The Watch Curmudgeon #1

Series | The Watch Curmudgeon | 03.14.2012

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Introducing the Watch Curmudgeon: a new column on worn&wound that is intended to be a humorous and sarcastic break from the normal articles we feature. Who/what is a Watch Curmudgeon? Well, he collects watches and has for many years. He loves watches, is truly obsessed with them and is incredibly knowledgeable on all things horology. Yet, he finds a way to complain about almost everything watch related. Whether it is a function of a watch, the size of watch, who wears the watch, how much the watch costs, where it is sold, where it is made… He’ll find something wrong…that is the nature of the Watch Curmudgeon. The column is essentially a platform for him to vent on, well, everything.

We are always trying to come up with new, interesting and fun articles for w&w, some hit others don’t. Let us know what you think in the comments and if you’d like to hear more from the Watch Curmudgeon…trust me, he has plenty to say.

The views expressed in/by the Watch Curmudgeon do not necessarily reflect the views of worn&wound or anyone else involved with the website.

Yeah, I’ve got some complaints about watches, but let’s get one thing perfectly straight: I’m a watch lover. Have been for many many years. And I’ve got a soft spot in my heart for everything from simple Swatches to those monstrously complicated marvels, those impossibly intricate little machines that’ll set you back a gazillion bucks.

Now, I don’t own any in that latter category, but I’ve got a reasonably respectable collection of timepieces. (I prefer the word timepieces here because it makes them a bit more precious than plain old watches.)

One of my timepieces is a Davosa with a Unitas movement that’s been modified to display the moon phases and power reserve. Knowing the mainspring tension is extremely practical, but the moon phases? Give me a break. I’ve never even set the damn thing.

Unless you’re in the horoscope industry or some kind of hack astronomer, who needs it? Honestly, when was the last time someone came up to you on the street and asked, “Hey buddy, have you got the moon phase?” Or have you ever been a quarter moon late for a movie?

In place of that dumb complication, the Davosa could have benefited from the addition of a date function. But I don’t care that it’s dateless. That’s one less thing you have to fiddle with when you want to throw the watch on. Most of my timepieces do, however, display the date, which is fine by me. But only one of them is a day/date. Annoying.

It’s a pain in the ass to get it all set up, and it pisses me off to think that there are people who don’t know what day it is. Come on. The day? Maybe if you’ve been drunk for a week or have been time traveling in another dimension, you may need that assistance.

It gets even worse. There are numerous watches that display the date, day….and….month. The month? You’ve either got to be in a coma or suffering from severe amnesia to be month-less. A few watches out there will also give you the year, but I’ll spare you my thoughts on that.

One last thing about my Davosa: it’s not too water resistant. Which means it surely won’t be accompanying me when I explore the Titanic. But I’m not fretting that because there are plenty of dive watches that can take me down to the deepest trenches.

About a week ago I was in one of New York City’s numerous watch retailers looking at one of the latest entries into the deep deep deep deep deep category. The salesperson told me I could take it down at least 15,000 feet. That’s stupendous. The watch would survive, but I’d be squashed down to the size of a raisin.

Hmmm, dive watches. They’re great. We all love them. And many of us own several. Me included. If you’re wondering if I actually dive, don’t wonder too long. But…….I have bravely taken my Rolex Submariner out into the rain. That’s about as wet as 97% of all dive watches get. Look at it this way, if everyone who owned a dive watch dove, there wouldn’t be any room for the fish.

Dive watches give you a supreme sense of security and make wonderful conversation pieces. I can almost hear a couple of chaps on the deck of a yacht comparing theirs. “I say, Biff, old boy, what do you think of my new Blancpain X Fathom with its nifty depth gauge?” “Fabulous, Chip. I was considering one for myself, but I’ll wait until they add a complete calendar, moon phase, and chronograph functions.”

Oh no. I mentioned a word that makes all watch connoisseurs soil their BVD’s: Chronograph. Over the years, I’ve acquired several myself. What with all their little hands, sub dials and numbers, they’re wonderful to look at, play with, and marvel over their complexity. And not only are manufacturers constantly introducing exciting new ones in all price categories, but the history of chronos is extremely interesting, as well.

Chronographs represent a point where need and want spin off in entirely different directions. Obviously, we all want one, but how many of us actually need one? I, for one, certainly don’t. Frankly speaking, I’ve never really used any of my chronographs. Never. Not even to time an egg because I’m a disaster in the kitchen.

