RJ’s Top 7 Watches Purchased In 2020 — Seiko, Rolex, Breitling, Omega, And More!
This year has been weird, I don’t have to do much explanation here. It also applies to my watch collection though, but I am not sure this has anything to do with Covid-19. In previous years, I purchased more watches, and with a higher value per watch. Interestingly enough, the 7 watches I bought in 2020 range from €215 to €14,000. Make sure you’re ready to see some quirky choices!
For me, it is not so much about the price tag or brand name on the dial. I either like a watch or I don’t. However, I have been known to be a bit rash on occasion. Several times this year, I pulled the trigger without really thinking about it. This generally leads to more amusement than regret (as some of the Fratelli will gladly tell you). It is a shame that these poor, ticking souls enter my collection to die, but I like to think it’s really their own fault for not being very good… These watches often end up in this box that I have labeled, “the watches that never got worn”. It is not necessarily that I don’t like them. Sometimes, I just struggle to find a use for them.
I have a second box. This box is dedicated to Swatch watches. I rarely wear Swatch watches these days, but I love to buy them once in a while. However, I still have a weak spot for that brand. I think it has something to do with me becoming more nostalgic about my youth. 2020 saw me purchase more than one Swatch, but I only want to include one on this list. Without further ado, here are the Top 7 watches I bought in 2020.
Swatch ²Q Skin Irony
You probably guessed it already, this is the cheapest one of the 7 watches I added to my collection this year. And guess what? I did wear it a few times. The ²Q Skin Irony is a pretty neat watch and my first Skin Irony model. It is a Ø42mm watch that suits my wrist perfectly. Another cool aspect of this Skin Irony is the box that it comes in.
I have a few Swatch watches that are a limited edition that also come in cool boxes. My favorites include The Hague special edition and the Olympic Games 2004 edition. This one, however, tops them all. What a fun thing to have (and store away). It still makes a bit sad at times that Swatch disappeared from the “streets” (unthinkable in the 1980s and 1990s) but releases like this €215 ²Q Skin Irony are giving me hope that there’s still a bright future ahead. I’ve touched upon this topic several times, including in this article on Fratello.
Breitling Aerospace E75362
This is a watch that was on my list for a long time. I wanted to have an Aerospace or Emergency at some point, but I never really ran into a nice one (with a nice price tag). My colleagues Gerard, Rob, Bert, and Ben are very fond of their Aerospace watches and they encouraged me to go for it. I saw one on offer on this local digital marketplace for €1100, with box and papers et al, and decided to do it. The original titanium bracelet is also there, but I decided to put it on a NATO.
…it takes a bit of getting used to.
I had the watch checked by our Fratello watchmaker. There was nothing major that needed replacing, but I did opt for a new sapphire crystal. When it comes to setting and operating the functions of this watch, everything is done via the crown. When you’re used to the Speedmaster X-33, like me, it takes a bit of getting used to. Once you’ve got the hang of it, though, this thing is a lot of fun. It is also really useful…
It is not my first Breitling. Back in 2003 or 2004, I had a Navitimer’92 which I traded again at some point. Now that I have this Aerospace E-series (from 2003 based on the paperwork), I wouldn’t mind adding an Emergency as well (the first model, not the II).
Seiko Alpinist SPB199J
With so many people sharing the love for the Alpinist, I had to have one at some point as well. I needed to understand the fuss first hand. As I knew there would be a Europe limited edition, I waited for that one to add to my collection. Seiko gave us the opportunity to sell a bunch of them as well via our webshop, and that was a big success. We added a nice grey suede leather strap as an extra for those who ordered one via Fratello. In our opinion, looks better than the other two straps that come with the watch.
These watches don’t break the bank and yet have a lot to offer.
With a Ø39.5mm case, it wears very nicely on my wrist. I really like the quirky 2nd crown to operate the compass bezel. My collection of Seiko watches has grown rapidly in the past 5 years — thanks Mike — including a share of vintage (King) Seiko watches. These watches don’t break the bank and yet have a lot to offer. The beautiful dial color of this Alpinist SPB199J is what made me pull the trigger on this specific version. These retailed for €880 and were limited to 2020 pieces. Keep your eyes peeled for more in this vein coming soon.
I was at Hamilton in Biel with my colleague Balazs when I first saw this watch. Hamilton showed their PSR models to us, in steel and this gold (PVD) limited edition. I like the steel ones, but this gold-colored PSR really made me enthusiastic. I love these quirky things and according to Hamilton, when these watches came out in 1970 they were mega-expensive. That was especially true of the (solid) gold one. This one retailed for €975. Pleasingly, it does get a nice amount of wrist time. I believe it is a fun watch and comes with a special box.
There is a brief moment between pushing the button and the activation of the LED
It is limited to 1970 pieces and I was lucky enough to get a hold of my favorite no.13. I can imagine most of these sold out to those who were already around (and old enough) in 1970 to remember that first LED watch by Hamilton. By pushing the button, the LED is activated. The time then appears. The red illuminated numbers on a black background work really well. Interesting, there is a brief moment between pushing the button and the activation of the LED. I had another owner asking me whether that is normal. It is.
