My taste in watches is pretty clear: MB&F, URWERK, DeBethune - this high end, creative approach to watchmaking is what really gets me going. However, there are plenty of nice watches that aren't shaped like spaceships with six figure price tags. Recently I posted about a Seiko that I like. Eventually I'll post about the vintage Rolex (yes, Rolex) that I wear often. The real question is, with so many watches on the market, how does a collector determine what is GOOD and what is not? For me it comes down to a clarity of purpose.
Why does this company exist? Why does this watch exist? Does it accomplish the goal? Is it the best it can be for what it is?
For my favorite Contemporary Horology brands, the answers are clear - I touched on them here.
However, not all watches have the purpose of "the best no matter the cost". One of the most common questions I get from non-watch people is, "Are Rolexes good watches?" Let's look at the Clarity of Purpose test.
If I were to state the mission of a Submariner it would go something like this: "A high quality, robust, great looking, mechanical diver's watch that will never go out of style, run forever, all at a reasonable cost"
Is it the highest quality watch in the world like many uninformed people think? Of course not. But who has ever met those objectives better than Rolex? The Submariner is unquestionably one of the great watches of all time.
There are tons of great watches in the world. From Casio G-Shocks to Patek Philippe Minute Repeaters, the question is not of price or quality, but is the watch clear in its concept and does it deliver the quality intended at the targeted price?
If a watch is similar to many others on the market - is it the best of its group? For example, of all the high end chronographs, which is the best? For me, the Lange Datograph.
If the watch is creative and unique - is it done tastefully, with high quality, and does it represent a truly creative point of view or is it just the work of a marketer trying to capitalize on a trend? I hope that those reading this blog can tell the difference.
Unfortunately, there are tons of watches created that I look at and think, "Why does that exist?" "What does that watch add to the world of horology?" With a basic education and keeping in mind the clarity of purpose test, hopefully true collectors will continue to focus on the true gems of our industry.