A gentleman's choice of timepiece says as much about him

Updated: Mar 12

Pynchon Watches

A watch is a very personal possession that does more than tell time.

It's a display of:

1. Wealth

2. Status

3. Aspiration

4. and even family.

It was not and is not at all unusual for a watch to be handed down from father to son and the gold watch awarded for retirement was a common show of respect.

This is because watches are not just technology, and they are not just jewelry. They are worn for their looks, but they also have a practical function – maybe more than one. They are often items of real value made of precious metals, but they are much more than intricate works finished in gold or platinum.

They convey your position in the world.

They act as a personal statement.

In some ways, they are the most personal form of technology there is, as their owners will often wear the same watch for decades and will treat them as personal heirlooms.

As James Bond creator Ian Fleming said, A gentleman's choice of timepiece says as much about him as does his Savile Row suit.

In fact, the world of watches is so surprisingly large that if you try to make up your mind by studying all the watches available before making your decision, you will not buy a timepiece for many years.

The much better way is to ask yourself what you want out of it.

Is it just something that tells time? Is it a fashion accessory?

  • A status symbol?

  • Is it supposed to tell the world something about you?

  • Do you want it for work?

  • Sport? Play?

  • Is accuracy important?

  • What about functions?

  • Durability?

  • And, of course, price.

In a sense, the best way to look for a watch is to look at yourself. Would you be comfortable with a massive sportwatch? Or would you prefer something elegant and delicate? Or do you want one to show that you have gone up in the world?

Obviously, one thing to consider are functions.

  • Do you need a simple watch?

  • How simple?

  • Not even a second hand?

  • What about telling the day? Date? Day of the week? Week of the year?

  • Or maybe you want something more complex like a chronograph, a tachymeter, or a tide indicator.

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So, what specifics should you look for in a watch?

We've already talked about how it should fit your lifestyle and have the functions you want and none of the ones you do not, but what specifics should you be on the alert for?

One obvious factor is the cost the best advice is to pick a watch that fits your budget and seems worth the price. What that is up to you.

Another top factor to consider is legibility. My previous watch was a very stylish dress watch that looked great and was reasonably priced but the elegant hour, minute and second hands were so easy to confuse for one another that I always looked like I was pointedly staring at my watch when I was just trying to figure out the time. A watch that's hard to read is like a hypercar that you can't fit into. It may be fantastic, but it's also pointless.

A watch should be comfortable to wear. If it gouges into your wrist or keeps catching on things, then putting it on in the morning won't be much of a pleasure. In addition, consider the watch's size. A big watch will probably be less comfortable and will look silly on a small wrist. On the other hand, too small a watch might be harder to read and will look equally silly on a large wrist.

At the end of the day, it comes down to the fact that a watch is a very personal purchase. Chosen wisely, it can quickly become a prized possession or a cherished gift. Chosen poorly and it can end up lost in the back of a junk drawer.

The secret is to know what you want, what you want to say about yourself or the person the watch is meant for, and what you can afford, then doing some research to make sure you pick the right timepiece. This might be as simple as skimming an online catalog for a few minutes, or as complicated as hunting down that elusive "grail" watch over a period of years. But it is worth the effort.

After all, you are buying time.

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