Unpopular Opinion: Watches that get too much hype
I was working out my thumbs on IG and scrolling through Stories when I chanced upon this survey of vintage watches by Goldammer (check them out they’re great).
This is the homepage of the Goldammer site - they've got a really strong social media game going and I really connect with their content.
They like to put up IG stories for their new drops, asking (and tempting) us to choose between similar but different watches that’ll be (or are currently) in their site. It's watch collector peek-a-boo, and I love to play the game.
Viewing the results I came to realise that popular opinion will more or less place certain types of watches over another. That inspired this list for me.
Now, may I present a list of watches that I think have gathered too hype. Before you start to cancel me please note that I have done no research whatsoever and the below is of my personal, non-professional opinion. If you agree with what I say, hi-five brother! If you don't, I think there's a seat on the hype train with your name on it.
Illustration: Shamelessly saved off Google Images and rightfully attributed to the talented and witty Izzy Chan and her one-shot wonders (https://izzychan.wordpress.com/about/)
Nevertheless I shall resume with the rhetoric and present for your amusement and scrutiny, my bad grammar, spelling, and a list of watches that are too famous for what they're worth.
Jaeger leCoultre Reverso
Oh this one might be every watch collector's dream - the watch with a rotating case that shows you a blank polished stainless steel case back that you can pay to have disfigured / engraved with your personal insignia, life changing quote or unknown initials.
For this guy, the hype is all about the watch's history and how we all as watch collectors can romanticise about putting that one perfect sentence at the back that'll hopefully match up to Newman's "Drive Carefully, Me."
Also, the watch sits too flat on the wrist. It'd do itself a lot of favors (and less damage from careless nicks) if it were more of a Cintrée.
Omega Constellation Pie Pan
I know this feeling very well because I still have the ticket stubs from the No-Date-Crosshair-Doglegged-Omega-Pie-Pan-Constellation-with-Bead-of-Rice-Bracelet train.
Now, fourteen more Constellations in the box later, I can seriously tell you to stop. It's got too much hype to justify the fame. The stick markers (make sure they're Onyx and not paint) are boring; the dial is too plain and flat (if you're lucky you get a piece with dial patina and actual chracter); the lugs are too modern; the case is too flat; and the bracelet just really feels uncomfortable after they start to nip you in the skin on a hot humid day.
BUT IF YOU MUST, go for something a little less mainstream - shark tooth markers, a date complication, C-Cases (now that's going to make the underrated list), bumper movements and curved lugs. Honeycomb, black dials and arrowhead markers give you extra creds from me.
American Grand Seiko
In 2017, Seiko made the announcement that they needed more private jets for their C-Suites and had to sell out the brand to milk the up and rising cash cow. That means they split Grand Seiko out from the main Seiko line-up and set up an autonomous brand that'll cater to the expanding group of collectors who have no ability to get their hands on new Rolex releases (more on that later).
Now, that same bovine is suffering from swollen udders and displaced eyeballs from excessive rolling because of all the hype it can't believe it's getting. Releases from Grand Seiko now come fast and furious, each iteration readily snapped up by enthusiasts wanting a piece of the "masterfully made dials" consortium.
Gone are the expertly mirror-polished hands, marketing prowess placing the skills onto bevels in the case and the hands instead (they are mostly brushed finished now). Gone is the historic mark of Seiko-Grand Seiko, marketing prowess making you believe that less detail on the dial allows for a concise brand positioning in an ever-astute collectors' sausage fest (it's cost savings people). Gone is the secret joy in wearing a $5,000 Seiko watch and the quiet confidence of knowing you're better than someone by simply knowing what a Grand Seiko is.
Now they come in all colors and textures, and expose you to the mysterious orient with their loud over the top excessive marketing. How's that for coming out the closet? GRAND SEIKO!
You know the photo comparison that shows a lovely lady before drug use and the same woman after a few years of substance abuse? Well, Oris Bronze does that in about a week.
Before you rip on me for ripping on nature, I come from the perspective of a Carl Brashear Chronograph owner. It was awesome seeing the patina develop on my DIVERS WATCH, but when it is applied (with so much fandom) on dress pieces like the two-tone, candies and the most recent Big Crown, you gotta realize when someone's grabbing you by the teats and sucking real hard for attention.
I still like my Carl Brashear and its rough and tumble bronze, and remains till this day (until I see the red dial Big Crown) skeptical of Oris Bronze dress watches. Yema bronze however, remains shiny gold for a much longer time... throw that on the Bog Crown and you have my money for as many dial colors as you can make.
(You know it’s coming) Any new Rolex release
Which is the bigger number - the number of stars in the Universe, or the amount of soap you have to drop to get a chance at being considered as a Rolex AD hopeful?
It's really sad that the hype surrounding these watches is more about how much more the current pieces will appreciate than about the actual technical improvements the famed watch makers have made to their perfectly grey marketed time pieces.
A few honorable mentions:
Montblanc Villeret watches (*snigger* heritage)
Cartier Tank (the Santos Dumont is better)
Ming Watches (I don't get it)
That Japanese Kurono watch (because I can't get one)
Gerald Genta (Kurt Klaus FTW!)