We watch enthusiasts seem to be quite obsessed with the idea of the “grail” watch. A watch that would be perfect for our needs, one that would look beautiful and at home in any and all situations, and one which we would cherish until we are put out of our misery. From my personal experience, I know many watch people who have found their grail watch, and even more who are still looking for it. Perhaps a grail watch is just an illusion for those who cannot stop collecting timepieces. A grail watch is not something that would bring us to our immediate demise as it was the case in that famous Indiana Jones movie—you know when the bad guy chose the most luxurious looking cup and died immediately. No, a grail watch is one that is supposed to bring us many years of happiness.
We all have a different definition of what a grail watch is. What it is depends on our personal preferences for design and specifications, as well as what role a grail watch is supposed to fulfill. In this article, therefore, I will be sharing my experience looking for a grail watch and where my search has taken me so far.
A Personal Definition of the Grail Watch
In my own personal view of grail watches, I look for a timepiece that is primarily versatile and reliable. In the looks department, the grail watch would be polyvalent, equally comfortable in business or dressy situations as it would be hiking on the weekend and enjoying a BBQ with family and friends on a sunny summer Sunday. To be more specific, I like clean and legible dials which means the watch can only show the time and the date. No chronograph or GMT function as either one would clutter the dial layout and most likely increase the size of the watch. Yes, my grail watch comes with the following ideal dimensions: a case diameter between 36 and 40mm, a lug-to-lug between 44 and 48mm, and a thickness below 14mm. With such dimensions, my grail watch can easily sport 100 meters of water resistance.
While I could write a novel on what the dial should look like, let’s say this: I like pencil-style hands, baton markers, and some texture on the dial, a matte or glossy finish. In other words, a dial that looks clean and that is versatile. Versatility, as you may have guessed, is very important to me in a grail watch. Because if I spent years and thousands of dollars looking for it, then it must look the part in any situation I would put it in. Given this, my grail watch would have a reliable movement and one easy to service, lume, and a comfortable bracelet and great potential for being a strap monster. The latter requirement is important because to me, a grail watch should easily be paired with a bracelet, a leather or rubber strap to match what I’m doing at any given time.
Where The Search for a Grail Watch Has Taken Me
I’ve been into watches for six years now and I’ve come close to finding my grail watch more than once. Actually, I believe I have it already: the Formex Essence 39 in blue. It matches all of the criteria I mentioned above and to me, it looks good in all situations I’ve put it in thus far. It has enough water resistance to handle recreational diving and being caught in a rainstorm while hiking, and it looks elegant enough for formal events while looking casual enough to walk my dogs wearing sweatpants on the weekend. Furthermore, it is comfortable to wear given its 39 x 45 x 10mm case and comes with a COSC Sellita SW200-1 caliber.
Before getting the Formex Essence, I had found another grail watch: the Lorier Falcon Mark III. It’s an everyday/adventure watch with strong vibes of vintage Rolex Explorer 1’s ref. 1016. It comes with great dimensions at 36 x 44 x 11mm and a reliable Miyota 90S5 caliber. I like the vintage vibes emanating from the smaller case dimensions and waffle dial, as well as the versatility of its design. Just like many people look to the Explorer 1 as being the perfect go-anywhere-do-antyhing watch, I liked the polyvalent dimensions and design of the Falcon III.
I would be remiss if I were not to mention another grail I’ve had my eyes on for a long while: the MONTA Noble. Honestly, if the Formex Essence hadn’t made its way to my wrist, I would probably be writing this article wearing an anthracite Noble. Having reviewed MONTA’s Skyquest and Triumph models, I know how well-made the Noble would be. Not only does it have this versatile yet elegant design, but it also comes with the right specifications to be a grail watch (according to my own requirements): a case 38.5 x 47 x 9.7mm, a robust Swiss made caliber, an outstanding bracelet and matching rubber strap, as well as a very legible dial.
As you’ve noticed, I didn’t talk about prices in this article. That is because grail watches come in a variety of prices and that we each have our own definition of what good or bad value is. (And how much one should spend on a grail watch.) Furthermore, in the past two years, I’ve noticed that a grail watch for me could cost $500 just like it could cost $2,000 and up. There is no clear limit here and over the years I’ve become more comfortable spending more money on a good watch—should I say, a potential grail watch. While the Formex Essence 39 is currently my grail watch, I could easily see a Noble take the crown in the near future.Featured image: @mainspring.watch