Monday, November 26, 2012

Friendly Advice on a Low-Budget Watch

Last week, a friend asked for advice on making an inexpensive watch purchase. Given my own interest in watches, I did some (semi-) solid research to provide him an answer to help make an informed purchase. I figured I'd pass the info along, as it involves a common purchase for most stylish young guys.

Hey pal, (I do actually know my friends name, I just chose not to repeat it here. This isn't one of those awkward, "Heeeeeyyyy buddy..." situations where you don't remember someone's name, so you avoid using it entirely.)

In reply I thought I'd offer some more in-depth advice. I personally am really into watches, so I felt it'd be best to reply over email.

With most any purchase, you can break it down into a common numerical factor. The numerator can be thought of in many different terms: style, quality, heritage, brand image, etc. The denominator is price. Thus, you're always looking at a breakdown of how much style/quality/etc. you're getting at the price you're paying. You may know some people who focus on brand image, but most of us make our decisions based on quality. Are you getting a reasonable ratio of quality to price?

That being said, watches differ from most textiles because they're essentially machines that anyone can make relatively easily and cheaply. Calf leather from the Horween tannery in Chicago is a higher quality than bonded leather from say, Indonesia (no knocks on Indonesia, I just picked this country randomly. I GOT MAD LOVE FOR INDO-INDIANS!), but a Chinese watchmaker can make essentially the same watch, using the same components, as another watchmaker in Switzerland. Most watches will do their job (telling time) perfectly fine, whether you pay $50 or $5000. Watches are a much bigger game in brand image. (I realize I may be over-simplifying some aspects of watchmaking, but I'm not getting bogged down in the details here.)

From the reviews online that I read, Sturhling seems a good value. As StyleForum member kmdsimpson wrote, "My bottom line on these watches: if you are looking for a nice, high quality watch at the $100 price point, these are great values. If you expect these watches to be replacements for Omegas, Rolexes, etc., in all respects - style, quality, heritage, brand image - then you will be disappointed."

If you are interested in another brand at a similar price point to Sturhling, Seiko comes highly recommended, but essentially it's just another Chinese watch company. Here is a list of the Top 10 Poor Man's Watches, from Poor Man Watch Forum (may be worth looking into if you want to really research before buying).

If you are looking to seriously invest in a watch, I'd recommend saving up for something bigger and better. Again, I am into watches and used to have around six before my house was broken into. Now that I'm down to one, I've decided to save up and splurge on one notable watch that should last me a lifetime, rather than compulsively buying new, different ones. That's me though. If you're considering that route, here's a forum of private sellers (keep in mind the risks of buying from private sellers though). 

No matter what you go with, choose something smooth and elegant, with a clean face. Take this one, for example: 

Watches that you can see through, or ones with chronographs and moon calendars and periodic tables and such tend to cloud the face, which for lack of a better word, looks shitty.

One final note: don't dictate your decision on the watch band. Once you know the band's width in millimeters, you can buy a new one in almost any material and color, and you can just swap them out at home.

Good Luck,


1 comment:

  1. Thank you for the advice on buying budget-friendly watches. On the other hand, it is always the brand and the design that matters as these can make watches more durable.