find was $27. $27 to replace the band on a $42 watch? It then becomes a disposable which strikes me as improper.

Okay, that's twice the brand came up; so, my second watch was a Tissot Visodate (from TÜRLER in Zurich, it says so on the dial; given me for my birthday while we were there 1966-67, my father was on sabbatical). Still runs, but not worth restoring; the back of the case, which is something (non-precious) plated over brass, has been etched away by years of my sweat, and even buffed down once to avoid abrading my wrist with the sharp edges.

Had a real fetish for certain vintage watches back in the nineties- moderately sized with an understated elegance. Again, just like in photography, economics proved the cure.

I find the abnormally oversized watches made today simply abhorrent- like slapping an R8 on your wrist!

You would need to charge your Apple Watch during the day to use it at night. Can't go 24 hours on a charge so far as I know.

At least ResMed CPAP machines record how you slept, number of Apnea events, etc, on a SD card. There's open-source SleepyHead software to read the card and interpret the results.

Possessing an iPhone that goes everywhere I go I feel little need to wear a watch. Despite the statement I have always had a thing for pocket watches. I’ve not owned one in years but there is a nostalgia attached that I find appealing.

If you are taking a fair number of medications at various times of day the iPhone can be an invaluable aid. Even better if you have an iWatch as it is a lot more convenient to cancel the alarm on that than to fish out the phone, quieter (vibrates) too.

Like cameras, watches can come in all sorts of prices and type, really great thing is if you can tell the the time you have nailed it.
Same cannot be said about cameras LOL.
Please don't go onto pen's or be prepared to have an equally lengthy debate.

When I was actively rock climbing, I went through about one watch per year. Cheapest TIMEX out there was my choice. Got so used of them that I still wear the cheapest TIMEX but present one has lasted me probably 12 years.

RE: Stephan Gilbert...

I was surprised when talking with a watch repair and sales guy I knew from the cigar lounge I used to hand around in, when he was sort of dismissive of Rolex. He said they have a lot of little quirks like that crystal and hands thing, which may or may not make the watch as valuable than if it had been left alone. He used to be a registered Rolex repair person, and then they made it more and more difficult to be one, and more and more expensive to remain one (and you couldn't get parts anymore unless you were). He just told people to send their stuff direct to Rolex.

Wish I could remember the whole conversation, because he had a lot of watches open and on the table over the years, and mentioned some specific models from 50's and 60's from manufacturers like Bulova (and pre-60's Elgins) that he felt were every bit as good as a Rolex in the day.

Should have paid more attention!

I have a certain affection for object that are designed to do one thing really well. With a suitable handset and dial a traditional watch will still be more legible than anything with a display. If it is a quartz watch you can put it away for months and it will still be running and fairly accurate the next time you put it on.

Cheap watches can be wonderful and fun as long as you avoid the dreaded "fashion" and "mall" watches. The japanese brands makes countless mall watches in the lower price ranges, but there are also gems that enthusiasts would approve of. https://www.hodinkee.com/articles/a-seventy-five-dollar-watch-that-looks-like-a-million-bucks.

They tend to keep the best stuff to themselves, so go look for Japanese domestic market (JDM) models.

I'd say you are a good track with the models you have presented so far (except the one you own I have to say, part fashion, part novelty watch), solid unpretentious watches all.

Maybe you can become the mythical "one watch guy" (google it...) that watch collectors aspire to be.

That little window that tells the day of the month is a deal killer for me. Four months a year you have to wind forward 24 hours, unless it’s March first when you have to wind forward 72 hours unless it’s a leap year and it is only two days off. You could just ignore the stupid thing and wait four and a half years for it to take care of itself, but then you have people pointing out that the date is wrong.

I used to wear a diving watch with a bezel that was marked backwards to indicate when the diver was going to run out of air. It was great for developing film.

I have several watches - some cheap, some (relatively expensive) - post smartphones, they are just jewelry that happen to tell the time (haven’t tried a smart watch yet, can’t think of a use for it).

I am in the UK. I bought my watch in 1985. The diameter of the case is 36mm and the depth of the case is 5mm.

Almost every watch sold nowadays has a case diameter of 41mm or more, and a case depth of 9mm or more.

How did that happen? What drove that change to what I see as big, clunky, heavy, ugly watches?

If you want a small, slim watch, expect to pay £2,000 or more.

I decided when I retired that I would never wear a watch again - a rebellion against the tyranny of being at the beck and call of others. I have stuck to that for almost 19 years, although I do use my phone when I need to know the time when I am out and about.

Quartz watches are also not all the same. You might want to read about Grand Seiko to understand the differences. https://www.grand-seiko.com/global-en/about/movement/quartz

Re: Hugh Crawford...

I can do without the day, but I'm lost without the date! Even my 22 year old Armitron, when you pull the stem half way out, slightly turn it one way and the day jumps ahead, the other way, the date jumps ahead! Takes literally two seconds! If and when this watch dies, I've already seen models that have two "sunken" nubs, one on each side of the stem on the case, that you push in once on one side and date jumps ahead, ditto for day on the other. That'll be my next one...

