December 21, 2014
Ed. note: Another watch not from this year. Sometimes rules were just made to be broken. It’s who we are. It’s what we do.
I spent a lot of time thinking about what watch to get for Ariel. What do you get the man who writes the book on the world’s most expensive watches when cost is no object? It turns out, you forget about cost entirely. Just because you can afford everything doesn’t mean something exorbitant is the right choice. I considered several things I knew he would like, but in the end, settled on this Heuer 2447 with the Silver dial and black sub dials. It’s tasteful, it’s a timeless design, and it’s something that TAG Heuer probably ought to remake with as few changes as possible, if they had a sense of their heritage. Ariel appreciates a watch’s good heritage as well as any of us, and while he usually shies away from vintage pursuits, this is one of the best pre-TAG acquisition Heuers. Ariel should have the very best, and that’s what I chose for him.
A classic Heuer Carrera? What an interesting option for me. It isn’t something I would have actively sought out myself but I am actually pleased with this choice, as it is something I’ve always wanted. I even recall writing that, in my opinion, the design of this original circa 1963 Carrera 2447 was something that the TAG Heuer of today should remake. Actually, they sort of did, with the TAG Heuer Carrera CH80, but it turns out that for a few business reasons TAG Heuer decided to put a hold on the production of the CH80 movements – which have a tri-compax chronograph layout very similar to that of the movement in the 1960s Carrera 2447 models. I am not a vintage watch kinda guy, but pieces like this look modern even today – so would I wear it?
I had the luck of speaking to Jack Heuer, who was responsible for the original release of the Carrera collection in the 1960s. Under his leadership, Heuer was part of the quickly evolving and highly competitive chronograph watch market that focused on the world of auto racing. Jack said he wanted the Carrera to be simple, but also modern. The angular lines on the Carrera case remain intact today – a testament to the care put into the look and feel of the watch over 50 years ago. While the original Carrera has a manually wound movement and case that is smaller than I prefer, it offers a look and heritage that has survived well today. The attractive yet no-nonsense look does define a lot of my watch taste, and I can’t help but feel that allure of the timepiece’s story. Whoever chose this for me is telling me that they know my tastes, and also seems to be offering a subtle hint that despite my fascination with wild timepieces, I look best when wearing something classic with a very good story behind it. So kudos to them! I always did like me “panda-dial watches.”
At first, when I was handed Matt’s name, I was at a bit of a loss. He is the newest member of our regular contributors, so I was not really that familiar with what he might like. The one saving grace was that he is a well-known music writer, so I knew that was the path to take. With Artya releasing the all-black Son of Sound this year, the die was cast – the guitar-inspired watch for the musically-inclined watch lover.
I am hoping this is merely a cruel and unusual joke! I believe I am being stereotyped due to the fact that I write about music for a living for Rolling Stone, New York Times, etc., and occasionally have a music-themed story in ABTW like this TW Steel piece and this IWC brand ambassador interview. Personally, I find this ArtyA watch a monstrosity. There are some clever details – the tuning-pegs-as-crown is kind of inspired, I admit, and bizarrely I kind of like the Union Jack model – and clearly the finishing is carefully and loving crafted. However, the movement is a good one (7750), but nothing special (maybe because I reviewed a 7750-based watch, the Vulcain Aviator Instrument, I am getting stereotyped.
Worst of all, really, are the visual clichés abounding here, signifying the musical connection – musical notes, f-holes, ersatz anarchy symbol re-purposed, Macca-esque Hoftner bass-shaped case etc.- which anyone who actually is into music would abhor (there’s a reason why Mick Jagger likes classic Heuers and dive watches, Aloe Blacc reps IWC, and Miles Davis wore Breitlings). It’s like “hey, dude, I write about NOMOS, too, remember?” I tend actually towards the timeless in my choices. Well, okay, I have a yen for ’70s styling more than most – case in point, this Omega Bullhead – but if I was going to put a music-themed novelty timepiece on my Christmas list, it would ultimately be something more subtle in its symbolism, and refined and sophisticated in its design, like the sublime Oris John Coltrane. Actually, you can look forward to my review of the Oris John Coltrane in coming days/weeks – proof that dreams really do come true! If I was going to spend the $20,000 or so that the ArtyA asks on something else, my shopping bag would end up more like this: an Omega Dark Side of the Moon, the Oris John Coltrane, the Nomos Zürich Weltzeit nachtblau, and a Maurice Lacroix Pontos S Diver – well, give or take a contemporary Ploprof or Milgauss… Hey, it’s only rock and roll…
I chose this watch in an attempt to pique the interest of a number of facets of Kristin’s personality and tastes (as far as I know them… I could be way off here). I don’t believe that Kristin requires the ultimate in practicality from a watch and would appreciate the combination of artistry and craftsmanship in the Van Cleef & Arpels. Not to have her Watch Nerd card revoked, the double-retrograde movement should satisfy any mechanical wants. The Butterfly Symphony Poetic Complications certainly isn’t most people’s idea of an everyday watch, but could certainly enhance a special occasion with style to spare.
