What your watch says about you
Watch & Bullion28 March 2020 | 10 min read
What your watch says about you & your personality.
If the manufacturer understands that he is selling symbols as well as goods, he can view his product more completely. He can understand not only how the object he sells satisfies certain practical needs but also how it fits meaningfully into today’s culture. – Levy 1959
What was first identified over 60 years ago is now more relevant than ever. People try to identify themselves with the products that they buy, and in few industries is this more prevalent than in that of watches. When you spend four to five figures on a timepiece you are trying to say something, whether it is to you or to others. That is why today we look at what your watch says about you.
Urwerk – The Alpha
Do you still remember Hummers? Those huge, over-engineered, and highly impractical cars from the 2000s which begged for remarks about the size of the drivers 3rd leg. While these monstrosities have become de facto irrelevant in the current automotive landscape that does not mean that their drivers have disappeared. Provided that they survived the 2008 recession better than Hummer did, these guys now wear Urwerk watches. Whether they admit it or not, they love the attention and being in the spotlight. I mean, how could you not if you leave the house with a device on your wrist that looks like it was given out for free with every Batmobile purchased. To really complete the style the Urwerk wearer is usually seen in a tank-top with a blonde gym girl in Spandex by their side.
F.P. Journe – The Snob
If you ever find someone so snobby that he thinks a Patek is a mass-produced watch for casuals you can be sure that they will wear an F.P. Journe. The average F.P. wearer could be mistaken for a cult member in regards to the intensity of devotion they have for a 60-year-old guy from France, or maybe they already are considering the prices they are willing to pay for one of his watches. They are aware that given the history of Patek it would be the safer choice, and that little insecurity tends to get masked in a circle-jerk with fellow collectors on how much better their watch is. In a horological world which is filled with snobs (this writer not excluding himself) the F.P. Journe collectors rule supreme.
Ressence – The Start-Up CEO
What watch would better mark the IPO of your Silicon Valley tech start up than a Ressence. That is because the kind of guy to wear one does not care for weak attempts by brands to establish credibility through some flimsy historical connection not worth the paper they are written on. They deeply care about, and respect, innovation as a driver of society. As such, the ultimate timepiece to wear is a Ressence. These guys are fast thinkers with big wallets hunting for the next big thing which is also why their collections tend to include everything but the basics. The only rule while wearing one is that the only acceptable car to drive is a Tesla Model S.
Richard Mille – The Superstar
If you’re a young guy and you have a mission to burn through your cash as fast as possible there is no better hole to dump it in to than a Richard Mille. That is to say it would be an interesting study to find out if there is a positive correlation between the athletes rocking these watches and those who will turn up a decade later in a reality TV show to earn the money for the repair bill after their watch got water damage again. Most Richard Mille guys also have a habit of self-identifying themselves through their struggles to pronounce the name of the brand, but then again, these guys tend to struggle with their financial literacy just as much.
Moser – The Comedian
It takes a special kind of person to wear a Moser. While all the previously mentioned watches appeal to a certain kind of person, to wear a Moser is a much more complicated statement. I mean who unironically spends these sums of money on a niche brand whose specialty is to make joke watches. It takes somebody who both likes horology and at the same time enjoys making fun of the whole watch industry. Next to their relatively normal watches like those without numbers, or parodies of the Apple Watch, they have also made some that make you ask yourself: Who the hell actually buys this? I mean they made a literal Frankenstein monster out of all the overused tropes in the industry, one where the case was made out of Swiss cheese, and even one made with live plants. While it may be easy to staple these guys off as jokesters, they make for the most interesting conversations as they understand that behind every one of their funny design stands a serious message.
Panerai – The Mr Former Glory
Do you like losing money? Welcome to the world of Panerai, the official watch of the guy who is chasing his former glory days. Worn by the likes of Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson the brand seems to have found its customers through relatability in the joined effort of hanging on to better times. A Panerai, in part due to its obnoxious size, is the international watch of “please sell me fake sunglasses on a beach” and its wearers always manage to feed into this stereotype with their pathological talent of hemorrhaging money. Don’t feel too bad though if you have bought a Panerai, with the explosion in prices for copper there will always be some scrap value left in your 47mm Submersible Bronzo.
Vacheron Constantin – The Snoozer
A Vacheron Constantin is like that one guy who you find next to you on pictures of the last party, but who you have no clue who he is or what he is even called. Usually called something along the lines of Jeff, Jack, or John they tend to work in upper management at some huge corporate conglomerate in a sort of limbo position where no one could tell you what exactly they do, including their spouse. Where most people have at some point an urge to spice up their life by buying a motorcycle, going sky-diving, or hitting the gym again, the Vacheron wearer thrives on menial repetition. Every two years they upgrade the company car to the newer version of the Mercedes E-Class, of course only in black or silver, their dad-bod has fully consumed their last drops of testosterone, and the annual highlight is to take the kids and wife for three weeks to the summer house of your father in law. To put it lightly a Vacheron wearer is as forgettable as the Patrimony collection, and their mere presence has about the same effect on you as two bars of Xanax.
