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      10-31-2013, 08:32 AM   #1
tony20009
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Christmas Is Coming

Christmas is coming, and maybe you are out to find that perfect watch for yourself or someone whom you like. I know I am, but I don't want to buy watches that just about anyone would come across. I want to buy/give something a little different, and that gives up nothing in quality to the "usual suspect" in their price range, but that stands out as being something good that their friends won't know about and that has a little cache to the story associated with the piece. Yet, when they are gifts, I want them to be reasonably priced. Not that I give that many watches as gifts, but if/when I do, I'm not going to spend the kind of money I would spend on my kids or myself. To say nothing of not always wanting to spend big bucks on watches for myself.

So, over the past few weeks, I've been hunting for ideas for three folks to whom I will give a watch this year. I thought too that since in the course of my quest I'd collected all this info, I may as well share it since there's a small community here that's also into watches. Here are some things I recently discovered that are quite affordable and quite nice to boot. (You can Google most any of these watch brands to find reviews and more details.)

  • Archimede - http://www.archimede-watches.com/ - A German watch for a German car, and it's affordable. Several styles and the one below comes in several dial colors including brown , black and white. ($650-$1500; the one below is $650) (ETA inside)
  • Steinhart - http://www.steinhartwatches.de/en/ - Mostly ETA movements inside and rarely more than $1000, and more often about half that. Far too many styles to show here, but here're a few:
  • Orbis Morgan - http://www.obrismorgan.com/brancopage.html - Automatic - Miyota inside (reliable and easy/cheap to maintain) - $250
  • Blancier - This company is a ton of fun and super cool to me because they are fully committed to the "one of a kind" concept for a reasonable price. They have a web configurator from which you pick the elements of a watch and create your own. Check it out; it's a hoot. (Blancier - Lottermann & Söhne) The price on the watches you can design for yourself seem to run form about $2K to $5K, depending on what bits you choose, from among their offerings of case, dials, movements, straps, bezels and hands, and you can watch the price change as you swap parts in and out. I wasted a good 20 minutes playing with that thing. LOL. They also have a line called Grand Cru that is ~$1000 (ETA Unitas inside) and something like 12 different colors. Also, every single dial is different. Your watch will be one of a kind. (In Europe, G. Clooney promotes these watches.)
  • Gerlach - Another affordable watch that is neither a copy of something pricey nor a dive watch. ($350). Everything you could want to know, and more pics, here: http://www.watchfreeks.com/121-watch...d-6-pilot.html
  • Bernhardt - A fellow in South Carolina makes these watches using ETA/ETA Unitas movements. Prices run from $170 - $800. https://www.bernhardtwatch.com/ - Several styles besides the two shown and ladies too.
  • Alpina - http://www.alpina-watches.com/ - Not ground breaking or anything but well thought out, solidly put together pieces. $600-$3000 ($1500 for the one below; $1000 if quartz)
  • Bathys - http://www.bathyswatch.com/main.php - Whoo Hoo, another US company making watches. This one from Hawaii, so there's a lot of dive watches in their collection. ($600-$1200, quartz and automatic models offered) All are super youthful, sporty, cool looking watches. Carbon fiber dials, check. Rubber straps, check. Titanium cases, check. All black, check. Bright colors, check, Some also are big, I mean 48mm big, but all of the look good.
  • Minorva - If you are into the "homage" type of watch, you probably know you can buy them for $10-$30 in the PRC. I have clients in Shenzhen, so I know. What can I say. They work and if you buy one that isn't pretending to be too, too much more than what it is, you'll actually be quite happy with it. I have bought quite a few (50 or so) and used them as "prizes" in our periodic office get togethers and team-building exercises. These are definitely nothing more than stocking stuffer type things, but it is what it is. The one nice thing is that everyone who has one doesn't expect much, so when they've worn it for a year or two and it's going strong, they can only say it exceeded expectations.
    http://www.minorva.net/prolist.asp?p...otitle=MINORVA -
  • Orient - Japanese watches that will have dependable Japanese movements inside and styles that please. ($150 -$500 usually)
  • Invicta - Most definitely a fashion watch. I don't think I've ever seen a watch company with as many styles. $300 or less. You'll find "homages" from them too and most are quite good homages at that.
  • Helson - http://www.helsonwatch.com/stingray.php - $700 - $1000 (ETA /Miyota inside) - Great contemporary looking dive watches. Well built with nice styling details. Lots of sizes available. http://www.ablogtowatch.com/helson-s...-watch-review/
  • Seagull - http://www.usseagull.com/index.asp - These are Chinese watches with manufacture movements inside some of them. $120 - $8K for the tourbillion watches. Now before you bash Chinese movements, I'll grant they aren't yet up to Japanese and Swiss movement level, but they don't break and don't need to be babied as much as either of the other two. Also, unless you are wearing a true Swiss in-house watch, there's a 100% chance that your watch has parts, sub-assemblies, and entire assemblies made by this company or one of its neighbors. Nice too because you don't have to get bent out of shape about banging the thing around as it's very inexpensive, yet great looking. At the low end of the price spectrum, if I found something here I liked, I'd buy it over the other PRC-made comparable looking watches, and even more than a few non-PRC pieces. This is among the lowest prices I've ever seen for a manufacture watch. Quite a few styles, most are traditional, be they sport or dress.
    $160


