My Descent Into Hell - The Mind of a Watch Addict
In a few short years, I have been transformed by unspeakable, unknowable,
forces from a
carefree, happy fellow with not a single functioning watch to his name into a
full-blown WIS, with a house awash in watch winders, watch catalogs, empty
watch boxes, and Way Too Many Watches. I find myself staying up 'till all
hours chatting with fellow addicts world-wide. I track the spot price of
the Lange One on all major world markets, and know the well-guarded names of
those daemons who sell them, for a price, to helpless hungering souls.
After much study of forbidden and musty tomes,
I have become fluent in obscure and forgotten currency
conversions, the mysteries of finding reliable shipping firms,
and, worst of all, the
of customs duties. The sickness has a strong hold upon me.
I record the story of my voyage to destruction
in these pages, in the hope that some of you may be able to escape the fate
which now so clearly awaits me, lurking hideously outside my threshold.
are numbered, and I fear that there is no hope of salvation for me,
but many of you reading
this still have
a chance, if only you heed my warnings...
I must now put down my pen and go to my doom - some gibbering thing is
scratching for me at the door. It is hidden in the guise of a UPS
delivery man, but I Know Its True Form!
What Was I Thinking?
Here's what was going through my mind when
I made each purchase.
This is presented in chronological order, and I hope that it
will help you clearly identify the evil forces that
will drag you down
the path to WISdom...
Swiss Army titanium quartz - Hmmm, I think I could sure use a
watch. This one looks solid. But it's so expensive. Heck, you
only live once, and you can get a 10% discount if you buy today...
Rolex Submariner - Hey, you know that James Bond watch you've wanted since you were a kid? You could just walk down to the store down the street and buy it now... You know you wanna... Wow - this must be the best,
most expensive watch on the planet. Still, you deserve it. And
with some hard bargaining, you can get 10% off. Go for it.
Minerva Avus II/Aviator - Looking for technical
info on the prized new Rolex, and discovered TimeZone. Big Mistake.
Decided to visit a
high-end watch dealer, though anyone who'd pay that much for a watch
clearly be insane... Still, can't hurt to look - what's the worst that
could happen? Hey, look at all the nifty watches... Hey - this one
insanely cool, was hand-made by wee talented elves in the forests of
Switzerland, and there were only a small handful ever created. (Hmmm -
are you beginning to suspect that you got swindled on the Rolex? Is it
really just a $3k Swatch? Oh well, live and learn.) Let's get the
Minerva - it's your birthday. Now you'll
have two nice watches, more than enough for any possible need...
Chronoswiss Opus, SS - Mmmm - doughnuts! Must
have skeleton watch. Crown and bezel look great. Can't really tell the
time with it, but it looks so good, who cares. Besides, you can use it
to time boring meetings.
JlC Master Reserve de Marche, SS, silver dial
- You need an elegant dress-casual watch that isn't as yuppie-scum and identifiable as the
Rolex, and that fits nicely under long-sleeved shirts. Besides, this has
an awesome movement, and a useful complication . This'll be the last
high-end complicated watch you ever need to
buy, that's for sure...
Ulysse Nardin Marine Chrono 1846, Rose Gold, Limited Edition - Look at the incredible enamel dial! And it has a complication to boot.
And a gold case - surely you need at least one gold watch, in case you get around to buying a suit someday...
JlC Master Geographique, SS, silver dial
- Since you're constantly calling people around the world to talk
about watches, wouldn't it be handy to have a world-time watch, instead
of this piece of paper taped above the phone? Plus, it looks so cool.
JlC Lyre #1 - You know, you don't have
anything with the month and day on it. And a moonphase to boot. And the
dial's enamel. And the price
is great. Hmmm - it's really small, though. Get it for the wife -
she'll love it!
Ulysse Nardin Perpetual Ludwig, Rose Gold
- You know you wanna... Besides, this way you'll never have to buy
any more watches, as what could top this? Yup - buying this watch will
actually save you money in the long run - no more watches for you...
(And indeed, this became my daily wearing watch, and I bought no other
pieces, until it had to go to Switzerland for service, and I was left to fend
for myself. You can guess what quickly happened...)
IWC GST auto chronograph, titanium - Well, except for this one. Going on a three week long, nasty road rally, need a chrono, and don't want to trash the Minerva.
