The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Swiss watch exports are up 40% year-over-year, with the majority of growth coming in the low-end Swatch range. Should you jump on the bandwagon? After all, like it or not, more than those fancy Italian shoes on your feet or that big German sedan in your garage, your wristwatch says the most about who you are as man. Shoes are temporal, the value of a car drops as soon as you drive it off the lot, but a good watch is eternal. It is the only item that a man keeps with him always, and an instant identifier of a man’s station in life.
Here we’ll run through some of the world’s most famous watch brands and, generalizations aside, tell you what image you’re projecting by strapping one of these timepieces on your wrist. You may not like what we have to say in all cases, but you’re better off knowing the truth.
Timex: Timex is an all-American brand, founded in Waterbury, Connecticut, in the 19th century. While most of its movements are now made in Asia, the company was really a leader in American horology and, as such, still garners a lot of respect. Allegiances with the likes of J.Crew and a dose of military-inspired designs have helped make it hip again, and its Originals Collection is getting a lot of love right now. Timex is a cool brand for someone looking for a bit of history without the big dollar signs.
Casio: There are two sides to Casio: If you are wearing one of its Pathfinders it means you are an active guy who loves spending time outdoors, and you just want a watch that gets the job done. But, if you wear that same pathfinder with a shirt and tie, you’re just a man who doesn’t know how to dress.
Then there is the entire Casio G-Shock line. The G-Shock is about as good as it gets when it comes to digital timepieces — devised in the early ‘80s by being dropped out of a bathroom window at Casio HQ — it really is the original rugged timepiece. But, they have evolved into a cultural phenomena, with celebrities and rappers wearing the biggest and brightest G-Shocks they can get their hands on. So, depending on who you are, the G-Shock is either a purist’s take on a “go anywhere” timepiece, or it’s just a piece of fashion. Wear a Casio for the right reasons. And by no means should one be paired with a suit, under any circumstances.
Rolex: Wearing a Rolex watch can go one of two ways, and it’s all about how you present your timepiece. A Rolex can be an understated, timeless and incredibly masculine accessory — if you don’t go around throwing it in everyone’s face. Those that wear a Rolex — and want people to know it — will be seen as such, and that’s worse than pairing a Casio with a Brioni suit. Wear a Rolex proudly, do a little research into why the brand has become the most powerful in the world, and think of it as merely an extension of your own self. If you put the Rolex on a pedestal and showboat, you’ll come across just like most people who wear a Rolex — like a used car salesman.
Which watch brand speaks the highest of your taste and character? That’s next…
IWC: Men that choose to wear an IWC have done so very consciously. You can be sure they considered a Rolex and thought it too gaudy. IWC, with its rich history of tool watches, is the thinking man’s luxury timepiece. They are rugged, classic and dependable, just like the men who wear them.
Patek Philippe: If you wear a Patek Philippe, you do what you want, when you want. Considered the reigning king of the watch world, Patek Philippe wearers tend to be captains of industry, tycoons and, if a little younger, legacy members of the Skull and Bones at Yale. This is a power player’s watch, and despite their timid size and slim nature, you will be recognized and instantly revered in a Patek.
Swatch: The Swatch is an enigma. It is at once a hipster’s best friend, seen on the wrist of countless tight-jean wearing, ironic mustache-donning “musicians” in Williamsburg, and the very watch that saved the Swiss watch industry. When quartz was king in the 1980s, the ultra-thin Swatch, available in dozens of colors, brought the Swiss back to the top of the production market. Wearing a Swatch does give off a certain air of appreciation for history, and is often an artist’s choice for wristwear.
Tissot: Tissot is a watch for men that can’t decide. Should they invest into a quality timepiece that they can pass on to their son, or should they listen to their mothers and “waste their money on something as silly as a watch?” Sure, some Tissots look nice enough, but you’re not going to impress anyone by wearing one. Frankly, you’d be better off just buying a Timex until you can afford to buy something mechanical that will last for decades.