Monday, June 17, 2013

Watch Primer: Watch Spotting

Image courtesy PhotoBucket user always247

As you journey deeper and deeper into the quagmire that is watch collecting and WISdom, the knowledge that you inevitably pick up along the way (not unlike mud on tires or barnacles on the hull) will lead to you spotting familiar watch models on others' wrists when you're out in public.  In a recent outing with a couple high school friends, I spotted an Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean on one of them.  A few seconds of scrutiny allowed me to determine that it was a 42mm Caliber 2500 model (from the hands, orange numbers on black dial, what appeared to be a painted bezel, and an engraved caseback - which I believe has been replaced by sapphire in the current Caliber 8500s).  I would have asked about it, but we were in mixed company and didn't want to necessarily call attention to what, if purchased new when 2500 POs were still stocked, was a $4000+ watch.  (Ironically, others in our party would later comment on the watch, but focused on its bright orange neoprene strap.)

It's one thing to take note of and remark on watches among friends, but what is the protocol when you spot a familiar watch on a not-so-familiar wrist?  As with most social situations, it's primarily a matter of context.  Crossing paths on the street?  Maybe not.  Waiting in a line?  Maybe.

Personally, unless I can infer from the context or the specs of the watch in question that the person its attached to is another WIS, I tend to take note but not bring it up.  Especially with garden variety Rolexes (Submariners and Datejusts), it's about an even chance that the person wearing it just acquired it because it's a Rolex, and may be largely uninterested - or even put off - by someone who wants to talk about the technical minutiae that WISes tend to obsess over.  I have noticed, however, that a person who engages in other somewhat anachronistic personal items - e.g., fountain pens - are more likely to be interested in the details.

What has your experience been in spotting familiar models on the wrists of passersby?  Have you ever approached a stranger to ask them about their watch?  Let me know in the comments below.

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