Cartier – The Metrosexual
Where the Urwerk wearer’s automotive aspiration is a Hummer, the Cartier wearer instead makes the voluntary choice to step into a red BMW Z4 Cabriolet or, in case their beauty salon is not running very well, a Mazda Miata. The Cartier wearer stands out among the watch folk for his lacking interest in horology, for them, their watch is just one of many luxury fashion items. While on the surface they are easy to make fun of, you will never hear a Cartier wearer having to explain to you why they bought their watch. They are also easily identified from a distance when wearing their uniform which consist of a Louis Vuitton handbag, Gucci baseball cap, and a Burberry scarf.
Patek Philippe – The Family Friend
Your average Patek wearer is a normal guy just like you or me. At least that is what they think living isolated in their little bubble made up of their boarding school buddies and family which has a lower incest coefficient than my pedigree poodle. Their work, although this is a huge stretch of that word, consists of being a part-time consultant for their family office in Monaco. These guys tend to be so detached from reality, that without their nanny or personal chef present they would struggle with such complicated tasks as operating the microwave. Just like the Cartier wearer, they like their nice clothes, except the difference being that they rip off the labels due to some twisted understanding of what it means to be humble. They always carry with them business cards printed on “bone” coloured paper which look about as pretentious as a Rothschild’s invitation to a masquerade ball. Their biggest secret usually involves some summer night as a teenager where they got close to their cousin in a way that mere peasants might consider unnatural. But then again what did grandpa always say; no love is purer than that within your family.
Audemars Piguet – The Trust Fund Kid
No watch screams “trust fund kid” more than Audemars Piguet. After all if you want to stand out among your private school friends a stainless steel Rolex just won’t cut it. The thing that you have to consider is that to buy an Audemars Piguet is to get an artistic interpretation of a Rolex which exchanges the spirit of an authentic tool for a golden price ticket with bragging rights included. It’s the same kind of people that fall head over heels for a Ferrari. Sure, it looks cool and sporty, but in reality we are talking about an inflated bourgeoisie interpretation of a sports icon. The only reason little Sterling Junior has never found out that it is not a good idea to take their watch to do some sports, is because sports would actually involve having to make an effort before you can achieve something. At the end of the day, where is the fun if you can’t buy yourself an advantage?
Hublot – The King of the Game
Everybody knows that if there were one brand to wear the metaphorical crown of the watch industry, it would have to be Hublot. No other brand has managed to get the same amount of collaborations as no other brand has equal levels of respect and demand. Shunning the spotlight, it is a brand that is only truly appreciated and recognized by the most knowledgeable collectors in the world. The Hublot wearer tends to be rational and thoughtful, carrying a stoic aura that would have made Seneca jealous. We all wish to someday be able to wear a Hublot, and Hublot wearers know why. Knowledgeable yet humble, to wear a Hublot means to understand horology on a metaphysical level and realize that before there was the Hublot, there was just darkness in the world of horology.
Rolex – The watch for guys who just don’t care about watches
Just like the Cartier wearers, the Rolex crowd usually also does not care much for watches. The only difference between the two however is that the Cartier wearer actually has a sense of style. The purchase of literally all the other brands mentioned on this list requires at least some level of research and decision making into what you like. If that seems like way too much of a nuisance for you and you want to forgo the hassle of being an individual with unique taste and preferences then just buy a stainless-steel Rolex and be just as unremarkable as your peers. This is not a knock against the brand, which I recognize as one of the single most influential brands in the world, but the level of ignorance I experienced from AD Rolex owners is second to none. From guys who tell me they only check the time on their iPhone as the watch is too complicated to read, to others who I have had to explain why their Rolex doesn’t need a battery change, trust me when I tell you that if you want to talk watches with somebody, don’t even bother saying Hi to someone wearing a Rolex.
Breitling – The Tough Guy
A Breitling says about its wearer ‘I crave-short term satisfaction over long-term fulfillment, each one telling the tragic tale of a guy who was already half way to his dream Rolex. Usually worn in combination with a leather jacket and aviator glasses, no other watch wearers try so desperately to come off as cool, having watched movies like Top Gun, Bad Boys, and Die Hard one too many times. Just how thin they carry their badass vibe though always becomes painfully obvious when they yet again have to call a night with the lads short after an angry call from the wife. And so it is only fitting that on the way home Mr. Breitling leaves his watch in the glovebox of his car as he still has not informed his partner of the purchase, in fear of being scolded, and rightfully so.
IWC – The deskdiver
The typical IWC wearer is always convinced that whatever passion he has currently thrown himself in head over heels is the only activity worthwhile. That is until he is done buying his five figure carbon race bike and all the Lycra only to realize that he now actually has to use the darn thing. It is with that same level of fanaticism that they bought themselves an IWC, and owing to his tribalistic roots the proud IWC wearer is now on a mission to convert all his friends to buy one too. The only thing that differentiates an IWC wearer from your typical desk diver is their level of delusion. At least the guy who wears a Rolex Deep Sea has the honesty to tell you that he takes it off when showering. Your only saving grace is that this obsession, just like all the previous ones will eventually pass too, then maybe for a real brand.