I must admit that once in a while I’d like for someone to recognize the watch I am wearing. It is not that I place much value on the opinions of others regarding my tastes, but rather that I’d like some recognition once in a while for the hobby that I place so much effort in to. The best way of achieving this is often the simplest approach; wearing well known names. Tiffany & Co. just happens to be one of those names.
Be clear that I didn’t purchase this watch for the name, but rather for the looks. Though I would be lying if I said that I didn’t like the fact that the name of the watch distributor (Tiffany & Co.) doesn’t add some value to the watch in my mind. I am careful to say that Tiffany & Co. does not make this watch. They don’t make any watches. They outsource the design and production (like they do with most of their designs and production), and sell it under their name. Sometimes they commission designs, other times they seek out designs that fit with their overall line. While Tiffany & Co. has been selling watches for a long time, it has not been their forte. Recently, they made a deal with the Swatch Group. They also made a deal to distribute Patek Philippe watches. What the future holds for Tiffany & Co in terms of watch is unclear, but it looks as though selling watches will be a greater part of their business model. More on their current capacity to sell watches in a bit.
So lets get back to the Mark T-57. It is a sportier extension of the standard “Mark” line of watches, which all are very classic in form, providing a mixture of quartz and automatic models. The Mark T-57 watches are the same in this regard. There are three-hand and chronograph models available, with automatic and quartz movements. There is an all steel version, and one that is interestingly covered with a thin layer of vulcanized rubber (sportier still). Lastly, there is a metal bracelet and rubber strap available. More recently, Tiffany & Co. released a much more expensive model in gold (and steel) that features a unique partially skeletonized tri-retrograde chronograph display. Read more about the Tiffany & Co. Mark T-57 line here.
With all these options I was happy to pick up a nice model; which is the all steel three-hand automatic version (which only comes on the metal bracelet). Tiffany & Co. did a good job making this watch “their own.” It comes with a nice black display box, a too-thick instruction manual given the sparse information inside (about 5 pages of generic watch instructions are reproduced into many languages), the chronometer certificate, and soft leather travel carrying bag that I don’t actually think is large enough to fit the watch. With a retail price at over $3,000, the accompaniments with the watch are about expected, no more, no less.
The Mark T-57 doesn’t share too much design-wise with the rest of the Tiffany & Co. Mark lines of watches; other than the signature Tiffany & Co. use of Roman numerals, and the black rotor on the movement. In fact, the design is highly distinct for Tiffany & Co. as a whole. Although they have been able to retain a classic, yet “different” look for themselves, the T-57 is much more ambitious a look for Tiffany & Co. in relation to their existing line of watches. I wrote a while ago regarding the lineage of the design itself, you can read here and see a bit about how the looks of the Tiffany Mark T-57 came to be. My theory is that the non rubberized version of the Mark T-57 stemmed from a design exercise of the watch. Tiffany & Co. is not used to having too many sporty watches, and I think they made a good decision to include the non rubber coated version of the watch (which is the version I own). Just in case it was not clear, the vulcanized rubber that I am speaking of is placed on the middle of the links on the bracelet and between the alternating segments on the bezel.
Now lets get to the watch itself. I will begin with some positives. The moment you first handle a Mark T-57, you instantly find something to like about the watch. It is, in a manner of speaking, a beautiful design. Timeless, legible, and very attractive. It has a wonderful wealthy demeanor to it. Sometimes I will wear it and not know whether I am worthy. Is it the Tiffany & Co. name? Maybe the elongated Roman numeral on the face that reminds me of board meeting watches. Whatever it is, the watch is just a little bit better than me in personality. The case is extremely well defined. You’ll find lots of details in the many lines and contrasting polished and satin finished areas. There are also areas of brushed steel. Think of the Mark T-57 case as being architecturally designed. The case is about 43mm wide. The bracelet is approx. 19mm wide.
The face is covered with a gently curving sapphire crystal. Curved crystals are more expensive to manufacture that flat ones. They don’t always make a ton of practical sense, but they do look nice, and you find yourself appreciating them. You then find the very well constructed chapter ring (or flange) that is more steel sloped that most sloped chapter rings. On there are luminat covered hour markers, minute makers, and just for sporty effect, one fifth of a second markers. The chapter ring is nice because it makes reading the time easier, allow for more precision, and is an attractive gray polished metal. It is a minor detail. but one I appreciate.
Then you’ll find a flat gray ring with the Roman numerals attached to it. There is also a date window (with nicely beveled edges) neatly included on this surface. Move in more and you’ll see a lighter gray surface with a circular texturing that has the necessary text. “Tiffany & Co,” and on mine “Certified Chronometer” above “Automatic.” That lets you know that this watch has been sent to the Chronometer certification organization in Switzerland (as stated before, the watch also comes with the certificate), and that this version of the watch is not the lesser quartz model. I like everything about the dial and face. I’ve considered whether or not the darker gray area (where the Roman numeral are located) needed to be spruced up a bit, but then decided that the face would have looked to busy if that were the case.
You’ll never get tired of the hands on the Mark T-57. Think of them as chunkier versions of the delicate hands on the standard Tiffany & Co. Mark watch. Thick with luminant, and not too short (as is the case with many watches in my opinion. Like the hands in a Glashutte Sport Evolution watch, those on the Mark T-57 end with mostly flat edges that do seem to work quite well. The seconds hand is bright red, impressively thin, and has a bead of luminant at the opposite edge. Very sporty, and a good touch.