Any activity you pursue or possessions that you acquire, to mimic anyone else is... hard for me to understand. But then, I'm odd.

I don't enjoy advertising, or popular TV shows or talking about the weather.

And I don't notice what famous folk do or use. What if Bill Gates gets found guilty or some heinous crime? Does that mean you'd have to stop wearing the 'Gates Watch'?

I suspect that what has happened with watch size is that people who wanted small watches have mostly learned to do without (using their smartphones, I guess), leaving the market to people who want either huge numbers of features, or to be conspicuous and exotic (and hence large, in both cases).

I have an iMac, an iPad and an iPhone. But I will not buy an Apple Watch - nor would I wear one if I received it as a gift. I simply don't care about what the Apple Watch offers and refuse to buy another device that requires charging.

On the other hand, I love analog watches that display time the way I think. I own a number of mechanical automatics (my favorites) and quartz-powered watches for grab-and-go situations. They range from the aforementioned Casio Duro all the way to a Tudor Black Bay.

Some of my favorite watches are my least expensive - including a few Orients that cost less than $200.

One thought on watch size: I have a 7-1/4-inch wrist. I find that 40-42mm is perfect for me. Anything under 40mm looks small on my wrist (to me) and makes it difficult to read the watch face.

To those who still chase 36mm watches, more power to you. But far too many collectors turn up their noses at anything over 37-38mm because that's the way watches were sized a half century or more ago. I say buy whatever makes you happy, if you can afford it. But that was then and this is now.


BTW, when it comes to the "sweep second hand" or analog dial based stop watches, this is something I realized right away with the advent of cheap, accurate digital stop watches:

...when it comes to timing an event that's happening, you can certainly get a highly accurate time of the event, maybe up to the hundredths, by using a cheap digital stop watch. BUT...

...when you're trying to time something to last a certain amount of time, like a tungsten light exposure of film in a photo studio, the ability to see the sweep second hand coming up on the time you want to stop the event, seems highly accurate than watching a digital watch rolling up the time! Timing something to last just 15 seconds is far easier with a sweep second hand than a digital watch! Try it...

If you want a dumb smartwatch and can live with a real actual display made of atoms not bits at least should consider Withings, because that is what they do. They have real hands with little extra (real) hand which tells you how close to step (or other?) goal you are. Little OLED display (no always on) will tell you things when you press the winder thingy.

Charge once a month or so.

Not too big, even the bigger ones. Ordinary watch strap. Made nicely.

Withings are not Google.

My friend got last-generation one for under equivalent of $100 when his nth fitbit gave up, 'refurbished' (in fact, new). It does heart rate (not continuous, hence v low power consumption), steps and I think some blood oxygen estimation. He has notifications off so it never pings or burps at him. Has alarm etc if you want it. No silly apps (except app on phone).

Newer more expensive one ('scanwatch') does significantly more: I think continuous HR, some breathing measuring, sleep apnea they say, ECG if you want it. Still one month battery life, if you do not fiddle continuously with it and since it does so little there is little to fiddle with. Also notifications if you want it but no music, apps, videos, burping at you. It just does what it was designed to do not one thousand other things to waste time.

The time is always right so long as it is close to your phone often enough.

Caveat: I do not own one, but I know someone who does.

Speaking of expensive watches- I bought a Rolex Explorer in 1969 in Hong Kong - if I remember correctly $125.00 usd. In time it needed recommended service I sent it to Rolex in NYC and they did the service, replaced the crystal and a few other parts- the cost of the service was not crazy expensive but that was years ago.

At some point I stopped wearing the watch and now the cost of service is out of reach. So it graces a drawer with my unused Nikon film slr's (also bought in HK around the same time I bought the Rolex). I still use my Nikkor's though.
Times change.

I have two antique pocket watches that belonged to two of my great-grandfathers. They are in near perfect condition and keep excellent time. I only take them out for special occasions. I haven't worn a wristwatch in decades.

There is a philosophical question lurking here along the lines of "what is a watch?" The biggest watch movement makers ETA, Seiko, Oriental, Seagull etc. have their calibers in many different watch designs, so it isn't the internal moving bits. A strap is just a strap and a crystal is just a crystal. That must mean that the answer is that a watch face is really the thing that can't be swapped out without violating the "Theseus's ship" paradox. I am going to start experimenting with printing my own watch faces as I tend to favor 1950's-60's Jet Age styling. Google "Hamilton Thin-O-Matic" or 1960's Seiko Alipinists if you want to see what I am talking about. Finding good examples can be tricky. As one watch aficionado said to me of eBay, quoting Obi-Wan Kenobi, "You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy."

Here's a good example of the styling I am talking about (no relation to the watch in question):


If you like the idea of watches which are nice but not too large (mostly) and around (or under) the $200 mark, Orient is a great brand to look at. I prevaricated for a while about buying my first automatic to step up from the $50-60 range quartz watches and eventually settled on a Ray II from Orient. Super nice build, in-house movement, it's a real sweet spot for me. Also, incidentally, the way I look at smartwatches which monitor all your vitals, I suspect wearing one would actually be a bit BAD for my health. Like white-coat syndrome, constantly being aware of my heart rate and blood pressure seems like it would be a recipe for increased anxiety... at least among the anxiety-prone.

