The Purge: Paring Down To a Two-Watch Collection – Ilya’s Picks

I recently went on a bit of a selling spree in an attempt to downsize my personal collection into something a bit more manageable. Frankly, too many of my watches were sitting in a box collecting dust, and I’m of the mind that if I’m not using something, then it’s got to go. And so I channelled my inner Marie Kondo and began a period of selling that I’ve jokingly referred to as “the purge.” 

I found myself rationalizing (or, rather, I was attempting to rationalize) why I was holding on to some watches and flipping others. Most went bye-bye simply because I grew out of them (we’ve all been there). A handful were sold because they weren’t being worn regularly, though I was still fond of the watches themselves. And some I kept even though I hardly wore them simply because they had sentimental value attached to them. I’m happy with where I’m at now, though to any normal person the number of my personal watches would still be quite baffling. 

But the experience got me thinking. What would I keep from my current batch of watches were I to get rid of everything but two pieces — regardless of any inherent sentimentality influencing the decision-making process? Why two? Because I believe you can cover pretty much all of your bases with just two watches, and because having some variety can’t hurt.  

So I took a long, hard look at my watches and, after some very, very serious deliberation, I landed on my picks.


The first of the pair is my — surprise, surprise — Grand Seiko Ref. SBGX061

This 9F-powered masterclass in design has become my go-to watch in 2018, and I think it’s accurate to say that it’s been my most-worn watch since I’ve added it to the collection. I got this one because I wanted a versatile, hard-wearing piece that wouldn’t bore me two months into ownership, and I’m happy to report that the Ref. SBGX061 is that watch.

It’s easy to see how some, when looking at this watch from afar, might say that it’s “plain” or “boring.” If I had a dollar for every instance someone compared it to a Seiko SARB (which, by the way, are fantastic watches), then, well, I’d have a lot of dollars. But the thing about this watch—and I’d argue this is true about a lot of Grand Seikos — is that the details make it, and you can only truly appreciate the details when you’re handling the watch in the metal.

Grand Seiko’s watches are known for their impeccable finishing. Zaratsu-polished cases, razor-sharp hands, perfectly angular indices — these are the little touches that turn a simple design into a work of complex beauty. And that’s what my Grand Seiko is. The way all the different elements play with the light is a sight to behold, and I regularly catch myself staring down at the watch just to admire the finishing.

Plus, the 9F caliber is an absolute beast. Quartz movements get a bad rep, and I get it. The vast majority of quartz watches out in the world are junky, cheap in every sense of the word, and ultimately disposable. The 9F isn’t. It’s an impressive caliber designed to last in the same way many mechanical movements are. 

Finally, the 9F is a chameleon. For day-to-day wear, I keep it on a bracelet and it has just the right amount of heft for my 7-inch wrist. If I need to dress up a bit, then I can throw it on a nice leather-two piece and it works just as well.

The Yin to my Grand Seiko’s Yang is my Omega “First Omega in Space” (FOIS) Speedmaster. If you follow the podcast with any regularity, then you’ve surely heard me discuss this watch. There’s a lot of sentimentality here — it was my wife’s wedding gift to me and I wore the watch when I got married two years ago. But the ground rules as laid out above make it clear — sentimentality be damned — so that wasn’t part of my consideration here. I just really, really like this watch.

I should get this out of the way — I adore chronographs. I’ve always liked them. My first “big” watch purchase was a chronograph, and before my recent purge chronographs made up a large chunk of my collection.

I’ve since grown to prefer simple time-only — or time with date — watches, but I know that more than any other sport watch, a chronograph or two will remain in my collection. And of all the ones I own or have owned, the FOIS is the only one worthy enough, in my opinion, for the coveted #2 spot in this thought exercise.

So what do I like so much about this watch? Well, it’s a Speedy, one of the most beautifully-designed and executed chronographs ever made. And the design is truly timeless; it looks just as relevant today as it did when it was first released, and I imagine it will look equally as good decades from now.

The FOIS example is based on the Ref. 2998 worn by Astronaut Wally Schirra aboard the Mercury Atlas 8, which means that it has certain details that you won’t find on modern Speedmasters. The case, for example, measures a touch under 40 millimeters, lacks crown guards, and features straight lugs. You also have alpha hands in place of stick hands, another difference I really like. I know the “controversy” over the mixed use of leaf hands and stick hands for the sub-registers, but that’s never bothered me.

On the wrist, the FOIS is a dream. It fits well on me, and it’s just one of those watches you find ourself looking at throughout the day just because — just like my Grand Seiko.

Of course, I can’t forget the manual-winding chronograph. I love waking up in the morning and winding my watch. I keep few daily rituals, but when I wear this watch for a prolonged period of time, the repetition of winding the watch in the morning is strangely zen-like.

Okay, that’s that for these two watches. Let me know what you think about my two picks in the comments below.

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Ilya is Worn & Wound's Managing Editor and Video Producer. He believes that when it comes to watches, quality, simplicity and functionality are king. This may very well explain his love for German and military-inspired watches. In addition to watches, Ilya brings an encyclopedic knowledge of leather, denim and all things related to menswear.