Watch Passion Is Not Shallow — A Personal Tale Of Two Seamasters
Is watch passion shallow? Whenever I am asked about my work at a party, the bystanders seem to instantly divide into those who are interested in watches and those who feel the irresistible urge to point out that it is a rather “silly” and “shallow” hobby. Although most will avoid being overly confrontational about it, a remark along the lines of “I do not need a physical status object to feel good about myself” tends to cause a guaranteed awkward silence at some point.
I would love to share with you a personal tale of two Omega Seamasters to illustrate why these haters are wrong. Our beautiful watch passion is anything but shallow.
Hunting for a ’60s Seamaster
The story began when I had just started working for Amsterdam Watch Company, a vintage boutique in the historical heart of the Dutch capital. Handling tons of watches from the 1940s up to the 1990s, I quickly developed a particular soft spot for early Omega Seamasters. Yes, those dressy little numbers that had seemingly very little to do with the later dive watches under the same name.
These watches instantly stood out to me for a number of reasons. For one, there is just an almost infinite range of variations on the market with different case shapes, handsets, indices, and dial styles to choose from. Some are common, and some are very rare. It seemed like every next example I handled was different from the previous one. This made me curious to learn more.
Secondly, I just love how many of these Seamasters combine subtlety with sportiness. Yes, many of them come in 34mm cases, but they are often fitted with broad, aggressive lugs. This means they have the proportions of old-school dress watches, with strong, purposeful wrist presence nonetheless.
I finally settled on the Ref. 166.010 as my watch-to-be. I am an absolute sucker for the combination of dauphine hands and applied faceted stick indices. The 166.010 adds a beautiful sunburst dial and that characteristic muscular case design to my preferred recipe of hands and markers. The hunt was on! I would wait for one to come through the store and jump on it.
And then one day, I unpacked a new batch of watches fresh from our watchmaker. In front of me was a Ref. 2846-10SC Seamaster no-date with a sub-dial for the running seconds and an absolutely stunning dial, completely toasted by the radium lume. I get that this might not be a crowd-pleaser, but lightning struck for me.
Upon researching the watch, I found that this example dated back to 1956, a year that has significance for me because it is my father’s birth year. My father has never been particularly into watches so, expecting no family heirlooms from that side, I knew this would be a great way to symbolize my relationship with him through a watch. I decided this one would not hit the shop floor. It was to be mine.
I am blessed with two amazing and loving parents. Against the odds nowadays, they have remained together, and I am sure they will be until the end. This also means my mom now felt a little left behind in my sentimental chase for birth-year watches. I promised I would not pass on the opportunity to score a watch from her birth year — 1958 — if such an opportunity arose.
More than a year passed. As AWCo’s resident writer, I wrote dozens of watch descriptions every week. Then one day, a new batch of watches was waiting for me to jot down their stories. Among them was a pristine Seamaster that looked similar but different. Unlike my “dad watch”, this one was super clean and sharp. The dial had been refinished at some point, but fortunately, it was a job well done.
I checked the reference. This too was a Ref. 2846. I remember thinking to myself, “If this is a 1958 watch, I will go nuts”. It was. And I did.
Gemstones sealing the deal
Now, I am not a particularly spiritual person, but when my eye fell on the hour markers, I was struck by lightning again. This Seamaster came with indices I had never seen before. They were steel but shaped like faceted gemstones. As it happens, my mother is a gemstone faceter, creating the most amazing works of art out of tourmaline, opal, citrine, and the like. She does this with such passion and devotion that it really inspires me to follow my passions on a daily basis.
Here are some examples of her work from her Instagram page @bsjgems.
Naturally, these two Seamasters would have to be united under my guardianship, never to be broken up again.
Both watches received a full service and new crystals. Otherwise, aesthetically, I left them as I found them. They had been polished before, but I was not going to mess with their looks anymore. The only thing left was to pair them with some good straps.
For the “dad watch,” I picked a smooth tan strap. The supple, thin leather works great with a subtly sized watch like this. The tan really complements the toasted dial in my modest opinion.
For the “mom watch,” I opted for something a little more glamorous. The bright silver dial left a lot more room for alternative color choices. The patina on the other watch turns quite nasty when paired with the wrong color, but there were no such issues here. I opted for a glossy alligator strap in a pale moss-green tone. It is not really my typical style and I sure get it when people dislike it, but I happen to think it is pretty cool.
No daily drivers
I keep the pair in a nice leather pouch by Tawbury, where they sit safely together. Admittedly, they serve more of a symbolic role for me than a practical one. I pull them out and wear either one of them on special occasions only.
There really is no need to do that. Despite what many people think, these watches really are not all that delicate. Sure, you want to keep them dry, but otherwise, they are quite easy to get serviced and perfectly fine for (reasonably careful) daily wearing. In fact, I would highly recommend these watches if you are looking for something vintage that is still relatively affordable in the grand scheme of things.
Now let me go back to where I started. I am sure you recognize the rolling eyes of people who do not understand our beautiful hobby, as well as the endless news stories that look no further than robberies or ridiculous record-breaking prices of blingy watches.
To me, that is so far from the reality of watch collecting. My two Seamasters represent something different entirely. They are old, modest, under-the-radar pieces of mechanical engineering and craftsmanship. They are time capsules in more ways than one. They are snapshots from the 1950s. They make me wonder where they have been, who wore them, and what they went through. They make me think of all the major world events that have passed since. They even put my own life into perspective when I gaze at them, reminding me that I am but a speck of dust in time and space.
And then they are also time capsules for my own family. Having linked them to my parents through these two birth years, they represent my upbringing, my childhood, and my sense of belonging to a core family. I get it if this sounds far-fetched to you, but this is what they are about to me. I would love to one day pass these Seamaster on and keep them in the family.
How about you?
And there we have the core of this love of watches for me. The watch passion is anything but shallow. As items created with devotion and to be worn on our bodies, we can connect with them in such personal ways. You might experience your watches in a similar manner, or have a completely different relationship with them. I would love to hear about it, so please do share your thoughts in the comments below.
You can also find and follow me on Instagram: @time_travelers_journal