My favorite watch of all time is the cheap (really cheap), very light, small-ish, stylish and easy-to-read (with white face and black numbers) Casio MQ24-7B. $14.95 on Amazon; lasts years.


Mike, that 40mm Apple Watch 6 you reference would get lost on your wrist. My wife has a Series 6 in 44mm, and it looks great. Also, as yet one more digital screen in your life (!!!), 44mm is noticeably more readable, touchable, useful than 40mm.

As someone who also has Sleep Apnea, and who uses a CPAP machine, I urge you to get a check at a sleep clinic. Failing that, at least tell your Primary Care Physician. Sleep Apnea can be quite dangerous, and there are studies on how it may contribute to dementia. Just sayin'. Like everyone told me who had one before I got it, it has changed my life.

Does the photographer's watch really take 50 mm filters? It might be kind of fun to play with changing the color to match your mood or the weather or something.

By the way, it's currently unavailable on Amazon. It looks like you created a rush on it.

The iWatch is great as a remote trigger for the iPhone, too. Default app right on the call-up face.

"I don't like large clunky watches." That's sensible and reminds me of the woman in San Diego who called called the police one night to complain about a naked guy running around in her yard and making a ruckus. She told the cops that she thought he was a Naval aviator and, when asked how she could tell that if he was naked, she replied: "He's drunk and he's got a big watch and a small ----.

My watch is a 1904 Elgin pocket watch in a 14kt gold case that originally belonged to my Great Grandfather William. It suffices for my needs and keeps my wrist free as well ;)

I got my first 'proper' Swiss watch when I turned 40. I specifically wanted an automatic watch with 5 beats - or more - per second so that it would be easier to count down longer exposures on my 4x5 camera. By longer I mean between 2 and 6 seconds. On a 5 beats per second watch one can see the second hand move smoothly across the second intervals and thus its easier to get accurate 2 second or longer exposures ( The quartz watches 'second hands' jump between the second counters and thus more difficult to time it well) I got myself a Fortis Flieger because it was plain, unknown, stainless steel and inexpensive at the time.
Between ages of 40 and 50 it received a hard knock and a dent somewhere but was still working. Thus on my 50th my wife gave me a brand new one, exactly the same model, that she picked up in Zurich on a business trip. It was almost the same price to buy a new one than have the old one fixed.
Great was my surprise when I read Kirk Tucks most enjoyable novel, the Lisbon Portfolio, where the hero also wears a Fortis watch.
I'm 62 now and I wear a chest strap heart rate monitor so that I don't have to buy the Apple or other equivalent digital watch. I had my first Fortis fixed a while ago and the cost for a service , new casing , strap and crystal glass was 8x the price of the original . It sits in my cupboard until I decide what to do with it and in the meantime I have gone digital and wear my watch just because that's what I have and I like it....

Re: Dan Jansenson

You've got it correct with the easy to read white face, and black numerals. MY 22 year old Armitron is still working, but the reflective gold hands over black face is getting more and more difficult to read, every year! Sometimes the reflective hands don't reflect anything, and you're looking at dark hands over a dark face! Tough!

If I needed a watch, I'd be buying this white faced Bulova Caravelle, on sale for 50 bucks, and replace the band with a metal twist-o-flex. As I've said before, just need the date (check), and added bonus is the military time numerals in small red figures (check).


I came from an "old" family, so my grandparents died when I was very young, but one of the things I kept from them was my Grammies skin-divers watch. She went to a drug store and bought it when she was old because she could not see the time on tiny women's watches. Endearing...

Like the long piece in New Yorker:

“Ah,” he said, in a burst of European pragmatism, “but you are a little Russian émigré. You know if you need to you can put these watches in your pocket and sneak across the border to Canada past Buffalo. And you can survive.”

Unfortunately Hong Kong is surrounded by water. When the time comes, I do not think we can swim to Taiwan. Or as some confirmed, a boat running.

Going to airport yesterday and seeing only planes flying to Uk is full of passengers … guess they are more practical not collecting watch to run between border whilst the Winnie the Poon is bit by bit skin by skin bone by bone dismantling this lovely place.

May be as he said time to get a hobby.

[I'm so sorry Dennis. I wish you and your compatriots the best. --Mike]

I wear a watch every day and I feel lost without it. I have three. A cheap Casio, black with an analog dial and a plastic band that I wear every day. When these die, I replace them them with whatever I can find for $20-30. A nice Seiko that I wear for dress (University events or out for dinner with my wife...). The third is a fake gold Rolex that a friend brought back from China. I never wear it for all of the reasons that Mike said in the last post.

I have never broken the habit of looking at my wrist for the time. It is easy to check the time in long meetings or when lecturing in a classroom. The watch goes on with the shirt and glasses in the morning and comes off with them at night.

The comments to this entry are closed.



Blog powered by Typepad
Member since 06/2007