I’m a big fan of the double-retrograde movement and to have butterflies incorporated thoughtfully into that play, well, I think I need to explain.
I’m a fan of so many masculine watches and movements because of my work here for over 5 years, and I would wear many of them myself in a heartbeat. Most women’s watches with a lot of diamonds are not really my thing, only because I feel those pieces usually rely so heavily on the diamonds for their appeal and I find that to be superfluous filler. I’d rather sport an URWERK as a daily wear than choose a shallow, diamondy mother of pearl piece. There are a few exceptions, but they have to have something else really cool going for them for me to get a real rush out of it.
I like watches. I’m an engineer. And, I am a woman with an extensive artistic background and inclinations. Cajoling those things into harmony for a watch, I can’t always escape the diamonds, as this is a reality of what is produced for the luxury women’s market. One example of a watch ladled with diamonds I actually loved from this year, however, is the Patek Philippe 4968 Diamond Ribbon Ladies Watch (I just want to drink it). My favorite women’s watch from this year is the Christophe Claret Margot Watch, more for the movement, than the message as I’ve never really hinged my total happiness or the outcome of my life on whether he loves me or not, but I guess it can be a fun game to play at times – I would want to customize the messages for the complication.
But let’s try to come full circle here… If I had to choose a favorite watch from this year, it would hands-down be a Van Cleef & Arpels, the jaw-dropping Midnight Planetarium Poetic Complication Watch. Not only does it speak to my space, science, engineering and watch geekiness, but it is freaking beautiful. I don’t even care that you have to figure out how to tell the time, as that fact lends itself to an over-the-top complexity that is thrilling for me. I saw it and almost cried. Missing Uranus, Neptune, and (sigh) Pluto, forgiven.
So, while not all Van Cleef & Arpels watches actually touch or move me, there are a couple that really do. The Butterfly Symphony is one of them. Why? Turns out, it’s not for the stereotypical reasons that women and girls are drawn to butterflies. It’s for a reason I’m not sure the real Santa Claus could guess.
I grew up in south-central Kentucky, where there are lots of caves. I was about five when we lived in crushing poverty (my dad was a teacher) in a rotting house on top of a cave – there were many, many holes in the backyard, about the size of my adult fist, where you could lower a 50-foot garden hose down and never see it again. Next to this perpetually collapsing backyard and bordering a large, menacing forest, was a giant, seemingly endless briar patch (I was convinced it was the one Brer Rabbit begged not to be thrown into). Briar patches have thistles, and thistles have crazy-looking, fragrant, colorful flowers. At night, there were bats EVERYWHERE, rushing up from the holes in the ground, screeching and flying around in the backyard, right outside my window. I was so paralyzed with fear, I often did not sleep until an hour or so before dawn. After the sun rose, the bats retreated and slowly, the butterflies advanced until there were butterflies EVERYWHERE, fluttering around the thistles bursting with color in the golden, rising sun, and spilling into the backyard, filling it right up to my window. At five-years-old, I believed that something of a magical metamorphosis took place while I slept – that every dawn, bats became butterflies.
When I first saw this watch, I felt the peace that the sight of those advancing butterflies brought me from long ago, wash over me. For some reason I can’t guess, other butterfly pieces have never really reminded me of that. I really want to thank my Secret Santa, as this was the best “present” I’ve had in a long time.
I couldn’t find a video about this watch, so I’m showing you a video about the VC&A general obsession with butterflies
By the way, I think bats are pretty cool now, for the record, Patrick Kansa.
For Adam, I select the Tissot T-Touch Expert with the titanium bracelet. It should do well for his love of tech and motorsports.
I do appreciate variety in the watches that I personally own and I can’t say that I have any other quite like the Tissot T-Touch Expert. Not that I’m a mechanical snob or purist by any stretch of the imagination, though my interests typically follow those lines, so something like this wouldn’t necessarily be on my radar. However, I am also a bit of a techy and definitely appreciate what’s going on in Tissot’s successful T-Touch line. I don’t think I would purchase the T-Touch Expert for myself but would likely keep it around if gifted to me.
Matt is a designer, makes his own watch straps, pocket squares, and other accessories, and he is known to have a unique approach to style. It could be intimidating to choose a watch for a person of this profile, as choosing a watch for someone else is difficult to begin with. However, when selecting a gift, one inevitably chooses something he himself likes. So based on Matt’s stated predilection for watches with a ’70s aesthetic and apparent leaning toward classic designs, I chose one that more-or-less fit that description among watches that I myself like a lot. A square-cased watch like this Glashütte Original could be considered a risky choice, and he would be likely to put one of his own straps on it anyway, but I hope he likes it as much as I do.
Although this is (or “would be,” rather) a very generous gift, it would make for quite an awkward real-life situation.
