Shopping Guide: Men’s Watches

October 24th, 2007

During yet another showing of MTV Cribs (reruns on MTV?….can’t be) some rapper whose name I’ve already forgotten bragged that his watch cost more than a house. And while he admired his half-million dollar custom Rolex, the diamonds flickering brightly enough in the light to blind someone, I remained thoroughly unimpressed. 
Watches, it seems, have become yet another chance for men to pretentiously show off their wealth. Every now and then, we follow trends and fads that we believe to be stylish (read this month’s GQ for a great list of such fashion crimes), but they aren’t. The "bling-bling" watch is one such tragedy.

A gentleman’s watch should be subtle and classy, not pretentious and grotesque. It can have diamonds and jewels, but only in tasteful quantities. And if it is expensive, it should be not because the 4 karat, D-colors on the face of the watch manage to spell your name, but rather because of the craftsmanship and its timelessness.

What watch to buy?
We present to you five watches worth investing in. These watches all have leather bands, the more formal band material of choice, and they look great any time you want to appear sophisticated and refined. Treat them as investments.

Our $ Find

Kenneth Cole Truth Be Told Watch

Kenneth Cole "Truth Be Told" | $115 at
Kenneth Cole

Classy and understated, you don’t need to take out a second mortgage to be able to wear this beauty. This humble piece looks great with anything, except for maybe tie-dye.

Our $$ Find

Oris Classic Date Watch

Oris Classic Date Watch | $576

The beauty of this timeless piece from the classic Swiss manufacturer is its simplicity. There’s no room for gimmicks here - it doesn’t glow in the dark, it will break if you run a car over it, and you can’t wear it while you go scuba diving. But what you can do is wear this handsome classic with pride. The piece’s red rotor, a symbol of Oris mechanicals, keeps it interesting.

Our $$$ Find

Tag Heuer Monaco Watch

Tag Heuer Monaco Watch | $3,295

Black and beautiful, this classic piece was worn by Steve McQueen in Le Mans. Its square case and black face make it stand out in all the right ways, and it looks especially stylish when paired with a dark suit or tuxedo.

Our $$$$ Finds

Rolex Oyster Perpetual Moonphase Watch

Rolex Oyster Perpetual Moonphase | Price N/A

This is hands down one of the best looking watches around. The gold case makes it stand out, but not outlandishly or ostentatiously so - it’s not shiny gold that calls attention to itself. Like all Rolexes, this watch is dependable and prestigious. Some may call it a status symbol; I prefer to think of it a sign of a gentleman. After all, it is refined and sophisticated, as all gentlemen are.

Patek Philippe Calatrava 5127 Watch

Patek Philippe Calatrava 5127 | $19,500

They say that Patek Philippes are the Rolls-Royces of watches, but perhaps it is more accurate to say that Rolls-Royces are the Patek Philippes of luxury cars. Pateks are incredibly hard to find - in their approximately 150 year history, they have produced fewer timepieces, (600,000) than Rolex produces annually. It is one of the most expensive wrist watch brands in the world - 80 of the 100 most expensive watches ever sold are Pateks, including a $13 million list-topper.

What’s all the fuss? The firm’s ten values are the perfect summary of why this watch commands a nearly $20,000 price tag: Independence, Tradition, Innovation, Quality Workmanship, Rarity, Value, Aesthetics, Service, Emotion and Heritage. And if this doesn’t convince you…just put one on. You know something special is on your wrist; you can feel it.

Style tip: I know, I know - those fancy European watch names are impossible to pronounce properly. Here’s some help.

Entry Filed under: Men,Shopping Guide

6 Comments Add your own

  • 1. kay  |  October 24th, 2007 at 9:32 am

    lovely watches. could you recommend a few for ladies as well?

  • 2. John  |  October 24th, 2007 at 11:43 am

    A few notes on this feature:

    1) All the watches we suggest cannot necessarily be bought online, especially the more expensive ones. Then again, if you’re going to buy a Patek or a Rolex, I’d highly suggest trying it on before paying for it anyway.

    2) Some of you will scoff at the prices of these watches. Even our 2nd least expensive watch runs for about $600-$700. We tried to present watches in different price ranges, and the fact of the matter is that watches are a luxury good. There are, believe it or not, many watches that are more expensive than the most expensive watch we feature here.

    3) Even if you have $20,000 to spend on a watch, I wouldn’t necessarily suggest getting a Rolex or Patek. Like wine, how “good” a watch is loosely correlated with its price, but also like wine, it takes someone experienced in the field to truly appreciate the subtleties that make it so expensive.

    4) Lastly, these are only suggestions. If your favorite watch is from Target, wear it.

  • 3. John  |  October 24th, 2007 at 5:55 pm

    correction: in my above comment i said the Oris watch goes for $600-$700, whereas the price on the feature says $576. The $576 is correct without tax. Also in general, the prices without may not bet correct to the dollar.

    Sorry for the confusion!

  • 4. Mimi  |  October 25th, 2007 at 12:13 am

    I love the most simple and elegant– and the most expensive, go figure! The Patek Philippe Calatrava…. it’s perfectly blingless! I wonder if I can find something similar in a Timex?

  • 5. John  |  October 26th, 2007 at 12:20 am

    That’s my favorite too Mimi. I’ve actually tried one on for the hell of it, really similar to that (same series, the Calatrava). I was so worried I’d scratch the face or something and have to sell one of my kidneys to pay for it.

    What’s interesting about Patek is that for the most part, they leave their styles relatively unchanged, and I think what you and I appreciate is that classicism and timelessness that the Patek seems to have that the others, even the Rolex, don’t have.

    That watch in our feature was originally designed in 1932 and has remained unchanged in style. I’m sure the movements (fancy name for all the things that make the watch work) have been updated, though.

  • 6. John  |  November 1st, 2007 at 3:25 pm

    Mimi: yes, you can find something similar in a Timex.

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