Moving back, the rotating bezel on the watch has an interesting twist. You can move it by itself, but it is a bit too recessed to move comfortably. Instead, the watch had a second diagonally placed crown on the left side of the watch. Turning this crown will move the bezel, in only one direction as is common with diver style rotating bezels. Surprisingly, rotating the bezel yields an extremely satisfying metallic clank. Really makes the case feel solid and hefty when you hear it.
Underneath the case is the sapphire crystal covered exhibition case back. Most noticeable is the signature Tiffany & Co. black rotor with a cotes de Geneve polish decoration. The ETA automatic mechanical 2892-2 movement is further decorated with perlage polishing and blued screws. Don’t worry if these things don’t mean much to you. Trust that they seem to add value to a watch movement, and you should probably want them, just to know that they are there. The ETA 2892 is one of the best movements that ETA makes, and is in its highest grade in this watch being adequate (and passing) Chronometer certification. The exhibition case back window is obscured a bit with some lettering and a unique hand-written indicator of the movement serial number. Via these numbers, you can deduce that there are less than 100,000 Tiffany Mark T-57 mechanical movement watches out there.
True to the Chronometer labeling on the watch, the Mark T-57 is a very accurate timepiece, for a mechanical watch that is. It is the first certified Chronometer watch that I have owned, and I think I like this high accuracy mechanical watch effort. Last year the number of certified Chronometers reached a new level of about 1.3 million. Still, over 700,000 of those watches… were Rolex watches. Thus, compared to all watches made each year, non-Rolex certified Chronometers are among the most rare.
The Tiffany & Co. Mark T-57 is not without its flaws or drawbacks. My feelings are that the Mark T-57 gets a lot of good points, but seems to have missed a couple of things that watch lovers focus on, instead tending to the fashion conscious a bit more. Lets look at the bracelet first, which is very nice to look at. There is a bit of a loose fit where the bracelet attached to the lugs. Most people wouldn’t even notice this, but a perfect bracelet fits perfectly between the lugs with the case. More importantly is the fit of the bracelet. There is no minor adjustment ability. You have the ability to remove links (with screwed pins), but no other type of adjustment options. For me, the watch is either a bit too loose, or a bit too tight. This will depend on your specific wrist of course. Many watches feature more marginal adjustments, which are one of the things that watch lovers look for. It would not have been too difficult for Tiffany & Co. to provide a “half link” that is smaller than a normal link for more precise fitting.
Actually, I went to a Tiffany & Co. store here in San Francisco to inquire about this. Remember, the instruction manual has no mention of fitting the watch yourself, even though doing so is really simple. Ah, and what a terrible experience visiting Tiffany was. Once I was instructed to visit “customer service” on the second floor, I had a feeling things were going down hill. There was no wait, and I got to sit down at an available desk station (think Lenscrafters) where a woman asked if she could help me (as though there was some other reason I was there). I then attempted to explain to her in as simple terms as possible, “can you find out if a half sized link is available for this watch, as there is no other means for precise fitting; and the watch is just a bit too loose or tight on me.” What ensued was utter confusion at how I could possibly have this question (perhaps it was filtration of my words through her limited mental capacity). Apparently, it was too complex a notion that perhaps I was able to size the watch myself at home, given the fact that I don’t work in the back room at Tiffany’s. She of course had no idea what I was talking about and said the watch would have to be sent to the service center in New York. An idea that appalled me. “Look, I just want to know if such a part is available, and how much it costs.” She then committed the biggest offense. I don’t care who you are, but you don’t take someone’s expensive watch from them, and walk into another room and close the door. You just don’t do that, especially without asking. So I sit there, extremely impatient and upset at her ineptitude, and ask someone else to go in and inform her that I am in a need to depart. A minute later she reappears and in no direct manner, says that no such part is available. I concede that I was stupid for even asking her, and left Tiffany & Co. in shame. Little lesson, don’t ever go to a corporate store; A) expecting that they will place any value in your possessions, and B) with any hope that they will properly answer your watch related question, or even harbor the knowledge necessary to answer your watch related question.
Back to the watch. Looking at the crown and clasp on the bracelet, you’ll find Tiffany & Co. engravings. These are laser etched markings that either say “Tiffany & Co.” or the logo on the crown. More expensive pieces don’t laser engrave, but rather have these markings in raised relief. I would have preferred that, give the value of the watch, as laser engraving is less expensive. Minor quibble though, I just expect a lot from Tiffany.
Oh, and don’t get confused thinking that this is a sport watch. It has a modern sporty look, but is not a sport watch. That isn’t to say it is delicate, but its not built like a sport watch. The 100 meter water resistance is not sufficient for any real type of diving, but you can easily go swimming with it. The crown is also not protected (though it does screw down). Comparatively speaking, a Rolex Submariner has a dressy look to it, but can handle most of what you want to throw at it. You don’t really want to think of a Tiffany & Co. Mark T-57 as a beater watch. Save that for something else. This watch is much more suited to suits and swept floors.
So where does all this leave me feeling? Still pretty satisfied. I can’t help but be impressed with all the materials that went into the watch, the finely decorated movement, and the fact that it is very accurate. Tiffany & Co. may have a few things (or a lot) to learn about pleasing the discerning watch connoisseur, but I still smile with satisfaction each time I look to check the time. The Mark T-57 is an admirable timepiece with lasting aesthetic appeal, that just seems to feel good. While it’s not perfect in my opinion as a candidate for a “if I had to own one watch” contest, it does make a fine addition to a collection, and I know I’ll wear it often with pride.
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