What’s On My Wish List? Rob Shares Which Watch To Buy Next — Breitling, Tudor, NOMOS, And More…
When all’s said and done, I’m a very lucky chap. I have a lot of nice watches that I’ve spent the last couple of decades accruing. In the last few years especially, my collection has ballooned suddenly. Now with somewhere in the region of 75 timepieces to my name, spread around various locations on the big blue marble, hidden in safes, attics, and one particularly valuable sock drawer, I’ve decided to move on from the majority of these pieces to make way for the next generation. Find out what I’ll be chasing down over the next few years if all goes according to plan.
I’m not going to list my collection here, but let me make this clear: of those 75 or so pieces, a great many of them are inexpensive quartz-powered watches. I have a decent collection of Casios (mostly G-Shock) numbering around 15 right now. I will probably hold on to most of them because I almost see my fondness for that brand as an entirely separate pursuit. Highlighting this mental division is the fact I have a “Casio box”, which contains nothing but timepieces from the Japanese giant.
A gradual progression
I’ve had tens of Swatches in my life but moved on from them early in my career when I just needed cash rather than more, slightly better watches. I’ve held on to my two Corto Maltese (my favorite comic book character) special editions (owning one of those in duplicate so I have one for wearing and one for staring — I just made that up, but you can keep it), and a handful of Olympic specials from Atlanta ’96 (Swiss team), Beijing 2008, Vancouver 2010, and a couple from London 2012, which I’ll probably end up gifting to equally sports-mad watch guys, so not even those account for the bulk of pieces that are destined to leave my collection.
…I delight in using the watches I own…
No, the vast bulk of the watches I need to say goodbye to come from entry-level and microbrands that I very much enjoyed wearing and sharing with my friends, but now no longer have the energy to own (#FirstWorldProblems). I want fewer watches and I want to be in love with all of them. I don’t want to hoard things for the sake of ownership. In all seriousness, I delight in using the watches I own and want to feel that way forever.
Watches I need
Unsurprisingly, I keep a regularly updated list of watches I simply need to buy at some point. A few of us on team Fratello do the same. Hopefully, the other guys will share with you their own personal wish lists soon. When it comes to mine, I’ve decided to share the five pieces that have been on my list the longest. These five represent the gaping holes in my collection and the gaping hole within my wistful heart. It’s super dramatic, I know. But if you’re as deep into this mad dance we call watchmaking as I am, I reckon you’ll understand.
5. Another Breitling Aerospace
Okay, this is pure luxury, but having finally acquired an Aerospace (Everest Skydive limited edition) in 2020 for an absolutely ridiculous price (£1,500 new with 0% finance, which I took out for a year after paying a £300 deposit), I thought I’d scratched an itch that had been getting on my nerves ever since my mate Arron Shirley had lent me his for our graduation and accidentally gotten me hooked on the most awesome quartz watch one existence.
I stand by that.
Regrettably, I developed a taste for the limited versions and began poring over forums and watch sites looking for more information on these fascinating small series pieces. I recently saw a “Flying Monsters” limited on Chrono24. That edition is limited to 80 pieces and probably my absolute favorite. However, the price was set (and I mean set) at €2,800, and while I do regret letting the opportunity to own that particularly limited edition slip through my fingers, I felt it was a shade too much. Perhaps I’ve been spoiled by my luck of 2020, but I’m going to keep on hunting for more limited Aerospace bargains because the addiction is real. I need help.
4. NOMOS Glashütte Zürich Weltzeit
For two years of my time at NOMOS, I wore a Zürich Weltzeit during my time traveling the northern hemisphere for the brand. The watch on my wrist had something wrong with it (I’m not quite sure what). We were only allowed to choose our wear watches from duffers, and I think, if I wrack my brains, my Weltzeit had an older movement in it that didn’t match the updated dial. Regardless, it worked brilliantly, was my constant companion throughout those sometimes trying days, and popped up on my Instagram account more than I think any other watch in those days.
…fate called my bluff…
In my third year with the company, we came up with an idea to sell off all of the “seconds” to friends of the brand at a crazy good price. We simply had too much inventory that wasn’t going anywhere (think years of sales samples, loan pieces, and wear watches — it adds up). I was given the option of buying mine (for about €1,900 at the time, I think — that might have been without tax, I forget), and I turned it down.
If I’m being honest, I think I thought they might just let me keep it because they knew how much I loved that watch and how, almost certainly more than any of my colleagues, it really meant something to me. Anyway, fate called my bluff, I handed over serial number 568 for the last time and when I tried to buy it a year later, overcome with regret and longing, I found it had been broken down for parts. I still hold out hope that at least the case back that called my wrist home for those special days will turn up and I can attach it to a new model. Because I need (and I think everyone needs) a Weltzeit.