    These are ~$280
  • Squale - http://www.squale.ch/sub_watch/Prodo...e.php?lingua=2 - Another dive watch for divers, rather than a city watch having the dive watch style. $550 or $1500 ETA inside. Multiple styles. If you can find an Atmos model, jump on it - comes in several colors. It's a steal at $500.


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      10-31-2013, 08:47 AM   #2
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Are You Blue?

If you feel compelled to go for something "aspirational" blue is hot this year, again.











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      10-31-2013, 08:54 AM   #3
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      10-31-2013, 02:55 PM   #4
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Some links to yet more affordables:
http://www.lewandhuey.com/
http://www.magrette.com/the-timepieces.php
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      10-31-2013, 05:24 PM   #5
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I have nothing to add other than to say I enjoy reading your posts on watches. Just got into caring about watches and am going down the very prescribed route of tag, victorinox, hamilton and longines.
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      10-31-2013, 09:08 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mb135is View Post
I have nothing to add other than to say I enjoy reading your posts on watches. Just got into caring about watches and am going down the very prescribed route of tag, victorinox, hamilton and longines.
Well, then. Welcome to your new addiction. It's a hoot of fun on so many levels. It's fun to just wear lots of different looking watches. It's fun to share what you know about your watch or other watches with friends, family, or even strangers (in the right setting). And it's just as much fun when you are buying a nifty $100 knock about piece as it is to steel yourself and take the big multi-thousand dollar plunge and buy something that is a seminal work of the watchmaker's art.

If you've read much of what I've had to say here, you know what I think of Tag, even being the owner of a couple mid-level Tag watches. I have absolutely nothing against them at all. They just strike me as so much the default choice of so many folks getting their feet wet with watches. I guess that's as it should be because that's exactly how tag has positioned themselves, so I most certainly cannot fault the success of their business strategy/tactics. But that's just what I feel about Tag's stuff in a very broad sense, and to take just that much of my statement and try to apply it all of Tag would be unfair to oneself and to Tag. I don't think that's a good thing either.