I love seventies watches, square/Jedi cases and German design sensibilities, but I am not a fan of this watch. It’s the strap and lug situation, along with something else I can’t quite identify that puts me off… Agh! I mean, I would totally know the thought was there, and heck, it’s a thoroughly logical choice!
But no, I’d have to find a way to quietly turn this into a 1980s Heuer Lemania Silverstone. This way, I could honour the thought of the gift, but still enjoy looking down at my wrist. I’d also have to hope my Secret Santa never notices, and I’d probably barf-cry nervously every morning for a month before ABTW meetings.
First of all, I happen to have some insider information that James is a major Seiko and Grand Seiko fan, but I am not sure he would think to put $7,000 into one. If he did, it would certainly be something like the Grand Seiko SBGE015, with its lightweight titanium case and slightly showy gold-tone hour markers and hands. What watch lover can resist the reliability and accuracy of a Spring Drive movement and the detailed excellence of Grand Seiko products. The dial is incredibly legible and classy, while the utility of the watch is something James will be able to appreciate for a long time to come.
While the Grand Seiko SBGE015 is undoubtedly a lovely watch, I think I’ve got to call this one a slight miss. This is the boutique version of the SBGE001 and is differentiated by the use of gold markers and hands and, for my wrist, I think the standard version is a cleaner look. Additionally, at 43.5 mm the SBGE015 is big and would be the largest watch in my humble stable. Having not experienced one in person, I’m not sure how it would suit my wrist, but I assume that it would feel large.
Grand Seiko is first-rate when it comes to quality, technology, and finishing, and I do love a GMT, so I can see the reasoning behind my Secret Santa’s choice. While it may not be my first choice, or even my first pick for a Grand Seiko, the SBGE015 is a hell of a watch, and I’m flattered that someone on the ABTW team thought I deserved something so nice.
Omega makes beautiful tool watches. The Constellation line is elegant, streamlined and striking and it will last a long, long time. I have a new old stock Constellation from the 1960s that still runs. It’s am amazing line.
Thanks for “gifting” me a mechanical watch and an Omega Co-Axial, no less – for if it had been a quartz movement, even encrusted in diamonds, I would have been utterly disappointed. Of course, I do love a diamond or two, and thus, was quite happy to notice the 12 diamond markers. As far as the reliability goes, well, my life is quite hectic at best – commuting, working, etc., I always seem to be racing the clock, and questioning the speed at which time rushes by; however, with the Omega Constellation I can rest assured – thanks to its chronometer certification – that my gift keeps perfect time. With its really beautiful and elegant gold and steel combo, I can wear this watch just about anywhere. I must add that the Omega Co-Axial movement has held my admiration for as long as I can remember and to be “gifted” a timepiece of such caliber is truly an honor.
I chose this watch for John because because I think it is technically impressive and interesting, and yet it doesn’t look like a robot turd – although the Rebellion T1000 came as a close second as my pick (maybe next year…)
This F.P. Journe is very elegant but would also make for a great daily wear – perhaps something one wouldn’t kick out of bed for eating crackers.
F.P Journe is my favorite watch company, bar none. It’s married to tradition but looks like something from outer space. I’d take any of their watches, but this one is classic and complex at the same time. It looks like something that could have come out of a French watchmaker’s shop in 1799.
Ed. Note: Max is lucky enough to have drawn his own name, and therefore has chosen a watch for himself. One true way to be a sure hit!
For 2014, one watch grew on me more than any others. And this watch was not even released in 2014 but in the previous year; it’s the Omega Aqua Terra >15’000 Gauss, the so-called Omega ‘bumblebee.’ It inherits this nickname due to the black and yellow stripped seconds hand which is meant to represent a hazard/caution yellow tape line, but mostly to remind us that this is a special watch with a new technology that is bound to shake the watch industry.
At $6,600, this watch is not expensive in the scheme of prices of recent mechanical watches from Omega or its competitors. However, I still would pick it as the watch to buy for two reasons. First, as an engineer, it speaks to me as it represents the current epitome of watchmaking technology in the past decade. The reason is simple: it’s the first truly anti-magnetic watch (others merely were resistant to small magnets). Plus, the distinctive bumblebee seconds hand gives it a unique style that matches its purpose.
Second, Omega made good on its promise to start releasing the core technology in the Aqua Terra >15,000 guass in all its lines using the Master-Co-Axial moniker. These twin reasons simply make this Aqua Terra one of the few watches that I believe will be talked about 10, 20, or 30 years from now, like we today discuss the Rolex Milgauss or the IWC Ingenieur or the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak. These watches transcended the times, as does this one from Omega.Ed. note: Ariel’s review of the Omega Aqua Terra >15’000 Gauss can be found here.
Not all of our team celebrates Christmas, and these names could just as easily have been drawn from the hat of Harry Hanukkah or the pasta bowl of the Great Flying Spaghetti Monster. Whatever holiday you embrace, we wish you the best of the holidays from our family to yours. Happy Holidays!
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