Swatch Irony auto - World's cheapest skeleton
watch. And it's the best deal on a watch you're going to find anywhere
here in Caeser's Forum... It'll be an excellent souvenir of the road
Gerrard Perregaux 250 TdF Ferrari - Well, the
IWC is holding up great on the road rally, but wouldn't it be nice to
have something a bit more elegant? And such a discount! Besides, it'll
make an excellent souvenir of the road rally...
Ulysse Nardin Marine Chrono 1846, blue dial, SS, bracelet
- Well, you like your gold UN 1846 a lot, but this one's in some ways
better - it's steel, and on a bracelet, so you can wear it all the
time, and you can use it to replace the Rolex in the "sports watch"
niche. A dive watch with roman numerals has a certain retro appeal,
too. And besides, it'll make an excellent souvenir of the road rally...
(Hmmm - I'm going to have to come up with a more creative line for the wife when I get home).
JlC Lyre #2 - Your wife won't let you ever wear her Lyre. And here's one just like it, for sale on the TZ Sales Corner. What a welcome surprise this will
be for her when you return from the road rally... (Note to self - take a bigger
car on the rally next year - the trunk's too crowded with all these darn
Chronoswiss Delphis, SS - Lust at first sight. The dial and
case bring tears to the eye. Buy it off of RP's wrist. Wait - he won't
take it off! Maybe Tony can distract him for a minute...
Minerva Pythagore, Aviator dial - Well, you
like the IWC Mark XII, but let's get the Minerva instead. Handwound
watches are very cool. This is sort of a simplified version of your
Avus II, and you like military-styled watches. With this, why would you
need a Mark XII anyway?
IWC Mark XII, SS, strap - Oh well, face it, might as well get
the Mark XII too - besides, you don't have an automatic military-style
watch, so it won't be a duplication of the Pythagore...
Fortis Pilot's 24-hour - The 24 hour dial is
just the thing to mess with people's minds at work. Plus, it's a nice,
cheap, military style watch, and it's big. And the price is excellent. (I later sold this watch)
Fortis Pilot's Auto, cockpit dial - It's big, and even cheaper.
(I later sold this watch)
- You've got a pool party this afternoon to
celebrate the successful completion of a 1.5 year long project. You need
something distinctive to be wearing when you get thrown into the pool - the
Ludwig just won't do... And your watch pusher has been trying to con you
into buying this hideous orange thing for months. Good price, too. Though
you're certain that if you'd held out another month, he would have paid
you even more to take it off his premises... What
the heck, you can also wear it to the upcoming TZ dinner, as long as you
won't sit too close to Walt... (Walt slapped me silly)
Omega Speedmaster, '60s vintage - The astronauts wore them to the moon! The moon's full today! Besides, it's hand-wound, and feels great
- Hey look, another military-style watch - and GMT too!
Seiko military auto - Still another military watch - and cheap.
Minerva Pythagore, rose dial - Your wife won't ever let you wear your Pythagore - why don't you buy this one for her?
Panerai Luminor Marina, lefty - Wow. Must have. You'll wear
this everyday! (And indeed, this became, and still is, one of my favourite
Eberhard Traversetolo Vitre - The Panerai is cool, and this has essentially the same movement, but you can see it. It's huge, but somewhat
flat, so you can use it as a stealth huge watch. Time to start a huge watch
Minerva 140 Anniversary - It's huge. You'll
kick yourself later if you don't get it. Besides, you can use it like a
poor man's Portugueser. It'll take you years to find a Portugueser, if
ever, so go for it.
Sinn EZM -1 - Simple, easy to read and use,
indestructible. And anti-magnetic, so you can use it in the lab.
Perfect. Or so an evil TZ friend
assures you... (Turns out he was completely right.)
IWC Jubilee Portugueser, rose gold - Is that what you think it is, sitting back there in that tray of watches? This is your lucky day...
Dubey & Schaldenbrand Aerodyne Duo, SS
- Need a better GMT watch for business travel, as the JlC doesn't
really work well for this, and the Tutima and Ikepod just aren't quite
appropriate for every customer visit...
IWC Mark XII Lady, SS, bracelet - The wife keeps stealing the MarkXII, this'll fix that... (And it did - she wears it everyday, and
hasn't swiped anything since.)
Hamilton Yankee - What an excellent Christmas present from your
Dubey & Schaldenbrand Venus, SS - The dial, the movement - wow! Must have. A jolt to the pleasure centers of the brain.
Alain Silberstein Bolido, SS
- If you ever wake up and find yourself hungover in Tijuana, with odd tattoos in personal places, in clothing
not your own, and there's a donkey in the bed with you, just tell yourself - it could be worse... (I love this watch, but they made me sit at the kid's table
at the TZ lunch.)