The one time I could have actually used my chrono, I was prevented from doing so. While in a production studio, I offered to time a radio commercial I had written. With a deprecating little chuckle, the producer dismissed my offer, saying only digital chronos would suffice. I considered telling him that mine had a Valjoux 7750 movement, but I didn’t want to add insult to insult.

From what I’ve gathered conversing with other watch addicts who even own flybacks and rattrapantes, few people use theirs either. But what does that matter? Unlike moonphases, day and month counters, and minute repeaters, Chronographs are wonderful to wear and make you look like you take your time seriously.

Did you notice what I mentioned in the previous sentence. Read it again, and you’ll see something that I could endlessly rant about: minute repeaters. But I’m not going to discuss them now. Next time. I might even throw a wrench into tourbillons and the quest for supreme mechanical accuracy. Who knows, I might also discuss the absolute necessity for watch endorsements by celebrities.

By John Weiss

  • d_a

    Enjoyed the feature, guys. I share your sentiments on the chronograph. The second watch I ever bought was a Breitling Hercules Chrono and I still love it, but it’s probably the last chrono that I’d buy. The dials all seem too busy on them. Thanks for the introduction to Davosa. Really like the Simplex (even though it has a day/date function – ha!).

  • EJBL

    This guy sounds like the watch-equivalent of BikesnobNYC. Sorry, Timepiece-equivalent.

    I could do this column though, seriously. How about people that wear quartz Omegas? What is the point!

    Sphero-tourbillon? That is freaking amazing, but… yeah what reason? really?

    I think you should focus on one pet peeve per column. This column, you just smoked about five topics. You will run out quickly doing that.

    Go for it!

    • Sean

      I agree. Love the column and concept, but space out the topics. Keep ‘em coming!

  • Stephen

    This article reads like a disorganized, poor man’s version of the far superior “Watch Snob” column. Nobody with even the faintest knowledge of watches would be impressed with your pedestrian, mass-produced Valjoux 7750 movement. You seek to lecture us on minute repeaters and tourbillons when obviously the only ones you have ever handled were from a street stall in Chinatown.

    You sir, are to horology as a soup kitchen is to haute cuisine, or an online degree is to higher education.

    • Genny

      I think you missed the entire point of the watch curmudeon’s post. I assume that you are the one with the online degree, or perhaps you are still studying for your GED.

  • Spaniard

    The Watch Snob over on AskMen has become tiresome and tedious, yet remains considerably more entertaining than this. And his command of the English language (or at least the AskMen editor’s) is far superior.

    The author here is trying too hard to act up to his contrived persona, and not trying hard enough to write it well.

  • http://www.zachstarrweiss.com w&w

    Hi,

    Thanks for taking the time to read our first Watch Curmudgeon post and for leaving your thoughts, harsh as some may be. This first article was not meant to be an in-depth critique, nor a snobbish tirade, so much as an introductory rant. The idea of the Curmudgeon is not to belittle watch collectors. It is intended to provide a humorous, cantankerous and exaggerated point of view. We hope you’ll check back for future Watch Curmudgeon posts which will venture far beyond humorous critiques, and into the psyche of a lifelong watch fanatic and curmudgeon.

    So, thanks again for the comments and thanks for reading.

    - w&w

    • John

      This is going to be interesting. I’m wondering if he has any formal qualifications? Comment on high end watches, but never own one. Comment on dive watches, but not dive? Comment on pilot watches, but never been in the LH seat? Discuss engineering watches, but can’t read a set of drawings?
      Time to step up and impress your audience sunshine. Make us laugh, think, cringe and smarter. Most importantly entertain us with your wit & knowledge.

      Ps. As a former Sapper, a pilot and technical diver, I can assure you that whilst I adore a fine automatic watch, quality quartz time-pieces also have a place when absolute accuracy and reliability is imperative.

      Cheers, J

  • Justin

    Yes, definitely needs more structure. Maybe a rant on a topic, then answer a question, or review a specific watch. I’m not going to complain about any new watch article that is fun to read. So keep it coming and I’ll keep coming back!

  • http://URL Ned

    The point of complications is… well, the complications. It’s the mystery, the marvel, and the story behind the watch face that lures us in. Otherwise what’s the point of a watch at all – just look at your phone.