So here's my case regarding Tag.
  1. They do make good, solid, fairly well designed watches.
  2. Their watches can be relied upon to work
  3. Despite their recommended biennial servicing frequency, one can easily go a good deal longer without concern, particularly if the watch isn't one's daily wear one for most of the two years. (That's more or less true for just about any mechanical watch as the servicing interval is a function of how long the maker thinks the lubricants inside the watch will survive. For certain very important pieces I wouldn't ignore the advice, but otherwise, I send my more "normal folk" watches in when it's plain to me that they are losing/gaining time at silly rates.)
  4. When they need servicing, it's not hard to find a place that can take care of it for you and it's not hard to send the piece off to Tag yourself. Also, they print on their website the prices you'll pay for most servicing activities. The lack of being surprised is also a good thing.
  5. Tag has plenty of "story" behind the brand.
  6. They are on par with most other brands -- even those somewhat higher and those somewhat lower on the scale -- as far as time keeping goes. They'll gain or lose a few seconds every day.
  7. Tag make a few watches that quite noteworthy. Most aren't, but then unless you are talking about a very rarefied segment of the watch market, that's the case for pretty much all other brands too.
  8. Tag have a ton of styles. It's hard for the average person not to be able to find one that appeals and almost none that Tag offer are polarizing aesthetically. By the same token, few Tags are going to just make your mouth water and fill you with unbridled passion for their looks.
  9. In terms of brand recognition, Tag could well be the Rolex of the mid-range brands.
So all that sounds just great, and it is. But here's the rub and why most of the time I can't get behind Tag. Of the points above, 2, 3, 4, 6, and 7 can be said about every single watch on the planet that has an ETA, Sellita, Miyota or Sea-gull movement inside it, and that's to say nothing of the fancier movement makers. Some of those ETA movements are actually more significant to watchmaking, such as the ETA 7750 which played a key role in bringing the Swiss mechanical watch industry back from the edge of extinction. More often, though, ETA's movements are simply recognized as solid workhorse movements that just keep going, and going and going.

As for Tag making well designed watches, well there are tons of companies that do that much. There are tons that don't, but then I wouldn't suggest buying one those either. LOL And as for "story," well every brand and every watch has a story. At least the one's that are in the Tag space do.

When it comes to Tag having a ton of styles, they almost have to. People like to make car to watch analogies. In the sense of watch styles, Rolex is like Porsche. They mostly make one style -- Oyster -- and then dress it up or dress it down a little bit here and there. They've made exactly that style for nearly a century. They offer a couple other looks, but when one thinks Rolex, one has the Oyster in mind. Just as in the car world, there aren't many brands that can exist doing very little to alter the look of it's cars in the way Porsche does, the same is true in the watch world. As a result, pretty much everyone else has multiple styles to offer.

When one considers all the styles available from all the other folks who make a watch to which a Tag is equal on the basis of construction and engineering, that Tag offers so many styles of its own isn't that meaningful. Moreover, that so many of Tag's styles resemble one another points out that mostly all those styles exist for one reason only: to gain market share and do so with bland enough models so that once Tag has gained market (sales) dominance in its market space, that the consumers feel less obliged to express their individuality by opting for something more aesthetically unique. It's just easier to play it safe than to really think about what moves one's heart. And playing it safe is a much faster road to "satisfaction" because one doesn't have to invest the effort to look for that watch that one finds irresistibly beautiful.

Don't get me wrong, there are certainly folks who like blander watch designs, just as there are folks who prefer bland food, or grilled chicken and steamed veggies, to seasoning, spices and racks of lamb and grilled butternut squash brushed with rosemary infused oil as it cooked.

Lastly, I come to the point of brand recognition. It's a good thing in that it can lend one a sense of comfort when buying it. That's appropriate for the watch buying masses much the same way an Honda is. For budding watch enthusiasts, however, it's a curse because it makes it so much easier to overlook many an excellent alternative and because it suggests a plethora of comparisons of unequals, and because one has to know a lot of details about a lot of models to know which Tag is a good buy and which one could have easily been bested for no more money.

Here's why I said that last bit.
  • At the lowest end of Tag's price range, one is buying quartz watches. There's nothing wrong with quartz watches, but since the point of buying quartz is to get some style in the design without having to think at all about the movement inside, there're plenty of more interesting styles to be had at that price point and having a quartz movement. Also, there are less expensive watches with very solid mechanical movements in them, some of which are made by the people who make the rest of the watch. There are also plenty of ETA-inside watches well below the $1000 mark and they are going to be as good as anything Tag offers until one gets into Tag's in-house movements that are noteworthy, but then one is at a price well above $1000. Not many folks considering a $1000 watch are going to jump to $4000 instead.
  • At the mid-point of Tag's price range, one is buying mechanical movements (hopefully), but they are likely ETA or a comparable purchased movement. Well, you recall what I said earlier about ETA, right. 80% of the watches in the market are ETA inside. So one isn't really getting a better piece and one still has a greater level of access at these prices to more interesting looking styles. Additionally, one is at the upper mid-range flirting with Omega's price points and a stretch up a few hundred dollars is not out of the question for someone looking to spend $2K -$3K.
  • At the upper end of Tag's price range ($3K+, and not including gold watches), one is squarely in the realm of "nice" watches. Many folks will buy only one "nice" watch. For those folks, the first "nice" watch they buy should be a dress watch, something that Tag doesn't offer much of to begin with, and isn't their stock in trade even if they do.

