Horology. A TVG Observation

At TVG we know what we like, you could say we’re very particular about things. Horology (the art of making clocks or watches) is a subject we are anal about. I think it’s important to give you some background so you understand where I’m coming from when I discuss brands with traditional values and watches constructed with mechanical savoir-faire honed for centuries by artists as opposed to unforgivable pieces of wrist laden honk that Angus & Coote wrapped in wafer thin gold plating and sold to a roided up meat head the week before Future Music Festival.

As you will come to learn quickly, brands that are at the pinnacle of the watch-making world are the ones that are producing astounding and unique movements or are innovative and original, they are brands with historical value that have stood the test of time and will continue to do so after your grandson inherits your pride and joy.

There are many excellent watchmakers, some you may have heard of and a lot more you’ve probably never heard of. Classic market leaders include Patek-Philippe, A.Lange and Sohne and perhaps to a lesser extent but of equal importance Jaegar-LeCoultre, IWC, Zenith and Rolex. A true watch enthusiast would then have a selection of pieces on his wish list that are another class above, known for exceptional construction, unprecedented complications, astonishing details and price tags that are going to rival a one-bedroom apartment with harbour views. Said brands would include Greubel Forsey, Urwerk, F.P. Journe, Thomas Prescher, Maitres du Temps and Harry Winston.

For the majority of the world’s watch lover’s brands like this are simply unreachable. You don’t need $100,000 to get a fine timepiece; you don’t even need $10,000. People always ask me what the best brands are and what I would purchase if I had X amount of money. I always start by saying make sure it’s a brand that covers any of the areas I listed before such as in-house movements, innovative design, historical significance, timelessness – basically buy a watch from a company that is promoting excellence in the industry. Choose a watch with significance from a respected brand that speaks of your personality.

There are a number of rules I have for people looking to purchase a new watch.

–        Anything made by a fashion label is not worth purchasing, they specialise in fashion, not watches. Buy a watch from a watch company.

–        Just because people think brands like TAG, Omega and Bell & Ross are good watches doesn’t mean they are. Of course there are exceptions with a number of models but for the majority you are paying a premium for a Chinese movement, a brand name and a celebrity to appear in an ad.

–        Rolex is one of the most recognised brands in the world. Rolex is the most demanded, appreciated and collected watch brand of all time, people care about Rolex. Whilst they have a number of meaningless models (Yacht Master, Air King or the horrendous new Sky Dweller) they also have a number of iconic ones (Submariner, Sea Dweller, Datejust or Daytona) that have helped make the watch industry what it is today. You are not a wanker for buying a Rolex, you are a wanker for buying the WRONG Rolex.

–        Buying a gaudy, oversized, trendy (fad) or ostentatious watch says you are a douche. That is all. You will never see me speak positively about Hublot, Graham, U-Boat or anything else from Gary Mehigan’s watch collection.

–        There are a number of brands I couldn’t care less about; they include Panerai, Breitling, TAG and Auguste Reymond among many others including the ones I have mentioned above.

–        Timeless design is very important; watch faces should be kept to a suitable and understated size whilst on your wrist, many special edition watches or collaborations with car/aeroplane/fashion brands are to be avoided at all times.

–        Shop smart and consider second hand and vintage. Don’t buy watches off Ebay from a guy in the Philippines with 8 examples of positive feedback all left on the same day. There are excellent forums on the Internet where true enthusiasts trade watches at excellent prices, the Rolex Forums is a great example.

–        The Germans continue to build on their fine reputation as watchmakers with brands like A.Lange & Sohne, Meistersinger and Sinn.

Honestly, I could rant on all day about this. The most important thing to remember is that there are many excellent brands making watches in all price ranges. Choose a watch that makes a statement about the type of man you are, the types of brands you respect and the industry you are passionate about.


James is the Founder and Editor of The Versatile Gent.

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