Feature: 10 watches to avoid
Perhaps you think you know the kinds of watches you would like to buy but you’re not sure about the ones you should avoid. Well, I’m here to make sure you don’t make a costly mistake.
Don’t buy a Tudor Black Bay 54 if you wear big watches
There’s been a huge amount of fuss over the new Tudor Black Bay 54, because frankly, it’s legendary. What more could you possibly want from a vintage inspired Rolex sibling for just over $4,000? Not only is it some three times cheaper than its bigger Submariner brother, it’s also—to many eyes—better looking, too. And Tudor have really worked the details, ironing out the little—almost invisible—creases of the previous Black Bay 58. It’s the perfect daily driver—that is, unless you like your watches bigger. It’s a 37mm case, and although it doesn’t wear as small as you’d imagine, if you like a bigger piece, say the 42mm Explorer II, you’re going to be disappointed.
Don’t buy a Tissot PRX if you have small wrists
Budget bastion of swish Swiss watchmaking, Tissot’s been doing things with steel that have made a lot of people hankering for unobtainable mechanical delicacies very happy. When the watch gods decided we all wanted a Royal Oak, only to smite us with prices like telephone numbers, it was a sad, sad, time. Thankfully, Tissot took pity on us miserable wrecks, delivering the humble PRX. And it’s got the lines. It’s got the angles. It’s got everything but a questionable story about its last-minute design to keep even the most avid watch fiend happy. That is, unless that fiend has medium to smaller wrist sizes. Don’t let the 40mm case fool you: those first links are completely rigid, making it too big for a lot of wrists. But don’t sweat it, because they’ve made a smaller one now.
Don’t buy a Patek Philippe Nautilus if you like chunky watches
If you’ve got eyes for the best, most expensive sports watches in the market then you’ll be weighing up the big three, the Vacheron Constantin Overseas, the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak and the Patek Philippe Nautilus. The first two very much live up to the expectation. Crisp, chunky and incredibly solid, they find a balance between sporty and luxurious that rivals a sofa on slicks. The Patek Philippe Nautilus, on the other hand? In its simplest form, it’s surprisingly slender and delicate. It’s as sporty as seaweed. So, if you’re thinking of one to be your go-to daily, to see you through the rigours of life, think again. It’s probably not the one for you.
Don’t buy a Tudor Black Bay Pro if you like thin watches
When the first pictures of the Tudor Black Bay Pro came out, the world said as one, “That’s it. That’s the watch I’m going to buy and wear for the rest of my life.” And who can blame them? The heritage-inspired design and creamy, off-white colours go better than butter on, well, any French dish. At 39mm across it was sized at the official best case diameter in the world according to scientists, and so the game was on for it to become the greatest watch of all time and forever, no returns. But the problem with pictures is that they’re 2D. The Tudor Black Bay Pro is very much 3D. It’s so 3D, in fact, that many people thought it was too 3D. With almost 15mm of three-dimensionality, I’m afraid it’s just not the dream come true many of us had hoped.
Don’t buy an Omega Speedmaster if you want to set and forget
So, there’s this watch, and it’s basically perfect. Good size, beautiful design, rugged enough for daily wear but still ornate in a way that’ll keep you coming back again and again just to look at it. I know you’re supposed to look at watches, that’s how you tell the time. I mean the looking where you forget to read the time at all. It’s the Omega Speedmaster, and if you get the one with the see-through back, you also get to see what I think is this watch’s crowning jewel: the 3861 chronograph calibre. There are few watches with that kind of view, and even less under $10,000. Only one problem: the reason it looks so good may well be the reason it’s just no good for you. You have to wind it yourself. No self-winding rotor weight and certainly no beefy power reserve either. So if that sounds like effort, steer clear.
Don’t buy a Breitling Navitimer if you’re a neat freak
One of the great pilots watches of all time is the Breitling Navitimer. Part watch, part Davinci Code, the Navitimer is a watch used by clever people to fly planes. Regardless of whether or not you’re one of those clever people, wearing the Navitimer certainly makes you feel like you could have been one, if only your parents had sent you to a better school. Short of giving yourself a callsign and walking around town in a khaki jumpsuit, this is as close as you can get to fulfilling your ace pilot dream without breaking into an air force base. If you’re a bit of a neat freak, however, then stay away. Not just because the dial is messier than a teenager’s bedroom, but because lining up the bezel at rest is impossible. Match up the red 60 with the red dial marker at twelve? The two tens over on the right don’t match up. Impossible!
Don’t buy an Omega Bond Seamaster if you like watches heavy
Everyone’s favourite fictional spy is James Bond—sorry Matt Damon—and so who wouldn’t want to dress the part? Thankfully Omega have released a metric tonne of limited edition Bond watches to celebrate its partnership with the suave murderer with one of the most popular being the Seamaster “No Time To Die”. With military themed details and a vintage colouration, plus the added benefit of not having a corny James Bond motif on the dial side, the “No Time To Die” edition is the perfect balance. One problem though: if you like the weight of a luxury watch, with this being titanium you’re going to be rather disappointed.
Don’t buy a Longines Legend Diver if you like watches pristine
It’s one of the first watches to bring back the vintage dive vibe that has absolutely gripped the industry recently, and it continues to be one of the best—and best value. The long lugs, twin crowns and internal bezel hark back to the compressor case design of the 1950s, a look that was superseded by the simpler and much cheaper premise of the typical dive watch. It’s more elegant than a Seamaster, cheaper than a Black Bay, and has more heritage than a Superocean. They even make it in bronze, which looks incredible. Although, those pristine, bronzed curves won’t last. If you like your watches gleaming, stay away, because the sea-faring bronze will quickly patina and fade.
Don’t buy a Patek Philippe 5180 if you don’t want to see your wrist
Let’s say you’ve made bank and you’re looking to park some of it in a watch that defines high-end, classical watchmaking. The Patek Philippe 5180 is absolutely a watch to consider. Why? Because the calibre 240 SQU microrotor movement has been entirely skeletonised, decorated and engraved by hand. It’s the pinnacle of craftsmanship, the purest form of watchmaking elegance shaped by the hands of a master. Decades of experience at the highest level have gone into making the 5180 what it is. So why should you exercise caution? Well, if you have a beautiful, smooth, tanned wrist, this watch will look utterly exquisite. If your pale, hairy arm shines through the empty space wrought within the movement, the experience may be somewhat tainted.
Don’t buy a Casioak if you’ve got bad eyesight
Want a really cool watch that everyone loves but don’t want to spend over $100? Impossible, you might think, but no—entirely doable. It is thanks to the might of calculator-slash-piano maker Casio that you can have your cake, eat it, and come back for seconds. This is the Casioak, and it’s legendary. With a cheeky 70s integrated silhouette and G-Shock ruggedness for the added reassurance of a multi-storey drop, it’s an absolute no-brainer. That is, unless you have even the slightest issue with your eyesight. Some models have a contrasting colour on the hands which isn’t too bad—but then others are about as readable as Finnegans Wake. You have been warned!
So now you know! What’s your advice to would-be watch buyers?