TST: Do you believe that someone can have too many watches?
SWC: (long pause) Short answer yes with an if, long answer no with a but.
TST: (looks quizzically)
SWC: Yes you can have too many watches if you have limited funds. If you have other more important priorities. You need to keep in mind that this is a very expensive hobby and one that you should not engage in if you don't have the spare slush fund. Of course, there are many levels you can play at. A lot of people collect watches in the lower end of the price scale and there are a lot of fun to be had in this area. You can hunt for all sorts of weird and wonderful vintage watches from many brands that no longer exist. That turned out to be a very long answer... Maybe it's the other way around! So, no, you can never have enough watches if you gots the money! Plus, they don't take up much room, and you could pretty much take your whole watch collection with you in a fire, for example, but you can't take your antique car collection!
TST: Strap or Bracelet?
SWC: Strap. But believe it or not I used to be a firm bracelet guy, but once I found that straps are easily changed, and that by changing strap it gives your watch a completely new look, I've been a strap advocate ever since. It's astonishing just how much a strap can make or break a watch!
TST: If someone who knows nothing about watches but wanted to buy their first 'special' watch came to you and asked you for advice as to what to buy, with a budget of $1k max, what would you suggest?
SWC: Believe it or not, $1k can get you into some pretty decent watches. If you're after a mechanical watch, you do need to also budget for around $300-$500 for a full service every 5 years or so (service interval depends on how well you look after the watch - same as with cars). It is a lot of money to service a watch, so you do need to keep that in mind. Having said that, there are quite a few routes you can go for the that first special watch, but I think also that for the first watch, it needs to be a bit versatile, ie, best to get a watch you can dress up or down.
If you don't mind going 2nd hand, there are plenty of really nice Longines or Oris watches that'll come under $1k quite easily. There's always Aussie's favourite luxury watch, a Tag Heuer. If you want to avoid clashing watches with someone else, why not try something German? You can easily get an Archimede or a Steinhart for well under $1k, and they're excellent watches too, great value for money. However, as there are no authorised retailers/service centres here in Australia for these brands, getting something done under guarantee may take more of an effort on your part. But I still think it's well worth it.
|Archimede Pilot Chronograph|
In fact, put some funds aside to get a couple of really nice straps. They don't have to be from the same brand as the watch. Just as long as they fit. You can get a very good leather strap for around $100. A couple of these will add versatility to the look of your watch, and you can even match it to different occassions, outfits, etc.
|Straps can add to the look of the watch, and putting a new strap on a watch makes it feel like a brand new watch again|
TST: Considering that you have been collecting, well, admiring watches for more than a decade, you must have a refined taste in what sort of watches you like. So, what do you look for in a watch?
SWC: I do know my own taste a little better than I did 10 years ago. I guess I'm not really into high complications, not least because I can't afford it anyway! But the main thing I look for is balance and symmetry in the design of the watch. If something that should be balanced and symmetrical, but isn't, that really bugs me. For example, I'm not a big fan of the date window at the 3:00 position because that causes unbalance issues, but it's a minor thing, and the date window at 3 is kind of a traditional placement. Having said that, some really good designs can incorporate the date window at 3 and still make the whole dial look balanced.
If you have to be assymetrical, then really go nuts, but dials can still be balanced and assymetrical at the same time.
TST: Ahh.. you're one of those symmetrical freaks!
SWC: Yeah. the ultimate pet peeve is the numbers/markings on the subdials on a tri-compax chrono. For example, when the watch designer could easily have the 0-20-40 on one side and 10-20-30 on the other and they instead use 0-15-30-45, that just really bugs me. One really good example is the Rolex Daytona. When they had the zenith movement, the subdials were perfect. Then they ruined everything when they switched to their own inhouse chrono. Not only the numbering, but they even moved the subdials at 3 and slightly above the central alignment just so it's harder to fake? Come on. Faking that is easy. Making the watch look slightly off just to ward of fakes? *Shakes head*
But if you look at the Omega Speedmaster Professional, that is a perfect example of how to do a well balanced, symmetrical dial that is timeless and classic. I'm not surprised that it's still doing so well and they haven't touched the design... much.
|Omega Speedmaster Professional Cal. 321|
SWC: And I do!
TST: And on that bombshell, we'll end it there. Thank you for your time!