Watch Curmudgeon: Occasional Watch

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About two years ago, I attended a formal wedding, and to complement my ludicrous attire, I wore my Submariner instead of the obligatory dress watch. Although I may well have offended several guests, I wasn’t subjected to any negative treatment.

I wasn’t summarily ejected. Or sued. And I wasn’t banished to that corner table and forced to sit between the crazy, drooling uncle with a wandering eye who suffers from constant bouts of booming flatulence, and the mini-skirted, gogo-booted, 70 year old spinster cousin with a saggy, Jerry Garcia tattoo on her left breast.

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Obviously, I don’t think anyone should be told when and where they can wear a watch they love. The whole notion of it is barbaric. However, be that as it may, there are occasions that absolutely demand a certain kind of watch. Here are a few of them.

If you’re going to be flying an airplane, you must wear one of today’s 12,000 pilot watches. Even if you’re just a lowly passenger flying in coach, you must wear one. Consider the authenticity of closing your eyes, gripping your seat tray, and imagining that you’re steering a B-29 through flak and swarming bogies on a bombing mission deep over enemy territory. Friends, this is precisely why we own pilot watches!

If you’re going to be taking a jaunt in a car, be absolutely certain to strap on something akin to a Heuer Carrera, Rolex Daytona, or a Christopher Ward C700 Grand Rapide. Even if you’re just going to be a lowly passenger in the back of a Buick SUV, wear one so you can “experience” the real thrill of blazing down the Mulsanne Straight in an Audi R15 TDI. But please keep your own zooming noises at an acceptable level.

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If you’re going to be watching a James Bond movie, there are several watch options that have to be strictly adhered to. All early Bond movies with Sean Connery, the REAL 007, will mandate a Rolex Submariner on your wrist. (If you don’t have one it’s ok to pretend you do.) After all, that’s what Ian Fleming wanted his hero to wear, not some sissy Omega. I don’t know when the money-can-buy-anything Rolex/Omega transition occurred, but, for all the more current movies, you may wear an Omega and garner all the vicarious thrills. And since I’m in a good mood, I’ll grant thee permission to wear any of Steinhart’s Homage watches. The only catch is that you’re not permitted to imagine the secure lump of a Walther PPK in your pocket.

If, for some stupid reason, you’re going to visit a clairvoyant, remember that you can tell quite a bit about a person by the watch they’re wearing. Which means they’re very well versed about watches. So try this: Wear a 40’s or 50’s tank style from Benrus, Bulova, Gruen…etc. If your mystical expert rolls her eyes back and says something like “I sense your late father. He wants to ask you if you’ve serviced his old watch lately,” politely leave. But if she asks, “Why aren’t you wearing that Tudor Black Bay you’ve got tucked away in the drawer with your striped Paul Smith socks?” then you just might find out if that raise you’re expecting is imminent.

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If you’re planning a trip to Vegas, you’ve got to give your watch selection some serious consideration, especially if you’re a poker player. Remember, bluffing begins with your wrist. The key thing is to look like a loser, so wear one of those deplorable quartzers with a Mets logo on the dial. What, you don’t gamble? And all you want to do is meet and impress those classy Vegas ladies? Well, complement your white on white silk shirt and yellow on black shark skin suit with a Hublot encrusted with enough stones to pave a driveway. You’re gonna do just fine, Ace!

Here’s some extremely important advice for any guy who’s  going to be meeting his girlfriend’s dad for the first time: If she’s a keeper, you don’t want to let your watch wreck your chances. Yes, a watch can do that because it says so much about you. The wrong watch can say you’re too flashy, too frivolous, too cheap, too trendy, too smarmy, too overbearing, too pushy, too……well, you get the point. It’s hard to know how her dad will respond to any watch at all. So, you have to subtly find out from her if he’s a watch guy. For example, tell her that you’ve just finished reading a great watch magazine, and you were wondering if he might want to have it. If she says, “Oh, popsie would love it!” then you’ve got valuable inside info. But if she says, “Oh, popsie would love it if there are any football articles?” you can still be in good shape.

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Let’s look at the first scenario. You want to appear smart, stylish, value conscious, reasonably conservative, and knowledgeable about watches. So you may want to consider a Stowa Antea small seconds, a Nomos Club 36mm, or, for a bit more, a Sinn 6100 regulateur. All of these watches will tell Smedley, better known as Skip, that you’re a good catch for his little Constance. But, guys, if you notice that he’s wearing something like a Patek repeater, don’t gawk at it and say something like “Hey, awesome watch! Bet yuh dropped some serious coin on that baby!” Just say “Magnificent timepiece! What a brilliant investment.”

As for the second scenario, where pop knows zip about watches, most of the same rules apply. Just because he may be wearing an 80’s Armitron, a 50mm Invicta, or a Timex Expedition, doesn’t mean he can’t draw logical conclusions from what’s gracing your wrist. What should you be wearing? Well, the same choices used to impress Smedley, with the exception of the Sinn. That watch might be a bit much for him if for some odd reason he were to notice it. Can you imagine trying to explain one of those and why you wear it to some Joe Schmoe?

I certainly hope you’ve learned something from all this, and apply careful thought when approaching numerous occasions. I, for one, am looking forward to the next formal wedding I’m invited to because I really need an excuse to get one of those discreet Valour Sopwith Aviators. I can’t wait!

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