Guest Manifesto: Time Is Of The Essence
Guest Manifesto: Time Is Of The Essence
G’s know that “Time is of the Essence”, and therefore the display and measurement thereof is crucial to the life, and lifestyle, of a G. There are many (too many in fact) brands of wristwatches for men, and there are too many men who just don’t care what goes on their wrist. This discussion is not for those men.
So you’re a G, or a wannabe G. You’ve got the Kiton / Henry Poole / Brioni / Borrelli / Turnbull & Asser thing down. You’ve got the Cleverly/E. Greene/Gucci/Lobb thing down. You’ve even got the Zimmerli/Hanro/Calida/Sunspel thing down (if you don’t have this down the fly girls will be laughing at just the wrong moment of intimacy). We’ll assume you’ve learned the difference between a .45 and a 9mm, as well as between Benson & Hedges and Nat Shermans or A. Fuente and Romeo y Julieta. Be that as it may, you’re probably still working on how a G puts the time on his wrist. This primer should get you where you need to be.
You’re ready to leave your abode, suited up, and the penultimate accoutrement, after the steel-and-lead, is the wristwatch. Depending on the task, or tasks, at hand, you may be wearing one, perhaps one of many, timepieces. What separates a G from a Joe the Plumber? Exclusivity, Precision, Refinement, and Comfort in All Environments. The same should stand for the wristwatch of a G. While a $40 Swatch can tell time with the same accuracy as a quartz Patek Phillipe (and the only quartz Patek is for women), I wouldn’t suggest a quartz at all. Quartz is accurate, but cheap. Quartz is accurate but battery powered. Quartz is accurate but mass-market. Batteries die. Quartz is disposable. An haute-horlogerie mechanical movement will last forever with proper servicing. Quartz-powered timepieces are simply very expensive, or very cheap, adornment that should be shunned. No further discussion need ensue.
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Now, to the matter of which timepiece should, or should not, grace the wrist of a G:
G-Shock – Despite the name, this is a plastic piece of mass-merchandise, albeit a durable and accurate piece of mass merchandise. Thor Hyerdal wore an Eterna mechanical timepiece on the Kon Tiki (quartz didn’t exist back in 1947). NASA’s watch of choice since 1964 through today, is the mechanical Omega Speedmaster chronograph. Paul Newman’s watch of choice – Rolex Daytona Cosmograph automatic Chronograph Chronometer. Enough said.
There are certain manufactures of watches that have stood the test of time. They literally manufacture the entire watch, and are known for designing and manufacturing the movement, or the guts that keep the time. Swatch Group is, believe it or not, home to a number of highly respected Swiss manufactures. Richemont Group, another Swiss conglomerate, owns several well-respected manufactures, as does LVMH (owner of Louis Vuitton and Moet). The independent manufactures are perhaps the most exclusive.
A note about chronometers: They are often confused with chronographs, timepieces that measure fractions of a second and other time segments (hours, 10-minutes etc.). Chronometers are certified by official agencies in Switzerland and always come with certificates. Typically a chronometer will imply a higher quality movement and higher accuracy, but I’d stack a Patek, Girard-Perregaux, JLC, Grand Seiko, or other haute horlogerie piece against an “official” chronometer any time at all.
A note about case material: Yellow gold, while suitably expensive and flash, is no material for a G’s watch. White gold is subtle, platinum is rare, both are easily mistaken for steel except by those who truly know. I recommend steel as it is durable and subtle. Yellow or pink gold should be worn only with a band of alligator, crocodile, or other rare skin.
Here are the brands that merit our attention:
Audemars Piguet – Royal Oak
Breguet – Type XX chronograph
Girard Perregaux – Laureato
IWC - Ingenieur
Jaeger-LeCoultre –Master Control, Master Ultra Thin, Reverso Duo
Omega – Speedmaster Chrono, DeVille Chrono, Aqua Terra, Railmaster
Patek Philppe – Nautilus. Their other pieces are too delicate for a G’s day-to-day mission.
Rolex – Rolex, while being known on every street corner from Washington Heights to East LA, and everywhere else called earth, is in fact a well-made and solid timepiece. They are, however, overvalued in the market due to self-aggrandizing advertising. Their movements are solid, but I would put Omega’s George Daniels movement head-to-head, with the price/quality ratio favoring the Omega. Nevertheless, Rolex makes a durable watch (600,000 per year, and no, they are not handmade). Get a Sea-Dweller, Explorer II, or GMT.
Seiko – Do not confuse their Grand Seiko and Phoenix lines with the department store quartz varieties. Their high-end pieces are brilliant, but unavailable in the States. Swoop the Phoenix automatic chronograph if you can find it.
Zenith – Chronomaster. This same movement powered the Rolex Daytona for years.
There are many other high quality watchmakers in Switzerland, Germany, and even the States, but these are the names I’d suggest at the outset. So with these watchmakers a G can find (not always easily) the right watch for the right circumstances. Remember, we are focusing on Exclusivity, Precision, Refinement, and Comfort in All Environments.
Any of the above are well made classic machines that will get you everywhere you want to go, but should I choose to rank the above it would be difficult. Yet here are my top 5 G timepieces:
#1 Thee A-P Royal Oak
#2 The JLC Master Control
#3 The IWC Ingenieur
#4 The Omega Railmaster
#5 The Rolex Explorer II
A G does his homework, and I would suggest that you supplement your watch knowledge with information from none other than the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry at
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