JLC Master Perpetual, Rose Gold
- You've achieved a major
personal milestone that you've been working towards for 10 years. And, well, your
Ludwig doesn't have a moonphase. You can use a moonphase perpetual to set
all of your other moonphases from - that way you won't have to bother going
outside to look. Gonna be a bother picking which one
to wear on New Year's Eve, though...
Minerva Pythagore, TimeZone Limited Edition - Can't have too many Pythagores. Besides, this one is orange and black, your school colors. Go for it.
Minerva Heritage, SS - Never, ever, pass up a
Minerva. And this
has the best-feeling chronograph movement you've ever encountered.
Maybe there's something to this column-wheel stuff after all...
Minerva stopwatch - Ummm, road rallies, that's it. You'll use it on road rallies... If the wrist chronograph, rally clock, GPS unit, and
car computer/clock all fail, you'll have a backup.
Illinois 60-hr Bunn Special - Every boy needs a pocket watch. And
the movement puts most of the wristwatches you own to shame.
JLC Reverso Duo - SS/strap - And every cultured fellow needs a
Reverso - the Duo in SS has been haunting your dreams for years -
understated, simple, yet with one of the most lovely dials of any watch
you've ever encountered. With the two faces, it's really like getting
two watches for the price of one, so it's in some sense a great bargain.
Now, if only you had some polo shirts to go with it...
Blancpain 2100 Military, SS - Wow. Now there's a watch you could wear every day to work, rain or shine! Excellent strap, and the 100-hour movement is killer. Stealth. (This has since become one of my favourite everyday watches.)
RGM TZ LE - Looks great. If only you hadn't
bought the BP 2100 the day before you saw this. Oh well, you'll kick
yourself if you don't get it.
Ulysse Nardin GMT+ - Big Date, SS, strap - At last, the ultimate travel watch. (I have recently upgraded this with the SS bracelet, and it makes it into a much nicer watch.)
Lange & Sohne 1815 up/down, white gold, blue dial - Absolute perfection. And an awesome blue dial. What more could you want? This'll be your last watch for certain...
Eterna KonTiki 1958, blue dial - Well, except for another blue-dialed watch, to wear while waiting for the Lange to show up in the mail, and
for a good knocking around watch. Besides, Thor Heyerdal was a cool dude. (Read his book, if you haven't already done so!)
Omega Speedmaster, 1957 replica - Well, you'll
also need another Speedmaster for this year's
road rally, so as not to ding up your vintage Speedy. The IWC GST
isn't handwound, so you'll never know when it's wound, and when it
isn't. Can't have a critical piece of gear conk out on the rally,
- the GST
performed above and beyond my expectations the previous year's trip, so
excuse was only a lame rationalization at best... Further note - after
living with this version of the Speedy for a while, now I know why NASA
had the style of the hands changed...)
Seiko Sports 50, SS - Hey, this is sure nice for the price. (And it is.)
Tutima 1941 chronograph, SS
- You need another handwound military-style chronograph, on a bracelet. Don't you? Besides, it's heavy - like chainmail.
Eterna KonTiki 1958, white dial - You actually "won" an EB*y auction with a low-ball bid? It must be fate.
Ulysse Nardin Marine Chronometer, mounted on gimbals in original case
- At last, a decent time reference source for the house. And, it'll be
perfect for the yacht. Well, if you had a yacht. Hmmmm - now there's an idea...
Breguet Aeronavale Type XX, SS/strap - You really need
a flyback chrono, and it's this or the Blancpain. And you've already
got a Blancpain, so let's try something different. The bracelet model
is way too shiny, and the titanium one doesn't appeal, but the strap
version is just right. This'll fill the "Rolex Daytona" niche quite
Revue Thommen Cricket, silver - You know, you don't have a single alarm watch, you're about to go travelling, and you hate having to leave wakeup calls. Besides, the President of the United States used to use one of these!
Royal Oak Offshore Chrono, SS/bracelet. You
hate this watch. You love this watch. Hey look, there's one in the
window of your local dealer. I'll bet he'd sell it for a song - nobody
in his right mind would wear one of these. Let's try it on, just as a
joke. Wow - my Panerai feels like a Swatch in comparison! My well-loved
Tutima now seems like something a little schoolgirl would wear. This
thing would crush a Rolex sub like an empty beercan. This could be The
Ultimate Sports Watch. (And indeed, I haven't
bought any other watches since this one, though my wife stranded me on
an isolated desert island for 6 weeks, far
from any watch stores, and forbid me to read the Sales Corner...).