    Why should one's sole "nice" watch be dressy? Well, if/when you have to dress up, do you really want to wear a chunky, sporty watch with your Sunday best or with a tux? After your friends and colleagues have been seeing you fittingly wear your sport watch in your casual and business casual day to day routines, do you really want to show up in your suit/tux with a lesser watch on? For most folks, the answer is, "no."

    Also, at $3K+, you can get an Omega Seamaster ($2800 - $3600), a watch that is among the best watches one can buy and is in the league of JLC, Patek, Vacheron, and others at the very top (above Rolex) of the watch world. Even the best Tag has to offer -- and costing more -- isn't of that caliber. That Seamaster has exactly the same easily swallowed, sporting looks, likely more brand recognition, and without a doubt a far better movement inside. And the next price point up from the Seamaster, and staying the "better than Rolex" realm, is roughly $5500-$6000 for several offerings from JLC (Reverso or Master Control). Slipping on a a Patek or Vacheron or AP is minimally setting you back about double the price of the JLC. So when it comes to value for dollar spent, Tag just doesn't have it. (FWIW, Rolex starts around $4400 new.)

    If instead you do want a dress watch for around $800 t0 $3000 or less, there're plenty of choices:
    • Frederique Constant - A company in the Swatch group that's committed to making excellent watches at reasonable prices and squarely aimed at Tag in terms of price and quality for most of their lines, though FC's looks are more casual dress to dressy than strictly sport/casual. At the top end of FC's offerings, squarely above Tag while beating it on price, albeit in the dress watch space. I would look to FC for a dress watch. A couple examples:
      $3500 and with in-house movement:


      $700 ETA-inside silver guilloche
    • Emile Chouriet
    • Any number of others see this post (http://www.e90post.com/forums/showthread.php?t=907804)
As for the others, I'm kind of six of one and half dozen of the other about them. The Longines Legend watch is a very nice thing. Victorinox is a very sound alternative to a lot of what Tag offer at the lower end of its range. Hamilton's Jazzmaster is a great watch and that deco one they do (can't recall the name just now) is super smart looking, funky, fun and swanky all at once. Great for a nice evening out or for formal.

So, no, I don't dog folks who buy Tags, nor do I poo-poo Tag watches intrinsically. It's just that when I hear folks saying they are looking at Tags, more often than not what they are considering is not the best way to spend their hard earn money. Not because there's something wrong with Tags, but because there's so much other stuff that's not worse that costs less, and there's stuff that is better for the same price and sometimes for less, or better from the standpoint of collection building and wardrobe matching. And it's very rare that I find someone who upon seeing a Tag has to find a towel so they can clean up afterwards.

All the best.
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      11-01-2013, 08:25 AM   #7
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i absolutely love FP Journe watches.. the Chronometre Bleu is one of my favorites

great info

no more watches for me this year unless a really good deal comes along
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      11-01-2013, 09:47 AM   #8
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I discovered this a couple weeks back. I find myself checking it out daily just to see if there's something about it that I don't like. So far, I love everything about it:
  • Moderate price ($3K)
  • Unique look
  • Reliable movement inside
  • Rubber and calfskin strap to prevent stretching
Any of you come across something similarly interesting looking ($5K or less). Not seeking a daily wear watch in terms of style.






All the best and ty for any suggestions.
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      11-01-2013, 09:53 AM   #9
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why must you torture me tony. i like that gerlach now!
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      11-01-2013, 04:26 PM   #10
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Thanks for the thoughts RE: tags. I always wanted a Tag for the same exact reason I am now neck-deep in BMW enthusiasm -- my dad had one. When I was a kid, I washed the bottle cap rims. No surprise, then, that I'm fully indoctrinated. Tags aren't that important to me, but I did want just one. After a promotion, knowing NOTHING of watches, it was the default. I'm glad I have it, but I'm also glad to know about brands like Hamilton, and the ones mentioned above. Scratch that, I'm NOT glad to know about all of these brands because buying watches severely limits my automotive enthusiasm budget!!!
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      11-01-2013, 04:34 PM   #11
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Nice watches

I wear a N.O.A - Steve Wynn and Tom Hanks wear them too if I remember.

