Maybe it’s just me, but I feel like more and more watch reviews are putting too much emphasis on specifications rather than design and price. We, as a community, have become obsessed with getting the best value we can get out of our watches. Is this reasonable? Is there more to owning a watch than getting the best movement? Are specifications the only way to accurately measure the value of a timepiece? You may have already guessed that no, I don’t believe this to be the case. In fact, there are many specifications that we actually don’t need everyday. I mean, realistically of course. I thought it might be helpful to discuss which specifications we don’t need everyday so that, perhaps, we can gain some clarity on this question.
We Don’t Need Powerful Lume
The first pet peeve I have against many reviewers—because yes, these are pet peeves—is the over-obsession many have about lume. If a watch doesn’t have Rolex or Seiko-level lume, it is de facto a bad watch. By not endowing a watch with saturation-diver-levels of luminescent paint, brands are considered lazy or lacking attention to detail. Those who claim to need good lume are those who dive on an regular and amateur basis, like I do, not deeper than 40 meters below the surface: the maximum depth a non-professional diver can go. At 40 meters, there is plenty of sunlight to see the dial of your favorite diver. Only below 200 meters should one actually need strong lume; light from the sun starts having trouble to penetrate the ocean at that depth. For some reason, many claim that having great lume is useful for their day-to-day life. I mean, are there many Splinter Cells agents amongst us watch enthusiasts?
We Don’t Need Chronometer Movements
I remember reading the creation story of the American brand Ball and thought “yes, they had a good reason for creating precise timekeeping devices”. After all, the raison d’être of the brand was to avoid another collision between two trains, potentially resulting in hundreds of deaths. The same could be said of astronauts, engineers, and race car drivers…until the creation of the computer, smartphones, smartwatches, and the atomic clock. Today, nobody needs chronometer-level accuracy for daily life -- even if one were to be a pilot. We have computers that do a better job at showing accurate time which, by the way, is not a precise measure anyway (indeed, a minute is not made of 60 round seconds, but that’s a discussion for another time). So, why spend extra to get a COSC-certified movement? Don’t tell me it’s because they are more reliable; that’s not always the case.
We Don’t Need Signed Crowns
This is perhaps the most bizarre complaint that reviewers now have about watches: unsigned crowns. Just like having bad lume is seen as a sure indicator of a lazy brand, having an unsigned crown is somewhat of a sacrilege for many. Besides looking pretty, what purpose does it actually serve? I would further ask, how many times do you actually look at the crown (or even see it) when you go about your day? Perhaps laser engraving a logo on a crown is not a big deal from a manufacturing standpoint, but why the obsession over it? It’s just another one of these pet peeves reviewers have that, according to them, instantly decreases the value of a watch. Not all crowns should be signed, especially on tool watches, let alone having a lumed crown so that you can more easily spot it at 4am.
We Don’t Need More than 100 Meters of Water Resistance
As mentioned above, most self-proclaimed experts (like yours truly) who dive do so on an amateur basis. Meaning, once again, not going deeper than 40 meters below the surface. Though many claim that a proper tool watch should have “at least” 100 meters of water resistance in order to keep the movement inside dry. Why? If you fancy cave exploration, you will not find yourself in more than 2 or 3 meters of water. Snorkeling not more than 10. Getting caught in a rainstorm or taking a shower with your watch doesn’t require 100 meters of water resistance. 50 meters (therefore tested for 100) is plenty, and I would argue that 30 meters is enough in most situations. I've traveled the world and done all sorts of adventures and never needed more than 100 meters of water resistance.
We Don’t Need On-the-Fly Quick Adjust Clasps
Tool-less micro-adjust clasps have become the rage as of late. Those who are for them argue that they routinely need to be able to adjust bracelets throughout the day to find the right fit and comfort, especially during the summer. I don’t know, I’ve worn many watches on bracelets with classic clasps during the summer and realized that a well-engineered and well-designed clasp will be comfortable to wear all day long even in hot and humid climates (when I find the right fit it will be the right fit whether I’m skiing in the Alps or sunbathing in Mexico). In a way, I find that making tool-less micro-adjust clasps has become an excuse for not putting more thought into designing good bracelets and clasps. Because after all, if they mattered that much, Rolex would have invented them fifty years ago.
The reason why I unleashed my horological and nerdy wrath here is because when people obsess over specifications, they no longer pay attention to design or the brand itself. Creating a brand and releasing models has now become a competition for offering the best value watches, much more so than creating something that looks different and unique. Don’t get me wrong, I do like to have a sapphire crystal and a good movement, but having owned watches that have COSC calibers, 300+ meters of water resistance, and powerful lume, I would honestly say that I don’t need any of these extra things to enjoy my watch everyday.
Because yes, if I were to be a dive instructor I would need more, but come on, how many of us do this for a living?
I don’t mean to tell you what you should care about or not. That’s not my point. However, there is merit in discussing what most of us need everyday and how, perhaps, not obsessing too much over specs would make it easier for us to find good watches. We would also give brands a bit of slack so that they can create more novel designs, no longer worrying about including all of the "right" specs in every release.Featured image: www.watchprosite.com