3. Tudor Pelagos LHD
You know those games people play on Facebook, in which you are given one “F-bomb” to drop into a movie script that otherwise lacks bad language? I’m a big Lord of the Rings fan and often see this amusing chat pop up in the groups of which I’m a member, but I never partake, because, well, I swear enough in real life to not need to bring it to the web also.
Am I an idiot?
However! If I were allowed one single expletive per year on the pages of Fratello, I would use it to describe how I feel about the fact I do not own a Tudor Pelagos LHD — it is un-effing-believable. I remember the first time I met the late great Simon Cudd he had this watch on his wrist and I felt connected to the man instantly. He had good taste and knew the value of time. I should have followed his lead there and then…
I’ve loved this watch since the day it was launched. I’ve had offers from retailers I worked with in the past to get it at a good price. Unfathomably, I’ve had the money there and waiting to on multiple occasions, and still, for some unknown reason, I haven’t pulled the trigger on a watch I am sure will only grow in appeal as time wears on. Am I an idiot? Well, yeah, that’s well enough established. But surely I’m not that stupid? I guess the jury’s out on that front. I need this watch in my life. And I think I need it soon.
2. Omega PloProf
When I first started working for aBlogtoWatch in 2015, my old colleague Patrick Kansa interviewed me for the series, “My First Grail Watch”. I chose an Omega PloProf. Having completed my apprenticeship with Omega and spent a couple of years at the bench for the brand down in Southampton, UK, buying an Omega had always been right near the top of my wishlist. Of course, on a newly-qualified watchmaker’s salary, buying one of the watches I worked on daily was not an option for me.
…destiny has one in store for me at some point.
I had managed to pick up an old 1971 Lepine pocket watch by Omega on my local market in Glossop for £140 during my apprenticeship. It wasn’t running but was in amazing condition otherwise. I’d just finished learning all about mainsprings and I could tell that was the problem. Given that we worked a lot on ETA 6498/7s at that stage of our apprenticeships, I knew I could source a good fit for the Unitas 6497 within it without a problem. I do wish I’d waited a couple of more weeks to service it however because knowing how to tighten a canon pinion would have meant I could have also fixed the slightly loose hand action when setting the watch. Embarrassingly, I never dared open it and expose the delicate enamel dial to my rampant idiocy again, but it runs beautifully regardless.
Speed or Sea?
I picked up a Speedmaster Broad Arrow that RJ reviewed in his Pre-Owned Picks column a few days after I started with Fratello as it seemed mandatory (it was). And yet the PloProf — that ugly, wild, brutal beaut — still eludes me. I honestly don’t know when I would choose to wear it on my cocktail-stick wrists now, with all the alternatives I have, but it seems like destiny has one in store for me at some point. We shall see…
1. Anything from Schofield (and probably now the Beater B4)
The question is, will you beat me to it? I’ve been following Giles and his output since the early days and his brand has always held a special place in my heart. Weirdly, however, I don’t own one. There is a pretty good reason why, though. It, like most things, comes down to timing. There were Schofield watches I would have bought in a heartbeat (the discontinued Silvertop still brings a tear to my eye) had I had the money. But once I’d missed them — those ones I really knew were for me — I kind of had to hang around and wait for all the little perfections (in my eyes) that Giles was creating along the way aligned into what I could regard as the apex of his achievement. For me, that high point was reached recently with the release of the Beater B4.
This “Japanese” bronze makes me feel all the things I think the brand has been making its clients feel since day one in one neat little package. The Beater series was (and has been for some time now) the core of the collection. Where the Markers have catered for a slightly more, shall we say, intellectual audience, the Beaters are the tough and testy common fare. They look to me like the gruff Seamen whose history and lore played such a part in the formation of the brand’s identity. These are of the land and sea. They are tools. Beautifully made tools that place an emphasis on materials and form. There is no glitz and glamor but there is heart here — lots of it.
Dreams of electric tweed
The hyper-aged bronze case inspired by the joy the Japanese take in old things is a murky nod to the sometimes grim-yet-always-gorgeous coastlines of Britain. The two-tone blue dial harmonizes with that color and material, evokes thoughts of the sea, and comes off as far more versatile than the extravagant (and tempting) Strange Lights collection from earlier this year. You don’t have to love the Mudcloth strap with all of the wonderful options Schofield has in its ranks (I’ve always dreamt of tweed, to be honest), but, again, the colorway en masse is sublime. I’m currently trying to move on from a couple of pieces to buy this one, but with just 29 pieces available (and the majority on their way out the door already), I might miss out. If I do manage to snare one of these happy chappies, you’ll be hearing about it, so watch this space.