Rolex Yacht-Master 16622
Hated by many Rolex enthusiasts, but loved by yours truly! I always had a weak spot for the Yacht-Master. It is a bit of an anti-Rolex by Rolex. Introduced in 1992, it took Rolex till 1999 to come up with this steel & platinum version. With a bi-directional bezel (completely useless to divers), and the rounded case shape and polished center link also made it somehow closer to the Daytona design than that of a Submariner. I am not a diver anyway, so that’s perfectly fine for me. Not everything needs to make sense anyway. Back in 2007, I had a Yacht-Master (from 2004) and, at some point, I traded it to fund an Audemars Piguet Royal Oak.
This could be the stupidest move from a financial standpoint
I always kinda missed the Yacht-Master though, especially during summertime. The dial is made of platinum and it has this nice sparkle when worn in sunlight. What I did have, was this Rolex Submariner 114060 that I actually never found myself wearing. This could be the stupidest move from a financial standpoint, but I decided to sell that Submariner and get that Yacht-Master back. I found a nice pre-owned Yacht-Master (also from 2004) being sold by my friends from Burger in Maastricht and purchased it for approximately €8,000. It is the one without the Rolex rehaut and with the first platinum dial, which seems to have a coarser grain than the later (post-2007) ones. It is not something I wear often, but, when I do, I enjoy it.
Oris Big Crown Bronze Pointer Date
On December 1st, Fratello and Oris introduced the Big Crown Bronze Pointer Date watch. Limited to 300 pieces only, in a beautiful bronze case with a burgundy red dial. I don’t buy everything we have in our shop. I mean, I wish I could, but I simply don’t have the funds for that. For the Oris, I happily made an exception. I used to have an Eterna Kontiki in bronze not too long ago (2017), but that watch stopped working before I even put it on my wrist. It also had another few things I started to dislike later on, so I sold it to someone who had more appreciation for it.
It also gave us an insider’s view on the production process of a watch
I like what Oris has been doing in the past few years, and the collaboration with the brand went really smoothly. We visited the manufacture in Hölstein — a little village in Switzerland — and the work on all the details on this watch (dial, printing, colors, straps, box, etc.) was a pleasant experience. It also gave us — once more — an insider’s view on the production process of a watch. Anyway, I have been wearing this watch since I unpacked it and it really fits the festive season as well with its warm tones. We will have a few available in our shop, click here.
Omega Speedmaster Calibre 321 “Ed White”
Unlike previous years, I “only” bought one Speedmaster in 2020. Well, that’s not entirely true as my Snoopy 50th Anniversary is on order, but since that one has not arrived yet, the counter is stuck at 1. What also crossed my mind is that Omega is keeping it low on the limited editions this year. So there’s no FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) created. I wouldn’t mind the Seamaster 300M NTTD or a Speedmaster Apollo 8, but there’s no rush. I kind of miss that buzz and it feels a bit that those who always complained about limited editions won. Sometimes, I also wonder whether those guys now bought the non-limited editions or are just complaining for the sake of complaining.
I had my doubts about sapphire instead of Hesalite, and ceramics instead of aluminium
Anyway, this Speedmaster Ed White is also not a limited edition, but the fact that it is made in Omega’s special caliber 321 workshop, and that it’s assembled by hand results in slow deliveries. I have to say that I wasn’t wrong about ordering this watch, it is one of the most beautiful Speedmasters I’ve seen. Omega really outdid itself in re-creating the 105.003 with the caliber 321 movement. Everything is correct, and although I had my doubts about sapphire instead of Hesalite, and ceramics instead of aluminum, it is a perfect watch for everyday wear.
My fair share of Speedmasters
I have my share of Speedmasters, including the CK2998 type cases, the Speedmaster’57 (60th anniversary) from 2017, but this watch simply feels different. The case and bracelet feel so high-quality, it is in another league. The price is in another league as well, at €14,000.
However, I have been to the caliber 321 workshop and seen the effort that goes into producing it. I have worn the watch for 6 months now, and I feel perfectly comfortable with that price tag on this watch. It is just a stunning piece. I just hope, as a Speedmaster collector, that Omega will bring on the ruckus next year again with some limited editions.
Hopefully, there’s a Snoopy coming up soon…
That concludes my round-up of 7 watches I purchased in 2020. Hopefully, there’s a Snoopy coming up soon, but I don’t think it will happen with the current situation in mind. If you’d asked me a year ago, I think I would have told you I add another Grand Seiko, but it simply didn’t happen this year. A Spring Drive is definitely on my list though. I also noticed that I really enjoy wearing my gold watches (which is also why I am so much in love with the bronze Oris), as I feel the warm color adds something to the table.
Just like Rob in his article, on the watches he bought this year, I think it is fun to see which one of my 7 watches is your favorite. Is the Omega your absolute favorite? Do you see eye-to-eye with me on the Rolex? Or, perhaps, you appreciate our Oris collaboration enough to vote on that one? We can’t wait to see the results of the poll below and hear your thoughts in the comments.