Not crazy expensive circa $1600 and up and I thought they were pretty good looking too.
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      11-01-2013, 05:12 PM   #12
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I really dig that Alpina posted above!

What a cool watch to wear if you drove a B7 too!

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      11-02-2013, 03:42 PM   #13
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Discovered this brand today - Lum-tec. Seems their watches run around $700 - $1300 or so. All their watches have super luminova glow in the dark capability. Some of their upcoming models have a Panerai-esque look to them in that they use the Rolex Oyster cushion style case and have a crown guard that evokes that of the Panerai. Also, like Panerai, they are large.

Lum-tec - M42 Phantom - ETA inside


M500 - Japanese movement (don't know which one)


M Tungsten - Carbon fiber dial (plain black also available) - numbered issue limited to 150 pieces - ETA inside
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      11-02-2013, 05:06 PM   #14
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You like German cars so maybe you like German watches.

For folks who want a manufacture watch or folks who want something non-manufacture but different without being "out there," Damasko is an interesting brand. They offer watches with ETA and ETA/Valjoux movements as well as their own movements. Their products are all very well crafted and engineered. Price range: $1100 - $4500. (straps and bracelets available)

Their website is a pleasure to visit, which is not something I think about a great many watch companies. It's well ordered, provides comprehensive details about the products, including the price, and pictures that are neither too large nor too small. Also, it doesn't have any of that "wonky" animation and fancy Flash that so many upper tier brands do.

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      11-03-2013, 01:53 PM   #15
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Here's another great looking Lum-Tec, the V6 - $900

http://wornandwound.com/2012/12/26/lum-tec-v6-review/

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      11-05-2013, 01:10 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ad500 View Post
Nice watches

I wear a N.O.A - Steve Wynn and Tom Hanks wear them too if I remember.

Not crazy expensive circa $1600 and up and I thought they were pretty good looking too.

$1600 or so is about the top end of the "sweet spot" in watches right now, at least in one regard - value for price. I don't really know why it is, but for some reason there're plenty of good things in the $250-$1200 range. Most anything over $3500 is a very nice watch. But for some reason, once one lands in that middle ground of $1500-$3500, finding something that is actually a better device than those costing less is quite hard to do.

It's not impossible to find good mid-prices watches, but it takes a lot of looking around and more often than not, looking in malls and typical retailers won't yield such an article. The ones that are worth more than their marketing generally don't have the advertising budgets of companies like Tag, which is the brand that clearly dominates that price point in terms of sales. Accordingly, most retailers just can't afford to keep pieces in stock that don't move because their success depends on turning over inventory.

Of course, style and looks have nothing to do with my point. If one just loves the look of, say a Cartier Tank watch, a basic one will land squarely in the mid range. Even though there's nothing at all wrong with the movement inside, it's not any better or worse than a ton of movements found in less costly pieces. What is arguably better is the cache of the Cartier brand name. As long as one recognizes that that's what one is paying for, there's no way to be wrong for doing so. And let's face it, it feels good to go around sporting a nice brand name, be it BMW or Cartier, just so long as one does so with the right perspective.

Given the preceding, I more often find myself rarely buying watches that fall far into the mid-range price wise. $1600 is about as much as I'm willing to spend unless I've actually discovered something really "worth it" and costing a bit more. If I do spend $2500 give or take, I most often just face and accept the fact that I do so because I can't get the look/style I want at a lower price and that that particular purchase is style motivate. No different than why some folks may buy cars that cost as much as a BMW but don't drive as well. Nothing wrong with that either. It just comes down to what's important and what's not to the individual spending the money.

All the best.

PS
I have no clue what N.O.A. means, and I don't personally know Steve or Tom, so that didn't help either. LOL
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