I called the Grand Seiko Boutique in Manhattan to inquire about the new limited edition pink dial manual wind watch to celebrate the 45th anniversary of the 44GS case. The guy who answered the phone said they started getting inquiries and taking deposits just moments after they announced the release. The limited release of 1,200 units isn’t a lot, but apparently by the next day, they had all been sold/reserved for people who were on top of it. We’re talking about a nearly $6,000 watch from a brand that was once basically unknown to the West not too long ago.
Photo by Grand Seiko
Photo by Bloomberg
In other news the $260 Moon Swatch created an unprecedented frenzy for any watch release with reports of people camping out just to get a plastic watch that resembles an Omega Speedmaster. And this will be a wide release, so we're not even talking about an object that won't be available anymore.
Of course Rolex stores have no stock basically and there’s no end in sight to the conundrum.
Photo at Watches & Wonders 2022 by GQ
Did Instagram really cause this? What made watch collecting so popular? Was it the mainstream press devoting more coverage to the arena. The head of content of Hodinkee reported that the online magazine’s biggest day of traffic was with its recent coverage of Watches & Wonders. Suddenly watches that were only on the minds of deep enthusiasts are on a lot of people’s radars.
I remember there was a time when Rolex watches, mostly Submariners and Datejusts, were for specific men who wanted to show they had made it. They certainly still exist. It’s the type of guy who you say “Nice Deepsea Sea-Dweller” and they reply, “No, it’s a Rolex.” Rolex will always be a status symbol, but now we have a wider range of subclasses of Rolex owners.
Photo by Reddit user omega_31
We have the inked up hipster who goes for a small vintage Date. We have the new Yuppy, which I’m not sure is even a term used anymore. We have watch nerds who will only wear certain older models. And we still have that dude who wears a fleece vest and works in finance wearing his Rolex proudly. And now that you can’t get a Rolex, Omega and, even Grand Freakin Seiko, is a hot choice for the new breed of watch lover.
At the end of the day to me this is a good thing. There’s more diversity in prestige watches. The Moon Swatch means that more people will understand what a cool watch the Omega Speedmaster is. You’ll get to see more of Zenith, Bulgari and even Nomos. It’s going to be a cool world where more people have cool watches on their wrists.
Photo of Red Bar gathering by Quill & Pad
Admittedly I did like that secret handshake world we used to live in. Once while getting haircuts for my kids, a fellow parent asked me “Is that a DOXA?” So cool, right? Turns out he takes photos for Analog Shift, the well-curated watch reseller run by our friend Jame Lamdin. One I saw a man who lived in the same building as me out at a bar. He noticed my five-digit Sub and said “Man, I didn’t realize you are a watch guy.” He was wearing his 1601 Datejust.
But at the end of the day, I’m just happy that there will be more people I run into that want to talk about watches. And Rolex watches will always be the King, especially for us that owned them before the hype.