All good thinking. But what's next?
Needless to say, accumulating enough savings to spend is only the very first step in the watch hunting process. To many, investing in a high-end timepiece is a truly daunting experience, exacerbated by conflicting voices in your head all the time. One day you find yourself helplessly drawn to the charm of a hand-wound IWC Portugieser, the other day you might say "hmm...maybe not, the Portugieser looks a bit too large, too dressy. Should I go for an Omega Seamaster 300 instead?". And that is totally natural. If you are to spend 2 months' worth of your salary on essentially a piece of obsolete (but nonetheless mesmerizing and valuable) technology on your wrist to see you through a range of occasions, an impulse purchase is the last thing you need.
Worry not. Lengbeau always looks after its readers. It is in this spirit that we are going to offer a couple of no-nonsense, extremely versatile and eternally stylish options as your maiden "real" watch. They are certainly not the most luxurious watches you could find on the market - they don't need to be - but they are all timeless, accessible from a pricing point of view and uber-cool. We will break them down into three categories: versatility, value, and individuality. Let's take a look.
Versatility: The Rolex Explorer I 36mm
The one Rolex model we'd like to recommend here is the 36mm Rolex Explorer I. Not the Explorer II with 24-hour bezel. Also not the modern, larger 39mm version. We are talking about the simple Explorer I with 3-6-9 hour markers on a black dial in a 36mm case (e.g. Ref. 14270).
Reason? It is THE most versatile watch we've ever seen. Period.
Trust us, the simple layout and reserved case size, when combined, would give you a watch you could wear literally in any daily situation. It can work perfectly under a suit in a business meeting, or be paired with a simple t-shirt and jeans and still look 100% at home when you're on a date. You could see the pictures below and understand where we are getting at. Both Tom Hanks and Takuya Kimura have managed to don their Rolex Explorer I with the same flair, yet in drastically different clothings.
In short, the Rolex Explorer I 36mm is the ultimate "everything" watch. If you could only spend on one single watch and expect to wear it for a good 20-30 years, look no further. Honestly.
Value (and Craftsmanship, and Freshness, and many more...): Nomos Glashütte ANYTHING
"I would say that you could buy at this price, maybe a bit less, a very good watch in terms of value and quality. It’s not Swiss — sorry — [but] a German brand called NOMOS. I found that this brand makes a very serious product. I like these watches, and for somebody who wants to start, I think this will be a good [choice]: not too expensive and good value for money."
And Mr. Dufour was absolutely spot on.
To put things in perspective, what you could buy from Nomos for a cost of around HKD30,000 (or even less if you're looking in the secondary market) includes a sleek, timeless and youthful design, traditional German hand-finishing visible on the movement and most amazingly, a 100% IN-HOUSE movement. While watches at the same price range from other Swiss brands have more often than not resorted to an ETA-based movement, our friend here from Glashütte, Germany is generous enough to grace their products with completely in-house movements (both hand-winding and automatic). It even has its own escapement system, named the Nomos Swing System. And if you think that it is only relying on one or two basic movements and populate them across its collection, think again. As of now, Nomos has already designed over a dozen different watch movements, with its latest brainchild being the crazily thin (like, 3.2mm thin) automatic caliber DUW 3001.
Individuality: The Grand Seiko Spring Drive "Snowflake" (Ref. SBGA011)
What you see here, as much as it's produced by the same Seiko that was behind that not-exactly-glamourous HKD1,000 Seiko diver you wear to the swimming pool, is no ordinary Seiko. Here's the catch: It is a spring drive Grand Seiko with a stunning dial inspired by the fallen snow (explains the name "Snowflake") in Nagano, Japan, where Grand Seiko's studio resides. Still doubtful?
Founded in 1960, Grand Seiko has been Seiko's premium product line aspiring to go head-to-head with the titans in the space of high-end watches, empowered by the company's relentless pursuit of manufacturing excellence and an obsession for innovation. It has developed a cult following since its early days and remains an unlikely favorite for many private collectors. The most groundbreaking of all innovations it has championed is perhaps the Spring Drive mechanism. The Spring Drive is capable of harnessing mechanical, electric and electromagnetic forces in the same watch movement to achieve time-keeping accuracy of a quartz movement (deviation within 5 seconds per year) while not having to rely on a battery to power it. In the world of horology whereby real, never-seen-before innovations are becoming a rare sight, the Spring Drive is a genuinely new way of constructing a movement. To learn more, go here.
Beautifully reserved at the surface while being tough and resilient inside, the Grand Seiko "Snowflake" is in a league of its own when it comes to top-notch watchmaking that binds look with function. Retailing for around HKD40,000, it is for you all daring gentlemen out there. Perhaps treat yourself with it for a snowy, merry Christmas?