Sunday, September 9, 2012

Watch Principle #1: No matter how many you own, you can only wear one at a time.

A lot has happened with regard to my personal watch collection since the last Watches-To-Wear post in July.  I've been reexamining my needs based on the axiom in the title of this post:

No matter how many watches you own, you can only wear one at a time.

There is a very narrow exception to this rule (which some might say proves it) with regard to Presidents and CEOs of watch companies, and even then only while attending an international watch convention or press event.  (Example: President of Omega Watches, Stephen Urquhart, in this 2011 interview with's Ariel Adams.)  So for those of us who aren't tasked with running a major watch brand, one watch is the most we can expect to be able to wear at any given time without looking as odd and out of place as a businessman walking around with multiple cellphones - or worse, a Bluetooth headset in each ear.

When my collection was at its largest, I'd often find myself feeling guilty when selecting my watch for the day at how much money's worth of timekeeping steel I left sitting neglected in my watch box.  The notion of paring down the collection to a single watch - essentially becoming one of those blessed individuals for whom  one watch is all they've needed, or even conceived of needing - has always held a strong attraction to my minimalist, form-and-function-over-frivolity aesthetic.  So I decided to cull through the collection the same way that Immortals cut through one another in the Highlander franchise: repeating the mantra "There can only be one."

The Omega Speedmaster Professional 3573.50 eventually proved to be the MacLeod of this contest, besting a Rolex Explorer I 114270, Omega Seamaster 2253.80, Omega Speedmaster Reduced 3510.82, Stowa Marine Original, Xetum Tyndall, and, at the end, a Nomos Tangente Gangreserve to be the last mechanical wristwatch standing.  While the Speedy Pro's complexity as a chronograph and sporty-if-classically-so aesthetic technically disqualifies it as a dress watch, its near-ideal dial proportionality and understated color scheme make it suitably universal, especially in a day and age where most onlookers would have trouble telling whether one's shoes are oxfords (aka balmorals) or blutchers (aka derbys).  (The distinction lies in the "throat" of the shoe - closed-throat lacing for oxfords, considered more formal and classically paired with suits, and open-throat lacing for blutchers, considered more informal and classically paired with more casual trousers or even jeans.)

Despite my aspiration to become a one-and-only-watch person, I'm still too contingency-minded to not keep a handful of spare timekeepers on hand, just in case.  Quartz movement watches are well suited to the backup role, given their accuracy and ease of maintenance.  The Citizen Stiletto AR3010-65A, whose hour-hand-and-minute-hand-only minimalist dial and slim profile qualifies it as a quintessential dress watch, was my choice for primary backup quartz.  Its black-dialed counterpart, the AR3010-57E, along with a completely blacked out version, the AR3015-53E, can still be found on  It remains one of the least expensive watches I know of that includes a scratch-resistant sapphire crystal, rather than the more scratch-prone mineral crystals typically found on watches at its price point.

I've also retained a digital quartz watch as a backup chronograph and "beater" watch, in the form of a Casio Protrek PRX-2000T-7JF, which is a Japan-only version of the popular Pathfinder "ABC" - Altimeter, Barometer, Compass - watches.  The Casio Pathfinder PAG240-T7CR uses the same module and retains the same functionality at a fourth of the price.

The moral of story is to keep your watch collection from getting out of hand by remembering the inescapable truth that, no matter how many watches you own, you'll only be able to wear one at a time.  Therefore, the more watches you own, the less time, proportionally speaking, each of them will spend on your wrist.  When you expend considerable resources - some might say too many - on the watches in your collection, the notion that most of them will spend much of the day sitting quietly in your watch box (or worse yet, collecting dust on your counter top or languishing forgotten in a desk drawer) should give you pause.

Next time, I'll talk about how I managed to "flip" the watches that I pared from the collection - even making a slight profit on a few of them.

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