How I Became a One-Watch Collector in Search of the Best Everyday Watch
I spent much of 2018 consolidating my watch collection. I was finishing up graduate school and getting married, so wanted to save funds to purchase a suave dress watch to wear on my wedding day, that could hopefully translate into an everyday watch. I ended up buying a Nomos Tangente. It’s a Bauhaus-inspired watch that I’d long admired; learning about Nomos is what got me into mechanical watches in the first place and I was thrilled when I acquired the brand’s signature design.
I loved that Tangente, strapping it on almost every day without giving it much thought. It was an everyday watch that I still caught myself looking down at throughout the day. The dial was clean and simple but the galvanized silver finishing meant it was still interesting, taking on different colors in changing light. The tempered blue steel hands likewise changed colors in different lights, always beckoning me to look down and see how it looked.
But after a few months I felt the watch was too dressy for daily wear, especially on weekends. Around this time, I also wrote what turned out to be our most popular article of 2018, “One-Watch Collection: The Best Everyday Watches of 2018.“ It got me thinking: am I a one watch person now? Okay, I still owned my Seiko 5 SNK 807 (and an old digital Timex Ironman), but any self-respecting watch nerd has one of those, even if it’s buried deep in a closet. Besides, I rarely wear the Seiko 5.
When habitually strapping on the Nomos Tangente everyday I found myself appreciating the ritual of not having to choose which watch to wear every single morning. Sure, I’d spent months researching before deciding to buy the Tangente, but after that it was smooth sailing: no stressing about which watch–strap combination to wear or feeling guilty that other watches in my box weren’t getting any attention. I had become a one-watch guy without even realizing it. Steve Jobs wore the same outfit everyday so he had one less decision to make; if the strategy worked for him, why couldn’t it work for me? (By the way, Steve Jobs isn’t really known for being a watch aficionado, though he made an icon of a certain Seiko Quartz watch which later sold at auction for $42,500).
Eventually, I sold the Nomos Tangente and bought a slightly sportier Tudor Black Bay 36 while I keep my eye on a Black Bay 58. The option to throw the Black Bay 36 on the OEM bracelet or a strap makes it more versatile than the Nomos Tangente for work and weekend wear.
Minimalism and Watch Collecting
I’d always been attracted to minimalist watches (hello Explorer 1016, my grail), so perhaps it makes sense that’d I’d extrapolate that minimalism to the state of my collection as well. As I push myself towards creating a “capsule wardrobe” of timeless staples, it makes sense I’d demand the same of my watch.
Yes, it’s a little paradoxical to refer to any mechanical timepiece with a four-figure price tag as a key stepping stone in a journey towards minimalism (no one actually needs these things). But I’m not pursuing minimalism for its own sake. I’m pursuing it so that I obtain more joy from the items I do have. And right now, the perfect everyday watch sparks a ton of joy for me, in ways having multiple lower-end watches never has.
But owning one watch had me worried. Did I have to disclaim my self-anointed status as an amateur horologist/WIS? If I showed up to a RedBar or collectors’ gathering, I’d have quite literally nothing to bring to the table. But, I also didn’t want to buy a watch just to impress others or have something to show them. Some of my favorite posts from other watch blogs are about the watches staff members wear the most. Sure, it’s cool to collect for collecting’s sake, but these things are meant to be worn. Marie Kondo wouldn’t be happy if my timepieces were sitting in a box collecting dust, would she? Some collectors need to own every reference — even every mark of every reference — to itch the collector’s bug. I’m the other type of collector: give me one superlative reference and I’ll bang it around every day.
Perhaps it was also my reaction to the lavish displays of wealth and luxury present on many an Instagram feed. Much the way there’s been a trend towards smaller, vintage watches in direct response to the Hublots and Panerais of the world, I was doing a similar paring back of my actual collection.
In Search of the Perfect Everyday Watch
That said, the search for the best everyday watch is still never ending and all consuming. I’m tempted by everything from a Seiko SARB 033 (previously owned) or 035 to the aforementioned Rolex Explorer 1016. However, the appeal of these watches to me is not in owning all of them, but in wearing one of them. But nowadays it’s difficult to be a discerning consumer who doesn’t make impulse buys based on what we see in our social media feeds: in an Allianz survey, 57% of millennials admitted having made impulsive and unplanned purchases because of the content they saw on their social media feeds. FOMO is driving more and more millennials to act now and spend, rather than save.
With technology gadgets updating in yearly product cycles and tech blogs always live blogging the big consumer gadgets conferences or product launches, mechanical watches are supposed to be an escape from the fast-paced digital world where digits move faster than our primitive, analog minds can even fathom. But as the watch industry has digitized — publications posting about the latest release, Instagram showing us new watches faster than we can double-tap — it’s become less an escape and more a victim of the forces transforming so many other industries.
I’m not necessarily part of the “Watch Purchasing Abstinence Club”, as others have dubbed it, but I can say my new purchases will be more measured and thoughtful. And I might keep my “collection” at one watch; the “best everyday watch” as I view it at the time.
So in 2019, I’m refusing to look at news sites or articles that intend to provoke rather than inform. This goes beyond watches: news article may provoke emotion, outrage, and most importantly, retweets. In the world of watches, I’m concerned about articles intended to provoke purchasing. At RESCAPEMENT, our hope is not to provoke, but to inform your next purchase.
Oh, and if you see me at a meetup with only the watch on my wrist, can we still be friends? I’ll show you my favorite everyday watch.