featured Khareem Sudlow

The Watch Snob Offers Advice to a Quinquagenarian

August 01, 2019DMT.NEWS

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Watch Snob on Independent Watchmaking and a Big Birthday

A Tale of Two Horologists

I am writing to you to gain perspective on two watchmakers: Paul Gerber and Antoine Preziuso. What do you think about their work? Are the entry level models (under $10,000) worth going after for a purist? For example, Paul Gerber's Retro Twin, or Pilot 42, or say, Preziuso's Dual Time or say Roger Dubuis's Golden Square?

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I’m not quite sure how Roger Dubuis snuck in there, but let me first address your queries about Mr. Gerber and Mr. Preziuso. Both are highly respected and highly respectable watchmakers and both are members of the prestigious Academie Horlogere des Createurs Independants (better known by its acronym, the AHCI). They both have been members for many, many years, and their work is very good indeed, albeit they approach watchmaking from very different directions.

These days the efforts of Mr. Preziuso seem devoted to creating extremely expensive, often highly jeweled tourbillon watches; he makes what you might call smaller pieces as well but his tastes seem to range even in his simplest pieces, rather more to the baroque than not. His work is of very high quality mind you, but certainly his extremely baroque versions of, for instance, Concepto manufactured tourbillons require a prospective owner to have a taste for the elaborate, not to say the melodramatic.

Gerber’s work is much more — well, one wants to say sedate, in comparison with Peziuso’s work although it is perhaps not so much downright sedate as it is comparatively less violently florid. Of the two, I personally find Gerber’s work much more appealing; I struggle to see myself wearing most of Preziuso’s watches on a daily basis and I have no such issue with Gerber’s designs. The Retro Twin watches are I think quite delightful as well as being very nostalgically appealing if like the Snob you are a Gentleman of a Certain Age, and he has done much work in the past which I found very appealing as well. In fact one of my very favorite moonphase watches from anyone is made by Mr. Gerber; it is his reference 336, which in addition to having a very lovely spherical moonphase, has a most interesting escapement – a variation on the lever, invented by Gerber.

Roger Dubuis, the man, was also a very talented watchmaker, who passed away in 2017. The company he co-founded abandoned the original principles of Mr. Dubuis a long time ago and today they seem content to make variations on their double tourbillon, as far as I can tell virtually to the exclusion of anything else. It has shed much of its most interesting work over the years and sold its identity for the sake of short term profits to undiscriminating clients; it gives me little pleasure to say so as they did much good work in the past, but that was in the past.

It’s Obscurely Complicated

I have a question about an obscure complication, in modern watchmaking world at least, the triple date calendar. I came across this particular complication and really liked it. In fact it was quite popular in the days of yore, and was also popular with chronographs. The best couple of watches were beyond my current budget, both are genuinely lovely, and purest in terms of design; Vacheron Constantin Historiques 1942, and one from Laurent Ferrier, although I can maybe try saving up for the former and have a shot in a couple of years. Omega, and Zenith both had a triple date calendar with chronographs but the dial design was a bit too busy for my taste. Longines had one too, but I despise the moonphase in this complication. I was wondering if you can suggest triple date (with or without chronograph) which from a purest perspective is interesting and under [approximately $10,000].

Unfortunately the two options, in general, for a triple date watch (one with a window for the day of the week, a second for a month indication and a pointer for the date) as it exists today seem to be either very expensive, or in less costly models, paired with a moonphase; it is a shame you despise the moonphase in a triple date watch. Personally, I actually prefer it to be there (of my several triple date timepieces, all sport a moonphase complication as well) and I have some vintage triple date chronograph watches, which use the Valjoux 88 — a wonderful and somewhat rare Valjoux caliber, but one which also has a moonphase aperture.

The modern Historiques 1942 is certainly a very nice take on the complication, with a wonderfully dignified air to it but it is, as you quite correctly note, a rather expensive watch. Your best chances here might be with vintage or more recent pre-owned. The Omega Speedmaster Day-Date, for instance — the reference 3520.50.00 — is a pretty terrific watch; it seems fairly widely available and it is well within your stated budget. Bon Chance, mon ami — why more makers don’t stay in the triple date and triple date chronograph business these days, I do not know because if more manufacturers made them, I bet they would sell like hotcakes.

A Birthday First at Fifty

Would you mind terribly answering a question for the ladies. Treating myself to a 50th Birthday watch. Please brace yourself … I own not one watch and would like to finally own a watch of some distinction, preferably under $8000.

It has been my experience in recent years, that ladies who find themselves wishing to buy a serious watch, generally want what the gents want — a good watch is a good watch, irrespective of the gender of the owner and as you have not said that you specifically want what the Swiss, in their benighted, backward fashion, still refer to as a “feminine timepiece” I am going to suggest to you largely what I would suggest to a gentleman, were he looking for a treat on his 50th birthday, in that budget range.

First of all, you cannot go wrong with a Rolex. The company makes relative behemoths of sports and precious metal watches, it is true, but they also make extremely nice smaller versions of the Oyster; they are classic, incredibly reliable and durable, extremely well made, and can easily last out the next half century with you. I would also recommend that you look at the Jaeger-LeCoultre Reversos. These again are absolutely classic designs; they are charming and interesting and if they do not have the forbidding technical perfection of a Rolex, they do have arguably a more distinctive and overtly appealing design character.

As a third interesting option I would suggest looking at Cartier. The company it is true, is best known for its use of white metals, especially platinum, in some very beautiful but again, quite expensive watches. They have however also, in recent years, begun producing a number of steel versions of some of their classic designs that are well within your price range. If you are not put off by a quartz movement may I suggest looking at the quartz Santos models that were introduced this year – they surprise me by feeling very Cartier in the metal and I do not think you will find the use of quartz here objectionable in the least. These three are an excellent starting point and even if you decide on none of them, examining them and considering their respective virtues, will help you hone your tastes for your final acquisition.

Send the Watch Snob your questions at editorial@askmen.com or ask a question on Instagram with the #watchsnob hashtag.

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Watch Snob, Khareem Sudlow

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