I don't need any more watches.
I need to trim down my collection to reduce clutter. I'll just sell some on the Sales Corner. Any day now. You watch.
I don't need any more watches, really.
I can stop anytime I want.
Hey - that Silberstein over there would sure look nice with my straightjacket...
Anyone know where I can get a Ulysse Nardin Trilogy of Time, cheap?
Random Lessons Learned On The Journey
- Buy one watch that you really like, then never, ever read TimeZone, or any watch publications, again.
This will save you a fortune. Especially to be avoided are
the watch review, brand forum, and chatroom areas of TimeZone - the WIS
contagion spreads from here... If you learn only one thing from my tale of
woe, learn this! Turn back while you can.
Just buy that Lange (or Patek, or Rolex, or Vacheron, or
whatever your personal Grand Ultimate Fetish Object is) first, and save
yourself some agony and expense. Once you've gotten The Best, you may
be able to resist a lot of impulse purchases, and avoid cluttering up your house
with watchwinders, cases, and so on.
- Never buy a watch "instead" of the one you really want. You'll eventually
end up getting the object of your desire anyway, and then you'll be stuck with an extra watch (or four).
- Never buy a watch just because the price seems insanely good.
If you don't end up ever wearing it, you'd have saved even more money if
you hadn't bought the darn thing in the first place. Corollary - never buy a low-end
watch just because "that's darn good value for the money" if you
already have, or desire, higher-end versions of the same sort of watch - you'll
end up never wearing the cheapie, and it'll clutter up the place. Buying
a low-end watch as a beater is fine, but be careful with this
rationalization - how many beaters do you really need?
- Furthermore, how many chronographs do you really need? One for
dress, one for cooking/BBQing, and one for abuse. Anything more, and some
will just rot in your watch-case.
- If you decide that you like a certain style of watch, say "military-style", it is not
necessary to own every single example of the style. Take your time, and
pick one or two good ones - you can only wear one at a time anyways
(except at TZ lunches).
- Whenever you find yourself thinking "Hey, I've got a
t-shirt that'd look really good with that watch over there...", hand
your checkbook and wallet to someone trusted, and run, do not walk, for
the door, and
head for the Imelda Marcos Impulse Shopping Treatment Center.
You need help. Corollary - it is far cheaper to buy a new belt that
matches a watch you already own, than the other way around...
- If you find yourself making up bogus milestones as excuses
to purchase a new watch, you also need help. "Hey, it's St. Vincent's
Day in Swaziland! Let's
celebrate!" is not a sufficient reason to buy that repeater you've always
- If you need a fix, think vintage. There are a lot of
inexpensive vintage watches out there in great shape with really cool
movements, and nifty features. With the money you'd
waste on only a few mistaken purchases of NIB timepieces, you could
a killer vintage collection. And you'll find that often the design and
craftsmanship are superior to, and unobtainable in, modern watches... (Mind you, I've never managed to follow this advice, but it sounds good...)
- Another solution when you hunger for a new watch - treat one of your current
watches to a new strap. Often, a watch that has not been getting much time
on your wrist is just begging for a new strap in a different style. It's
just like getting a new watch, but somewhat cheaper.
- You don't need to keep everything on a watch winder, or wind all of your
handwound watches every day. This way lies madness (and watch winders strewn
about your house). Get a winder or two for your current commonly-worn
rotation, and don't worry. Your changing tastes/needs from month to month
will likely insure that your watches get worn often enough to not get gummed
up. If not, consider selling the unworn, lonely pieces languishing in your
collection to some other poor soul. Watches should be worn, and not sit in
vaults, sadly spinning away on winders.
If offered a choice, always buy the watch with the bracelet. You can always
find a nice strap later if you change your mind, but it tends to be expensive,
and a bother, to find a proper bracelet after the fact.
- Avoid developing an addiction to pocket-watches.
You won't ever carry one with you, no matter how good your intentions, except maybe to the opera. Get one
really nice one, and pat yourself on the back. This makes an excellent
and economical way to get the urge for a minute repeater out of your
Hold out for a 35% discount, minimum. Don't be in a rush to buy. If you look
around, and bide your time, you can find almost any watch at a decent
price, even the ever-elusive Portugueser...
Credit cards are not your friend. Pay cash, so you feel the pain right away.
This method often kills the impulse purchase dead in its tracks.
Diamonds are not a watch's best friend... Especially on a Breitling Emergency...