featured Khareem Sudlow

Watch Snob Thinks We’re All Watch Snobs Now

October 16, 2019DMT.NEWS

#DMTBeautySpot #beauty

Watch Snob Sets Three Readers Straight Tells Why Watches Cost What They Cost

Let's Be Crystal Clear

I´m a huge fan of yours, as I have mentioned in previous messages.

I am thinking of buying a Breitling Aerospace Professional from the early 2000´s. I think they are a great buy at c.€1.5k and I am a big fan of the Aerospace´s from that particular period. What are your thoughts on that model and digital watches in general?

RELATED: Last Week: Watch Snob Scolds Three Readers Who Don’t Trust Their Own Tastes

You know I have to admit to having something of a weakness for the genre, which may or may not surprise frequent readers; I have a long-standing affection for multi-function quartz watches, in general. I actually own several G-Shocks (including a very weird but irresistible altimeter model which is sensitive to altitudes which, were I at them, would instantly kill me) and I quite like the Omega X-33, as well as a number of the watches of this genre, from Omega and others, which preceded it. 

I am not sure why, as they are in every respect the antithesis of what I usually look for in a wristwatch, although I do think some of the objections raised against them are to some degree unwarranted. Rapid obsolescence is one, however a thirty year old G-Shock still seems relevant and interesting to me (if you are going to admit interest in one at all) and the needs which the functions of the Breitling fulfill, are as relevant as they were when the watch was first produced. Quite a few watch enthusiasts loathe quartz watches of any kind but I have always felt this an irrational prejudice against a kind of watchmaking which not only has predominated for many decades, but which also is quite interesting in its own right.

I am admittedly more of a lover of gadgetry for its own sake than many watch lovers but if you like them, there is no reason to not enjoy one.

Youth is Wasted on the Young

I've been reading Watch Snob for quite some time and read other articles on AskMen as well. A market I feel is under-served on AskMen is successful older men, and in particular articles on clothing, accessories and "stuff" for men who have significant disposable income and who are willing to spend some of it on looking the best they can, and on presenting themselves as well as possible.

AskMen generally seems to cater to a younger market. This is fine, and most of the similar sites do as well. I find this curious because most younger men simply don't have very much money, it is the older guys who do. Interestingly, most advertisers aim specifically at younger men, while it is older men who are the ones who can actually afford to buy the products.

The existence of a section for "Men of Means" (or something like that) would be a powerful draw for advertiser's dollars, and it would also "point the way" forward and upward for younger men who aspire and hopefully are on the road to success. Other than in Silicon Valley, nobody wears sneakers in the boardroom, the courtroom, in banking in politics . . .

Watch Snob has this market ($100K income a year plus) covered perfectly, and I'd like to see similar content on other things.

You raise several interesting points. I have over the years come to understand that this website and myself are a bit of an odd fit, in certain respects — indeed, much of what is covered elsewhere does seem to be directed towards the younger, and perhaps less affluent gentlemen. Things which cost in the hundreds of dollars, are certainly easier to possess and enjoy earlier in life, for most blokes, than things which cost in the thousands or tens of thousands of dollars.

Fine watchmaking, especially Swiss fine watchmaking, presents an interesting conundrum in this respect. It has over the years undergone many changes, from the introduction of silicon components, to the increase in high precision and high tech manufacturing processes of recent years, to the explosion of interest in fine watchmaking across the world, fueled by the meteoric rise of the watch internet. Much of the most interesting activity around watches and watch collecting now occurs on Instagram, which is largely populated, as far as watches are concerned, with jackasses more interested in self-promotion than watches, and whose knowledge is worse than superficial — however there are a very few who actually contribute something positive and know their stuff.

One of the most significant changes, and one of the most lamentable from a customer’s viewpoint, is that the price of new watches (and vintage as well, although not in all cases) has skyrocketed since the beginning of this century. This means that it is quite difficult to answer a question about any sort of good watchmaking without, will you or nill you, talking about things which cost thousands of dollars. Though my persona here is the Watch Snob, snob-dom nowadays is almost forced upon one, at least from a price perspective (this is part of the reason that affordably priced, non-Grand Seiko watches from Seiko, are so widely loved by younger enthusiasts; they can actually afford them).

