Finding a Field Watch in My Collection

In late October I’ll be spending three nights under the stars in the wilderness of Texas and while I’ll have cell service and access to utilities, it’s still in a remote location. So I started thinking about the best watch to take with me and realized that I didn’t really have one that stood out as a “field watch”. While I would love to purchase a watch specifically for this purpose, I don’t have the ability to purchase a quality one at this time. With that, I decided to take the watches I already own and line them up to compare the aesthetics and features to choose the one that would best fit the role of a field watch. I wanted a watch that had an adventurous aesthetic but also some key features. I’ve outlined a list of required features I would need for the trip, listed from top priority down and I’ve rated each watch I’m considering on a 1 to 5 scale. Also note that I wanted to limit the selection to an automatic since I already know that the G-Shock GD350 would suit my purpose just fine and I wanted to bring an automatic with me.

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Show and Tell – Battle Station

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Today I put the finishing touches on my home work area, otherwise known as the Battle Station. I’ve been really impressed with the Galant desk from IKEA as it allows me to keep my podcasting setup, computer area and a small workstation. I prefer to keep the desk clean so I can start projects without having to do a lot of prep.

closeupSome of the items in the corner area of the Battle Station.

How do you keep your work area? Post pictures of your Battle Station on Instagram with the hashtag #BattleStationShots

Top Five Watches on My Current Buylist

Compilation Photo

I’m always on the lookout for my next watch purchase and I keep a revolving list of watches that I’m looking to buy. I list them in an Evernote doc from first to purchase to last, and while I’m saving the money to purchase one of them, I visit the list frequently and check back on what I’ve added. Many times a watch will jump to the top of the list and then fall back down as I research other pieces. As of right now, these are the five watches at the top of my list.

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Seagull 1963 (Panda Dial)

I’ve been hunting down an automatic chronograph and heard a lot of good things about the Seagull 1963. I wasn’t really a fan of the 38mm case size and the greenish tinted dial. However, upon seeing this panda dial version in 42mm, I was hooked. This is a really clean looking watch that I think would look great on a leather or NATO Strap. $429 from seagull1963.com

 

Seiko SRP127
Seiko SRP127 World Timer

I’m a big fan of Seiko as they make great quality watches with good movements and while browsing Amazon recently, the SRP127 caught my eye. It’s an upgrade from the basic Seiko automatic movement as it allows hand winding and hacking which is a huge plus for me. Add in the world timer feature around the bezel and the sword hands and I’m hooked. $153 on Amazon

 

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Steinhart Ocean Vintage Military

One of my all time favorite watches is the Rolex Military Submariner Ref. 5517. This is one of the most sought after Rolex watches on the market and they regularly sell for ~$80,000 to ~$150,000. While I would love to own one of these watches, it would be hard to justify spending house level money on a watch. Luckily, Steinhart produces this wonderful homage to the 5517 at a much more friendly price. The best part about the OVM from Steinhart is that they’ve changed a few details to make it their own, the largest difference being the 42mm case size rather than the original 40mm. Including a fully marked bezel, cream colored lume and wonderful cream colored sword hands, this watch definitely landed in the top five on my buy list. ~$495 from Steinhart (The watch is priced in Euros so you’ll have to convert to USD.)

 

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Halios Tropik

Something I’ve really been wanting to add to my collection is a true dive watch. While the Seiko SNZH53 I have is listed as a diver, it misses a lot of the features that I’m looking for such as screw down hand and a hacking second hand. The Halios is available in Black and Blue and I’m particularly drawn to the blue color. I love the clean bezel and contrasting red “Tropik” on the dial and also love that they’ve included the date at the six o’clock position. I find that blends the best of both worlds offering a clean face and the date at the same time. While I probably won’t be diving down to 300m, it’s nice to know that this watch would be capable. $650 from Halios

 

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Alpha Paul Newman

The last watch in this list is a homage to another one of my favorite watches, the Rolex 6263 “Paul Newman” Daytona. The Daytona is a magnificent watch and the “Paul Newman” references the panda dial with the red font above the middle sub-dial. While 6263 Daytonas can be purchased, their limited availability and extreme desirability price them in the ~$100,000 range. Thankfully, the folks at Alpha watches have produced this homage to the original 6263 offered at an affordable. The Alpha Paul Newman is an automatic 30 minute chronograph with an awesome cream colored dial. Many people scoff at homages placing them in the same category as replicas but I view this watch in a different category. Much like the Steinhart listed above, this watch is an homage to a piece no longer created by Rolex and doesn’t draw anything away from the originals. It has it own branding and fonts on the dial and while it definitely borrows heavily from the 6263, this watch is still it’s own piece. $215 from Alpha Watch

A Lesson in Wristory: Chronographs

Omega Speedmaster

There are many watch complications out there that provide a number of functions but none seem to embody the word “complication” more than the Chronograph feature. At its bare bones, a chronograph is a stopwatch function on a timepiece, but it’s not an ordinary stopwatch though as it keeps the original time on the watch as well. Chronographs found a home in the racing world as timing is everything to the drivers. There’s a long tradition of racing and chronographs and several big name companies have worked hard to associate their chronographs with the racing community.

A chronograph usually uses the large second hand on the face of the watch to run the stopwatch mechanism while one of the sub-dials keeps the time of the watch itself. The other sub-dials can serve different functions and it varies between manufacturers. My favorite chronograph is the Rolex Daytona 6263, otherwise known as the “Paul Newman” Daytona and we’ll have another article in the future discussing the differences in those.

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On the Daytona, there are three sub-dials; one used for the seconds on the main movement, one used for the elapsed time of the stopwatch in minutes and one used for elapsed time in hours. It may be confusing that the larger second hand is used for the stopwatch, but when you think about using the watch in a race or to time a lap in a car, you’ll see that the larger second hand is much easier to spot. Especially when you’re focused on other things like piloting a car at high speeds. The chronograph function on the Daytona is started by depressing the pusher above the crown of the watch. This starts the second hand moving around the face. With another push, the second hand will stop and depressing the pusher below the crown will reset the chronograph. It’s important to note that on most chronographs, depressing the lower pusher while the complication is running can damage the movement itself as the internal parts are not stopped and ready to be reset.

patek-philippe-caliber-13-130-chronograph

While this complication may seem like a simple one, the engineering required for this function is incredible. The movements inside an automatic chronograph are breathtaking and it’s incredible to me that all of that functionality can fit inside such a small case. As it’s such a detailed movement, the prices on chronographs can be extremely high. One of the watches on my buy list is the Omega Speedmaster and they can usually be purchased for around $2,500 to $3,000. While researching the Speedmaster, I tried to seek out a good quality, automatic chronograph and the only one I was able to find that had good reviews was the Seagull 1963. It’s a Chinese made watch and though I’m not a fan of the face, it seems like a reliable jumping off point for someone looking to pick up a lower cost automatic chronograph.

What’s your favorite chronograph?

 

Photo Credit to: Omega Watches, Hodinkee and Patek Phillippe.