As many of you will know, AskMen.com has a columnist who goes under the name of ‘The Watch Snob’, a name, he insists, he did not invent himself but was visited upon him by the marketing department of the magazine. No one is certain of the identity of The Watch Snob, but he can certainly be pretty sniffy and downright rude about a number of watch brands which many hold in high regard.
He tends to reserve most of his disdain for the likes of TAG Heuer, although he reluctantly admits that they are starting to get their act together. He also casts a jaded eye upon just about anything from the House of Swatch, the parent company of brands such as Blancpain, Breguet, Glasshutte Original and Omega, to name a few. Even he will admit that there are some fine watches amongst these brands, but there is a fierce independent streak to the Watch Snob which forces him to rebel against the encroachment of the conglomerate.
The other tenet for which he is well known is his insistence that there is not a single watch under £3000 worth buying, and it’s difficult to find something acceptable even at the £5,000 mark. That is, he acknowledges, partly a reflection of how overpriced the Swiss watch market has become. So here is our choice of watches which, if presented to The Watch Snob, would not find themselves flung from the 32nd floor of the penthouse office he occupies – a fate which has metaphorically befallen many a watch presented for his consideration.
Greubel Forsey Double Tourbillon 30⁰
They’ve barely been around five minutes, but Franco/British pairing Greubel Forsey have rapidly captured the yearnings of many a watch connoisseur with their complicated high end masterworks. The Double Tourbillon 30⁰ leapt onto the haute horology scene in the same way ‘She Loves You’ by the Beatles raided the pop charts all those years ago. There were practically watch collector groupies camped outside their homes, hoping they would shake their mop-tops in their direction. The watch features one tourbillon – inclined at 30° and rotating in 60 seconds – inside another rotating every four minutes, to average out gravity-induced errors on the oscillator. The displays, surfaces, architecture and aesthetics have all been profoundly developed in creating this exceptional timepiece. Watchmaking designed to delight even the most rarefied watch snob.
Speake-Marin Serpent Calendar
British watchmakers are every bit as successful as Team GB these days. They really are making some of the most interesting and assured watches anywhere in the world, even if they are manufacturing them in Switzerland. Peter Speake-Marin, haute horology’s answer to Bradley Wiggins, originally had the intention of making jewellery, but found himself seduced by the art and mechanics of watch making. He began his horological journey at London’s Hackney Technical College (1985) and then continued his education at WOSTEP, the prestigious Swiss watch making school.
The exquisitely designed Serpent Calendar indicates central hours, minutes and date by bright blued-steel, sculptured Speake-Marin hands. The large diameter of the new, automatic Eros 1 Calibre featuring a long, five-day power reserve – coupled with a new, multi-layered, white-lacquer dial – allows for a much slimmer case of just 12mm. The Watch Snob will approve because Speake-Marin prefers the route less travelled to achieve his superlative timepieces.
Patek Philippe Nautilus
The Watch Snob quite rightly has a lot of time for Patek Philippe, and is happy to concede that they were and still are the finest watchmakers on the planet. Rather than the Calatrava, we have chosen to present him with the dazzling simplicity of the Nautilus. The legend goes it was designed by Gerald Genta over lunch in Baselworld many years ago, allegedly on the back of the inevitable napkin while watching the Patek top brass eat. After lunch he presented the design to them and they were duly amazed and enthralled. Like many of his designs, it has not altered since its inception. The Nautilus comes in many dial colours, but its sleek, elegant understated allure remains.
Seiko Spring Drive
The Watch Snob may look down his nose at a number of watch brands, but when the masters of the mainstream watch, Seiko, create something like the Seiko Spring Drive, even he should stand back and applaud. 28 years in the making, the Seiko Spring Drive is Seiko’s way of replacing the escapement, the weakest and most vulnerable part of the watch mechanism. With a power reserve of 72 hours, the Seiko Spring Drive delivers power more smoothly, more accurately and for longer. They also set their top engineers and designers the task of developing a range of extremely handsome watches to match their near flawless performance.
Corum Reserve de Marche Platinum Complication watch
For our final selection, this is a watch from the collection of our own in-house watch snob. If it isn’t rare or excellent or both, he won’t offer it for sale. In general he thinks good watches ceased to be made some time after 1970, and he has little interest in modern watches and new brands. His remarks about modern watches are usually acidic, so it was a real surprise for him to be selling this watch by Corum from as recently as 1993. This limited edition watch features a heavy solid platinum case, original signed platinum screw-down crown, original engine turned guilloche dial displaying running seconds, power reserve and calendar. I think the reason he likes it is because it has the clean, sparse elegance of a watch from the 50’s. Corum have become overly obsessed with their Admiral’s Cup collection of late, but clearly there is a capability to produce a decent looking watch, and at £4,650, it’s reassuringly expensive.
The Watch Snob is welcome to disagree with this collection, but we doubt he will.