I agree with you in theory that it might be interesting to explore but I wouldn’t be the fellow for the job. My knowledge in other areas is much less systematic than in watches and in some cases, downright odd (I developed a love for Algerian wines after reading as a youth that they are favored by M, the Secret Service boss in the James Bond novels, which will win me points with no real wine enthusiasts at all, unless I miss my guess). Perhaps it is just as well to leave AskMen.com where it is – you may be right in theory but one does well to know what is in one’s wheelhouse, and what is not.

Don’t Overlook Grand Seiko

I’m reaching out in the hope that you can provide some guidance on a watch purchase I plan to make. I’ve budgeted $10,000 for the purchase, but would be willing to raise that to $15,000 for the right timepiece. What I’m having difficulty with is finding a watch that fulfills certain very specific criteria which I’ll expound on further.

First, I am an investment professional with over 15 years of experience work in banking and at hedge funds. I tend to be an obsessive person, and the importance that I place on maximizing value when trading stocks also applies to all other parts of my life. I’m not necessarily expecting to purchase a watch which might instantly increase in value (similar to perhaps a Rolex GMT Master II), I’d just like some reasonable level value retention.

Second, I am autistic, but not in a manner that’s easily identifiable from casual social interaction. Instead, my traits manifest most significantly in my obsession with technical/industrial design, gears, and repeating movements. I can’t express enough how much peace and happiness I feel when I look at an exhibit case back and see different colored metals with varied buffing, grinding and etching, highlighted by bright colored jewels, alongside the precise movements of a balance wheel and smooth motion of a rotor. I still remember the first time I ever saw an exhibit case back, a friend of mine had just purchased a Patek Philippe Nautilus which he let me hold for a few minutes. Although I had been fortunate in my life to have toured dozens of major art museums in Europe and North America, that was the first time I experienced a masterpiece with my heart and not just my eyes.

Unfortunately exhibit case backs don’t seem to be very popular among watches that have a reputation of retaining value, at least not within my budget. I did see an Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch which came close, but it lacked a rotor. I also considered an Audemars Piguet Royal Oak, but it was a bit higher than I’d like to pay. Any help you can provide in recommending watches that might fit my criteria would be greatly appreciated.

Unfortunately, what you desire generally comes at a fairly significant cost. The Nautilus and Royal Oak are obvious choices and good ones but of course quite expensive (and quite difficult to find, at least for the steel models — it has gotten to the point where it is less expensive to simply buy a gold Nautilus than it is to pay the market price for a steel one. Another obvious suggestion is Grand Seiko, which offer many wonderful watches at prices well within, or actually below, the lower bound you have set for your budget, but which don’t offer the value retention or actual possibility of increase in value, you might get from other luxury level stainless steel sports models.

However, your mention of the Speedmaster leads me to think that of all the criteria you mention, value retention may be the one on which you are most flexible and indeed I would suggest that you consider something. It is in the nature of most watches to lose value the moment they are purchased and for time out of mind, performance on the secondary, pre-owned market for watches has lagged behind performance at retail. A few exceptions to this in recent years (the Nautilus, stainless steel Rolex professional models, the “Jumbo” Royal Oak in steel) have I think given us all somewhat unrealistic expectations of after-sales value retention. Certainly, I am not suggesting that you abandon the notion entirely – it is always nice to have a watch that holds its value – but when considering purchasing a watch for pleasure, you need not fall victim to the speculation which preoccupies some who buy and sell frequently, and for whom profit is part of the fun.

If you have not looked at Grand Seiko watches, I would strongly suggest it; the quality they offer, even with their recent price increases, is for the cost about double what it would be in most comparably priced Swiss watches. If you really want to see high level traditional movement finishing in an automatic watch there is no getting around the fact that it is an expensive proposition, though.

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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